Pack rafts present the ultimate when it comes to light-weight boats for backpacking or hiking in to remote lakes and rivers in Alaska. Available in a variety of sizes, styles, weights, colors and price ranges, there is a pack raft to fit just about any need for a small, nimble boat for remote or local rivers. Most pack rafts are non-bailers. This is because most pack rafters are doing all they can to save weight and bulk in their pack.
Since self-bailers are heavier and bulkier, the nod goes to the non-bailing boats. But because pack rafts ride so low to the water, boaters can expect to get wet, not only from occasional splashes, but also from water that enters the boat and remains there until you dump it out.
Owing to the wet ride offered by the low profile of a pack raft, a spray skirt is essential. This keeps most of the water out, which reduces your discomfort, reduces the dead weight of the boat, and reduces the number of times you have to stop and dump the water out. Get a spray skirt designed for your boat. It is also wise to consider wearing a dry suit while pack rafting.
The low center of gravity of the boat, combined with your close proximity to the water increases your chances of a capsizing. The dry suit provides a way to stay warm and dry.
PR Big Rig. Alpacka Denali Llama. Alpacka Fjord Explorer. Alpacka Explorer NRS Packraft. Feathercraft Baylee 1. Feathercraft Baylee 2. Feathercraft Beast. Forums Members. Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram. Pack Rafts Pack rafts present the ultimate when it comes to light-weight boats for backpacking or hiking in to remote lakes and rivers in Alaska. Non-Bailing Pack Rafts Most pack rafts are non-bailers. Non-Bailer Considerations Owing to the wet ride offered by the low profile of a pack raft, a spray skirt is essential.
About Us Policies Advertising Members. Alaska Outdoors Supersite Permanenti Rd.Packraft and trail boat are colloquial terms for a small, portable inflatable boat designed for use in all bodies of water, including technical whitewater and ocean bays and fjords. A packraft is designed to be light enough to be carried for extended distances. Along with its propulsion system collapsible paddles or lightweight oars and safety equipment PFDclothing the entire package is designed to be light and compact enough for an individual to negotiate rough terrain while carrying the rafting equipment together with supplies, shelter, and other survival or backcountry equipment.
The most popular propulsion systems involve a kayak paddle that breaks down into two to five pieces. Most often they are paddled from a sitting position, although kneeling can be advantageous in some situations.
Pioneering use of packrafts is difficult to trace, as float tubes, inner tubes, and other small boats can in some of their uses be considered equivalent to packrafts, and have been used around the world for over a century, beginning with the Halkett boat. However, Dick Griffith is documented to have used a packraft to descend Copper Canyon's Urique River Chihuahua, Mexico in  before introducing them to the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic adventure race in Packrafts are now common equipment in that race.
Furthermore, aviator emergency rafts have been used for packrafting purposes in a variety of applications. Pioneering use of packrafts generally consisted of using boats intended as pool toys or lake craft in moving water while carrying gear or passengers.
The discomfort of these non-durable boats led to the invention and marketing of the modern packraft. Alaska is generally considered the birthplace of packrafting as long distance, non-motorized, landscape travel across untracked wilderness necessitates a small, portable boat for water crossings. Dick Griffith, Roman Dial author of Packrafting! In the U. Packrafting has become popular in Nordic countries and elsewhere in Europe. Typically the boats are carried to cross and float rivers, streams and lakes while carried between watersheds.
Packrafts have historically been used as portable boats for long distance wilderness travel, usage that reached its apogee in the Higman-McKittrick 4, mile expedition along the Pacific Coast from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands. This classical use has been modified by most packraft owners to shorter day trips that mix trail hiking and river and creek floats or lake paddles. In Europe packrafts are used together with train travel. Most of these hike and paddle applications are in gentler water of Class II or less.
However, low-flow steep creeks rated to Class V and other whitewater runs that were previously considered suitable only for kayaks and bigger rafts, are now run frequently by packrafters. The addition of spray decks and thigh straps allow more precise control of the craft. Eskimo rolling in packrafts is now done routinely. Packrafts are increasingly popular among fishers and hunters as well as travelers who wish to carry a lightweight craft on airplanes.
While they can be inflated by mouth or electric pumps, most contemporary users carry light weight inflation bags. Distinction from "man-portable" A packraft is distinguished from a strictly man-portable raft insofar as it is designed to be light enough to represent only a fraction of the total weight an individual can reasonably carry.
A packraft can be carried for extended periods, along with food, water, shelter, and other supplies that would enable the individual to traverse long distances through difficult terrain. All rafts listed in this article weigh less than five pounds without paddles or spray decks. These vinyl substitutes are not designed for anything more challenging than boating on still water no further than an easy swim to shore; they puncture easily, nor do they inflate to high pressures.
For this reason they have been described as 'slackrafts';  they do, however, offer some advantages over the even cheaper option of Liloing. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
An Introduction and How-to Guide. Archived from the original on Retrieved Travel by packraft can be both fun and rewarding. Denali's backcountry offers many possibilities for combining a day or overnight hike with packrafting. While there are many opportunities for beginners, the hazards and risks of any whitewater travel are great.
You are responsible for understanding these risks and acquiring the skill and experience to be self-reliant. Packrafting is inherently more dangerous than a backpacking adventure. Keep the following in mind:. Prepare for the worst.Svalbard packrafting & hiking adventure
Many packrafting rivers in Denali are extremely remote, and may require days of arduous cross country travel to reach the put-in. In these circumstances, even a minor injury or punctured boat can have serious consequences.
Simple mistakes, such as failing to properly secure a backpack to a packraft, can lead to lost gear and wet, miserable nights in the backcountry. Prepare for the worst case scenario and have a plan on how to deal with it. We recommend carrying the following items in a small dry bag on your person in case you become separated from you boat: firestarter, compass, mirror, water purification, emergency blanket and some form of communications device such as a satellite phone.
Expect the unexpected. Compared to commercially run rivers, packrafters can expect to deal with more unforeseen hazards such as fallen trees and hidden rocks. Fallen trees are particularly dangerous because they form strainers, where water passes through the branches of the tree but solid objects, like people and packrafts, do not.
Strainers can trap a packrafter underwater, even with a PFD. Knowing how to recognize strainers or other hazards in the water and avoid them are some of the essential skills that should be learned by every packrafter before they hit the water.
Rain or shine, rivers can rise. Rivers in Denali can rise rapidly depending on rainfall and meltwater from upstream glaciers. There are few gauges on rivers in Alaska to accurately determine current water levels and predict when high water events will occur. You can contact local guides or the Backcountry Information Center to inquire about current river conditions throughout the area, but be aware that information received from second-hand sources should not be considered definitive.
There is no substitute for assessing the river in person and practicing safe boating techniques.
At a minimum, try and anticipate river conditions based on weather and seasonal flows, and be prepared to change your itinerary if the water levels are unsafe. Dress for the swim. The water in Denali is almost always exceptionally cold usually around 38 degreees Fahrenheit. As a result, even relatively calm water poses significant risks. An unexpected plunge in icy water limits your ability to swim away from hazards such as strainers, or can lead to hypothermia if you are submerged for a prolonged period of time.
The shock of hitting cold water also causes involuntary inhalation, which can result in drowning if you are underwater. Always wear a PFD and a helmet. Wearing a personal floatation device PFD and helmet are highly recommended in order to prevent drowning and potential head and spine injuries. Can you read whitewater and quickly recognize hazards such as strainers, holes, and undercuts?
Do you have the skills to avoid these hazards or safely eddy out and scout unknown water?The serene Alatna River passes through some of the wildest and gorgeous country in Alaska.
Meandering through the heart of the Brooks Mountain Range, this journey is a wonderful way to visit this land.
For this trip we travel from Fairbanks to Bettles, Alaska. Here we make a brief stop, switch to a float plane, regather and then depart for the park. Fly in to the park and land on the upper Alatna River.
We have a couple of options regarding the drop-off. Ready to go? This is a fun, easy float down Class I water.
There are campsites at every bend of the great meandering river so our schedule is as loose and fluid as it needs to be. Here we meet our bush pilot and air taxi service for the flight back to Bettles. Keep your camera handy for what is a stunning flight. The perfect finish to your Arrigetch Peaks backpacking trip. The Alatna River packrafting option adds days to the hike. Gates of the Arctic National Park offers some extraordinary backpacking opportunities, but hiking is also a challenging way to travel in this country.
If you would like to packraft the Alatna from its headwater near the Continental Divide, we can run that trip separately from the Arrigetch Peaks hike. Inquire for details.
Rivers have historically been the highway of the Alaskan wilderness. During winter travel they offer an open, brush free frozen route to ski, snowshoe or snow machine along. In summertime, Alaskan rivers become an ever better option. Canoes and rafts were long favored by early European explorers in Alaska. Today, the packraft is the vessel of choice. Versatile and flexible enough to handle even serious whitewater, they also excel on simple flatwater float, such as this stretch of the Alatna River.
In fact I recommend this trip as a great option for those folks with zero packrafting experience. Expeditions Alaska will include all your packrafting gear.
But dry bags, dry tops and dry pants, PFDs, paddles and packrafts are all included. We can include your tent and all the food, cookware etc as you prefer or do it yourself. Depends how much time you want to take. But we can add in a day, or two, or three, and do some hiking along the way.
The Alatna River valley is a great wide forested floor for endless wanderings. I recommend folks do the Arrigetch Peaks backpacking trip then finish up back at the Alatna River and packraft from there. We can also packraft first. Can be, for sure. Early summer is worse. Fewer bugs, and great fall colors. There are quite a few bears along the Alatna, both black bears and grizzly bears. Also moose. You should contact me via email or call me at 1 — Expect it to be tougher than you think it will.
At least in part, anyway.Despite the vast size of Alaska, we all know that the relatively small road system can translate into limited access to the rest of the state without some alternate mode of transportation.
Be it boats, airplanes, snowmachines, or ATVs, there are many methods of transport that Alaskans use to access the different areas of the state that are off the roadways. Another means of transportation option I have been using the past few years to access areas of our state further off the road system is a packraft. Packrafts are basically just what they sound like, rafts that you pack on your back.
Only a few companies really make them and they range in weight from pounds depending on the size, weight, and payload. Perhaps the most common manufacturer of these rafts is Alpacka Raft, and they offer several different boat models. I have a Denali Llama model myself, and it comes in at just under 7 pounds with an accessory spray deck and inflation bag included. The spray deck is essentially the same idea as a spray deck on a kayak: a thin covering over the boat deck designed to keep a large portion of the water off of you and out of your boat.
I would strongly suggest getting a packraft with a spray deck, as otherwise you might find yourself sitting in an essential bathtub of water inside your boat after a run through some rapids.
The inflation bag is an ingenious way Alpacka has engineered their boats to be inflated, and is really just a nylon bag with a threaded fitting to air their boats.
First you thread the fitting into the boat, fill the bag with air, squeeze the air into the boat, and repeat until the boat if full of air. Sometimes simplicity is best! At less than 5 oz you hardly know the inflation bag is there until you need to fill your boat and its much faster and less likely to cause a headache literally than filling it by mouth as well.
Also it is a good idea, no mater what water you are planning to packrafting in, to take a PFD of some sort along and these are usually around 1. As you can see, packrafting will add a hefty increase to the weight of your pack when you are leaving the truck. So why are they worth the extra pounds? In fact, they are more often used during the summer scouting seasons, when I am doing thru-hikes of some new location, up over a couple mountain passes, floating back to the road looking for new potential areas to hunt.
While the weight of this packraft is significantly more, coming in at 17 pounds, it is considerably larger, offers an inflated self bailing floor, and a MUCH higher payload. Depending on water conditions, a Denali Llama packraft from Alpacka Raft can float a pound pack on the bow, though the boats agility in the water is greatly reduced, as pounds for myself plus the weight of the pack makes the comfortable payload right in the neighborhood of around pounds or so.
The extra 10 pounds that the Big Rig weighs over a more traditional packraft like the Llama allows it to carry a payload of nearly three times that! Roughly pounds! However, for me, the areas they open up to access and hunt is well worth it.
However, for up here in Alaska where roads are few and access is limited, packrafting can be just the ticket to expanded access or exploration of places otherwise only reachable by more expensive means of transport.
This is awesome!
South-Central Alaska Packrafting Guide
I tell you what Kyle; you figure out a way to pick up a few…and well use them when I make it up there again. Sound good?! I think so…! Nice article Kyle. As you have experienced, packrafts are a great backcountry tool for hunters and fisherman or for anyone wanting to save space or shave some weight. Northern Alaska Packrafts rents and sells new packrafts right from our shop in Fairbanks.
We are the only Alpacka Raft dealer in northern AK. Hey folks. He has developed some of the best packrafts for backcountry use in Alaska and could provide a plethora of information regarding your trip.Single-person packrafts for back-country recreation. Light weight and extremely durable, Alpacka rafts are the ideal packraft for recreating in Alaska. Each raft weighs about 5 to 6 pounds depending on the size and packs down to approximately 7"x17". Our rental fleet includes several packrafts of each of Alpacka's classic boats Alpaca, Yak, Llama, and Mule.
The Alpaca, Yak, and Llama have a carrying capacity of pounds. The Mule can carry up to pounds. If you need a boat with higher carrying capacity check out our other inflatables. What size packraft you need depends on your height:. Each rental includes a packraft with a cruiser deck and spray cover, lightweight paddle which breaks down into 4 piecesinflation bag, small repair kit, and a personal flotation device.
Please contact us for availability and to make a reservation for white water boats. Packrafts for back-country hunting and angling. We now rent boats specifically for serious hunters and anglers. We have three boats designed by Pristine Ventures in Fairbanks. It weighs 15 pounds and is 9 feet long. It can carry up to pounds. It can carry up to 1, pounds. This boat is intended to perform with one hunter, their gear, and an entire bull moose in river depths greater than 7 feet, but can also provide effective hauling capacity and shallow draft for two people and moderate loads of gear and smaller game animals.
It can carry up to lbs. This boat can run up to class IV rapids. We also have one SOAR multi-person inflatable canoe with an optional rowing frame available to rent. Please contact us for SOAR rental rates and availability.
Alpacka Rafts. Other Inflatables.Packrafting is to Alaska summertime backcountry travel what skiing is to Alaska wintertime backcountry travel. Packrafting opens up Alaskan wilderness to the adventurer more than anything since the invention of the Piper Super Cub.
Rivers are wilderness highways. In summer no less to. A small portable single person boat we can carry, inflate, paddle and float, store gear inside and even sleep on. We offer a variety of packrafting trips. Adventurous single day trips to weeklong multiway expeditions. Never pack rafted before? Take a day or two class on Nizina Lake and learn the basics. Got your paddling technique together and looking for the next step?
Most backpackers are surprised just how far we do NOT go on a backpacking trip in Alaska. Some people do great walking on boulders, and other people struggle to the very last stone. On a scale of 1 — 5, five being the most challenging, three hiking boots is smack in the middle.
Weather changes things. There may be a tough steep climb on the route that takes a few hours. A Family Trip. Wilderness Adventure for the Intrepid. Packraft Nizina Lake. Hike Nizina Glacier. Walk These Waterfalls. Walk On A Glacier. Packraft Among the Giant Icebergs. Hike to the Waterfalls. A Trip For Everyone. On a scale of 1 — 5, five being the most challenging, one boot is appealing. One boot is about as easy as we do here in Alaska. And there is always the weather or some other adversarial element to contend with.
No glacial moraines to deal with, or alder and muskeg, or sidehills to wreak havoc on your ankles hours on end. Great option for starters, the older or the younger folks who want to see some astonishing remote wild country, without all the rigors or the more common backpacking adventures we undertake.
Alaska Packrafting Video. Gates of the Arctic National Park. Categories Packrafting. Duration Days. Group Size People. Wrangell - St. Elias National Park.