All Whitewater Students Need:

  • Helmet. Make sure that it is whitewater specific and that if fits your head. Inspect the surface of the helmet to make sure that it does not have any cracks or severe damage. Make sure the buckle on the chin strap is not broken.
  • PFD (Life Jacket). Make sure that it is whitewater specific and that it fits you. Your PFD should have padding in both the front and back and should cover the majority of your spine. Choose a PFD that is not older than 5‐7 years and does not have rips, tears, broken straps, buckles, or zippers.
  • Appropriate footwear must be worn on the river; your toes should be covered. We recommend paddle shoes or neoprene booties. Be aware that tennis shoes or sport sandals will not fit in most whitewater kayaks or in canoe foot pegs. Pool shoes may also be used for the weekend and can be found at most big box retailers.
  • Boat Floatation. Floatation keeps your boat from filling up with water should you happen to take a swim. Our support boaters will greatly appreciate it if your boat has appropriate floatation. Floatation for kayaks include float bags in the stern of the boat (beach balls may be used). Floatation in both the bow and stern is required for canoes.
  • Dry Bag. You will want a dry bag for the weekend to carry your lunch and any other items necessary with you on the river. Soggy sandwiches suck!


Whitewater Kayak students will also need:

  • Whitewater Kayak. For beginning students, be sure that the kayak you rent is a river runner or creek boat. Playboats are much less stable and are not recommended for students who are just learning. The Jackson Fun series would be acceptable for beginning students.
  • Whitewater Paddle. Choose a whitewater specific paddle with blades that are offset at either 45 or 30 degrees.
  • Spray Skirt. Make sure the cockpit size matches the boat that you are bringing to Paddle School and the tunnel size fits your waist. Beginner students should choose a skirt with a bungee attachment. Spray skirts with a rand attachment are for serious playboaters and creek boaters and are designed to be much more difficult to be removed from the rim of a cockpit.
  • Nose Plugs. Trust us when we tell you that you will be glad you brought nose plugs, because the very first thing you will do is flip over and perform a wet exit (that’s how you get out of your boat when you are upside down!)
  • Sponge. For sopping up water from the bottom of your boat.


Whitewater Canoe students will also need:

  • Canoes. More advanced boats are shorter in length, generally eleven feet and under.
  • Canoe Paddle. The length of the paddle should not be longer than the distance from the ground to your armpit.
  • Pump. Either electric or manual. If you use a manual pump, make sure it is tied into your boat.

Outfitter Contacts for Whitewater Kayak Rentals:

River Sports, Knoxville
: We will have a trailer bring boats down rented from this outfitter. The fee is $35 per day or $70 for Friday through Sunday. Rentals include boat and all gear.

(865) 523-0066. Ask to speak to Brian.

Rock/Creek Outfitters, Ocoee Store: Ask to “demo” a boat, not “rent”. The fee is $50 per day and for everything excluding a helmet. You will need to give credit card information for a deposit in case the gear is not returned. Open: Saturdays and Sundays.

(423) 338-1075. Ask to speak to Jamie.

Uncle Lem’s, Knoxville
Has a variety of Jacksons that can be rented or if you are instersted in buying a demo boat, you can inquire about the options. Rentals are $50 for the weekend and include everything expect a helmet. Please reach out to Rachel Elise at relise@me.com for further information.


Students renting or borrowing gear for the weekend are strongly encouraged to arrive at Paddle School Friday night to receive assistance at our Outfitting Tent with any adjustments that may be needed so your gear fits properly. If you have any questions about gear, please contact one of the gear gurus listed below:

KAYAK: Brian Swafford (423) 902-6699 brianswafford@bellsouth.net; Ruthie MacLeod (901) 219-6281 ruthie_0205@hotmail.com; Dave Adkins (423) 475-5779 dave.adkins79@gmail.com

OPEN BOAT: Alex Vargas (865) 360-6544 irolled@hotmail.com or Lisa Lemza (423) 243-3530 lemzala@aol.com

ALTERNATIVE BOAT: Brian Swafford (423) 902-6699 brianswafford@bellsouth.net

FLATWATER: Eric Fleming 598eric@gmail.com