Whitewater kayakers can cite many reasons why the hard-shell boat is their chosen vehicle for adventure.
They seek the personal and intimate connection to the water. They love the greater variety of rivers they are able to explore. They value the freedom of loading a boat and heading to the river.
With the rise in popularity of multi-day trips, its no surprise that white water kayakers are increasingly packing up their kayak and hitting the river for multiple days, even weeks, at a time. However, the transition between a raft-supported multi-day trip to one where space is much more limited can be an intimidating and scary hurdle to cross.
For the first article in our Self-Support Kayak Tripping series, we take a look at the benefits of a choosing a kayak over a raft.
Why not just take a raft?
While the luxuries of a raft-supported multi-day trip are undeniable (big dutch ovens, camp chairs, ice, refreshing canned beverages and more), taking a kayak can actually make a river trip easier while maintaining the quality and comfort you deserve during precious vacation time.
Kayaks simplify everything. Self-support trips force us to take only what is necessary, significantly simplifying camp and equipment needs. Without the tables, stoves, propane tanks, commissary boxes, food boxes and other multi-day rafting kitchen supplies, setting up camp can take as little as 5 minutes. This means more time for exploration, enjoying company of friends and relaxation.
Kayaks go everywhere. From coastal inlets to steep California creeks to Oregon’s wilderness classics, kayaks can be taken to places that raft find inaccessible. Whether the nature of the white water prevents rafters from descending a river or hassle of access, kayaks are smaller, lighter and able to go more places.
Kayaks provide independence. Kayaks have only one captain. On multi-day self-support trips, kayakers find that they are able to explore more of what interests them, perhaps paddling ahead to camp and hike, or stopping to enjoy a surf wave as others move on. Kayakers eat when the want and play when they want, not having to depend on the group for setting up camp and preparing meals.
Our next article in the series will begin to explore the gear necessary to embark on a successful self-support kayak trip. From specific equipment considerations to packing to groover tubes, you’ll learn what makes a self-support trip an easy and exciting way to access more whitewater. From there we’ll help kayakers in the Pacific Northwest chose multi day river stretches that will make for an amazing first white water self-support kayak trip.
Author Susan Hollingsworth writes for Wet Planet Whitewater, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, American Whitewater, and any other river-related publication she can find.