Finnish Log Driving: Your New Favorite Absurd Paddling Sport

If most of us could choose a craft to paddle down a rushing river, we’d point to a kayak or canoe. Some, less attracted to stability and maybe better balanced, might choose a paddleboard.

On the spectrum of technical watercourse navigation, there are all of these people, plus a few outliers. And then there are Finnish log drivers.

These Scandinavian paddlers don’t need a boat, a board, or any flat surface at all to shoot rapids. Give them a medium-sized log and a wooden pole to intermittently slap the water with, and expect to see them safe and dry at the other end.


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This uncanny display of balance and coordination is a holdover from the Finnish logging trade. “Log driving” itself refers more broadly to floating logs down a watercourse for transport. The trade is not always so athletic.

It doesn’t even always require turbulent waters. But, where the technical curve approaches the limit of human capability, sports take shape. You may have seen modern log-rolling contests — but have you seen a log-driving one from 1949?

At ExplorersWeb, it’s whatever floats your boat — if you even need one.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.