June 05, 2017
Rafting into pristine hunting ground is a common practice that isn't often talked about but should be. Manufacturers have recognized the need for lightweight but durable rafts for sportsmen not only to reach the backcountry, but to also haul out gear and meat without worry of capsizing. They're called "packrafts," and they come in all shapes and sizes. We've selected three packrafts that fit different needs but still weigh under 15 pounds€¦way under.
If you're looking for a light raft to float you and a friend into the backcountry and back out with a large game animal, the Alpacka Forager is for you. It weighs 13 pounds and folds down small enough to fit in a multiday pack to be easily carried by one person. To take what the backcountry throws at it, the Forager is made of 400-denier Vectran fabric for durability. It comes with a cargo fly attached to the floor, six stainless-steel D-rings, and lash points to tie down gear. An inflation bag is used to blow it up, and it is easily maneuverable with two people. The included self-bailing floor keeps you high and dry while two extra-light dry bags are also included to store more gear for your adventure. Alpacka has packrafts in numerous sizes, load capacities, and prices, and they are 100 percent made in the U.S.
Weight: 13 lbs., 4 oz. | Length: 130 in. | Width: 51 in. | Load Capacity: 500+ lbs.
The Hornet-Lite is the right size and weight for a solo hunter looking to float gear in and meat out. Weighing 4 pounds, 15 ounces, it packs down small enough to easily fit in a daypack. The sidewalls are made of a 70-denier double-coated nylon, and all seams are double reinforced, which eased my mind when hitting river bottom during testing. It is single chambered and takes only minutes to blow up (once you get the hang of it) with the included inflation bag. At 5´10Ë, I could stretch my legs the length of the cockpit, and my pack was tied securely in place with two D-rings that sit on the starboard and port sides. With a 275-pound capacity, a hunter and a field-dressed medium-sized animal could be floated out easily. Kokopelli also offers eight other packrafts in larger sizes to haul more weight.
Weight: 4 lbs., 15 oz. | Length: 85 in. | Width: 37 in. | Load Capacity: 275 lbs.
Klymit LiteWater Dinghy
This LiteWater Dinghy (LWD) is a hidden gem. Although this packraft has a load capacity of 350 pounds, it is very basic, so we consider it best for scouting trips rather than transporting gear and meat. The floor of the raft sits tall, so you are not protected by the sidewalls. Instead, you sit up high, which makes for easy paddling and maneuverability but also allows water to spill over. The LWD is the lightest packraft in our test. It's made of 210 D ripstop polyester, which appears thin but withstood small rapids and rock outcroppings during testing. There are six tie-off zones on the raft, but they're very slender, so use with caution. The packraft rolls down to the size of a one-liter bottle and comes with an inflation bag that doubles as a dry bag. For the price, you can't beat the LWD as a good solo scouting packraft.
Weight: 2 lbs., 3 oz. | Length: 76 in. | Width: 45 in. | Load Capacity: 350 lbs.