At just 26 years of age, Adriene Levknecht has earned a place in U.S. kayaking history. She has represented her country three times as a member of the US Freestyle Kayak Team. She has been the Green River Race Champion 6 times. In 2013, she finished third in the Freestyle Kayak World Championships and in 2012 she was named Female Paddler of the Year by “Canoe and Kayak” magazine.
Today, she serves her community as a professional paramedic as well as for an instructor and leader at First Descents, a non-profit organization that teaches young cancer survivors how to out-live their diagnosis in part by using an outdoor experience as motivation.
Levknecht got her start in whitewater at an early age. When just 11 years old, her dad took her to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in the Great Smoke Mountains where she developed a thirst for whitewater. She currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina.
Gear Institute: Hello Adriene. What are you up to these days?
Adriene Levknecht: I am working for Greenville County EMS saving lives and making a difference every day—I serve the community as a Paramedic. But I am also going to be heading to Africa soon to spend a month training for the 2015 Freestyle World Championships. Of course, I first need to make the team!
Gear Institute: Good luck. We are confident you’ll be representing the U.S. again this year. As you get out and train, race and even just play, what gear do you rely on?
Levknecht: I always carry a Klean Kanteen insulated bottle—one sporting my First Descents logo to show my pride in that organization— filled with coffee. I work 12-hour shifts with the county and I always need coffee, warm, at the ready, and this insulated bottle has been the best I have ever used!
I use a North Face Hot Shot Backpack to contain and carry my laptop, books, iPad, and whatever other things I need for my adventure.
I really love my Rab Women’s Microlight Alpine down jacket. This comfortable jacket is light enough to wear on a cool spring day but heavy enough to last me through the not-so tough winters of the southeast.
Finally, my gear kit always including a Manduka Yogitoes Waterfall collection yoga towel, from the Zanti Power Yoga studio in Greenville SC. I can put this towel anywhere to stop, drop, and practice on the grass or in the sand, wherever my heart desires!
Gear Institute: Okay, that takes care of your personal gear—the stuff you selected on your own. But you are also a sponsored athlete and you see a lot of gear from those companies. Let’s give them a little shout-out: tell us a little about the gear you really use and love from your sponsors.
Levknecht: I use G-Form Extreme Sleeves to protect my MacBook and iPad. With these, no matter where I end up putting my stuff, I am never worried about my expensive electronics getting squished.
To protect myself, I wear a Shred Ready TDub Helmet. The Shred Ready looks good and keeps my head intact no matter what impacts it takes.
A Watershed Ocoee drybag keeps my camera and other compact electronics safe and dry, though people look at me funny when I use it as my purse.
Finally, I am always wearing the Astral Brewer shoes. They keep me grounded and standing strong, even when I am waiting in lines at the ticket counter.
Gear Institute: Great. Thinking about your training trip to Africa, are there any special packing or gear-protecting techniques/tricks you use when you travel? Any special things you like to focus on (other than kayaking) when traveling?
Levknecht: During the actual travel, I try to make sure to wrap up my Werner paddle with my kayaking gear in a paddle bag, this ensures stability and safety of the paddle, especially while flying. As for other activities, cameras in general always interest me. I am more and more impressed with GoPro as they keep growing as a company and their cameras get even more intuitive every year. In fact, we are in the time of great innovation for so many things in 2015. I’m excited just keeping my eyes open for amazing new products to come from hundreds of companies in the near future.