Packrafting Guidelines

What has changed

With the rise of packrafting in the club we are seeking to improve the safety of trips and remove confusion around how trips are going to be run.

Each packrafting trip that is run by the club will have an associated “Paddler Level Requirement” attached to it, in line with the grade of the river being paddled. To come on the trip, you will have to meet or exceed the required paddler level. This requirement will only be waived if there is a high guide to beginner ratio or at the discretion of the senior guide.

All new club members will have to demonstrate their paddling ability starting at Level 1 - 2 on an easy river before they can come on more advanced trips. To upskill and be assessed, participants will be required to come to an easy packrafting trip where you can get comfortable in a boat and practice basic paddling skills; generally, these are specific introductory pack-rafting or rafting trips.

If you are new to the club but can demonstrate previous paddling ability (i.e., video, logbook, etc) or qualifications (WWRC, paddling courses, etc) then you may be granted recognition of prior learning.

Ultimately participation will be governed by the trip leader and senior guide, gear availability, river condition and ratio of guides to beginners.

Paddler Levels

Listed below are the different paddling levels that each participant would be assigned.

All beginners/new club members will start at Level 1.

Paddler Skills Required

Example Rivers

Level 1

  • Able to sit in boat without falling out
  • Follow paddling instructions provided by the guide

  • Derwent

Level 2

  • Able to control boat and paddle forwards
  • Demonstrate Stop, Go, Eddy Out signals and Whistle Signals
  • Able to re-enter boat in still water.
  • Comfortable swimming with boat and paddle through easy moving water.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of river hazards such as strainers, holes, etc.

  • Picton
  • Weld
  • Low Collingwood

Level 3

  • Active paddling skills such as bracing and edging.
  • Able to reliably catch eddies
  • Have river reading skills and pick own paddling line if required
  • Able to self-rescue quickly and enter boat in moving water
  • Paddle using buddy system if appropriate
  • Ability to participate in a rescue is desirable

  • Styx
  • North Esk - low water
  • Lower Brady’s
  • Mersey

Level 4

  • Excellent boat control
  • Ability to hit difficult lines and eddies
  • Able to “Eddy Hop” as a group
  • Strong self-rescue skills and able to participate in a rescue.
  • Knowledge of advanced paddling signals
  • WWRC and Wilderness First Aid are desirable

  • George - flood level
  • North Esk
  • Upper Brady’s
  • Styx - high water


  1. Does being a Trainee, Guide or Senior Guide make me a 'Level X’ paddler?
    1. While many of the skills we are looking for will translate well between rafting and packrafting, you still must be able to demonstrate your ability to paddle solo boats.
  2. Who can teach and assess me?
    1. Anyone who is of a higher paddling level can assess you and would be a great person to seek instruction from.
  3. Who should I contact if I have questions?
    1. The trip leader, guides, or committee members should be able to point you in the right direction. For the moment good points of contact include; Joshua Resta, Luke Dimsey and Ben Lack
  4. Do I need gear?
    1. No, the club can provide you with all the gear you need to paddle (boat, paddle, pfd, helmet, wetsuit, etc) but is limited by the number of boats the club owns.
  5. Can I bring my own gear?
    1. Yes! Feel free to being your own gear as this helps free up club gear for other people. If your boat has any DIY modifications, please let the trip leader know.
  6. Do the paddling levels line up with river grades?
    1. Your “Paddler Level” will be the highest-grade river you can attempt to paddle on a club trip, with the intention being that you possess the skills to paddle safely even if you don’t meet the technical grade of the river.

For instance, if you can hit nearly every line and eddy on the Mersey (a Grade 3 river) then you would be considered a Grade 3 paddler. Therefore, your technical paddling skills are Grade 3 and if you possessed the necessary rescue skills, etc, then you would be granted Level 4 paddler privileges, allowing you to attempt to paddle a Grade 4 river on a club trip.

  1. Where is level 5?
    1. We do not believe that grade 5 rivers can be run safely at a club level. This is due to the dangers involved, limitations of packrafts, skills and training required, etc.

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