Kayaking with Russell Henry

How well do you know Russell Henry?

You may know Russell Henry as Brian Henry’s son. You may know him from school or from paddling with him. You may even know Russell from an article written about one of his many expedition kayaking adventures. One thing is for sure, if you have met Russell you know how passionate he is about the outdoors and adventure, and how infectious his passion is.

Russell beats to his own drum. He is one of those people who has a love for what may seem extreme to many of us but, to Russell, to not live life on the water or on the ski hill because of what “could go wrong” seems far more extreme.

We wanted to ask Russell a few questions and see what makes him come up with some of these great kayaking adventures and how he manages them so we sent him some questions.

Russell Henry expedition kayaking
What is your earliest memory in a kayak?

Being in the middle of a Libra XT with my brother in front of me, Dad behind me, setting the stroke rate by beating on my spray skirt. 

Was there ever a time when you thought about quitting? Why?

Oh yeah. Big time. I think some people get so focused on one goal and can then keep that goal in their mind as the only feasible ending. I’m not that person. I actually really struggle with it. Yes I’m a paddler, but I’m also a skier, a mountain biker, a climber, a musician, a ski patroller, and a very curious person. I flip flop ideas and plans almost every day. This makes it tough to focus on one goal. I’m working on it though.
So I guess the why part of the question is that I have looked at my present situation a few times and thought, “man, my hands hurt, my shoulders hurt, I’m damn tired, why am I here? I could be doing all these other enjoyable things right now.” But, I guess after all of that I am just a ridiculously stubborn person so I tell my mind to shush and I push through it. In the end it has always been worth it. 

What is your dream trip?

First it was paddling across the Caribbean, but I did that. Now it’s sea kayaking up the Alaskan Panhandle with ski touring gear, and we’re doing that. I’d also like to paddle the Kuril Islands or circumnavigate Scandinavia.

What has been your favourite paddling trip thus far and why?

Paddling from Brazil to Florida with my brother because it was life. All we knew for 7 months was that we had to keep moving Northwest to Miami. It was simple times.

Russell Henry Kayaker

Russell on his trip in South America

What kind of student were you?

A distractable. overly talkative, ladies man.

What is it about expedition kayaking that you love?

Getting to rad places with an aching body.

What are you most nervous about before a long trip?

Getting over it.

How do you decide where you are going to go?

I look at a map, decide what looks sweet, and then I go.

Do Kayaking and Backcountry skiing have anything in common? Why a trip dedicated to these two things?

I guess paddling and ski touring are both about getting out in the wilderness and seeing amazing things all by your own strength. The big difference other than the really obvious ones is that with ski touring you get to go really fast at times! Why a trip dedicated to both? Because they are both big passions of mine and will be a challenge. To my knowledge this kind of trip hasn’t been done before in such length. That makes me wonder, “is it possible?’

(check out more about Russell’s upcoming trip on the Paddles and Planks webpage)

What advice would you give people just getting into expedition kayaking?

Get the skills, get out on the water, and just go for it. Don’t fuss over what others tell you you can and can’t do. Be competent and push the envelope.

Russell Henry Skiing

Taken from Russell’s Facebook


Well if you haven’t met Russell yet and you have some questions you would like to ask him yourself you’re in luck, he will be speaking at Ocean River all about expedition kayaking and his past adventures at the end of March. Get all the details HERE.

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