About Unpack & Kayak
How We Got Here
The first ideas of Unpack & Kayak sprouted in the summer of 2019, when a week of wild-camping turned into one of the most memorable experiences I have. Together with my best friend, I hiked through the Swedish wilderness until we came upon a beautiful lake surrounded by nothing but trees, birds, and untouched nature. We didn’t have much of a plan, except that we would stay there for about four days, with just enough food to last us for two. The plan was simple: hike, set up camp, find food, sleep, and do the same for the next few days.
As beautiful as the lake-side sunsets and sunrises were, the only thing that we truly missed (aside from a bubble bath) was the ability to paddle around and move over water. As I have kayaked most of my life, the idea came quite naturally: I would buy two new kayaks, drive to Sweden, have a similar trip, but this time over water. But before making the purchase I looked into organised trip-options, to see if there were any companies that already offer this experience. The answer is yes!
When doing the research I found that they offer very similar trips to the one I intended to do, but what I believe to be at a city-student-unfriendly price and setup. Aside from the price falling outside my budget for a one-time event, the items included were minimal. Not really ideal for people who live in a city and don’t have a full closet of camping supplies. As I intended to do similar trips repeatedly, and I wanted to share the refreshing experience with others, I decided to set up Unpack & Kayak. The only difference; a lower cost, with more included, on a smaller — more intimate scale.
Since I already owned a different company I had an idea of where I wanted to go, and what I needed to do. So throughout the beginning of 2020 I did more market research, looked at what people were missing with similar companies, and drew up a business plan. Many hours of research, planning, and legal meetings later, I decided to make the big step. I bought 6 kayaks (of which one is a two-seater), paddles, life vests, and all the needed camping gear. From tents, to sleeping mats. From burners to sleeping bags. From pots and pans to camping chairs.
That’s also around the time that the first cases of Covid-19 came to Europe. What soon turned into a global pandemic crushed the company’s plans to head to Sweden in the first year. With the Dutch government suggesting that people look into vacations within the Netherlands, so did I. After numerous nights filled with researching kayak-trip options I came up with an alternative to Sweden: The Windmill Tour, and The Beaver Tour, both in the Dutch countryside, both in the lovely region of Maas en Waal. Since then, these two trips have been turned into The Maas en Waal Tour, The Maas en Waal Team-building, and the Maas en Waal Paddle.
Having completed the first season of Unpack & Kayak, and having received positive feedback from customers, the appeal of keeping one branch of the company in Maasbommel (in the future) has grown on me.
I hope to see you on the water some time, so I can share the experiences and sport that I love, while offering you the rare opportunity to completely Unpack you mind, and Kayak away.
~ Hidde van den Heuvel ~