Packrafting — to do or not

Picture from the Alpaca Packraft Website
Picture from the Alpaca Packraft Website

A packraft is a small but durable inflatable raft that can be carried in a backpack. Some weigh less than 5lbs and many under 10lbs. A packraft can make lake or river crossings easy for the backpacker, even when such a crossing would be next to impossible. A packraft can also allow the hiker a varied trip, where rafting a river can be combined with hiking. Such multi-function gear can make a very complicated route (in terms of logistics) easy and extremely enjoyable.

With this kind of flexibility, packrafts are becoming popular with the backpacking crowd. And it looks like great fun!! So much fun, that I have seriously been thinking about purchasing one.


The most popular packrafts are made by Alpacka, the defacto standard in all things good in the packrafting world.

I am not entirely new to rafting (see boat story). But my inflatable boat is extremely difficult to portage around obstacles like dams, and not appropriate for most whitewater rapids. A packraft would be ideal.

So like a kid, I started researching and reading about grand adventures on the internet. If you are interested in packrafting, Roman Dial’s website is outstanding.

After the initial enthusiasm, I realized that I have never needed a raft during the course of any backpacking trip, and I don’t live near an area where I could even combine packrafting as part of backpacking. Also, along with a packraft there are other pieces of mandatory equipment and the prerequisite training that should be part of a packrafter’s life. But that little voice in my head keeps telling me it would be great fun and adventure. The other voice whispers that the time spent traveling to packrafting opportunities could be time actually spent hiking. So the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth… time will tell.

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