Paddle – While there may not be a perfect paddle for all situations the general advice for pack rafters is;
For open water or grade 1/2 a longer paddle 210cm-225cm is better than a shorter one 195-210cm. If you are carrying it long distances or paddling long days then lightweight is a bonus. A 4-piece split paddle fits inside most packs, 3-piece and 2-piece splits stick out, which can be challenging when bush bashing
Brendon’s Pick – Werner Powerhouse 197cm
Throwbag – A rescue line that all packrafters should carry on moving water, this should be carried on your body or in a rapidly accessible place on your boat
The length (10-25m) depends on the rivers you are paddling a 12m throwbag might suit the Hutt Gorge but is completely unsuitable for the Buller where a 20m line is more suitable.
Line diameter – there is a disturbing trend with packrafters trying to save weight by getting a thinner line. In order to do its job it needs to have at least a 6mm rated floating line.
Brendon’s pick – HF Weasel 18m
Helmet – An essential bit of gear for moving water environments. There is a wide range of whitewater specific helmets to choose from.
Ear protection is perhaps underrated when looking for a paddling helmet, not only do those ear flaps help protect against side impacts, but they help prevent ‘surfers ear’/exestoses, a condition that develops with cold water exposure.
Brendon’s Pick – Sweet Protection – Sweet Rocker
Personal Floatation Device (PFD) – There is no other piece of equipment more important than your PFD. It is there to provide flotation for when you unexpectedly find yourself in rather than on the water. More importantly for white water paddlers, your PFD is a rescue tool. A Rescue PFD creates a harness for others to save you from a challenging white water environment and also allows you to perform a rescue for others whilst dramatically increasing your safety with its releasable rescue belt.
Brendon’s Pick – Kokatat Hustler
Shoes – River environments have a special way of destroying footwear.