I’m stoked to see that lots of folks are throwing in thigh straps & rolling their Alpackas in a pool. AWESOME!!! Once you get your roll down solid in the pool, practice as much as you can in strong moving current & swirly eddy lines… a “combat roll” (flipping unexpectedly & rolling back up) is completely different than a roll in the pool. It generally takes a bit of time to develop a solid combat roll that will bring you up 100% of the time in whitewater, so keep your patience & it will come with time & practice!
Since rolling a packraft is an entirely new element of packrafting, it has brought along an entirely new line of safety concerns. You are now, essentially, locked into you packraft while upside down, exposing you entire upper body, arms, & head to rocks & debris underwater, probably hanging about 2.5-3 ft. underwater with your head. Here are the 2 concerns that must be addressed:
- Helmets: helmets should now be whitewater helmets only. A bike helmet or climbing helmet is not made for repeated impact under water. I highly suggest investing in a composite whitewater helmet.
- Elbow pads: highly underrated, a good set of elbow pads will help protect your arms, chest, shoulders, and face upon contact with underwater rocks or when running tight slots/pinches/boulder gardens. Elbow pads with foam also will float your arms slightly, therefor making it easier to combat roll.
Owners of Susitna Sled & Kayak, Debra Prichard & James Castro, have these items & much more for sale at their shop up on Willow Creek, AK. It would be very wise to invest for next season to keep yourself save & healthy. Just thought I’d spread the word. Happy boatin’ folks,