I discovered packrafting in the summer of 2020 (Pandemic Summer) when my long-distance hiking plans fell through and I had to find an adventurous activity in Saskatchewan. Whenever I’ve met someone who visited SK as a tourist, it was for a northern canoe trip, but the weight and difficulty in transporting a traditional canoe or kayak has always made them prohibitive for me. Only this summer did I learn about inflatable kayaks, and then the dream – the packraft!
Packrafts are light, inflatable boats designed for use in backpacking. It’s amazing how light they can get, for example the Supai flatwater boats that weigh less than two pounds. On the other end of the scale are whitewater rafts, which are more durable and come with more features/options such as spraydecks and internal storage in exchange for their substantially heavier weight. I chose the Kokopelli Rogue-lite, which is somewhere in the middle. And yes, I did weep softly at the price. Crafty people interested in packrafting may want to investigate the option of DIY Packraft, which sells you the materials and instructions to make your own packraft – note that the prices are in Canadian dollars – but the thought of me creating something seaworthy, or even puddleworthy, is laughable. Combined with my paddle (Advanced Elements Ultralite) and PFD (Stohlquist Betsea), my packrafting gear weighs around nine pounds, which is perfectly acceptable to carry on a backpacking trip with a minimum of whining (but still some whining).
For me, the core appeal of boating is having another method of getting somewhere. Insofar as it enables travel, as it symbolizes accessibility, it appeals to me in the same way as long-distance hiking. The notion of just going out into the middle of a lake to relax is… not… so relaxing to me. I don’t like water, and am actually mildly afraid of water, and I prefer to be 5-10 metres from shore at all times. Preferably 5, especially if I’m carrying all of my gear.
Kingsmere Lake + Bladebone Canoe Route + Bagwa Canoe Route (2020)