Choosing Your Outfitter

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO PADDLE?

You may want to visit coastal water trails, nearby lakes; or faster waters with the thrill of whitewater rapids using a guide raft service.

WHO’S GOING WITH YOU?

PPA Lifestyle - Caviness whitewater 5 in raft 3qtrs 258x175Do they all have the same experience, motivation and ability to enjoy the experience, or are some members of your group are more adventurous than others?

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF TRIPS TO CHOOSE FROM?

To create the best possible experiences for yourself and your group, consider the type of experience you seek.

You’d like to float your own boat.  Rent and paddle a boat or stand up paddleboard  (SUP) and have it shuttled to your starting location, or back to the outpost once you’ve completed your trip.  Seasoned paddlers often hire outfitted services to handle long vehicle shuttles.

PPA Fishing Kayak - Old Town Predator 271x175
Fishing in an Old Town Predator. Photo courtesy of Old Town Canoes

You’d just like expert tips or guidance. Paddle with a guide who knows the waterway and can provide an educational or interpretive experience.

You’d like experts to handle your gear and all logistics. A fully outfitted trip by raft, usually on whitewater, includes a guide who takes command of the boat and navigates through rapids. You may have to paddle: when rafts are propelled by oars, the guide does most of the work.

CHOOSE AN OUTFITTER WHO WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS

Rafting on the Ocoee with Wildwater Outfitters, featuring  Valley Paddles, MTI life vests and RiverGear Helmets
Rafting on the Ocoee with Wildwater Outfitters: photo courtesy of Man of Rubber, featuringValley Paddles, MTI life vests and RiverGear Helmets

On an “outfitted trip” you can rely on the services of a professional firm to provide instruction,  supplies and equipment that you will need,  and they may also guide your trip. Use the Outfitter Search to find a trip or outfitter by activity or location.

If you are a first timer or unfamiliar with a particular type of experience on the waterway, make a list of questions and call an outfitter to discuss them. They will be happy to answer them, and may bring up other helpful topics for you to consider, as well.

If you are finding it challenging making your outfitter selection, ask a couple of companies for references, preferably from guests who been on a trip recently from your area.

CONSIDER YOUR PHYSICAL ABILITY

Paddlers taking out of the  river with their cataraft. Photo: Jack's Plastic Welding
Paddlers ‘taking out’ of the river at the end of the day.. Photo: Jack’s Plastic Welding

… and the ability of the others in your family or group? Most activities do not require a high level of conditioning, but some physical conditions may not be advisable on some trips. You will need to inform your outfitter of any special conditions as you discuss the trip. Outfitters are good at providing reasonable accommodations for various conditions, but some trips may have essential eligibility requirements.

LUXURY CAMPING vs. ROUGHING IT?

Luxury or roughing it - tentAre you looking for an outdoor trip that provides creature comforts where guides cook, set-up camp and cater to you or do you want to do more of this on your own? You’ll be surprised just how comfortable the thick sleeping pads and cozy flannel sleeping bags are. With a creek murmuring nearby, you’ll may sleep better than you do at home.

LODGING OPTIONS.

Huts are options on some overnight trips
Huts are options on some overnight trips

Many outfitters also have lodges, cabins or other facilities so that youcan enjoy the backcountry during the day and head back to a shower and bed at night. Regardless of how you answered these questions, America Outdoors’ website adventurevacation.com with its searchable database can help direct you to an outfitter that fits your needs. You many want to take notes about your experience with each outfitter as you do your research starting with your first phone call. Did they seem friendly and helpful? Did you feel they were focused on your needs and questions?

To find the perfect paddlesports opportunity near you, visit Outfitter Search.

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AOAThis site is sponsored by America Outdoors Association.  AOA and PPA unified in 2012.  Outfitter and vendor memberships are available through AOA.

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