Packrafting 101: Learn Basic Whitewater Packrafting Skills
Hone Your Whitewater Packraft Paddling Skills!
Turn the blue lines on maps into trails and acquire the whitewater paddling skills you need to run more difficult rivers! We seek to offer opportunities that, “get you on the edge of your own reality to feel things you’ve never experienced,” as FCG co-founder Steve “Doom” Fassbinder says. And we work hard to enhance your existing padling skills so you can do bigger and more exciting packraft adventures, while at the same time pushing you just a bit further so you can, “find out what you’re really made of.”
We’re certain you’ll walk away from this whitewater paddling skills course equipped with a bigger toolkit. And we hope you find deeper sense of enjoyment for both living in and utilizing human-powered tools to pass through remote landscapes. We want your experience to be the milestone in your life that you measure everything else up to.
This no-frills Learn Whitewater Paddling Skills course is for the budget-minded adventurer wanting to learn packrafting skills in whitewater, from paddling skills to caching eddies to reading rivers and to applying those skills on an overnight adventure.
On your first day of this Basic Packrafting Skills course you’ll meet your guide from 9:30a.m.-4:30p.m. in Durango for a day of training on the Animas River. And then you’ll then practice your skills in the backcountry on an overnight excursion on the San Miguel and Dolores rivers. No packrafting experience required. But basic backcountry skills are necessary. Can you cook your own food and set up your own tent? If so, this course is for you. Email us to sign up!
A 50% deposit is required to secure your space. The remaining balance will need to be received through 30 days prior to your course. The remaining balance is due immediately if you are registering inside of the 30 day window.
Cancellation Policy: Please review our cancellation policy, which you will find on our Terms, Conditions & Cancellation Policy Page.
This course includes instruction, an open packraft, PFD, paddle, helmet, permits and camping fees.
Lodging, shuttling or all food, though you can add backcountry meals to your course when you book. You must be able to get yourself to the river put ins and take outs on Day 1, and we’ll work together on the shuttling for Days 2 & 3. We do not provide whitewater boats, drysuits, river knives, whistles or throw bags.
You will need a drysuit for at least the first day of this trip. Rent drysuits locally at 4CornersRiversports.com (they only have four), or get a 15% discount if you order them online at BackcountryPackraft.com (we will give you the discount code once you pay your deposit).
Jon Bailey: Jon has been exploring and tracing lines in the Southwest and the San Juan Mountains since 2000. With 15+ years of experience guiding with the local youth cycling program Durango Devo, 25 years of bicycle wrenching and enthusiasm, and a lifetime of connecting dots with his pen, Jon has been able to reach the community by sharing the wilderness experience and the freedom of the bicycle through adventure, art and love.
We base our learn basic packrafting skills instructional courses on confidence and skill progression. The course reviews the basics. And then we push you a little harder as the days progress, tailoring the experience to your own personal abilities.
Intermediate boaters will learn more advanced paddling skills and expedition planning. This is a list of some of the things you will learn:
- ✓Swimming and general water confidence
- ✓Self-rescue & buddy assistance
- ✓Dealing with currents
- ✓Aggressive & defensive swimming position
- ✓Decision making
- ✓Hazards & river dynamics
- ✓Basic paddle strokes
- ✓Using eddies
- ✓Swift water entry
- ✓River commands
- ✓Spacing on the river
- ✓Equipment (use and care)
- ✓Field repair-tips & tricks
- ✓How to pack light for backcountry packraft adventures
The day of this basic beginner course will take place on up to Class II+ rapids on the Animas River. We spend a lot of time spent in the Animas City Kayak Play Park. Days 2 and 3 we will be on the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers, paddling from Naturita to the “Hanging Flume” section on the Dolores.
Length of Play Park: 1.25 miles
Length of Daily Adventures: 5 to 8 miles
Difficulty: Class II III at 500-2000 CFS
Class III to IV 2,000 CFS and up.
High Water Flows: May-July
Flow: below 500cfs is low; 1,000-2,000cfs ideal for this course. Water Flow please see water levels
Length of Adventure: 22
Difficulty: Class II+
High Water Flows: April-July
Flow: below 400cfs is low; 400-2,000cfs ideal for this course. Water Flow please see water levels (does not include the Hanging Flume section, but the river levels are the same as reported via the link).
This course is a beginner course, and you do not need any experience to take it. You will have the opportunity to challenge yourself on Class II+ and III if you learn the skills you need to do so and your guide gives you the thumb’s up.
You do need to know how to set up your own camp and cook your own food in the backcountry.