What level packrafter are you? Please answer the questions in each of these sections as honestly as you can to self-identify your skill levl. As a second skills assessment test, we will also have you fill out a pre-trip registration questionnaire. Please note this “scale” applies only to Four Corners Guides courses. Other companies, guides and individuals may have different criteria.

beginner courses

Level 1

Please don’t be offended if we decide you should be placed in a beginner course. We all have to start somewhere! 🙏🏼

Please answer these questions (without doing a Google search):

  1. Have you been river packrafting or whitewater kayaking at least six times in the last few years?
  2. Do you know how to ferry a packraft or kayak, catch an eddy or do a wet re-entry into your packraft?
  3. What is the hand signal for, “Are you OK?” and “Yes, I am OK.”
  4. What does the “defensive” swimming position look like?

If you cannot answer all these with 100% confidence, please sign up for our beginner course!



Courses for people with some river boating experience in a single-person craft (kayak, packraft, C1 or duckie) AND who have a basic understanding of rivers. For example, without doing a Google search, answer the questions in this and the beginner sections:

  1. What is an eddy?
  2. Why is it important for me to confidently catch eddies?
  3. Can you describe 3 important hand signals to ensure safety while on the water?
  4. What does point positive mean?

Furthermore, by “some experience,” we mean you have navigated a single-person craft at least 6 to 10 times in a river with up to Class I to Class II rapids. This is also an appropriate course for people who have taken our beginner courses, and who have practiced at least a half-dozen times on their o

Intermediate packrafting by Spencer Harding of the Radavist

Intermediate courses


If you are solidly boating up to Class II+ to III on any river, you can self-rescue (i.e. wet re-entry) almost every time, you have boated Class III or IVs (sometimes comfortably and sometimes not) AND you have more than a basic understanding of rivers, we recommend you take an intermediate course. Though not required, most people who take our intermediate courses already have taken a swiftwater rescue course.

To better ensure correct placement, please answer these questions:

  1. Is a Class III-rated rapid the same difficulty if the river is at 8,000cfs versus 2000cfs?
  2. Can you roll your packraft or re-enter your boat after you flip in both flat and moving water? How about mid-rapid?
  3. Do you know how to surf your packraft?
  4. How often do you practice catching eddies?
  5. Why is it important to be able to catch eddies?

If you can answer these nuanced questions confidently without doing a Google Search and you have your own whitewater packraft and equipment and regularly use it, then an intermediate course is probably the right course for you.

Intermediate boating skills course, by andrew burr

intermediate/advanced courses


If you’re struggling with some of the nuanced answers to these questions, please consider taking one of our intermediate courses instead. There’s no need to rush! You’ll learn plenty of advanced skills in this course as well.

We recommend you take an Intermediate/Advanced course if:

  • You confidently paddle up to Class III+ at both high and low water, and you have done so on 6-10 rivers without significant swims;
  • You have taken one or more swiftwater safety courses;
  • and you paddle regularly and can confidently answer, “yes,” to all the following questions.

Please don’t look up the answers!

  1. Can you re-enter your boat after flipping (or roll it) 5 times in two minutes? If unsure, go test yourself.
  2. Can you explain why each of these hazards–strainers, sweepers, undercuts and low-head dams–are dangerous?
  3. Can you confidently navigate around any obstacle in Class III rapids? If so, what are some of the techniques you might use?
  4. Can you confidently catch eddies in Class II-III rapids?
  5. Do you know how to brace and use bow and sculling draws?
  6. What are some important components of a proper, powerful forward stroke?
Intermediate/advanced boating skills, by andrew Burr

Swiftwater Rescue Courses


Non-certification courses are for people who want the full breadth of swiftwater safety skills to enhance their existing skills sets and increase their ability to packraft safety, but who don’t need/want the certification or the heavy, technical classroom work.

Non-certification courses are 100% packraft-specific and on-the-water focused. This course is available to a variety of boaters, from beginners to intermediate boaters (as designated on the specific registration pages for each course). We may or may not provide equipment, depending on the level of the course. And we can tailor a course to an individual or group’s specific needs.

swiftwater rescue course with dan thurber

Packraft-specific certification courses include both classroom and on-the-water swiftwater safety training. We recommend these courses for anyone who enjoys the classroom work, works professionally in whitewater situations, or is or wants to be a packraft guide or instructor.

These courses are run through the Swiftwater Safety Institute, but are specifically for our clientele and run on our permits. You must have your own equipment, and you must at least have some experience in a packraft. This course is not for beginner boaters with zero experience. Please take one of our beginner courses first.

Swiftwater rescue courses.

Expedition Courses

For people who want to learn all the backcountry and navigation skills necessary for backcountry packrafting travel. These courses include a backpacking and a packrafting component. Some are loops adventures whereby you return to the place you started, while others are point-to-point whereby you cover significant and varied terrain.

Generally, depending on the level of these courses, you’ll be required to take a pre-requisite one to two training days to hone your packrafting paddling and river navigation skills and so we can assess whether or not you should be on a more advanced course. We also generally run one to two Zoom meetings prior to the course for planning purposes.