Bikerafting: A Beginner's Guide
TLDR: Bikerafting combines mountain biking and packrafting into one thrilling outdoor adventure. Essential gear includes a packraft, paddle, pfd or life jacket, bikepacking dry bags, a bike and straps to rig everything up.
Newcomers should start on flat water, familiarize themselves with their gear, understand their limits, and monitor the weather. For the best bikerafting gear deals, check our affiliate links. Happy adventuring!
What is Bikerafting?
Bikerafting combines two of the most beloved outdoor activities: mountain biking and rafting. Let’s break it down a bit further.
Bike Meets Raft:
At its core, bikerafting is about exploring terrains on a mountain bike, then seamlessly transitioning to water using an inflatable boat, or packraft. Your bike is then strapped onto the packraft, allowing you to paddle down rivers, across lakes, or along coastlines, and then continue your journey on two wheels once you're back on dry land.
The beauty of bikerafting lies in its versatility. It provides an avenue for adventurers to access remote areas that would be difficult, if not impossible, to reach by bike alone. Think of those hidden trails that start and end with water crossings or secluded islands that have paths awaiting your mountain bike. With bikerafting, barriers like rivers, lakes, or fjords become pathways rather than obstacles.
A typical day of bikerafting might start with a ride down a forested trail, leading to a serene lakeside. Here, the rider would inflate their packraft (or the Kokopelli Feather Pump), and embark on a paddling journey across the water. Upon reaching the other side, it's back on the bike to continue the journey.
While the concept of combining bikes and rafts isn't entirely new, the evolution of lightweight and durable equipment, such as modern packrafts and, has made bikerafting more accessible and popular in recent years.
Essential Gear for Your Bikerafting Adventure
Modern packrafts are lightweight, durable, and designed specifically for adventures like bikerafting. They can handle everything from flat water to challenging class III or even class IV whitewater raft sections.
2. Bikerafting Straps:
Straps are essential for securing your mountain bike to your packraft. They ensure your bike stays in place, even in rough waters. Nylon cam straps work great as well as silicone straps like Voile or Modl work great too.
3. Dry Bag:
You'll want to keep your gear dry while you're out on the water. Dry bags come in handy for storing items that can't get wet.
4. Inflation Bag:
Inflating your packraft has never been easier with an inflation bag. It's a much more efficient method than using your lungs and will save you time and energy. *Or use a Kokopelli Feather Pump which is less that 3oz and inflates a raft in about 30-60 seconds
5. Packrafting Paddle:
A specially designed paddle for packrafting can make a significant difference in your paddle stroke efficiency. *Like the 4-piece breakdown Poudre Adventure Paddle
6. Thigh Straps and Spray Decks:
Thigh straps help you maintain control in rapids, while spray decks keep water out of the raft.
7. Repair Kit:
Just as you would carry a repair kit for your bike, you should also have one for your packraft. Punctures can happen!
8. Frame Bag:
This is for storing essential pieces of gear on your mountain bike, ensuring you have everything you need within arm's reach.
Tips for First-Time Bike Rafters
1. Start on Flat Water:
If you're new to bikerafting, it's a good idea to start on flat water. This allows you to get a feel for the inflatable boat, practice inflating your packraft, and refine your paddle stroke.
2. Get Comfortable with Your Gear:
Before heading out, familiarize yourself with how bike rafter hooks work and how to secure your bike and raft together.
3. Know the Limits:
While modern packrafts can handle class III and IV rapids, it's essential to know your limits. Start with calmer waters and gradually increase the challenge as you gain confidence.
4. Keep an Eye on the Weather:
Water levels and currents can change rapidly with rainfall, so always check the weather forecast before setting out on your bikerafting adventure.
The Bottom Line
Bikerafting is an exhilarating way to explore the great outdoors, combining the thrill of mountain biking with the serenity of rafting. With the right pieces of gear, like a modern packraft, bike rafter hooks, and a packrafting paddle, you'll be well on your way to your first bike and raft adventure. And don’t forget, if you're looking to purchase any gear, check out our affiliate links for some of the best deals on bikerafting equipment. Happy biking and rafting!