Gear Kits

10 Things You'll Need to Get into Packrafting

Ready to venture into new waters? Get the gear you'll need.

Curated by Rachel Bertsch (Kristensen)

If you’ve ever paddled a long distance, you’ll know that there is no better feeling than being on the water in control of your own boat. Whether paddling buttery smooth waters of alpine lakes, watching whales breach a few meters away, feeling a surge of water as a nearby glacier crumbles, or battling the waves of an unexpected storm - each venture onto the water provides a different type of fun. I’ve been flat water kayaking for years and recently started to venture into whitewater. In January of 2018, I decided to take a packraft down to New Zealand and explore the beautiful backcountry of the South Island. I found pristine rivers that lead me through dense rain forests to wild coastlines, and from glacial valleys to arid canyons. I also discovered a sport worth loving that is beginner friendly.

Any questions or comments - shoot me a message and follow me in real time @meandertheworld.

Kokopelli Rogue Packraft

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You’ll want to have a raft that is rugged enough to handle whitewater, streamlined enough to get you across lakes, and light enough that you can carry. The specs on the Rogue are impressive: 4.9lbs for the version without the spray skirt, made with durable and tough material, and it has a pack size similar to that of a roll of paper towel.

Incredibly lightweight with a blade that demands movement. The posi-lock system means you can change the angle easily to fit your style of paddling. Made with quality products making it reliable in rocky situations while having a design that is mighty fine looking too.

The flexible neoprene wetsuit was great for mobility in my paddles and the 3mm insulation kept me warm when cold water hit. Since I was in New Zealand, I wanted something versatile weather-wise and felt a farmer john / farmer jane was better than the drysuit which would have been too much for warm days but anything less would have left me cold in the glacially fed rivers, especially on cloudy days.

I really dig all the compartments of this life vest. Makes it so I can have a map, waterproof camera, and snacks close by at any given time. It’s buoyant and made with quality materials that meet all standards for boating. Attach a whistle to the jacket incase you run into any issues and need to alert someone.

NRS Comm-3 Wetshoe

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I’ve seen people packraft with a lot less gear, and just use sneakers that can get wet, but I personally love a neoprene bootie. The ability to have dry shoes just for hiking and then sturdy wet shoes to navigate rocky riverbeds or awkward shorelines is vital for me. And worth the tiny bit of extra weight. A taller shoe means extra warmth, as well protects your ankles from hungry insects, and makes pebbles are less likely to get in.

A bit of safety gear is always helpful and actually the law in some countries. Easy to throw and easy to rebundle. Can be used as a towline as well.

Whittaker’s Chocolate

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Because every trip needs a luxury item and what better way to restore energy than chocolate. If you ever make it to New Zealand, this brand is number one. Incredibly well priced chocolate that is delicious no matter where you are.

Deuter Aircontact 75+10L

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Now this bag I wouldn’t totally recommend for packrafting, it just so happened to be the one we used. Packrafting requires a lot of gear and you need at least 75-80L to carry it. We were able to fit our paddles, rafts, lifejackets, wetsuits, booties, helmet, food, stove, water, tent, sleeping bag, and clothes into this, albeit in a bit of a jigsaw puzzle style. You’ll want something that can hold at least 5000 cubic inches, 80L, and is semi resistant to getting wet. Also, make sure it is comfortable with heavy loads with ample padding for the hips and lower back but still lightweight so that it doesn’t become a burden itself.

We used a few of these to keep our valuables and clothes dry while in the backpacks as we were hiking in some rainy terrain. The wide mouth of the bag makes adding things easy and the roll top makes it possible to compress slightly. Having a variety of sizes meant we could keep our gear organized before we put them into the backpack (above) or waterproof duffle (below). It should be noted that they are weatherproof, but not 100% waterproof, so I wouldn’t trust them to be fully submerged.

90L is definitely a lot when it comes to the bag size, but this bag fits everything you need to keep dry while boating. When the time comes to raft, attach this duffle to the front of the boat with bungees while balancing the weight appropriately.