Paddling tips, tricks, news and gear reviews from an Unsponsored point of view

Unsponsored Q&A Series – Darren Clarkson-King

Darren Clarkson-King is a writer, extreme kayaker, expedition provider, river consultant, mentor and inspirational speaker. Darren has taken part in some truly epic expeditions including a solo descent of the Dudh Kosi and Arun in Nepal – Riding the tears of Everest. A true adventurer.

I have read much of Darren’s online work and I have always been struck by the feelings and depth of emotion buried within his writing. Many of Darren’s words are ones that I can so easily connect with and relate to.

To have Darren agree to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series is simply awesome.

Rivers come and rivers go, one eddy flows to the next wave – we make our choices and move on. Never stopping, restless and awaiting. It is the drive to go with the river that takes us to its heart – moving us onwards to its end

Unsponsored Q&A Series - Darren Clarkson-King

Tell us a little a bit about you accomplishments in the canoeing/kayaking world…

I’ve done some rivers that were big and some that were shallow. Kayaked from Everest solo, did some first Ds and some classic falls. Paddled from K2, dropped off Snowdon. Travelled and guided worldwide. Did a book, assisted in another, did a blog or so and run/manage 2 adventure providers. Now do talks and events.

When and how did you first start paddling?

With Scouts and the Pennine Canoe club so about 30 yrs ago I sat in a glass boat, got my first plastic boat at 16 – that’s when I got the bug.

What is your current location?

Wales, some times Kathmandu.

Unsponsored Q&A Series - Darren Clarkson-King

What scares you the most?

The death of a passion and the unwillingness of some people to spread their wings. Also scared by boundaries.

What was your biggest hurdle in canoeing/kayaking when you started out – finding people to paddle with, nailing the third end, lack of rivers etc?

Finding a peer group that enjoyed running rivers, most of my friends played polo. Even then I wanted to push my grades and quickly moved from group to group.

What has kept you in the sport?

Dedication, plain and simple. Paddle sport offers a great maze of chances and options to explore, lake, sea, river, sport, recreation – its got so much. But is requires that you keep exploring and evolving with the sport. It becomes all consuming.

Who is your biggest source of inspiration within the paddling world (and why)?

I remember watching the classic Dudh Kosi footage from the 70s – a great pioneering spirit. Then we have the expeditions led by Lesser, Moffatt, Slime. Perhaps those solo trips by Walt or Doug? The Snyders cut new cloth with the advent of squirt boating. At the moment my good friend Babu inspires me daily his Hanuman airlines expedition – this is an expedition one could only dream of.

Given the choice where would want to paddle?

A return to the black caged walls of the Stikine could be on the cards. Although the Himalayas offer so much that its hard to be dragged away.

Unsponsored Q&A Series - Darren Clarkson-King

What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishment in the world of canoeing/kayaking to date?

Walt on the Alsek, Doug on Stikine. Mr Marr on Zed, the Congo film, Tsangpo. All these hold well in common consciousness but for me the biggest accomplishment in our sport is the simple fact that it has grown from humble beginnings, from Rob Roy and the Inuit, to the plethora of activity we have now.

How do you get yourself in “the zone” before a competition run or when running a challenging piece of water?

This is a hard one, but meditation, visualisation and positive faith in my ability to play the part. To act and perform as the river dictates.

Unsponsored Q&A Series - Darren Clarkson-King

What is your favourite kayak of all time and why?

So many, at the moment I am loving my Everest, we’ve done so much together, the Gus before that we had a fine friendship. My favourite kayak of all time is not one I never owned. The Hollowform river chaser: it opened lots of runs, but the Snyder Jet or Vlads Aeroquatic also need a mention these were the foundations of modern kayak evolution. As for MY fav of all time, one I owned, a red/yellow fade glitter shred squirtboat.

What kit are you currently using?

Stuff that works for me –

Apart from a great collection of retro stuff I also use

Sweet drywear/thermals/helmets
Pyranha Everest, Zone, Karnali
Berghaus outerwear
Lightning paddles
Nookie pfd

Global expeditions available at and our sister company

Solo Everest descent –


Many Thanks Daz!

1 Comment

  1. matthre

    Miss you and Andrea badly…love you both so much.Buddhism has changed me. So much to learn …but that is it’s pure beauty. A way of life ..not a religion. So yes going to Nepal opened new horizons..x Matthew x.

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