2020 European Packrafting Meet-up & Testival

This is a very special year and even if the Meet-up happened at a different time and place than originally scheduled, we are stoked that it was still possible!

It was the 3rd edition of the European Packrafting Meet-up, and it feels like it just keeps getting better and better every year :-) Most likely due to such great packrafters & people attending, some of which have been joining since the first event and become close friends; others participating for the first but certainly not the last time!

The 2020 Meet-up united around 50 participants from 10 nationalities at Salza river in Wildalpen, Austria, which turned out a to be a perfect location for running different workshops and clinics right in front of the campground, without losing any time for transport or waiting for people to get ready. Salza river offers different sections for all levels, but you could quite easily spend a couple of hours playing and training on the section right at the campground and walk back up.

Packraft Meet-up 2020

Packrafting

Photo @Packraft Explorers

 

Although the event officially only started on Wednesday, quite a few participants took the whole week off and had already arrived at Wildalpen the weekend before. Tuesday and Wednesday saw some professional courses - on one hand the Beginner course of Packraft Touren and on the other hand our Packraft Europe Whitewater Rescue course. Both were certainly an excellent preparation for the Meet-up and participants could share and practice the newly learned skills with other paddlers on the days to follow.

Packrafting Safety Course

Packraft Europe Whitewater Safety Course, Photo @Packraft Explorers

 

On Wednesday, most of the remaining people arrived and set up camp in stunning autumn weather on the nice grassy area of the Naturfreunde Campground in Wildalpen, right next to the Salza on a river stretch with many eddies, waves and lots of features to play and train.

Packraft Europe

Photo @Packraft Explorers

 Packraft Explorers

Photo Laura @Packraft Explorers

 

Thursday morning the action started, first all people who had volunteered to run workshops and trainings came together for a quick meeting and then we started with a general briefing for all participants. Different stations were set up on the river section next to the campground and small groups could learn and train basic skills at each station, with the help of an experienced packrafter that supervised the training.

Packraft Roundup

Photo Tom @Packraft Explorers

 

These were the skills trained on Thursday morning: Whitewater swimming with  the Packraft Explorers Tom & Laura, as well as Manfred; re-entering your packraft with Robert; Eddy turn & Ferry glide with Rob from Robfin, and throwbagging with Tommy & Remi.

Pretty much everybody rotated through those 4 stations, spending 1 hour at each and within the space of one morning, this meant that most people could learn and train these basic skills, before going packrafting in the afternoon.

Packrafting Meetup

Photo @Packraft Explorers

 

We split into several groups for the afternoon paddle with a maximum number of 6 people per group and an experienced packrafter who would lead the tour, or 2 group leaders if there were more than 6 paddlers. People also used the opportunity and tested available demo packrafts (Alpacka Raft from Packraft Europe, Robfin or Kokopelli provided by Packraft Touren).

Packaft Meetup

Photo @Packraft Explorers

 

Friday saw us keen on a longer packrafting tour and after enjoying a great cup of coffee provided by the Villach roastery La Mattina (hint - order some online with the discount code: packraft ) - we split into groups and different skill levels once again, some of us starting right at the campground and packrafting downriver, others heading upstream to do the easy but very scenic Klausgraben section, with perfect sunny autumn weather.

Packraft Europe

We took the kids for a paddle at the Klausgraben section :-) Photo Martin Zilka

 

Just before the daily evening BBQ campfire was lit, Seon did a short presentation about Expedition Preparation, a topic that was raised in the morning by a few participants who wanted to learn more about it.

European Packrafting Meet-up

Expedition Planing workshop with Seon (Packraft Europe), Photo @ Packraft Explorers.

 

Saturday morning, more workshops proposed by the participants took place: A field repair workshop, by Seon from Packraft Europe and Rob Fin, with the help of Craig who gave some great bad weather repair tips. And later on, a boofing and paddle technique workshop, run by Seon. Whoever was not attending the workshops, went paddling one more time.

 Packraft Repair

Repair workshop with Seon (Packraft Europe), Photo @ Packraft Explorers.

Packraft boofing workshop

Boofing workshop with Seon (Packraft Europe), Photo @ Packraft Explorers.

 Packrafting

Photo @Packraft Explorers

 

On this last evening, Manfred prepared a movie screening of The Undammaged, and set up a small stand with Balkan River Defence merchandising to raise funds.

Contributing to river protection has been part of the European Packrafting Meet-up since the beginning, and we want to thank every participant and also those who registered and donated and then couldn't come. We have raised close to 2.000 Euro that were entirely donated to river conservation projects. BIG THANK YOU!!!

Once again it has been a lot of fun, some new things learned, old things practiced, great people and we already look forward to next years Meet-up planed for April 28th - May 2nd, 2021 at the Soca once again.

Packrafting Meet-up 2020

Photo @ Packraft Explorers.

 

Thanks to everybody for coming and special thanks to those who have volunteeered their time and shared their skills with less experienced paddlers by running workshops and tours!

We truly enjoy being part of this anual gathering, and are very grateful to once again with all your help having raised a decent chunk of money for the river protection projects that we are passionate about. You can watch this video to learn more about our mission, and why we use our business as a tool to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of the last free flowing rivers in Europe!

Enjoy and see you next year!

Michaela & Seon

Founders of Packraft Europe

 

 

Oktober 01, 2020 — Michaela Crockford-Laserer

Comments

Max

Max said:

Looks like there were some great workshop again !
Hopefully we will be back as normal in 2021 ! I really missed the meetup this year, and hope to see you all in 2021 !
Nice labelling on the boats by the way !

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