Whether you enjoy gliding over a serene lake or racing through whitewater rapids, there’s no doubt that packrafting is a ton of fun for all outdoor adventurers. If you’re new to the packrafting world, you’re probably wondering where to start. Not to worry! With this ultimate beginner’s guide to packrafting, you can learn how to go packrafting safely during your next outdoor expedition.

1. Find an Adventurous Location

Before you dive headfirst into packrafting, you need to find a place to take your raft. With a lightweight and sturdy packraft, you can glide over beautiful lakes or dart through rushing river rapids with ease. There are a couple of ways to find places to packraft. The first is to check out a local map or ask fellow packrafters if they have any favorite areas to check out. Or, just pack up and go. Place your foldable packraft in your backpack and go on a hiking trip near rivers or lakes. When you want to get out on the water, pick an area that you like, take out your packraft, and have fun on the water.

2. Purchase a Sturdy and Lightweight Raft

Now that you have a few ideas of where to go packrafting, it’s time to purchase a raft. If you plan on tackling rough waters, you’ll need a white water packraft. These rafts are lightweight, easy to pack, durable, comfortable, and strong enough to withstand even the most challenging currents.

Check our Kokopelli’s Boat Finder to help you chose the right packraft for you.

3. Learn How To Use Your Raft Properly

The next step is to learn how to use your raft properly. If you have a friend or know someone who packrafts often, you’re in luck! They can help you learn how to use your packraft properly and what to do when you are out on the water. If you don’t know anyone who packrafts, you can always find plenty of excellent video instructions online. Keep in mind that you should start on calm waters if you’re a beginner. Rushing right into rapids when you are a beginner is never a great idea, so take it slow and learn on calm and safe waters first.

4. Don’t Forget Your Paddle

When you plan your first packrafting trip, don’t forget your paddle! Too often, people become so preoccupied with packing their rafts and other essentials that they leave their paddles at home in the garage. You can’t go packrafting without your paddle, so remember to pack it in your backpack before you go on your trip.

5. Dress for the Outdoors

When you dress for your trip, consider the type of adventure you plan to go on. For example, are you going to go packrafting on a smooth, gentle lake, or are you embarking on a wild and unpredictable adventure? Here are a few examples of items you should wear on a whitewater rafting trip:

  • Insulating layers
  • Wetsuits
  • Helmets
  • Helmet liners
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Waterproof jackets and pants

Take a look at the weather forecast before you leave. The last thing you want to do is go rafting on a cold and rainy day in a short-sleeved T-shirt and a pair of shorts. On a cold or rainy day, wear plenty of layers and a top layer of waterproof clothing. During warm summer weather, dress comfortably in a short-sleeved tee and shorts, but leave the sandals or flip-flops at home. You should always wear closed-toe shoes when you go packrafting to ensure that you don’t lose them if you tip your packraft. If you do fall out of your packraft, float down the current with your feet first to protect yourself from obstacles and debris.

6. Don’t Go Solo

Even though experts enjoy packrafting alone, it’s best to bring a friend. Your companions will be able to provide necessary support in case of an emergency, and they can help you navigate the waters.

7. Keep Safety in Mind

Safety should be one of your top priorities when you go packrafting. Never underestimate the water, even if you have been to a particular area multiple times. Additionally, if you plan to go to the rapids, always be on the lookout for obstacles, and remember to wear a sturdy helmet.

8. Get Out on the Water

During your first packrafting experience, you’ll learn how to control and maneuver your raft, use your paddle, change speeds, and more. Also, as previously mentioned, it’s best to start on a lake or river that is calm and gentle. This will allow you to learn how to use all your equipment safely instead of worrying about tackling rough currents. With these tips in mind, it’s time to get out on the water. Remember to take your time, enjoy the outdoors, and have fun!

9. Practice To Improve Your Skills

The best way to improve your packrafting skills is to practice often. After you improve and take your skills to the next level, you’ll be all set to handle whitewater rapids, strong currents, and whatever else the wilderness may throw at you. Additionally, extra practice and experience will build your endurance, allowing you to stay out on the water for longer periods of time.

10. Enjoy the Paddle

The last tip on our beginner’s guide to packrafting is to have fun! Packrafting is an amazing experience that can either be very peaceful and inspiring or adventurous and daring, depending on the location you choose. Bring a few friends or a beloved pet along for the ride and make some amazing memories that will last a lifetime.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Packrafting
August 02, 2022 — Adrian Landia