Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to impress kayakers:

Luc Mehl's latest creation:

"We've heard a lot of kayakers describe the differences of being in packraft for the first time, but never get the opposite perspective.

"I took a Jackson Villain creekboat down Sixmile II and III (8.8 ft) with Matt and Toby Sunday (followed by a ski run in Turnagain, which was sweet!). My first time in a 'real' boat. It was a lot of fun, fun to be going through the rapids and nervous as hell.

"The take home message is that the little crap that we worry about in packrafts was not a concern, while some of the more subtle features, like eddy lines, require way more technique. I never had very good control of my line, but the boat pushed through everything (except staircase!). I expected everything to be harder in the kayak, but it really wasn't.

"Once I learn how to deal with eddy lines I think I'd be comfortable kayaking the same low-water runs that we packraft now.

"I loved not having to deal with inflating the boat and my 5 seat/back-rests.

"We put in at Boston Bar, so there wasn't much time to get used to the boat, I felt really unstable and kept getting turned backwards. Everyone complains about how poorly the Alpacka's track, but this boat didn't really feel any different in that regard. It is just much more of a two-dimensional problem.

"In the packraft I go in straight line segments and just turn the entire boat to change direction. The kayak carried speed with each stroke, so I had trouble timing my direction changes- travelling in curves rather than straight lines. This likely has a lot to do with my lack of technique.

"Pearly gates was no problem, but when I entered the eddy left, I flipped instantly on some eddy line I didn't even see. The roll was easy and gratifying. The rest of 2nd canyon was spent learning that I didn't need to worry about choppy waves or lateral features, etc., the kayak just punched through everything.

"I was pretty nervous entering 3rd, but I had the sense that if I could just get the boat where I wanted it, I'd get pushed through all the rapids. The problem was getting to where I wanted to be! The boat was so much more responsive to paddle strokes that I kept finding myself facing ~45 degrees off of where I was paddling toward. This put me directly over the staircase rock that Roman hit his head on, which was of course not a good place to be. I flipped, tried to roll three times but was getting pushed up against the right wall so I pulled the skirt.

"It was no problem to hold on the boat, but it was so heavy that even after I got it to shore a few times I couldn't get it out of the water. Matt and Toby were not too helpful because they swam there, too. Classic. The snow and ice on the banks didn't help.

"I had no problem with the rest of 3rd. It was a real treat to keep some of my warmth. I really liked being able to slide over rocks too. The braces put my right leg to sleep instantly, I don't know if that means the boat was too small or if I just need to adjust padding. But it made me appreciate the comfort of our inflatables.

-Luc 'Join the Darkside'"


  1. I recently transitioned from the packraft to the kayak. Similar thoughts, you experience much more of the water in the Kayak. Packraft are less precise and their soft bouncy tubes are forgiving when you go off line. I think alot of packrafting transfers to kayaking especially confidence. Interesting to read the comments on learning on eddy turns because that is how I smashed my face on a III+ creek in the early summer. I spent the rest of the summer river running and playing before I returned to creeking III and IV in a hard shell. Another thing that needs to be learned is how to tuck and protect your face in a shallow rapid.

  2. best way to impress a kayaker is to learn how to kayak. it takes more skill to paddle a kayak so when you go back to your little walmart toy you will have learnt new skills that will help you. kayaks are the best thing to paddle on hard white water, no question! so if you want to paddle hard get a kayak, if you want to walk 10 miles into a low water creek then get a packraft. cheers colin

  3. Not sure I want to paddle "hard", Colin. Sort of enjoying what I'm doing, actually, hiking into low water creeks is especially pleasant, although I'd say the Colorado Grand Canyon at 11,000 cfs, or the rivers in New Zealand like Landsborough and Mokinui were not low water creeks, but real rivers. But I do like low water creeks! Love them!

    Also, while some of us have developed a bit of an adrenaline habit, the complete picture of hiking in to boat is very satisfying. So satisfying that I have no interest in learning to kayak for the sake of kayaking -- except to learn new skills, alas -- and would much rather continue exploring new waters without a hardshell, for the very reason that scaring myself isn't the whole picture.

  4. HAHA!!! YEAH! pack rafters... more like fag rafters.

    just picking sides for fun, you guys know I love you;^0

    Timmy J.


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