Advice for a beginner?

Hi everyone,

I am completely new to packrafting and would love any advice on how to get started, whether it be trips, gear, recommended courses/training, etc. I love backpacking and fishing and always thought it would be great to combine these two interests by using a portageable kayak and packrafting provides just that.

As I mentioned in another post, I am planning a trip to Alaska this summer and would love to incorporate packrafting, so I really want to gain as much experience as possible before the trip. I do not have any experience with whitewater (I have only used my kayak on lakes for fishing). I do not own a packraft but am planning on renting one for a few days or a week to gain a some experience with one.

I live in Athens, Georgia so I would love to hear any suggestions for good rivers to go on in the nearby Southeast. Also, if any of yall are interested I would love to join you on any trips to learn from you.

Finally, my friend has a good deal on a course to become a rafting guide, and I was wondering if you guys think that would be a good idea to do. As I said, I have no experience with whitewater so I thought that it may be a good way to learn about reading the water and other tips.

Thanks in advance for any advice!


You can best learn to packraft by taking a series of WW kayaking classes from a reputable source. It typically takes 3 days (lessons) to just understand the basics. I would add at least another 3 days of practice before heading to AK. If there is a WW kayaking club in your area, it is a great way to get some practice safely and economically.

The wilderness rivers commonly have lots trees/brush/wood in the water primarily along the edges. In contrast, WW classes are typically held in areas where the wood risk has largely been eliminated. Dumping in a wood cleared river is just another learning experience. Dumping in a wilderness river with lots of wood (strainers) can easily kill you.

Roman Dial’s book covers packraft specific instruction like deep water self-rescue. This is not covered in a typical WW class but it is information you must know and practice.