PackRafting Level 3

Packraft River Safety/Swiftwater Rescue Skills

Level 3 is designed for students looking to packraft more demanding class III rivers and execute longer wilderness trips. Level 3 focuses on developing the paddling techniques and judgment skills required for running complex rapids and the swiftwater rescue skills most often employed in packrafting class III rivers.

Packrafting Level 2 class or prior whitewater kayaking in class II or several class II packrafting trips and you can control your packraft. Please feel free to contact us to help you determine if this class is correct for you
Fitness level:
Course Duration:
Two days (Memorial weekend is a special 3 day)
Mirror Lake, Eagle River, Willow Creek, or Mirror Lake, Eagle River, Six Mile Creek.   ther locations maybe used depending on water conditions
See Event Calendar for times, dates, meeting locations for this class

Level 3 combines the best parts of a whitewater kayaking class with the best parts of a Swiftwater Rescue Class. Competent paddling skills combined with knowledge of how rivers flow create a much safer paddling environment. Your goal is to be proactive and not reactive. Avoid an accident don’t be the accident!

Half of this class is devoted to paddling and river reading. Accidents do happen, and one needs to be prepared to respond. Level 3 devotes time learning and practicing selected topics from the traditional Swiftwater Rescue Class. Level 3 identified the types of safety situations that most often confront a packraft group. You spend time practicing and improving the skills required to resolve these situations. Our motto; “Have a story, don’t be the story”.

PackRafting Level 3 employs a “Learning by Doing” philosophy . The river is your classroom. Come prepared to be outdoors on the river all day.



Level 3 starts on a lake to focus on paddle swimming, efficient paddling, remounting and towing skills. The afternoon is conducted on Eagle River, the same section as the Level 2 course. You will cover the same topics as Level 2, but you will be held to a higher standard.

Day two will be on Willow Creek or Six Mile Creek.  Everything is faster and steeper today. The  focus is executing day one’s skills in more demanding water where timing and angle become critical components for success. In addition, the swiftwater skills of: solo wadding, group wadding, swimming, throw bags, securing run-away boats and engaging strainers will be practiced. This is a long fatiguing day.


Course Outline:

  • Equipment; packraft differences, paddle characteristics, PFD correct fit
  • Ropes: Ropes and lines on a packraft is a hot debate. We will discuss the pros and cons as well as the “Do’s / Dont’s when rigging your boat for whitewater. You will retrieve boats with/without lines. For this class  WE REQUIRE at least a bow or a stern line. Rope, 8 ft,  (6ft of pull, 2ft for securing to boat). It needs to be floating rope, 1/2 -3/4 inch (15-20mm) not parachute cord or webbing. you can buy it at class
  • Hydrology , river gauges, planning your trip, resources
  • Efficient paddling technique, posture, torso rotation, high angle vs. low angle
  • Proper boat angles for eddy turns and river ferries
  • Strokes; forward, reverse, sweep, draw, brace
  • Paddle swimming, crawl and back stroke
  • Paddle swimming with boat and paddle
  • Scouting rapids from shore and from the river (read & run)
  • Swimming rapids and SELF RESCUE
  • Throw bags
  • Run away boats
  • Boat towing
  • Run away paddles
  • Dealing with strainers, sweepers. rocks, holes, waves in your boat
  • Catching eddies
  • Ferry techniques
  • Day trip planning
  • Group safety: whistle signal, hand signal, lead boater, sweep boater, buddy system


Required equipment: you supply

  • Packraft: a spray deck is encouraged but not essential. If your packraft is more than 8 years old you should consider renting one of our Alpacka boats ($20 rent).
  • Paddle: If yours is > 200 cm (many of you have >=210cm, it’s too long. Whitewater requires a high angle technique which requires a shorter paddle. If you are under 5ft 10 inch a 210 cm paddle will handicap your ability to develop proper whitewater skills. Consider renting a shorter paddle ($5 rent)
  • Drysuit:  ($20 rent).
  • Throw Bag: we will have several, but if you have one bring it
  • Whitewater Helmet: Old school climbing helmets are bad. Your helmet must be secure so as not to tip back exposing your forehead. If we do not like your helmet we will give you one
  • Wet suit gloves: save your skin in rope drills, feel your hands in swimming drills
  • Running shoes: Shoe must lace, no sandals
  • You will be out for 5-6 hours
  • Water bottle: Ability to clip into boat is of value.
  • Lunch: Day one you will be at your car; day two is on the river.
  • Bug spray optional.
  • Sun screen optional.
  • Dry bag: For lunch, extra layers, water, have a method to secure your bag in you boat. The Alpacka bow bag is AWESOME.
  • Dogs: Leave them home, you will be away from your vehicle for 4 or more hours
  • State Parks decal: Your car will be parked on state park land, requiring $5 parking fee or decal.


Questions? Contact


Eagle River, Alaska