Four Corners Guides Packraft Instructors

Advanced Packraft Paddling & Expedition Planning Course
Steve Fassbinder, Day 1 - King Salt - A circumnavigation of The Great Salt Lake, UT
Colorado River to Lake Powell Bikerafting-bikerafting the Colorado River
Brett Davis grits his teeth

Our instructors have a wide range of training. Steve “Doom” Fassbinder is an accredited Level 3 Kayak Instructor with the American Canoe Association. Thad Ferrell and Steve were the first to be accredited American Canoe Association Level 3 Packraft Instructors July 2023.

In addition to Thad and Doom, Four Corners Guides runs limited courses with Dan Thurber each year. Dan has a wealth of training with the Swiftwater Safety Institute. He’s a certified Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician & SRT Instructor.

Brett Davis joined us in 2023 to teach the advanced paddling and expedition course. Brett has educated people outdoors for over two decades, providing leadership for the past 15 at Fort Lewis College’s Outdoor Pursuits program, where he is the director. Some highlights of his experience include ACA Whitewater Kayak and Packrafting Instructor Trainer, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor and he’s accomplished major expeditions in bikepacking, kayaking, climbing and packrafting around the world.

Dan, Doom, Brett, Thad and all FCG guides have current Swiftwater Rescue certifications and Wilderness First Responder certifications. As well, Four Corners Guides runs annual day instructor training courses with Kent Ford. And we run Risk Management trainings with Colorado Outside. Learn more about your instructors on Our Team page.

Four Corners Guides Instructional courses

Beginner & Intermediate Courses

We base our instructional courses on confidence and skill progression. We start slow and push you a little harder as we go, tailoring the experience to your own personal abilities.

For Beginner to Intermediate courses, you’ll learn a wide variety of skills, from the basics to more advanced river reading techniques. This is a list of some of the things you will learn:

Check out our list of 2023 packraft instructional courses.


  • ✓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
  • ✓Trip planning & logistics
  • ✓Multi-day trip pack lists
  • ✓How to pack light for backcountry packraft adventures
  • ✓How/where to pack your gear
  • ✓Expedition food planning and prep
  • ✓Leave No Trace practices in the backcountry
  • ✓Reading whitewater/hazards and avoiding them
  • ✓Navigation in the field, finding camp, etc

Advanced Packrafting Paddling & Expedition Planning Courses

So you’ve paddled Class III and maybe even Class IV, and you can easily self rescue every time? Do you often take others out, but you’re not 100% sure about your leadership skills?

Do you want to learn advanced whitewater paddling skills in your packraft? Are you interested in honing your technical and complex strokes? How would you like to expertly navigate eddies? Do you want to know how to better read the river? Want to make excellent decisions as a group? Do you want to learn to manage vertical drops and surf like a pro?

Would you like to learn more about expedition planning, from planning and packing to understanding GIS and paper maps so you can get after it in the backcountry?

If the answer is yes to some or all of these questions, an advanced course may be the next step you should take in your packrafting career. Advanced instructional courses with Steve “Doom” Fassbinder, Dan Thurber and Brett Davis will take you to the next level in boating. Check out our general curriculum check list below.


To participate in the advanced courses, you’re expected to be an intermediate/advanced to advanced paddler. You should have mastered all the skills outlined in the beginner/intermediate courses.

  • ✓Technical and complex strokes
  • ✓Dancing with the river: running big waves and laterals.
  • ✓Managing vertical drops
  • ✓Surfing
  • ✓Paddling a expedition loaded boat in whitewater
  • ✓How to read whitewater
  • ✓Using online resources: GIS, USGS water gauges, Google Earth, etc
  • ✓Using paper maps and navigation in the field
  • ✓Trip planning & logistics
  • ✓Expedition pack lists
  • ✓What to pack and how/where to pack it
  • ✓Expedition vs. personal items
  • ✓Expedition food planning and prep
  • ✓Leave No Trace practices in the backcountry
  • ✓Managing your backcountry camping and boating gear
  • ✓How to find a good camp
  • ✓Time management skills
  • ✓How to efficiently transition from the river to camp
  • ✓Read & run style boating
  • ✓Reading whitewater/hazards and avoiding them
  • ✓Expedition mentality
  • ✓Scouting and decision-making
  • ✓Group selection
  • ✓Expedition group dynamics
  • ✓Group downstream travel technique & communications
  • ✓Eddy hopping, traveling in groups. How to travel down a river safely by eddy hopping in groups
  • ✓Clear communication: hand signals
  • ✓Setting safety and choosing challenges: review, practice and implementation
  • ✓Basic optional roll instruction (not a focus, but you may request)
  • ✓Backcountry repairs clinic
  • ✓Storytelling