We get some humorous seems as we set off up the trail from Pen-y-Go on the foot of Snowdon. There are the standard crowds: gangs in matching T-shirts on a charity ascent, Brummie lads in trainers and baseball caps, {couples} in matching out of doors gear. And there’s us, with paddles and life vests hooked up to our dry bag rucksacks.We now have to clarify a number of instances: we’re going to inflate small rafts, paddle throughout Llydaw, the blue lake beneath the summit, trek down the valley to the place the Glaslyn River is sufficiently deep, then paddle on to Gwynant lake earlier than we begin strolling once more. My guides on this journey, Jason and Marianne Taylor of journey firm Tirio, inform me packrafting shouldn’t be new. In reality, Jason tells me, Royal Navy Lieutenant Peter Halkett began it within the 1840s, when he devised an ingenious rainproof cloak that might double as an inflatable boat. It had a optimistic reception from Arctic explorers, however the navy refused to undertake the thought.Now, a number of technological leaps down the street, we’re inflating our rafts (extra like rubber dinghies to me) on the lakeshore. Jason is a person after Halkett’s personal coronary heart: we use light-weight dry luggage to pump air in and these later double as holdalls. The method proves fast and problem-free, the packraft tools small enough and lightweight to not be an annoying burden.The author, left, and Jason Taylor, carry rafts on their backs. {Photograph}: Marianne TaylorSomething has occurred on the planet of out of doors tools. It has turn into lighter, harder and extra sturdy, largely by means of new supplies, however there have additionally been technological improvements (for instance, inflatable paddleboards and tents), plus new options to outdated issues (the dry gown has remodeled altering on a chilly British seashore). These developments are catapulting area of interest hybrid actions into the realms of mainstream risk.On this planet of inflatable rafts, the leap ahead has come by means of changing PVC in favour of recent thermoplastic coatings (TPU). Sven Schellin, co-founder of German producer Anfibio tells me of different incremental advances: “We use glue-free welding as a result of glue is heavy. Plus, the brand new coatings are gentle and abrasion-resistant.” This has allowed the single-skin inflatable craft to come back in below two kilos, a weight that makes packrafting a sensible risk for anybody.Outdoor individuals are all the time fast to undertake new concepts. In the summertime of 2020 I noticed closely laden cyclists on a Hebridean ferry who claimed to be mixing biking with rafting. Is that the following step?Rucksack with packrafting gear. {Photograph}: Jason TaylorJason is unconvinced. An engineer with a mountain rescue background, he has seen how the brand new hybrid sports activities draw individuals from totally different disciplines. “In the event you come to packrafting from a whitewater kayaking background, like I did, the water risks are effectively understood. In the event you don’t, you may run into difficulties fairly simply.”We hike right down to the Afon Glaslyn, the river’s unbelievable blue color arising from the stones beneath. Now we swap rafts. Jason will take the Anfibio Delta MX, I’m going to strive the American-made Kokopelli Rogue, whereas Marianne sticks with the Anfibio Alpha. The river is low and I’m making an attempt onerous to not snag and puncture mine. Jason is expertly negotiating the rocks whereas explaining one potential hazard of a kit-heavy hybrid sport. “In the event you’ve bought numerous precious tools and also you get into difficulties, you may get right into a monkey fist entice.”I scrape over a boulder whereas a low-hanging department removes my hat. A monkey fist entice sounds unhealthy however I do not know what it’s. Jason explains: “The monkey fist entice is a coconut shell with a gap in it, simply massive sufficient for a monkey to slide a hand by means of and seize some rice. However then the monkey’s fist holding the rice is just too massive to get out the entice – except it drops the rice, which it won’t.”I bear in mind all of the instances I’ve risked my life to avoid wasting a bit of kit – and we’re not speaking £1,000 bikes. I’ve scrambled down cliff faces to retrieve a lens cap. I’m a monkey fist entice nightmare. My bike had finest keep on land.Jason Taylor packrafting with Crib Goch and Snowdon within the background. {Photograph}: Kevin RushbyThe climbing and rafting combo, nevertheless, appears to make sense as we descend Snowdon. I just like the change in tempo between strolling and paddling. “It additionally makes some journeys a lot simpler,” says Jason. “Estuaries turn into satisfactory. In Scotland we hiked to the foot of Suilven in file time by paddling throughout two lochs.”We slip quietly throughout the lake and I’m already questioning about different prospects. Packraft crusing?“There are sails made particularly for packrafts …” says Jason. He sounds uncertain.“One other monkey fist downside?”He grins. “Probably not: it’s simply that an umbrella is definitely easier and higher.”That’s a well timed reminder: it’s not about purchasing, however fixing sensible challenges. And the options may be easy, typically homespun. The spirit of all these sports activities, I reckon, is a bit bit William Heath Robinson, a person who knew all in regards to the many makes use of of an umbrella.Different new hybrid sportsKayak fishingThe author paddling by means of the surf off the Ceredigion coast. {Photograph}: Kevin RushbyInuit hunters might be shocked to listen to that kayak fishing is taken into account a brand new sport, however it positively is to me. The technological advances have include sit-on craft which can be broad sufficient to supply a secure platform, with rod holders and even pedal energy, so that you don’t have to make use of your palms for paddling. On prime of that come GPS wayfinders and fishfinders, though I’m not going to hassle with these – I need to catch a fish, not take residence a freezerful. Additionally, I need to study to learn the water, not be looking at one more tiny display. I buy a Really feel Free Moken 12 fishing kayak from Manchester Canoes, the place Duncan proves a helpful supply of data, including as I depart: “Bear in mind: if you happen to don’t get moist, you’re not studying.”The prospect of going out to sea with out a information focuses my consideration. I verify tides and wind power and path. “The sit-on kayaks are sluggish,” Duncan had warned. “You’re not going to have the ability to paddle towards something stronger than a breeze, or a good tidal present.”Once I get right down to the Ceredigion coast, I discover the wind is whipping in onerous. I get the boat out by means of the surf however I haven’t dared add a fishing rod – partly as a result of I’ve forgotten to convey any technique of lashing it to the hull. If it goes overboard, it will likely be misplaced. Once I get again, I really feel I’ve realized so much, with out even casting a line. I did a kayak journey on the ocean alone. My first fishing expedition, nevertheless, nonetheless awaits.Rock-climbing, climbing and campingView of Scar Home Reservoir close to Pately Bridge. {Photograph}: Ian Wray/AlamyThe thought that you simply would possibly stroll, climb and camp is an outdated one. In 1760 the Genevan naturalist Horace Bénédict de Saussure began making an attempt such journeys, ultimately reaching the summit of Mont Blanc (27 years later) and within the course of inventing alpinism. In these days of canvas tents, hemp ropes and hobnail boots, you required the power of Hercules, or a military of porters. No extra. Dan Pearson from specialist retailer Ultralight Outside Gear tells me about Cuben, a composite fibre initially made for racing sails within the 1992 America’s Cup. “It’s 15 instances stronger than metal,” he tells me. “Producers shortly realised it may very well be woven into straps, man ropes and ripstop materials, making them lighter and harder.”The result’s {that a} two-person tent such because the Tigerwall from Colorado-based outfit Massive Agnes weighs simply 656g. Even four-season shelters like Terra Nova’s Laser collection and MSR’s Carbon Reflex can are available in effectively below two kilos, although not below £500.There are additionally light-weight rucksacks, cookers, utensils and sleeping luggage. Even garments have misplaced weight and turn into cheaper: firms together with Patagonia and Rab are making light-weight gear that can be environment-friendly. Boots like Inov-8’s Roclite collection use a brand new materials, graphene, to make featherlight grippy soles.The author scrambling on Brimham Rocks, ‘an outstanding spot for a picnic and a climb’. {Photograph}: Kevin RushbyThe lightening up of out of doors gear has brought on a revolution in accessibility. Dan tells me that on the 2019 coast-to-coast problem in Scotland, a gruelling self-supported backpacking occasion that he took half in, an 89-year-old lady was accompanied by her 91-year-old husband. “They had been match and hard, however realistically their participation was solely attainable with ultra-lightweight gear.”Suitably impressed, my son Niall and I load up and set off strolling alongside the Nidderdale Means in North Yorkshire, ultimately reaching Brimham Rocks close to Pately Bridge, an outstanding spot for a picnic and a climb on gritstone. Ultimately, after yomping all of the gear in, we did use the cooker, however by no means bought the climbing gear out: there was simply an excessive amount of gratifying scrambling and exploring to be carried out. Many such locations at the moment are being linked on Strava, enabling a sort of aggressive orienteering to emerge – one other dimension to Monsieur de Saussure’s invention.SUP hikingPaddleboarders in Scarborough. {Photograph}: Scott Bairstow/AlamyMore than a decade in the past I went to Scarborough’s South Bay to have a go at paddleboarding. We had enjoyable, however I absolutely anticipated the game to go the best way of horseback cricket and ski ballet. A lot for my fortune-telling abilities: standup paddleboarding (SUP), a hybrid of browsing and kayaking, has proved massively well-liked and enduring. Now the packable and inflatable SUP is weighing in at round eight kilos, so I’d say that makes SUP climbing attainable so long as the hikes will not be too lengthy. In Idaho I noticed SUPs with tenting gear on board travelling lengthy distances by water; in South Africa I’ve seen how paddleboarders stand away from any shark exercise and get to observe dolphin pods within the swells; and yoga and health courses have taken to utilizing them, too. The tempo of innovation shouldn’t be slowing: producer RED has a windsurfer SUP (and a backpack model). Electrical-powered variants are in the marketplace whereas a solar-powered SUP has been constructed. The long run goes to be fascinating.Cross-country swimmingInterest in wild swimming is big now, thanks partly to books like Wild Swimming, however mixing it with climbing or operating in Britain all the time meant an issue: the chilly moist water adopted by the chilly moist gear adopted by hypothermia. New developments are serving to, nevertheless: for instance, Ruckraft makes a raft that bobs alongside behind you within the water, holding your package dry – a lot simpler than towing a traditional dry bag. Wetsuits have additionally moved on, with neoprene panels of various thickness and super-smooth surfaces. Now Alpkit is releasing a wetsuit that’s really designed for operating in: the Duel weighs round 600g and is scheduled for launch in mid-Could.BikepackingKevin Rushby bikepacking alongside the shore of Ardnamurchan, the Highlands, Scotland. {Photograph}: Kevin RushbyI’ve been strapping tents on the again of bikes for a few years, however now we now have a reputation for it: bikepacking. That is really necessary as a result of producers have recognised that that is an out of doors sport value designing for. Massive Agnes and Vango have each began making light-weight tents that work for cyclists (shorter poles, or none in any respect, well-considered space for storing, straps for putting the tent in your handlebars and so on). Alpkit has a helpful web page on select the correct bike. My very own expertise says it is a sport the place you don’t must go shopping-crazy. Most of all, don’t purchase massive panniers. You’ll solely fill them and remorse it later: maybe on the A859 between Luskentyre and Tarbert throughout a downpour, however presumably elsewhere, too. Thoughts you, I solely have myself in charge: I had beforehand turned down the provide of that different helpful hybrid, the electrical bike.