In this post I give a summary / gear list on what gear to take when planning a packrafting trip. I will describe the factors affecting which gear to take, essential packrafting gear, packrafting gear for whitewater, gear needed for the camp site and additional gear. Additional items might be added in the future.
Before planning on what to take for a packrafting trip you have to think about several factors which could affect the gear you are taking with you.
How long is the trip? A few hours or several days?
Spring, Summer, Autumn, winter? Can affect e.g. the clothing and shelter needed.
Season is different on different geographic locations which can effect weather conditions as well.
Are shelters available during the trip? Are you planning to camp or stay e.g. in a hostel?
Food & Water
Do you have to bring your own food? Are you planning to fish? Are you eating in a hostel? Are water sources available?
Fire wood / gas etc.
Are trees growing in the area? Is the wood usable (e.g. after long raining season it might be wet). Do you prefer to cook with a gas canister? How much gas to take?
Climate / Weather forecast
Essential Packrafting Gear
The packraft itself should be packed as well. It’s a good idea to attach it outside of the backpack.
Ideally a paddle which can be dismantled into 4 pieces e.g. Werner Shuna paddle
The inflation bag helps you to inflate your boat. First you fill the the inflation bag with air and then you push the collected air into your boat.
A paddle leash can help to prevent losing your paddle.
If you expect to have strong wind then a windpaddle sail could be beneficial.
Clothing for Packrafting
Dry suite or waterproof clothing
In very cold conditions it might be safer to wear a dry suite rather than waterproof clothing. It’s good to know the water temperature and weather conditions beforehand.
Gloves help to prevent getting blisters. During the summer you can use bicycle gloves and during the colder seasons a neoprene glove would help to keep your hands warm.
Shoes / Sandals
Take hiking shoes or trail runners if you also plan to hike during your packrafting trip. Sandals can be used while packrafting. They dry fast and give a better grip when getting in or off the packraft.
Merino Base Layer and Socks
Merino wool keeps you warm even when it’s getting wet. In colder conditions you should always wear a merino base layer under your waterproof clothing / dry suite. It also helps you to keep you warm in case you fall into the cold water (can save your life).
Fleece jacket / Down jacket
In very cold conditions it’s also good to wear a fleece jacket over the merino base layer while packrafting. A fleece dries faster than a down jacket. A down jacket does not insulate warmth once it’s getting wet. A down jacket can store warmth better than a fleece jackt and should be worn on the camp site.
On very windy, cold or sunny places it’s good to wear a cap (even under the helmet).
Shorts / swim suite
In warmer conditions and if you are planning to packraft nearby the shore a swim suite / shorts can be worn instead of waterproof clothing.
Gear for packrafting in whitewater
A life jacket should be always worn. In stronger rapids a more advanced life jacket should be worn which floats better and protects your body against rocks.
If you are planning to packraft in a rapid then wearing a helmet should be mandatory.
A knife can be useful if you get stuck somewhere or you want to cut a rope in an emergency situation.
A throw rope has several functions. It can help to rescue other paddlers or for example as a clothes line which you can use to hang your gear to dry.
Spray deck /skirt
A spray deck keep the water out of your boat. You wear it under your life jacket.
Gear for the camp
Exchange clothes e.g. underwear, socks, down jacket, merino cap
Stove / gas / matches /cutlery / frying pan
To heat up water. Depending on your style of cooking you might also need a frying pan and cutlery.
Sleeping pad / bag
Sleeping bag which is suitable for the environment. A synthetic sleeping bag is more useful in wet environments while a down sleeping bag is much lighter.
Tent / bivy / tarp
A tent preferably with a mosquitoes net or a tarp if there are not many mosquitoes around to save some weight.
Dehydrated food from the camping store or you eat what the environment offers you e.g. fish, mushrooms and berries. Taking food with you is the safest option.
Water filter / bottle
In order to avoid carrying a lot of water it might be a good idea to take a water filter with you.
A headlamp helps you during the night or in emergency situations.
First aid kid
Pain killers and plasters, etc.
A towel is good to have if you want to go swimming after your paddling day.
Preferably a waterproof backpack to keep your gear dry should be used.
Clothes and sleeping bag should be packed in a seperate dry bag to keep them dry.
Compass / map / GPS / phone / satellite messenger
Always take a map, compass, phone and in remote areas a stellite messenger with in case you get into an emergency situation and there is no phone signal.
Money / passport / visa, credit card etc.
If you travel abroad a passport, visa, credit card and money is needed.
Camera, spare batteries, USB charger etc.
If you want to take pictures take a camera with you.
Needed to keep yourself clean.
Any additional optional gear
Fishing rot, carving knife, etcAnd if you have some time ...
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