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3 Reasons to Try Packrafting

Why you may want to try these inflatable, lightweight, packable rafts.

By: Abby Shepard + Save to a List

I wanted my own kayak for years, but owning a regular kayak isn’t realistic when you live in an apartment, have nowhere to store a kayak, and can’t lift much of anything heavier than 10 pounds, much less lift a full-sized kayak on top of a little sedan. I was stuck renting canoes and kayaks for a long time, but then I discovered packrafting.

Packrafts are inflatable rafts that are made to be, well, packed. These rafts can weigh as little as 5 pounds, and can roll down to the size of a small sleeping bag. 

Here are 3 reasons you may want to try pack rafting:

1. Backpacking

Packrafts are designed for backpacking. You can roll down the raft, strap it to your pack, and take your raft to places that you would never be able to take a regular kayak. Think alpine lakes, canyons, or any body of water that you would need to hike to. These rafts are (relatively) light, and super portable. Packrafts can inflate in just a few minutes using a hand bag pump, which makes it even easier to travel with. Plus, these rafts can handle whitewater, and even though I’ve never taken mine on rapids, I know it’s tough.

2. You live in a small space

Want to own your own kayak but have nowhere to store it? A packraft may be the perfect solution. Many pacrrafts can roll down to the size of a small sleeping bag, which makes storage much easier if you live in an apartment or other small space. They are also much easier to transport when you have a small car. I store the raft in a closet, throw it in the truck, inflate when I get onsite, and then do the entire process in reverse when it’s time to go home. 

3. You can’t lift heavy things

This may sound like an odd reason, but hear me out. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and have a really hard time lifting heavy things with my hands and wrists. I led kayak tours for a summer and moving the kayaks everyday about killed my hands, even bringing me to tears at one point. I knew that owning a kayak was unrealistic for me, because I would never be able to move it on my own. An inflatable packraft, though? I can easily lift my raft with one hand. There are other types of inflatable kayaks out there, but for me, a packraft was the best option because my raft weighs way less than the other varieties of foldable or inflatable kayaks.

A few more notes on packrafting:

  • If you’re interested in getting a packraft, I recommend the Alpacka Rafts or Kokopeli. I have an Alpaca Raft, and while I’m very happy with it, I think I would more highly recommend Kokopeli for customer experience. 
  • Packrafts handle differently than kayaks. From my experience, rafts can be harder to steer and control in waves or strong currents, but they do very well in flat, calm water. For me, the pros outweighed the cons.

No matter what vessel you choose, having the ability to go paddling wherever you want, whenever you want with your own vessel opens the door to so many new adventures!

More packrafting stories: 

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