Photo by Laura Eddlemon/ Kirk Eddlemon and son Alex Eddlemon along the Doe River near North Carolina's Roan Mountain

Name: Kirk Eddlemon

Passion: Whitewater

Age: 38

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Number of years paddling: 20

Total number of rivers paddled: 395

Total number of river sections paddled: 536

What do you hope to claim as your next PFD (personal first descent)?

"The Homathko River in British Columbia. It's a multi-day, big-water run that I've always wanted," Eddlemon says. "It's Class V and starts on the east side [of the Coast Mountains], cuts through the entire range — through the two highest peaks — and comes out in a temperate rainforest."


As a private kayak instructor and the author of "Whitewater of the Southern Appalachians," the guidebook to Southeastern whitewater paddling, Eddlemon knows his rivers. And after two decades of paddling, he knows what it takes to have a good day on the water.

"Some of this stuff is for comfort, some for safety and some for entertainment. Though, I would never bring all this stuff at once," Eddlemon says, unsnapping his 22-liter dry bag, which he keeps tucked behind his seat inside his kayak.

"You're probably not going to need a down jacket and a snorkel during the same trip, you know."

In addition to the essential safety gear that Eddlemon always has with him on the river — his helmet, life jacket and 70-foot throw rope, for example — here is a look at the all-season items Eddlemon keeps in his pack.

a. Watershed Chattooga duffel bag, 22L

b. Ziploc bag with first aid kit: SAM splint, latex gloves, triangular bandage, gauze, tape, band-aids, antibacterial ointment and a CPR mask

c. Yeti Rambler water bottle, 36oz

d. Sunscreen (seasonal)

e. Black Diamond headlamp

f. Snacks

g. Lighter

h. Roll of vinyl mastic tape, which can be used to patch a cracked kayak

i. Snorkel mask (seasonal)

Eddlemon isn't the only paddler in his family. His wife Laura and 12-year-old son Alex are also big into whitewater. Making the most of their family runs, Eddlemon likes to stop and explore side creeks, which, he says, can offer beautiful hiking and pristine snorkeling.

j. B-Forest wind gloves (seasonal)

k. Eddie Bauer First Ascent down jacket (seasonal)

l. Knit hat (seasonal)

m. Rocky Gore-Tex waterproof socks (seasonal)

Items j, k, l and m are all cold-weather gear Eddlemon uses while taking out-of-boat breaks along the river. If he wants to take a side-hike, for example, he can trade his drysuit for his gloves, jacket and hat. The Gore-Tex socks allow him to still wear his wet river shoes, while keeping his base layer socks dry.

n. ACR ResQLink personal locator beacon

Eddlemon says he typically uses this GPS-enabled device only on super-remote, multi-day West Coast runs — with which he is much less familiar than his home runs. However, he does like to bring the locator when guiding local overnight trips. "Just to have all my bases covered," he says.

More Info

Learn more about Eddlemon’s private kayaking instruction or guided overnighters by visiting