As has been the case for many of our activities as Columbia’s Directors of Toughness, I had never really given kayaking much thought. As daft as it may seem, I didn’t even really know that river trips existed for people who didn’t own boats.
You would be surprised at how inclusive a river trip can be – people of all ability levels can enjoy a few days on the river. The water might seem intimidating, but if you have the right guide, gear, and attitude you’ll have a great experience.
The big difference between a trip on the river and hiking is the amount of gear you can take. If backpacking is unappealing, because you can’t function without your morning coffee, favorite book or even a nice meal then a kayaking trip could be just what you’re looking for. You don’t have to carry all your gear with you if you’re booking a trip through a trusted river guide. Therefore, you can afford to bring with you a few more luxuries than you’d expect. Within reason, you can take the heavier tent, the warmer sleeping bag or even that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
Picking the right guide for your trip is crucial – particularly if you’ve never done anything like this before. Pick the wrong guide and you’ll be wringing out your underwear whilst crying into a dehydrated mac and cheese at night. Pick the right guide and you’ll sit gazing up at the stars warm and dry with a belly full of steak.
You would be surprised at how inclusive a river trip can be.
A good guide will take you from complete novice, like me, to safely negotiating your first rapid on the first go. Choosing a guide who knows the river well and who guides there often is a huge advantage. They will be able to navigate you through the water according to your ability, which makes it an activity suitable for the whole family.
And for me, the biggest piece of advice when looking towards your first river trip is to choose the ‘Duckie’ option. A ‘Duckie’ is a single or double inflatable kayak which puts you firmly in the driving seat. Skip the tour where you’re a passenger on a guided raft and get stuck in!
If you’re looking for a fun, exciting, and a little bit of challenging adventure this summer, then I highly recommend getting out on the river.
Mark Chase is the first international Director of Toughness and joins the company from Gloucester, England. Raised on a diet of climbing, skiing, camping, hiking and rugby, it was obvious that a warm office and a cozy bed was never going to cut it. An ex Semi-professional Rugby player, Mark is used to pushing himself both mentally and physically and is always up for a challenge. You can follow Mark’s journey as Director of Toughness here and social channels including: Twitter | Instagram