Packrafting is an adventurous hobby that involves making the most of your ability to traverse through fast currents. To say that it’s exciting is an understatement. However, a few things are worth considering before you go at it alone. When you are on your own, it’s up to your body’s capabilities to take care of you as you travel through whitewater rivers. Knowing how to get in shape for a packrafting trip is a great way to prepare you for the venture ahead.

Core Exercises

When you are in a fast-moving packraft, you must always sit upright while trying your best to balance yourself. Your core is a contributing factor to how well you can achieve this balance. Working on some planks is a great way to help you keep up with the swaying of your boat. Plank presses, similar to push-ups done one arm at a time, build the muscles you need to stabilize yourself during a ride. This exercise is also helpful for your paddling, as you use your core as a means of support to keep you steady.

Sit-ups are another good exercise for building this part of your body. By working on your core with things like abdominal presses, Superman stretches, and bridges, you can train yourself in various ways. The most important thing to remember is that you need to diversify your workout routine to prevent your body from adjusting to the motions. Otherwise, you begin to specialize your body to those workout routines and achieve fewer gains in turn.

Legs and Hips

If your core helps support your paddling and balance, then the legs and hips are the biggest players in maintaining your raft’s stability as a whole. By working your legs and hips, you can take advantage of the added strength and maintain a smooth trip to the river’s end. Squats are an amazing workout for these specific parts of your body. Depending on how long the trip to your rafting spot is, it’s a good idea to incorporate squats semi-regularly, switching between this option and an alternative exercise.

For those with a set of weights at home, this is the time to bring them out. Deadlifts are some of the best ways to improve your glutes, back, and hamstrings. One thing to keep in mind with this workout is the importance of technique, as using improper technique has the potential to damage your back. For those unfamiliar with the proper technique, it’s a good idea to seek professional training until you are confident in your ability to do the exercise correctly. Having the ability to reliably balance your raft allows you to maneuver through rough bends and confidently tackle higher-difficulty routes.

Work Your Rhomboids

If you have never heard of a rhomboid before, you are not alone. If you touch the soft tissue between your shoulders, that is exactly the area we’re discussing. The rhomboids are an essential packrafting muscle, as they aid in retracting your muscles at the end of your paddle strokes. Taking extra care to work out these muscles does a lot for you in the long run. For example, building strength here can prevent strains early on and upper back pain in cases where you push yourself too hard.

One go-to activity for working out your rhomboids is the pull-up. This exercise helps define your back and strengthen the muscles for extended use. As you incorporate pull-ups, remember to take them slowly. Many people discover they are not easily able to do them and give up. The workout gradually becomes easier and more possible over time, but you must start by lowering the bar and doing what you can.

When you feel like you are not able to do anymore during your session, slowly lower yourself to make the most out of the final pull-up of your routine each time. It’s also wise to have a spotter for this exercise, as potential cramps and anxiety can make lowering to the ground difficult.


It’s important to work on your muscular endurance. For those aiming to get the most out of your packrafting experience, improving how long you can go without tiring out your body is crucial. This focus allows you to enjoy longer rivers and have more fun before taking a break. Remember that it is up to you to safely ensure you make it through a packrafting ride. Understanding and gradually improving your limits is key to staying healthy and safe.

For triceps workouts, it’s a good idea to hit the bench press and work on your stamina. In this instance, you do not necessarily need to work on the amount you lift. Instead, set attainable goals regarding how long you are able to perform this exercise. When it comes to improving your stamina, it’s all about the number of reps you can complete within a set. Focusing your efforts on setting a steady pace teaches your body how to continually perform the movement.

Cool Downs

At the end of each of your workout sessions, it’s vital to perform a cooldown exercise. This is a good way to aid your body in achieving a gradual recovery. Letting your heart ease into a lower-intensity workout gives you a good starting point for the next time you get active. Improving things like endurance is essential for controlling your blood flow. Plus, it helps you adapt to similar physical events.

Going down the river on your portable raft is a thrill that is hard to match. While it’s smart to go on a packrafting trip with high-quality gear, your body does a lot of the work, especially on intense whitewater rivers. Fortunately, anyone can enjoy packrafting, meaning you don’t need to tackle these exercises like a pro athlete to reap their benefits. The more you incorporate them into your daily routine, the more you see yourself improving on your next packrafting journey. Knowing how to get in shape for a packrafting trip is one of the best ways to ensure you experience your rides to the fullest.

How To Get in Shape for a Packrafting Trip
November 01, 2022 — Adrian Landia