Best of NRS, 2016


We say it every year, but it’s true: 2016 was our best year yet here at NRS. Our employee-owners worked hard and played hard. We delivered magazine-quality catalogs—a major step up from that first hand-typed, newsprint spread in the 70s. We launched an entire line of purpose-built gear designed just for kayak anglers. Our Ultimate Utility philosophy is about versatility for changing conditions and multiple activities, with the technical sophistication and visual appeal of the best outdoor gear for any sport. And we focused on revising our current products to reflect that philosophy in the coming years, enhancing our customers’ experiences on the water.


In 2016, we celebrated the lives of outdoor industry heroes gone too soon. We laughed and cried from films and stories. We found inspiration through the professional and amateur paddlers all around us and shared it with the world. And we paid homage to the one thing that keeps us going everyday: water. At NRS, we’re drawn to water and what draws us to water is what drives us every day. Our future depends on healthy waters where our customers can recreate, recharge and reconnect with nature. And in 2016 we renewed our commitment to stewardship, working to keep our rivers and waterways clean, healthy and accessible to all.

The pages for what’s to come in 2017 are thick and we’re setting the bar even higher. But we’re confident that this time next year, we’ll once again be giddy with excitement about another exceptional year. Until then, here’s a look into just a few of the things we’re most proud of from these past 365 days. Cheers to 2017!


Juma of Itanda | As Juma Via Kalikwani walks through the dirt streets of his hometown, he is bombarded with children and adults alike who flock to see him–his role as the Director of Operations for Nile River Explorers, a large Jinja, Uganda based rafting company, has earned him hometown stardom. But Kalikwani’s beginnings are humble. As a young boy, he became friends with the first rafters to discover the warm rapids of the Victoria Nile, and slowly worked his way up through the ranks of NRE to his current role.

Salween Spring | Meet Travis Winn, an American who traveled to China for the first time 15 years ago to join his dad on a first descent of the Headwaters of the Salween River in Tibet. On that first trip Travis realized that most Chinese citizens had no way to get out and experience free-flowing rivers. And later he learned that at the rate these rivers were being dammed, very few people would ever have a chance to see the rivers in their pristine and natural state. Risking his mental and physical health, Travis continues to strive toward his personal goal to bring the Chinese people closer to their rivers.

Drawn to Water | What draws us to water is what drives us every day at NRS. Stroll through our headquarters in Moscow, Idaho and you’ll meet passionate rafters, whitewater kayakers, sea kayakers, stand up paddlers, kayak anglers and fly fishermen. Whether designing gear, assembling products, creating catalogs, answering phone calls or shipping orders, we are dedicated to providing the equipment, expertise and inspiration that empowers adventures on the water.

WHY | Iceland. A cold, rugged and forbidding landscape where powerful rivers plunge through bedrock gorges, over massive waterfalls, toward the sea. Director Hugo Clouzeau and a crew of French kayakers travel here to ask the question, “Why? Why do we do this?”


Sidewinder Bibs | The Sidewinder Bib combines the paddling performance of a dry pant with the versatile comfort of a fishing wader. Unlike a traditional wader, the Sidewinder offers ample legroom for sitting in the boat, plus a low-profile, adjustable torso for comfort under your life jacket.

High Tide Jacket | When conditions change, you need adaptable protection from wind, splash and rain. The High Tide jacket has you covered from head to waist with an articulated hood and quick-venting, quarter-zip neck.

Guide Pants | Our Guide Pants are specifically designed for kayak fishermen, river guides, and other boaters who routinely shred conventional clothing and need tough, comfortable gear that’s designed for long days on the water, not a walk in the park.

WRSI Elbow Pads | Paddlers have a new weapon in the battle against immovable objects. Named for the classic rapid on the roadside Alseseca, the WRSI S-Turn Elbow Pad gives your pointy parts the ultimate protection from geologic threats.


In Love with Frank | Four guides, three tributaries. Season after season, Smitty paddles through the Middle Fork of the Salmon river passing the three main creeks that feed the river, turning it into the whitewater destination for so many. But with each trip, he can’t help but wonder what lies beyond the main flow. When three friends agree to jump on board, the four set out to paddle The Triple Crown of the Middle Fork.

Boating, Blondes and Bear Spray | Two friends, four days rafting through the Lodore Canyon and one can of bear spray. As their friendship is renewed, Lindsay’s best friend, a very beautiful, blonde mid-western woman is re-acquainted with some of the realities of desert river travel.

Ode to the Small Things: Moments Guiding on the Grand Canyon | From hand-delivered coffee to flash waterfalls to finding a moment to embrace your inner strength, the Grand Canyon delivers it all. Through years working this mighty river, Adam Mills Elliott reflects on the small aspects of guiding that can easily be taken for granted.

Staying Wild on the Concrete Jungle: A Spotlight on Columbus, Georgia | Whether you have a long weekend or a week, Lydia Cardinal lets you in on a little Southeast secret: Columbus, Georgia. Once only known for its historical footprint, Columbus now boasts a whitewater park, running trail, local brews and restaurants highlighting its southern cuisine. The best part? It’s all in the heart of downtown.

A River for the Working Stiff | In late April, four overworked friends from Portland, Oregon, bust out of their cubicles for an overnight float down the Lower Deschutes River.