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Suitable packrafting expedition backpacks?
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Rob E

Locale: Canada
Suitable packrafting expedition backpacks? on 02/12/2012 10:11:42 MST Print View


With the Golite Odyssey onsale right now (, it seems like it would fit the requirements of being fairly light yet large enough volume to carry all the gear, but I want to explore the market to see what other options are out there?

My typical trips will involve 6-20 mile (10-30km) off-trail hikes between rivers/lakes, which will get pretty rugged at times, with trip length of 3-7 days. I estimate a pack weight of 40-50lbs.



Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Suitable packrafting expedition backpacks? on 02/12/2012 11:38:36 MST Print View

I used an Osprey Talon 44 for 5 nights and a total of 60 miles during a pack rafting trip on Isle Royale. I attached the raft (in a durable stuff sack) to the pack with the sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the pack. It's not the most ideal placement of a heavy item, but it worked decent enough.

Pack weight with consumables for that trip was about 33lbs at the start, with a base weight of 22 lbs.

Edited by T.L. on 02/12/2012 11:40:24 MST.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
cool on 02/12/2012 12:24:43 MST Print View

Hi Travis, thanks for the reply.

Wow, a 22lb base weight is pretty good. What raft/paddle/pfd did you use? Do you happen to have a gear list on geargrams that you could link to by chance?

I am still ironing out my gear list, right now it is at 25lb base weight, but I am in the process of making a new quilt and shelter which should drop it to 23lbs. My trips are all solo so there is no possibility of sharing shelter/cook/misc gear either.

I am torn as to how to attach the packraft. I can see how it would be great to attach the raft to the outside of the pack. Not have to repack your full backpack during portages, etc. My hikes are usually pretty rugged, lots of thorny bushes, bushwhacking, obstacles.

My strategy so far has been to have everything in the pack, and then a pack cover over the pack, so that the load is stable and protected. I'll give attaching it to the outside more consideration though.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Suitable packrafting expedition backpacks? on 02/12/2012 13:33:44 MST Print View


I have used both a standard Pinnacle and modified Pinnacle (DIY frame sheet) with a decked Alpacka. On the plus sides, the clean exterior of the Pinnacle greatly reduces the risks of entanglement when you flip and it is light weight / rugged. On the negative side, without a frame it slumps into a concave shape, when lashed to the semi-rigid tubes on either side; this pools water onto the spray skirt and into your lap. You can offset this negative by the addition of a light DIY frame-sheet.

The Odyssey works fine with its integral frame sheet. Two of the people in my packraft expedition group have used this pack for 3-4 years without any problems.

Edited by richard295 on 02/12/2012 20:19:25 MST.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Odyssey frame sheet? on 02/12/2012 15:56:16 MST Print View

Hi Richard,

Glad to know that you think the Odyssey is up to the task.

I am a little confused. Does the Odyssey not come with a framesheet by default? I assumed that since it was advertised for supporting heavy loads that it would have some sort of moulded plastic sheet in the back to give rigidity and structure?

How did you find the Odyssey was up to the task of hauling heavy loads?



Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: cool on 02/12/2012 18:16:04 MST Print View

I did like not having to open my pack to get to my boat. I used an Alpacka Yukon Yak with spraydeck, their Sawyer paddle, and a Stearns inflatable hipbelt with the 16 gram CO2 cartridge.

When I was in your shoes, Richard explained how he used his paddle shaft as a walking staff by placing a rubber bumper (like for stool legs) on one end. That worked really well and kept another pound off my back.

My wife put her pack raft in the very top of her pack so it was easy to get to, and she didn't seem to mind. We used roll top pack liners so our stuff was protected.

If you're going to be bushwhacking with the pack raft on the outside of your pack, I'd highly suggest using a pretty beefy stuff sack, extra weight be damned.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: packrafting packs on 02/12/2012 21:33:02 MST Print View

The Odyssey got a good review here a few years ago:

I prefer to have everything inside my pack, and for that purpose find that 70 or more liters is ideal for packrafting.

Jay Reed
(Sleeveless9) - F
ULA on 02/13/2012 08:15:25 MST Print View

ULA Epic seems to be right up your alley. Just put the packraft under the drybag for easy access.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: ULA on 02/13/2012 09:23:23 MST Print View

I've eyeballed the Epic and would love to try it. Just have to wait for the pack fairy to put one under my pillow one of these nights.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Packs on 02/13/2012 10:45:42 MST Print View

For me, a dry bag style pack is pretty important because I trust a durable dry bag a lot more than a water resistant (dyneema) or most waterproof (i.e. HMG Porter) pack combined with lots of supposedly waterproof stuff sacks. You could go with a roll top pack liner (ie. Lawson Equipment) but a pack + liner is a bit more hassle than simple dry bag hauler.

A ULA Epic seems ideal, but the NRS Paragon appears to be a good budget approach. I got one for about ~$35 on eBay. It's 12oz heavier than the Epic and probably not quite as good, but it's $35.

Edited by dandydan on 02/13/2012 10:47:28 MST.

Gregory Topf
(notoriousGRT) - MLife

Locale: PNW / Switzerland
From Quest to Epic...with some epic quests along the way on 05/03/2012 08:32:09 MDT Print View


Perhaps you have made your pack decision already, but I'll add my two cents: I started out using a GoLite Quest plus waterproof liner in 2009 on week-long packrafting trips with 35-40 pound total weight including boat. I was pleased with the Quest: a rolled up Yukon Yak fit snugly in a side sleeve, and the total volume was just adequate for a bunch of food, tarp, 30 degree down bag, down camp/sleepwear, etc. I would not have at all minded the slightly larger Odyssey for a bit more comfort on the weight/volume side, so it's probably a safe bet for you, and a good all'rounder of a large pack if it fits you well.

Due to pack fit (6'0" with a long torso)and my propensity to take my boat with me, I changed to the ULA Epic last Summer. It is perfect for packrafting applications, and the included drybag was appropriately durable (not impervious to fish hooks though and a pack-specific drybag would be even better), but I had to shell out a bit more than I did for the Quest on sale...

I recommend both packs depending on how specialized you want to get, and more importantly, fit.