Saturday, March 9, 2013

We Put the PACK in Packrafting!

Photos by Greg and Trina
Words by Greg

Okay, maybe we aren't ultralight-type people. Maybe we like a few too many luxuries. Maybe we like comfort and decent food. Maybe bringing dogs along means we need more stuff. We can blame the dogs, right?

It's not that we didn't try.

Heavy paddles

Light paddles.

Heavy tent

Light tent

Trina's heavy pillows

The inflatable pillow I allowed her to bring

I told her no, despite her claims that the red one could be used to make repairs to her new sparkly helmet.

But seriously. Look back at that first photo and try to keep a straight face as I blab about our ultralight packraft trip. PaHA!

Meanwhile, later that very same day:

On our previous multi-day river trip we'd used two "duckies" -- inflatable "kayaks" -- each weighing around 40 pounds empty, maybe 45 pounds rigged, and maybe 120 pounds loaded with food, water and gear. But that trip was on a wide and languid section of the Green River. This time we were heading for a much smaller, trickier river. We expected low flows, narrow channels, shallow rockbars, splashy rapids, fallen trees blocking the river, and possible portages. It seemed like our light and nimble packrafts would be perfect. We just needed to lighten our gear load and keep it simple.

200 pounds of ultralight gear. Er…

Okay, we never actually weighed our loaded boats. But given our penchant for food and comfort, our tendency to gravitate toward luxury, we ended up with light nimble boats that weren't exactly light. They did remain nimble, and for that we must thank the innovative folks at Alpacka, whose new Cargo Fly zippers allowed us to stow gear inside the tubes of our boats. The kind folks at Alpacka are not, however, to blame for amazing amount of crap we actually DID stuff inside.

Unzip the boat.

Fill the inside with gear.



Loaded and ready - dogs VERY ready.

We thought we'd spend our days lazily exploring the canyon and side canyons, knock out a few river miles, then camp again. In reality, we spent much of our time re-packing our heaps of gear before getting into the river and sprinting out the required daily miles before the day ended. Here, I exaggerate somewhat. Yet we definitely put the PACK in packrafting.

On the other hand, success. We stayed warm, dry, well-fed and comfortable. And had an amazing time in a wild place. More on that, soon.


  1. Can't wait! I'm tired and I'm not even there. I'm so glad ya'll did all the work! Now I can enjoy the trip. Well, as soon as you post the pics!

  2. I'll save other comments for another day, but that top picture is total BS. No way those dogs sat still without being shocked into submission--too many critters out there to snuffle after, chase, and eat.

    The upshot? Glad to see you're using the shock button...;)

  3. Leashes. They work and we use them.

  4. Nice post! Great to see some pics of the new zipper and also how much gear fits inside!! Also, is that black raft made of thicker material?

  5. Jeremy:

    The black raft is actually a thinner material that's not coated on the inside. It was built as a prototype boat, but Alpacka now offers a version of it as the CuriYak. They don't recommend using it the way I've been using it. But so far, so good.