I discovered packrafting in the summer of 2020 (Pandemic Summer) when my long-distance hiking plans collapsed and I was seeking adventure in Saskatchewan. The first thing that comes to mind with ‘adventure’ and ‘Saskatchewan’ is northern canoe trips, 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 heavier weight.

I chose the Kokopelli Rogue-lite, which is somewhere in the middle. 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 I can carry on a backpacking trip with a minimum of whining (but still some whining).

My fear of water ranges from mild to substantial, depending on the speed of the water (I prefer to be no more than 5-10 metres away from shore at all time, preferably 5), and the appeal of boating for me lies mainly in having another method of getting somewhere. Insofar as it enables travel, insofar as it symbolizes accessibility, it has the same charm as long-distance hiking.