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Weight of packrafting gear
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Jeff Gerke

Locale: Utah
Weight of packrafting gear on 09/08/2013 17:09:53 MDT Print View

I am estimating that all the gear associated to packrafting would add a good 10 pounds to pack weight. After considering the packraft, paddle, pfd, spray deck, helmet and other safety gear the weight really adds up. And that is not including extra clothing that I might need to packraft. If I had to get a dry suit or other clothing that might put the weight well over 10 pounds. Is this a fairly accurate estimate that I would be carrying an extra 10-15 pounds? If I did a route where I could paddle about 40% do you think it would be more efficient to have a packraft when considering I would be hiking about 60% of the route with an extra 10-15 pounds? Packrafting is a huge investment and I want to make sure it would actually increase the efficiency of my wilderness travel. Mixing up modes of travel is very appealing.

I read Forrest McCarthy's blog post on what to pack when packrafting. I think I fit in between his Ultralight and Lightweight Wilderness Whitewater categories. I would occasionally do up to Class III whitewater but most of my trips would probably lean towards more hiking that paddling.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Re: weight of gear on 09/08/2013 17:30:26 MDT Print View

Packraft, paddle, PFD, and repair kit is about 10 lb as you mentioned. Adding in a larger pack, extra clothing (fleece preferred over puffies), neoprene socks and gloves, waterproof pants, etc, I find my fall base weights going from 5 lb to about 18 lb (not including water-resistant camera options). I fall on the minimalist side of the spectrum, but figure approximately 12- 15 lb on top of what you usually bring.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Weight of packrafting gear on 09/08/2013 17:36:32 MDT Print View

Yes, packrafting gear will add weight. And yes, it can increase backcountry efficiency. But don't forget about all the possibilities that it will open up at the same time, even at the expense of weight. Sometimes you give a little to get a little.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Weight of packrafting gear on 09/08/2013 19:07:25 MDT Print View

+1 Travis. If efficiency (miles per day? max miles in limited timeframe?) is your only concern, your opportunities to paddle will be limited. If you paddle b/c you like paddling, the weight compromise will not sting so much and you find opportunities open up. It IS an investment, and honestly not one I would have made if my outdoors goals were primarily faster and further.

FWIW, my
raft plus cruiser deck (Alpaca, pre-big butt stern model)
inflation bag
repair kit
rigging (front and rear haul loops and front tiedowns)
thigh straps plus anchor patches
booster seat plus backstrap
raft stuffsack

...all total slightly over 10 lbs.

Edited by spelt on 09/08/2013 19:09:11 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
packrafting weight v. efficiency on 09/09/2013 00:25:13 MDT Print View

The problem is that it's hard to think like a packrafter until you've done a fair bit of packrafting.

The first, bare fact is that on most of the wilderness rivers in the lower 48 you'll usually match hiking speed, more or less. The exception is when the waters are high in spring and early summer, when you'll go a lot faster, but probably be cold and scared because of conditions. In late summer low water, or when running harder whitewater, you'll go a lot slower than the practiced ULer on the parallel trail up in the woods.

So why spend 1500 dollars to carry a bunch of extra stuff?

First, because you want to, or you wouldn't be asking.

Second, floating those big wilderness drainages is so much better than hiking them. The Bob is a perfect example. The trails along the Middle Fork Flathead and N and S Fork Sun have their virtues, but the South Fork Flathead trail sucks. It's hot and has mediocre views. In a packraft you just see everything better. I cannot overemphasize this point. After you've packrafted the Bob you'll view all other users as suckers, and you'll be correct. The Colorado Plateau is the same. Willow bashing and mud bogging on foot along the Esca or Dirty Devil is no fun. Floating is awesome.

Third, you'll look at routes differently, forever. This will spread out into other, non-packrafting pursuits.

Fourth, ordinary river trips become much easier. Want to do a mellow afternoon float with a friend/SO/kid? Pack two packs, drop a bike at the finish, and get it done. No need to wrangle friends, trailer, and a 200 pound raft. You can do a car shuttled packraft float trip for four adults with two Civics and nothing strapped on the roof.