Best of NRS, 2019


We wrapped up 2019 with our biggest endeavor yet: a new HQ. After serving our community for 37 years from one location, we moved across town and into a state-of-the-art facility where the majority of the NRS employee-owners can finally work under the same roof. We expanded our warehouse real estate so we can stock more product, we modernized our office spaces for employee comfort and productivity, and we opened the first NRS Flagship Store to better serve our community and the greater Northwest.

But that’s not all we can brag about. Our mission at NRS is to empower adventures on the water and inspire everyone to discover the magic that happens when you just add water—to your weekend, your vacation, your life. We dedicated 2019 to sharing our love for the water with as many people as possible and opening the doors to paddlesports to all. From the novice to the expert, we shared stories and films that entertained, inspired and hopefully taught you a thing or two.

And lastly, we kept grinding away to continuously improve our product line. From fit to function to simple aesthetics, we showcased new threads for guides—the Lolo Line—duffels made for on and off-water adventure—the Purest line—and inflatables designed to elevate the rec boating experience—STAR IKs.

We’re stoked to paddle into a new decade, but first, let’s take one last look on all the goods from 2019.


Aniakchak: A Wild Love Story | Graham and Shannon are experienced athletes in alpine climbing and ultimate frisbee, respectively. But the adventurous couple is on a quest to try new outdoor sports together. In 2017, they tried mountain biking for the first time. This time they’re giving packrafting a go. After eight months of planning and training, they embark on a 10-day adventure to the remote Aniakchak caldera in Alaska. From wind and rainstorms to popped packrafts, they quickly learn that nothing could have fully prepared them for the adventure that ensues.

Can’t Ski Vegas | Rafting the Tatshenshini to ski in British Columbia and Alaska required hitting a very slim window of conditions, one that was not promising even days before their departure. With the spring thaw approaching and ten friends ready to chase this dream together, they committed. Whatever that meant. The group came together as a bachelor party of sorts—ten friends from Boulder, Colorado planning to spend twenty days rafting and skiing, all as Mason’s last big adventure before tying the knot. On paper, they’d come in search of the biggest ski lines of their lives. But the reality was that they had simply come to celebrate friendship. To withdraw into the wild, to remove distractions and cell service and emails, and to invest purposeful time into being together. That’s the real meaning of a bachelor party, right?

Road to 100 | The South Ram River, near the small town of Nordegg, Alberta, stands out to a select group of kayakers because of a beautiful series of waterfalls spread throughout its canyon walls. The tallest waterfall on the river, Ram Falls, cascades nearly 100 feet to a pool below. Three kayakers logged the first descent of Ram in 2012. After a failed attempt six years later, Edward Muggridge all but gave up his dream to run this hundred-footer. Liam Fournier followed Edward Muggridge’s journey to paddle 100-foot Ram Falls. Mentored by world-class kayaker, Aniol Serrasolses, Road to 100 takes us deeper into the attempts and the failures, the anxieties and the skills involved in successfully running massive waterfalls.

The River’s Call | In 1975, Calvin Giddings led a group of paddlers down the first descent of Peru’s Abismo de Apurimac. Thanks to their commitment to complete the first descent of the Apurimac’s main whitewater section, the We Are Hungry (WAH) crew can confidently enter this box canyon. Always on the hunt for stout whitewater in remote reaches of the world, this group of French kayakers is known for asking Why. Why are we out here? What are we doing here? Considered the farthest source of the Amazon, the Apurimac River flows from the Andes, through deep boxed canyons, to the calm waters of the Peruvian jungle. Guided by their passion for the river and their desire for adventure, this trip questions the possibility of living with little, together, in an environment remained untouched by man, a place where only kayakers can go.

The Salad Days | In the final chapter of his life, legendary river runner and activist Herm Hoops has the opportunity to take one last river trip through his treasured Desolation Canyon on the Green River. “Salad Days” gives us a rare glimpse of what it means when a person has the chance to reflect on a lifetime of passion and river running as they knowingly go through the stages of dying.

Flowstate Season One | Brendan and his buddies are known for raw, unscripted adventure. As Class V kayakers, passionate anglers and stewards of wild places, their expeditions span across multiple genres. From the Koktuli and its threatened salmon ecosystem to first descents, failed surfing attempts and solo missions, Flowstate Season One takes viewers on a multi-adventure journey through the heart of The Last Frontier.


How to Make River Friends: Don’t Be a Milton | Milton comes in many forms. S/he can be the ‘One-Upper,’ who always has a story that trumps yours. Or the ‘Personally Unprepared,’ which differs from the new guy who simply doesn’t own all the gear. Then there’s the ‘Risk Taker,’ the ‘Unmotivated,’ and the ‘Constant Complainer’ to name a few (more). In this satirical blog, Lindsay shares the unspoken rafting trip rules of social norms and expectations boaters should follow to make river friends (and permit invites) for life.

The River Permit Lottery | Ticking off a bucket-list multi-day river trip isn’t as easy as taking the time off work and rigging the raft. You first have to play (and win) the lottery. On February 14, the Four River Lottery winners will be announced. Following a collective groan, thousands of empty-handed river people will lash together some commiseration and float down the river of despair, which, they will lament, may be the only multi-day river trip they take. But there are a few ways to increase your odds at winning this lottery.

Seafaring Superstitions for the River Runner | Having worked as a commercial fisherman before taking up rafting, Eric was appalled by the flippant way river runners treat seafaring superstition. He’s wondered if this disregard is a matter of not knowing or not caring? And he ultimately decided to believe that ignorance rather than apathy is to blame. So, with the help of Internet plagiarism, his friends at Mountain Buzz, and his own weird beliefs, here’s list of widely held but unjustified beliefs in supernatural carnage as a direct result of ignoring or failing to abide by rafting superstitions.

A Living Museum on the Main Salmon River | With a colorful history and remnants of past lives still intact, a boating trip down the Main Salmon River offers more than sandy beaches and whitewater. The Main Salmon is a story told by a river. Certainly not the whole story of America, but quite a cross-section of it. Its scenery reminiscent of time from a past long gone but in a place we can luckily visit. A living museum which we can return to again and again.

Guide School: Damage Control | A true measure of guides’ experiences and skills isn’t how well they can replicate a route, but how well they can correct a bad run and handle the carnage.  Even on a stretch of river you run every day, your lines can vary. Water levels change, rocks move, oars break. Sometimes you misjudge the ability of the crew, the speed of the current, the power of a hydraulic. Since you don’t always have a clean line, we should at least be able to clean up whatever mess we make.


Odyssey PFDThe NRS Odyssey PFD is purpose-built for sea kayakers and touring, featuring all the bells, whistles and reflective accents needed for open-water safety in a full-back design that comfortably fits kayak seats. Seven-panel construction moves with your body while the paddler’s cut delivers maximum range of motion. Two large zippered pockets provide multiple storage options and two, smaller dual-entry pockets are designed to fit VHF radios. Three lash tabs and numerous d-rings offer endless opportunities for attaching a rescue knife, strobe, whistle and other accessories.

Lolo Pants | The NRS Men’s Lolo Pants are purpose-built for on-the-water performance with lightweight, DWR-treated material and zip-off adaptability. From river guides to fishermen, rafters to kayakers, the Lolo Pants are designed for paddlers. The five-pocket design offers plenty of places to store essentials. Snap buttons at the ankle cinch the hem to adapt to changing conditions. And Lolo Pants include a NRS Strap-inspired guide belt with aluminum buckle, which features an integrated bottle opener.

STAR Raven IK | STAR Raven inflatable kayaks open the door to adventure with a versatile design that’s equally at home on exciting whitewater, overnight excursions and lazy Sunday floats on the town-stretch. Stable, responsive and efficient, the Raven I (single person kayak) and Raven II (tandem kayak), give you confidence on moving water and waves without slowing you down for extended tours. The self-bailing drop-stitch floor keeps you high and dry while the folding seat keeps you comfortable on longer outings. Includes folding seat(s), carry bag, pump and repair kit.

Purest Travel Duffel | Go light and fast on your next adventure with the versatile, no-fuss NRS Purest Travel Duffel Bag. Made with polyester fabric and reinforced with honeycomb nylon for extra durability. Internally the duffel’s flat, rectangular bottom design maximizes useful space and two compartmentalized, mesh internal pockets in the top of the bag aid in organization. Externally features an end pocket for quick-access to smaller essential travel items like your keys, wallet, passport and headphones and the dual-purpose straps can be used as a handle, a shoulder sling or backpack straps.

Thrive SUP | A board for the do-it-all paddler, the Thrive series SUPs are equally adept at touring, fitness paddling and light river running with the stability to help any novice feel at ease. Make every weekend memorable with an inflatable SUP board that can handle any adventure. Inflates to a rock-hard 20 psi for performance that rivals a hard board, then folds up compactly when deflated for easy transport and storage. Includes three All-Water fins and one Touring fin, high-pressure pump with pressure gauge, SUP Board Travel Pack, Leafield valve adapter, and repair kit.