Jane Koopman

Age: 25 | Vitals: 5’10”, 170 lbs. | Years Paddling Whitewater (not including the high school stint): 6 | Current Residence: Brunswick, Maine


I grew up in San Francisco, where I spent much of my free time and weekends in the outdoors, either hiking, horseback riding, or, when I didn’t have a lot of time, sitting at the beach. When I attended a sea kayaking camp in middle school, I should have known that I was destined for whitewater when my favorite part of being on the water was the big swells.

In high school, I went to Maine for a semester and was introduced to whitewater kayaking during a three-day program on the West Branch of the Penobscot River. I was instantly enthralled. After a stint on the sailing team back in San Francisco, I returned to Maine to attend Bowdoin College, where I continued to sail but also took advantage of the Outing Club’s excellent whitewater program. I was on the river every free weekend I had, and took my sophomore spring off from competition to participate in the ACA instructor program. I continued to try to balance kayaking and sailing until my senior year, when a trip to the creeks of the southeast tipped the scales in favor of kayaking and I caught the creeking bug.

Jane Koopman, Blister Gear Review
Jane Koopman, Smalls Falls, Sandy River, Maine. (photo by Kit Hamley)

Since college, other than a winter in Jackson Hole, I have lived in Maine where I work year round for an organization that supports high school Outdoor Clubs. I also ski patrol in the winter and lead kayaking trips in the summer.

I spend most weekends exploring the rivers, creeks, and playspots around Maine and New Hampshire, and I make it up to Quebec and Ontario when I can. I have been fortunate enough to have floated down the Grand Canyon twice where, when I was not in a kayak, I enjoyed figuring out how to navigate huge waves in an oar rig (fun, but I’m definitely more comfortable in a kayak) and sometimes a ducky (a seriously underrated watercraft).

I also recently discovered how much fun whitewater canoeing can be when the rivers are not running quite as high as you would like.

My favorite places to paddle are West Branch of the Penobscot, Maine; Sandy Stream, Maine; Madison Wave on the Kennebec, Maine; Lachine on the St Lawrence in Quebec; and Garburator Wave on the Ottawa in Ontario. Shout-outs go to the Watauga River and Wilsons Creek in North Carolina, as well as the Colorado River.


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