Packraft gear

bard

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Joined
Apr 2, 2013
Messages
65
recently pulled the trigger on an Alpacka explorer 42. In the middle of planning a fly in float out stone sheep/ maybe elk hunt. never packrafted before and wondering what gear i should include. also the two trips i am looking at are a little different so i am wondering how i would pack for each.

trip option 1- fly into lake. river flows out of the lake so no real need to haul packraft/extra gear up the hill. pack weight not a concern. float is fairly long but no real white water. may be shallow spots in which i may need to walk down the river pulling the boat. . i am thinking i should pack chest waders, water shoes to wear over wader booties, life jacket, water proof type gloves. any luxury items to consider since i am not having to lug it over a mountain.

trip option 2- fly into lake. need to hike to river which is quite a hike. float out is shorter but a little more white water. pack a life jacket, ditch the chest waders?, water shoe to wear in case i need to walk down river? wear regular rain gear. drop the pants and bear leg it with water shoes if i need to walk down the river in the water. or do you bring waders and ditch rain pants?

i could use some packraft experts to set me straight. am i thinking this out right? i would prefer to keep my hiking boots dry and not use them on the river. put them in the fly zip? any additional gear? any recommendations for shoes for the water with or without the waders? a good lightweight wader that doesn't break the bank? how do you store your rifle while floating? do you load as much gear in the fly zip as possible?

thanks in advance
total nube packrafter
 

wilbur007

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
11
Hi Bard,
I've been packrafting for about 15 years now, on and off. You'll love the Explorer 42.

I prefer leather hiking boots for hiking but not for paddling. Switch to a pair of Keen closed toed sandals or a tennis shoe/water shoe for the paddling portion if you need to jump in and out of your boat. (I've lost velcro sports sandals in river muck.) I don't ever bring waders or a drysuit. Quick dry pants seem to work best and keep brambles and mosquitos off my legs.

I've done a lot of canoe tripping and the significant difference between the two is this - you need to carry less stuff when you're packrafting. Your raft will handle better with less weight and your back will thank you when you're packing it all.

Always bring a lifejacket. Always make sure you've got a ziploc bag with an absolutely bomber fire starting kit in it. I think I've read of people who bring along a small butane stove just to get fires going - pretty critical if you get cold and wet. Beyond that it's just backpacking - except you'll feel incredible smug as you drift downstream.
 

AKDoc

Senior Member
Joined
May 16, 2015
Messages
500
Location
Alaska
Another guy here who absolutely loves packrafting, although I've only been doing it for the past six years now, and I'm at the heavier end of the packrafting definition...a PR-49HD from Pristine Ventures at around 16 lbs. After many years of canoeing and running a Zodiac, which was great, I'm sure glad I entered the world of packrafting.

I'll bet that you are going to really enjoy packrafting!

I seek the solitude of a wilderness experience when hunting and fishing up here, and packrafting has opened new doors for me to extremely remote areas of Alaska that are truly priceless. I especially enjoy floating (sometimes dragging) the tributaries to remote rivers. Our trips are for 7-10 days, sometimes up to a hundred river miles, and we typically never see another person...but we sure see the animals and the fishing has been out of this world fantastic. On one trip we floated past a continuous line of sockeye salmon that was 10 miles long, and on another trip my son got his first brown bear/grizzly, and on another trip...

Being on the heavy side of packrafting, our payload capacity is very high. However, we are careful about what we bring and don't bring, even though I've only packed everything on my back a few times to a take-out lake, which required multiple trips. Given the nature of our floats (the OP's "option 1"), we take more gear and pack differently. I'm happy to share specifics if interested.

I'm trying to be brief, so I'll close with a few pictures of remote Alaska to enjoy (packraft style)...
IMG_1249.jpg IMG_2307.jpg IMG_2298.jpg IMG_1746.JPG IMG_0853.jpeg IMG_2317.jpg IMG_2347.jpg IMG_1755.JPG IMG_1752.JPG
 
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OP
B

bard

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Joined
Apr 2, 2013
Messages
65
Another guy here who absolutely loves packrafting, although I've only been doing it for the past six years now, and I'm at the heavier end of the packrafting definition...a PR-49HD from Pristine Ventures at around 16 lbs. After many years of canoeing and running a Zodiac, which was great, I'm sure glad I entered the world of packrafting.

I'll bet that you are going to really enjoy packrafting!

I seek the solitude of a wilderness experience when hunting and fishing up here, and packrafting has opened new doors for me to extremely remote areas of Alaska that are truly priceless. I especially enjoy floating (sometimes dragging) the tributaries to remote rivers. Our trips are for 7-10 days, sometimes up to a hundred river miles, and we typically never see another person...but we sure see the animals and the fishing has been out of this world fantastic. On one trip we floated past a continuous line of sockeye salmon that was 10 miles long, and on another trip my son got his first brown bear/grizzly, and on another trip...

Being on the heavy side of packrafting, our payload capacity is very high. However, we are careful about what we bring and don't bring, even though I've only packed everything on my back a few times to a take-out lake, which required multiple trips. Given the nature of our floats (the OP's "option 1"), we take more gear and pack differently. I'm happy to share specifics if interested.

I'm trying to be brief, so I'll close with a few pictures of remote Alaska to enjoy (packraft style)...


Sound like some great adventures and looks like some unreal country in the pics. any specifics would be great. I would love to get up to alaska one day. BC is great but i don't think ill make it 200 miles without seeing people in hunting season. one can dream though. I am a little clueless on how to pack my rife, dry bags to use. what to put inside my raft and what to leave outside and lash down. luxury items when not packing weight on your back. do you bother with waders? if your often jumping out to pull your raft what you running for waders and shoes? if no waders do you use water proof socks? i would love to skip some of the easy lessons learned by doing it right off the hop
 

Tim in Wa.

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
738
Location
Poulsbo Wa.
Hi Bard,
I've been packrafting for about 15 years now, on and off. You'll love the Explorer 42.

I prefer leather hiking boots for hiking but not for paddling. Switch to a pair of Keen closed toed sandals or a tennis shoe/water shoe for the paddling portion if you need to jump in and out of your boat. (I've lost velcro sports sandals in river muck.) I don't ever bring waders or a drysuit. Quick dry pants seem to work best and keep brambles and mosquitos off my legs.

I've done a lot of canoe tripping and the significant difference between the two is this - you need to carry less stuff when you're packrafting. Your raft will handle better with less weight and your back will thank you when you're packing it all.

Always bring a lifejacket. Always make sure you've got a ziploc bag with an absolutely bomber fire starting kit in it. I think I've read of people who bring along a small butane stove just to get fires going - pretty critical if you get cold and wet. Beyond that it's just backpacking - except you'll feel incredible smug as you drift downstream.
Please keep us posted on your adventure.Ive been concidering the same raft.Regarding footwear.Depending on the outside temperature it may be worth looking at muckluck s
 

AKDoc

Senior Member
Joined
May 16, 2015
Messages
500
Location
Alaska
Sound like some great adventures and looks like some unreal country in the pics. any specifics would be great. I would love to get up to alaska one day. BC is great but i don't think ill make it 200 miles without seeing people in hunting season. one can dream though. I am a little clueless on how to pack my rife, dry bags to use. what to put inside my raft and what to leave outside and lash down. luxury items when not packing weight on your back. do you bother with waders? if your often jumping out to pull your raft what you running for waders and shoes? if no waders do you use water proof socks? i would love to skip some of the easy lessons learned by doing it right off the hop
You're asking some great questions, and I'm sure you'll get a variety of good answers from folks here. I can give you my answer to one of your questions this morning, and then I have to get going to work...

Keep in mind the type of floats that I do (referenced in my post) and it rains a lot up here, so I am basically living in my waders for the trip. I'm not primarily back-packing with an add-on of packrafting...that would be very different. Furthermore, busting brush up here can be brutal on waders. Therefore, waders are a very important piece of equipment for me...and they are pretty handy to wear and easy to clean-up while standing in the water after field butchering an animal.

For my utilization, it's got to be breathable chest waders that are as durable and bombproof as I can get, yet sensible to wear all day. I also prefer the stocking-foot type (without built-in boots) because I want a quality lace-up boot with solid ankle support, strong sole, and traction for when I do have to hump gear, especially up and over tundra. Now comes the hard part...how much do you spend? Well, for me waders are an investment, and I can't have them fail easily...and I use the heck out of them (not just for packrafting). I bought Simms G-4 chest waders and G-4 boots, and for me they are perfect, but big money up-front. However, I'm on year six with them, and they are still going strong without any failures....yet I still always bring repair tape and a tube of Aquaseal...just in case because sh-t happens!

That said, one of my favorite moments at the end of each day is being able to get out of my waders! On these floats I bring a pair of heavy waterproof socks and a light pair of footwear...typically it's my Croc's. I also bring puffy pants to put on at the end of the day...assuming it's not raining! Just thinking about that part of the day as I sit here is very relaxing to me...the sound of the river flowing, eating dinner, and sipping just a wee bit of fine Irish while thinking about the adventures of that day...life is good.
 
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Jon Boy

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May 25, 2012
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Location
Paradise Valley, MT
Just got into packrafting this year and have a lot of the same questions as bard, glad to see some of them answered here. If anyone needs a partner on any of the big adventures up north I'm always available and willing to be a pack mule..
 
OP
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bard

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Apr 2, 2013
Messages
65
i got a few more if anyone can chime in. what is a good 4 piece paddle. light is good but i want somewhat bomb proof. also, what is a good lightweight life jacket to get? i want a couple pockets big enough to carry my phone, inreach, and a fire starting kit. in the event i get seperated from my boat i can at least start a fire, call for help, and update my facebook status to screwed
 

thinhorn_AK

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Jul 2, 2016
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Alaska
I’ve been packrafting a bit over the past few years for hunting, fishing and just adventures. When I use one for hunting, I don’t really ever intend to hike very far, a mile or 2 at most so I’m almost always using waders since I’m in and out of the raft a lot and walking through swamps etc. it also rains a lot here so the waders are my rain pants. I also have wading pants which are great when it’s warmer out like summer fishing etc.

On the trips I’ve done that involved a lot of hiking, I ended up using the wading pants and just some crocks over the feet since I was hiking in boots and pants but want my legs dry when water is splashing into the raft. For example, last summer (and I’ll go again this summer) I did the aniakchak river which involves quite a long hike in and climbs a mountain. Obviously I’m not going to wear waders for that. I just packed the wading pants and called it good.

As far as life vests, I pretty much just use Kokatat gear, their stuff is built well and has a good reputation. I have one of their ultralight vests which is what I take if I’m hiking but a touring vest for slower longer stuff.

I don’t always wear my vest but I always take one. If I’m going across rivers to fish or doing lazy floats, I don’t bother usually, you need to make the decision for yourself and your comfort level. Anytime things get a bit faster or I don’t know what to expect I wear my vest but mostly to encourage my wife to wear hers. I grew up rafting and kayaking but she didn’t.

As far as “gear”, I like to have a decent throw bag available, kokatat makes great ones. Dry bags are very important. When I’m hunting I’m using a pr49 so I’ll use a watershed dry bag for all my camp stuff like tent, sleeping bag, pad, dry clothes and I’ll use a few smaller ones. One is a kill kit, it has my knives, bags, citric acid, small spray bottle, wyoming saw etc etc. the other bag is stuff like food, Ammo, stove, gps, fire starting stuff and anything else I might want during the day.

I use oval caribiners to attach stuff, they are useful, easy to use and always come in handy. You asked about gloves and that can be important. It’s good to have a few pairs I like glacier gloves and mechanics gloves, I also take athletic tape to tape up blisters and sore fingers, your hands take a beating on long hunting trips and being wet, paddling and sitting in the sun makes it worse. Those desert scarf things are great to keep around, keep your neck covered so you don’t get burnt.

As far as paddles go, I just use aqua bound paddles, pick one that suits your budget mine are the cheaper ones but have worked great.

Get a nomar gun bag, that will keep your gun dry and protected when you aren’t hunting, I have a few and they have been great investments.

I’d also say being a shit load of repair materials in case things go south and you end up needing to do a patch job out in the field and take a good bit of cord or webbing to tie stuff down as you see fit or add weight (animals).

Lastly, and I apologize for this unorganized post, I like to keep my fishing kit pretty compact because I’m Absolutely bringing it along, you can get into some killer fishing, it’s fun, you can cook them, you might even get into a honey hole that isn’t in the books, I’ve caught some absolutely amazing fish out in places nobody knows about. I use a TFO 3 piece travel rod with a shimano 2500 reel, I just keep a small tackle box with different spinners and spoons in it, same idea if I’m taking my fly rod, keep it basic.

Man I’m enjoying the winter but. Ow I’m all fired up to get out and float.
 

Mt Al

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Dec 16, 2017
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750
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Montana
I've been packrafting for about five years and go on very short trips, zero overnights, nothing like the previous posters have done. FYI.
-Personally, I'd avoid storing things in the tubes and using the zipper much unless you can keep it very clean. I had mine not closing and it was a challenge getting it to work. Came home, put on zipper lube and it worked great immediately. If you do plan on using it, keep it very clean and bring some zipper lube and tooth picks.
-Watch Pristine Venture videos and check out how he packs and what he takes on the PR49 and Cork rafts. Good music, great learning just watching the details. If I ever did a moose/caribou I'd get a Cork, my 2 cents. AK Docs pictures in other threads are pretty motivating also.
 

AKDoc

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May 16, 2015
Messages
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Location
Alaska
I’m rolling pretty similar to ThinhornAK

When I first started packrafting, I pretty much used my dry-bags and other gear that I already had from years of spring bear hunting from a canoe. Over these past six-years I’ve progressively evolved my gear, and this is where I’m at today on a few items of expressed OP interest in this thread (keep in mind that my floats are not back-packing trips with a packraft add-on):

NRS Ninja life-vest (BTW…I’m always wearing it when in the raft, even when dragging)
Aquashed submersible bag (1)
Salamander throw-bag
Sealine submersible bags, zippered (2)
Carabiners (a bunch)
NRS straps (a bunch)
Nomar rifle bag
Z-drag set-up, homemade…8mm cordage, webbing, 5mm Prusik loops (2), pulleys (2)
SO DST tarp
Silky Gomboy curved folding saw
A beefed-up repair kit (extra patching material, Tyvek tape and FlexTape)

BTW MtAl, I bought a Kork from Larry Bartlett at Pristine Ventures a couple years ago, which is an excellent addition for me…LB is a really good guy and honors his fellow veterans (I’m a former Marine). The Kork is a bit bigger than my PR-49HD and heavier material so it weighs around 50lbs and much bulkier when cased…definitely not something I’m going to hump around on my back for any great distance. That said, although I still use my PR-49HD every year, I really like the Kork for long distance remote floats with lake put-ins and shoreline take-outs…and when my son can get away from work and join me in the PR-49HD…in the size comparison picture below he was using my PR-49HD, and my Kork is at the far right.
 

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thinhorn_AK

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You should do a bunch of shorter day trips or overnights to get all squared away for your big hunts.

My first float hunt was pretty short but I ended up getting a nice caribou, I had a buddy jet boat me about 30 miles up a river and drop me off. I floated for a few hours, shot the caribou that night, camped out and floated around 20
Miles the next day to the spot where my friend was picking me up. The pack raft also got me back into fishing. I hadn’t fished much for a few years, just wasn’t all that into it but once I started getting into great grayling, big rainbows and things like that I got right back into it.
 

Wassid82

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Dec 4, 2018
Messages
396
I'd like to get into this type of hunting a little more but I hate the steep cost of the better rafts. I've found some that give designs and material that you put together yourself but I don't know how foolproof they are. Has anyone used the pre-made kits before or know of another way to get into the packraft game for cheap?
 

thinhorn_AK

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I'd like to get into this type of hunting a little more but I hate the steep cost of the better rafts. I've found some that give designs and material that you put together yourself but I don't know how foolproof they are. Has anyone used the pre-made kits before or know of another way to get into the packraft game for cheap?

Klymit makes a light water dinghy but you aren’t going to do a whole lot with that. The only way I can think of to get into it for “cheap” would be buying used or getting one of those DIY packraft kits and building your own.
 

Htm84

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Jun 16, 2019
Messages
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I'd like to get into this type of hunting a little more but I hate the steep cost of the better rafts. I've found some that give designs and material that you put together yourself but I don't know how foolproof they are. Has anyone used the pre-made kits before or know of another way to get into the packraft game for cheap?
I put one of the diy ones together recently. I think all said and done it cost me about 325-350 ish. Took me a couple weeks just doing it in my spare time. I gotta say it’s pretty durable. I floated a creek near my house maybe 4-5 times with it. Lots of trees and rocks other pointy objects littered all through it. No leaks of rips yet.
 

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Wassid82

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I put one of the diy ones together recently. I think all said and done it cost me about 325-350 ish. Took me a couple weeks just doing it in my spare time. I gotta say it’s pretty durable. I floated a creek near my house maybe 4-5 times with it. Lots of trees and rocks other pointy objects littered all through it. No leaks of rips yet.
looks real nice. thanks for sharing you thoughts
 

AKDoc

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Alaska
I put one of the diy ones together recently. I think all said and done it cost me about 325-350 ish. Took me a couple weeks just doing it in my spare time. I gotta say it’s pretty durable. I floated a creek near my house maybe 4-5 times with it. Lots of trees and rocks other pointy objects littered all through it. No leaks of rips yet.
That's pretty cool you did that, and from what can be seen in the picture, it turned out pretty darn good...nice work there fellow Alaskan. Sure looks to be a fun choice for certain floats and back-pack trips.

I'm still a pack-raft rookie after six-years, so I'm so extra cautious for my preferred type of floats...extended distance and extremely remote 7-10-day floats. I've beefed-up my repair kit, but I'd still be literally way, way up the creek without more than just a paddle if irreparable damage happened to my raft on one of those trips. That's my main reason for adding the Kork to my line-up.

Again, really cool project...I think Mt Al has also posted about building one from a kit as well.
 
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