Hike and paddle: Packrafting gaining popularity with Yukon adventurers
'With a boat you can throw on your back and carry over a pass, it gives you tons of opportunity'
They're colourful, inflatable, and weigh about three kilograms.
Packrafts are starting to show up on Yukon waterways, alongside canoes and kayaks.
The inflatable boats can be carried in a backpack, allowing keen adventurers to hike and paddle in places without road access.
Kevin Daffe, owner of Tatshenshini Expediting, says interest in the sport has increased since his company offered its first packrafting course last fall, by demand.
"We had people in a river rescue class that had gone out with their packrafts, gotten themselves in trouble and said 'Hey, can you teach us how to use these?'"
Daffe says packrafts have evolved since they first came out several years ago. He says they used to be more like inner tubes intended for short river crossings.
Now they can be used for whitewater.
Jasmin Dobson, who took a packrafting course last weekend, is excited by the possibilities opened up by packrafts.
She didn't have a lot of recent whitewater experience before the course, but she quickly gained comfort on the water.
"The packrafts are actually quite forgiving," Dobson said, adding "I feel very safe in the water with them."
But paddlers should be aware of the added risks of paddling in remote areas. Daffe said things could get challenging quickly, especially in remote areas.
"It's easy to access more challenging whitewater without actually understanding water, being able to read water and know the hazards that come with it," he explained.
"I think before going out it's important that people work their way up, maybe take some courses, do some river rescue, and just be aware of the group dynamics."