Long days and warming nights means that camping season is officially upon us. And even if there isn’t time to take a full vacation just yet, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of those glorious 55 hours after work on Friday, before you have to be back on Monday. Our Favorite? Paddle-in camping. Here are our top 10 favorites in the Southeast.
Summertime is right around the corner, and here in the South we love hanging out at the local swimming hole. Many of our swimming holes just so happen to be below beautiful waterfalls that dot the landscape of this region. Whether you’re a photographer or just an outdoors lover, here are our top 10 favorites you should check out if you’re ever in the area!
We have a lot to offer here in the south. Whether you like rugged mountains or long stretches of beautiful beaches, delicious BBQ or whitewater rafting, this unique region really has something for everyone. EWe’ve put a list together of some of our favorite biggest and best attractions we can think of here in the good ol’ south that you’ve got to check out while you’re here!
What’s better than a weekend fishing trip? Not much in our book. Those of you who live in the Southeast region of the United States are in a prime area for amazing fishing spots. Whether you like rivers and creeks or the open ocean, the southeast has something to offer for any avid fisherman or fisherwoman! We’ve put a list together of what we think are the top 10 best fishing spots of this unique region.
Our top 10 favorite apps for the outdoor enthusiast. From gazing at the stars to finding a campsite, with these 10 apps you'll never need another again!
By Browning Hemric
This great country of ours is vast and has tons of beautiful and wild places to visit. People love to talk about secret swimming holes and that mysterious and perfect campsite everyone knows about but won’t fess up to the actual location. We are so lucky to have such a wide range of unique environments to explore here in the US. From deserts to marshes, and mountains to secrets lakes, there’s something any outdoorsman or woman can enjoy. We’ve come up with a list of some of the top 10 wilderness spots to check out for your next adventure!
Linville Gorge, North Carolina
Well, we just had to start the list with one of our personal favorites! A shining gem here in North Carolina, the Linville Gorge Wilderness stretches over 11,651 acres. With it’s headwaters starting around Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River carves a breathtaking gorge which also features Linville Falls. This area has been popular with locals and visitors for generations. Linville Gorge also offers prime rock climbing with abundant interesting rock features, backpacking and hiking trails galore.
Joshua Tree, California
Named for the unique Joshua Trees in this desert region, this wilderness area is a must see for climbers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of any variety. The Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems collide here and offer tons of interesting features unique to the area as well as incredible rock formations. The temperatures are most comfortable during the spring and fall, so plan ahead. Joshua Tree is also a perfect spot for stargazers to enjoy the night sky so don’t forget your telescope!
Zion Wilderness, Utah
Zion Park alone offers a dozen beautiful desert waterfalls to check out, along with rock formations and secret swimming holes to discover. This wilderness area is a mecca for hikers with endless trails and natural staircases to climb to test any skill level. The heat can be brutal here in summer, so trips during the fall season are ideal. Zion translates to “heavenly city” and with such beautiful views and vistas to offer, it’s easy to see how this area got it’s name.
If you’re not a fan of dry deserts and prefer a more watery locale. the Florida Everglades are the perfect spot to explore. This ecosystem provides habitat for many rare and endangered species who feel just like you do about the water. Home to the American Crocodile and the Manatee, the Everglades are a natural region of tropical wetlands that include mangrove forests and cypress swamps. Some of these beautiful swamps can be dense and tough to get to, but with the K-Pak in tow you can actually carry your boat right on your back anywhere you want to check out. Just keep an eye out for snakes - and those crocs!
Teton Wilderness, Wyoming
The Teton Wilderness lies between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, also two amazing places to visit. This rugged landscape has it all; mountain views, the winding Snake River, and all kinds of wildlife who make the Tetons their home. Grizzly bears, wolves and moose frequent this wilderness, so be advised if you plan to make a visit! Fall is the best time of year to check out the Tetons as winters can be quite snowy.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Just one picture of Glacier National Park will have you booking plane tickets online. This pristine wilderness pulls at the heartstrings and imaginations of all outdoor lovers and wanderlusters alike. With mountains, beautiful lakes, glaciers, and miles and miles of trails to explore, Glacier National Park has so many options and sites to see. Exploring Glacier’s waterways is one of the best and somewhat unknown methods of seeing this grand national park up close and personal. Just throw your boat on your back and head off to adventure!
Denali National Park, Alaska
With over 6 million acres to explore in Denali, you won’t get bored quickly. All walks of life enjoy this national park from dog sledders to rafters, cross country skiers and hikers. Denali is truly one of the last wild landscapes we have the privilege of enjoying in our great country. Glaciers and vast mountain peaks dot the landscape here, but remember Alaska is known for harsh winters, so plan your visit to Denali accordingly!
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia is the only national park in the state of Maine, and was the first with an endowed trail system. Wilderness landscapes and rock formations meet the ocean with perfect trails and backpacking spots along the way. Acadia offers close to 50,000 acres with woodlands, lakes and shorelines to explore by boat - which we know is always the best means of travel! There’s also lots of native wildlife to keep an eye out for here including beavers, porcupines, moose, muskrats and foxes.
Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho
The “River of No Return” is referring to the Salmon River in this wilderness region of Central Idaho. This area has over 2.3 million acres to enjoy and is a favorite among whitewater rafters and kayakers. There are mountain ranges and canyons, and motorized machinery is prohibited here so travel can be a little more rugged - just how we like it! The Salmon River Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in North America, and offers a variety of landscapes to explore.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
The Boundary Waters (BWCAW) offers over 1 million acres of gorgeous waterways and forests to get lost in that borders our Canadian neighbors. Obviously, this area is very popular for canoeing and paddling of any variety, and a favorite spot for any avid fisherman. Nearly 20% of the BWCAW is water, with over 1,100 lakes and mile after mile of wandering rivers and streams. This is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the US with over 2,000 campsites, but also with enough breathing room for just you, your K-Pak, and your thoughts. Just don't forget the bug spray!
Any of these top spots are a perfect destination choice for your next adventure! Whether you like deserts or meandering waterways, rocky mountains or to get up close and personal with a moose the options are endless. Get your favorite crew together and start planning that trip of a lifetime that you’ll have photos on the mantle from!
From birch boats to folding boats, read all about the history of the modern canoe.
My name is Bryan Rooney and I am the founder of Triangle Adventure Outfitters, based out of Raleigh, NC. I met the owner of The Folding Boat Co. (Pete Flood) at a vendor show in central NC two years ago and immediately saw an opportunity to utilize his boats for some of the trips that I lead both in North Carolina and elsewhere. Due to their compact/lightweight design, these boats are a great fit for the avid outdoors(wo)man through beginner and even the outfitter that needs to transport lots of gear around at the same time. At the moment, we only have a couple of K-PAKS to supplement our fleet, but we will definitely be replacing our aging boats with the K-PAK when the time comes.
This past summer, we took the K-PAK out on family and corporate outings in central N.C., like Jordan and Falls Lakes as well as a quick float trip on the New River near West Jefferson.
Speaking to the size, the K-PAK really isn’t much bigger than something you would take on the Appalachian Trail and lighter weight than even the most extreme ultra-light backpacker. That’s why it always turns heads when we pull it out at the put-in and start to create this kayak “out of thin air.”
Some people express concerns about the fact that it is inflatable: “what happens when you go over a rock?” The most impressive feature about the K-PAK is that it is broken up into multiple independent components. First of all, the outer layer is essentially made of the exact same material that they use to make the whitewater rafts that outfitters load down and cruise over dozens of miles rocky rivers every day. That in and of itself should be enough to instill confidence in its seaworthiness, but it doesn’t stop there: the four independent, inflatable baffles are not even exposed to the elements and wear and tear, so rest-assured, there’s no way you could actual puncture all of them at the same time.
Last but not least, there’s the lightweight, collapsible frame to give the K-PAK a rigid, but forgiving structure that allows the boat to track just as good as any other 9 ft boat on the market. Once you’ve got the concept figured out, you’ll have the boat from bag to water in right at 5 minutes. Compare that to the time it normally takes to load a boat onto the top of your car, strap it down, drive down the road at a compromised speed, while sacrificing your precious gas mileage…its simple math.
Speaking of math, the cost of a K-PAK, $895, with all of it’s technical advantages puts it well over the top of anything else on the market AND you won’t have to drop an extra $500-$1000 on a boat rack for your car either. So whether you’re new to the sport of kayaking or a seasoned pro; living in smaller accommodations or just need something that is generally more portable, be sure to add the K-PAK to your search options and you’ll see why Triangle Adventure Outfitters gives them an A+ approval rating!
I really enjoy fishing from my K-PAK because I can take it anywhere. It is a great boat for many things, (duck hunting, wildlife photography, exploring, and even a core body workout) but fishing probably tops my list of favorite things to do with this boat. It’s also something I can do 12 months of the year, on still or moving water. Using it to fish and explore hard to reach places is what this boat is all about.
Some of the most memorable fishing from a K-PAK includes catching trout, silver salmon, and halibut in Alaska. We usually fly from Raleigh to Juneau with K-PAKs as checked luggage and then live aboard a bareboat chartered 37’ to 42’ Nordic Tug for 8 days or more at a time. The halibut we caught on this particular trip were in Southeast Alaska. It is simple enough to launch K-PAK off the fantail of our “mothership”.
In this instance we had already caught several halibut that were in the 60-80 pound range while fishing from the Nordic Tug. Knowing there were more in this spot, we launched a K-PAK and soon had another fish hit our bait. Catching one is very much like reeling up a very heavy weight. A fish this size is too big to haul aboard the K-PAK, so your options are to tow the fish to shore or back to the mothership. So back to the Nordic Tug I went. We have a pretty amateurish video of the event on YouTube.
To catch salmon we’d often launch off the fantail after anchoring for the evening in a remote harbor or bay.
Most of these bays have rivers or creeks where the salmon head to spawn in late July/early August. Using medium weight tackle, (10-12# test), it’s fairly easy to hook up by casting into a school of fish with a spoon. While a halibut is like lifting dead weight from the sea bottom, the salmon are quite lively. You can plan on being towed for a bit while the fish jumps and runs in most every direction.
The streams where these salmon are heading are often also inhabited by some very nice Dolly Varden and other trout that can be caught as they face up stream and wait for salmon eggs to pass by.
On one trip we paddled and hiked with K-PAKs into the wilderness on Admiralty Island to the Seymour Canal Cabin. It is a primitive Alaska Parks and Rec public use cabin that can be rented fairly inexpensively by the night. Many of the State’s public use cabins are in beautiful remote areas near water that holds fish. Getting there with your own boat is maybe unusual but adds immensely to the amount of fun. Access to most of these cabins is via float plane or boat. On one trip we paddled kayaks from Juneau and then used a rail mounted tram cart to transport our gear from one body of water to another.
Most of our trips to Alaska include a hike up to Baranof Lake for some cutthroat trout fishing from a K-PAK. (There is a very nice AK State cabin on this lake too.) It is fairly easy to catch these trout just trolling while you paddle from one end of the lake to the other. We often see loons, deer, and an occasional bear while quietly moving along this beautiful three mile long lake. There are many such lakes and bays in Southeast Alaska just waiting to be fished and explored. Packing in a light weight easy to assemble K-PAK allows you to make the most of your adventure.
Yes, it’s true, with a little bit of practice, you can assemble the K-PAK in less than 5 minutes. When we first developed our prototype, one of the key features we focused on was making assembly the easiest aspect of owning our boat. Unlike other boats, our rigid aluminum frame folds inside the boat skin. Only two pieces, a pair of cross frames, and then some air, are added to complete the assembly.
Assembly can be done in five basic steps:
Step 1: Remove boat, cross frames, and pump from bag. Unfold boat with cockpit side up on a flat level surface.
Step 2: There are (8) sleeves that need to be closed to provide a rigid internal frame. Reach inside the boat and slide the sleeves toward the end of the boat you are closest to. Four towards the bow and four towards the stern. Take care not to pinch your fingers!
Step 3: Open the boat, get in, and kneel down facing the stern. Check and make sure the (4) Boston Valves are screwed into the inflatable tubes with the top caps left open. Take care not to cross thread. Insert the shorter clear manifold hoses into the lower inflatable tubes and the longer clear hoses into the side, or upper inflatable tubes. Pick up a cross frame and make sure the upper aluminum tube is facing you.
Step 4: Check to make sure the tabs on the locking C-clips are open/loose. Work the cross frame into the boat cavity so you are able to align a lower locking C-clip with a lower stringer tube and push down to snap the locking C-clip in place.
Do the same on the other side. Now snap each upper locking C-clip into the upper stringer tubes, one at a time. Slide the cross frame towards the end of the boat, up to the vertical stringer tube stem. Twist the locking C-clip tabs to lock cross frame in place. Turn around and do the same in the bow. Make sure the upper tube on the cross frame is facing you.
Step 5: Check to make sure all (8) sleeves are still in the closed position. Take the air pump and hook it up to the manifold. Add air to the inflatable tubes until they are straight and firm. Use the Boston Valve on the seat to add air. Push the bottom of the seat down between the lower inflatable tubes. Adjust the seat for comfort by using the nylon straps on each side of the seat back. The boat is ready for the water.
Disassemble in reverse order. Make sure Boston Valves and sleeves are open before trying to fold the boat or you will damage the internal frame. Just before you tri-fold the boat, pull one side over the other to create a more slender length of boat. This will make it easier to place in the backpack.
The driving force behind our company was that there had to be a better way to drastically shorten the amount of time it takes to get you in the water and on to doing the things you love. We strive to offer you hassle free access to the water anywhere to do most anything whether it be fishing/hunting, nature photography, sight-seeing, or lazy paddles.
There are thousands of small boats on the market to choose from. They are all designed to do different things well. White water, flat water, heavy haulers, long distance, speed, fishing, hunting, and the list goes on. If we reduce the number by setting aside boats with motors or sails we still have quite a few to consider. Now, if we take away boats that are rowed, (with oars), we have mostly canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards which all use paddles.
The K-Pak is designed to be paddled with a two bladed paddle, much like a kayak. It is a shorter, relatively wider boat and therefore limited to slightly slower hull speeds and will not track as true as a longer boat. It still does many things really well and has some key attributes.
The K-Pak is a “skin on frame” boat with an inflatable component. Skin on frame boats have been around since native Alaskans started building boats with bones, wood, and animal skins what could be as many as 4,000 years ago.
Klepper started manufacturing folding skin on frame kayaks over 100 years ago and is still in business today. Folbot, Pakboats, Feathercraft, Blue Hawaii, and others all manufacture and sell beautiful folding skin on frame kayaks with prices ranging from $1,000 to nearly $10,000.
So, what makes the K-Pak different? A couple of things that sets our boat apart is that we have a very light weight boat, not a true kayak, which assembles from a very small package, with minimal effort, in just 4-5 minutes, (it may take 2-3 tries). This is notable since many of the skin on frame kayaks mentioned above can take up to or more than an hour to assemble. We are able to do this because the frame, made from aluminum, is already inside the boat skin. Our patented design includes various hinges associated with the internal frame to help simplify the assembly process.
Only two “cross frames” are added to the internal frame during assembly. Everything else is already inside the skin. The K-Pak’s frame, when assembled, rests inside the seams of two pairs of inflatable tubes. These air tubes protect the frame and paddler from obstacles in the water, compress and align the frame to the outer boat skin, and provide flotation should it ever be needed. All four air tubes have their own Boston Valve and are brought up to pressure equally via an air manifold and pump included with each boat.
Many years ago my good friend Robie and I scouted and found what looked like a good spot on a local lake to go duck hunting. We borrowed an old canoe and then “devised a system” for attaching it to the roof of Robie’s car so that it would likely arrive when we did with hopefully only minor scratches and dents to his vehicle.
You have to be pretty gung-ho to get into duck hunting. Getting up early means 3AM on a January morning while the temps are still fairly below freezing. So, we get the canoe on the car, our gear in the car, double check for hunting license and duck stamps, and we are on our way. Once parked we remove the canoe from the roof and pile all of our gear in the boat bottom to begin our 2 mile hike to what we hope will be a fruitful morning.
We stop many times along the way, to rest, change hands, and warm frozen fingers. The canoe is heavy! By the time we arrive we are both sweating pretty good which has a serious chilling affect once you stop moving. We are greeted by many white lights, a duck hunter’s way of telling you “I’ve already got this spot”. Perhaps we should have gotten up earlier? Eventually we paddle through the maze of fellow duck hunters, stumps, and half submerged logs in the dark to find our own spot to set up. We wait until exactly 30 minutes before sunrise to legitimately start shooting. By sunrise it is all over and we have a couple of ducks between the two of us.
The trip back to the car seemed to take even longer but it gave me time to think. Why couldn’t you use a boat that would be easier to transport? What if you had a folding boat that you carry on your back? Think of all the places you could get to where others couldn’t…
That was more than 15 years ago. After that I dabbled with sketches, made models, and would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea I’d need to jot down. There were many trips to the hardware store and asking favors of friends and family that knew how to sew or had special tools I needed to borrow.
Eventually I came up with a prototype and got my first patent. During that time I was also traveling to wilderness areas in Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska, further reinforcing my desire to find a way to get a boat into these pristine and hard to reach places.
My wife, Carol and I took a few prototypes to The Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake with only three weeks to prepare for our exhibit.
The show was a big success and while there I met Alv Elvestad and Ralph Hoehn from Pakboats. We realized that our boats were different enough to the point where we were not competing with each other and became good friends. Despite lots of interest in the original boat I was not happy with it. It was still big, bulky, heavy, and pretty much only good for flat water. I wanted something more versatile.
After the show, I teamed up with Ralph to reinvent the K-Pak, which is exactly what we did. Ralph and I now share a patent on a boat that does everything we wanted it to do. Other boats are on the drawing board. Alv and I work together on production and we both share a strong desire to build our boats here in the USA someday…