M Commentary: The Packraft in 2013
by David Chenault
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Extrapolating from my corner of the packraft universe, here in the shadow of the Bob Marshall, it seems that 2012 has been the most popular year yet for packrafting. No doubt next year will exceed it. The South Fork of the Flathead, whose wilderness stretch is the nucleus of what is probably the best packrafting trip in the lower 48, was the scene of much action. Numerous locals, semi-locals, and folks from the other side of the country made the pilgrimage. Forest service techs doing bear research used packrafts commuting to and from field sites on the South Fork, while to the north Glacier park rangers used them for patrols on the Middle Fork, and multiple descents of obscure, yet-to-be classics like the upper Waterton River were made. There are at least three regional rental businesses in the lower 48, with more in Alaska and abroad. With packrafting enjoying ever-broader appeal, it is a good time to examine the state of the packraft at the cusp of 2013, and discuss what is good and what could be better about the boats that allow us to do so many cool things.
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