American Packrafting Association

Dear Packrafters,

The American Packrafting Association (APA) was founded in October 2012 by a group of avid packrafters from across the United States to ensure that packrafting has a place on America’s public lands.

The mission of the APA is to represent the packrafting community to promote access, safety, education and conservation. The APA is already deeply involved in access issues in Grand Canyon, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We want you to join our efforts to promote packrafting as a safe and exciting way to enjoy and protect America’s wild rivers and wild places.

Please become a member of the American Packrafting Association. Visit us at to learn more about the APA and to join us!

Welcome aboard!

APA Board of Directors
Brad Meiklejohn, President
Tom Turiano, Vice President
Moe Witchard, Treasurer
Amy Hatch, Secretary
Forrest McCarthy
Roman Dial

APA Executive Council
Kevin Colburn, Missoula, MT
Mike Curiak, Grand Junction, CO
Chris Erickson, Portland, OR
Michael Fiebig, Bozeman, MT
Bretwood Higman, Seldovia, AK
Andrew McLean, Park City, UT
Luc Mehl, Anchorage, AK
Jeff Pflueger, Berkeley, CA
Ed Plumb, Fairbanks, AK
Rich Rudow, Phoenix, AZ
Mik Shain, Jackson, WY
Scott Solle, Sandy, UT

Hmmm. Why couldn’t it just have been left as it was? Once you start an American site, all us others who live in minimaly litiginous societies get lumped with all the legal crap that we don’t deserve. I think our perspective helps to keep you ( Americans!) appropriately focused on enjoying life outside the legal ramifications.

Andrew A

Andrew, not sure what you are concerned about. The form and function of this forum won’t be changing at all.

Brad Meiklejohn

Andrew if you are concerned about the APA, I share your concerns. But I am not an American so maybe its an institution relevant only for Americans. It makes me nervous for sure.

Maybe you guys can articulate your concerns and worries a bit? Yours are the first negative words we have heard from the hundreds who have joined APA. It is not like we are out to make you register your boats or take away your assault paddles…

Brad, I’ve replied directly to you and lawnpotter by emil.

I should have replied generally on the forum . Please feel free to put my response on the forum. I’m happy for all to read and think about, as it is raises some issues, important to me, and maybe irrelevant to others.

Andrew A

" and if I want to paddle with a sleeping mat wrapped around me as a PFD and an aluminium colander on my head as a helmet, I will"


Initial thoughts were:

What is the purpose of an APA? And why is the formation thereof posted as a sticky on all the international sub forums?

The forum as it stood was , and hopefully will be, unless the APA overwhelms it, a lovely international collaboration of thoughts and feedback about packrafting around the world, although of course the Europeans/Brits have their own forum. It has largely been free of rules and regulations, which allows for lateral thought and extension thereof about how to develop packrafting as a pursuit, from the point of design, and use. It has been a forum which was not restricted too much by legalities.

Some years ago I put up a post about my home made inflatable PFD, made using wine bladders. It was put up as a concept. Soon after, someone sent me a post pointing out that I needed to be careful to ensure that my wording did not suggest people use such a PFD, because I might be held liable for any bad outcomes from using such a design. I took a very big backward step, and reworded things. I hadn’t contemplated the legal ramifications of making such a post.

Maybe naive, but in Australia, we mostly make our own choices about what and how we do things in life. There are a small number of legal firms taking cases on a contingency basis, but generally it’s pay for service in Oz ( in the US contingency fees make a much higher proportion of legal income). In some opinions, this is why Australia is not such a litiginous society ( I am a medical practitioner, and these are also the thoughts of my medical indemnity insurer, which is the basis for my comment).

I would like the forum to stay relatively free of “legal overtones”. I would like it to stay as a relatively free expression of design concepts, without people having to be “careful” about their posts, as per my example above.

Once an APA is formed, it will no doubt require some associated “guidelines”, which are then likely to be seen, or interpreted as “rules”. In the US you may require rules, " so you reduce your risk of being litigated against" In Oz we don’t. My point is that if you guys in the US want or need an APA, have one, but please don’t impose it on everyone outside the US. Start your own group outside the packraft forums. Recognise that people can do what they want to do, and what they wish to take responsibility for.

Have a look through the very early forum posts. Hig and Erin did their amazing trip. I recall that they used sleeping mats as PFDs, wrapped under their rain jackets. Great idea. In recent years Roman suggested thigh straps. The response related to risk of entanglement ( and litigation). We’ve moved beyond this. I recently posted about using aluminium helmets for rafting and cooking. Read the responses. Absolutely no facility for lateral and constructive thought. This is what I am anxious that the forum may lose if the APA becomes a driving force in THIS forum.

I hope I’ve made my point adequately. If not, I’m happy to extend my reponse.

Andrew Allan

Sent from my iPad

On 25/03/2013, at 1:06 PM, Bradmeiklejohn69 <> wrote:


I saw your comments on the packrafting forum about the American Packrafting Association and am really mystified. Can you tell me what exactly you don’t like about APA? What are you afraid of? What are the legalities you speak of?

I like to believe that APA will be a force for good and will provide benefits to packrafters everywhere. I will listen closely to your concerns if you will share them with me.

Brad Meiklejohn, President

While Andrew’s idea is expressed quite strongly, I do agree with the bottom line of it. I moved to the US a bit more then a year ago and have been shocked by this fear of liability everywhere. I lived in Romania all my life where these things do not exist. If you trip on a step that is chipped and brake your teeth, you are the only one responsible for that (your mates might even laugh at you), not the company who build or owns the step! And the list can go on and on and on.

I do think that the idea of an APA is good if it will not fall into this trap. They can have a word to say when authorities decide to do things with rivers or river access points (mainly I would vote to keep all rivers and wilderness areas undeveloped but accessible to whomever is prepared and equipped to go there). They can keep the community united, organize events, push manufacturers to make better and more affordable boats, maybe with time offer benefits to the members.

I just became a member, but I hope we will all have total freedom of speech and expression and that everyone is responsible for their own actions and decisions.