Over four days and three nights, I completed a Utah packrafting trip, and it was magical. I packrafted through the Green River near Canyonlands National Park, seeing everything from canyon walls larger than life to what I believe (and hope) was an otter making a swan dive into the river.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I believe everyone should have, especially if they’re exploring Utah National Parks!
I want this blog to be a resource for those looking to spice up their outdoor time.
This is NOT a guide on how to packraft.
It’s more of a summary of my overall experience! I’ll, of course, talk about what packrafting is and a suggested packing list in case you book this kind of adventure for yourself!
Disclaimer: This blog was done in partnership with Kokopelli Packrafts. All opinions are my own. This blog contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of every purchase made at no additional cost to you.
But First, What is a Packraft, and WTF is Packrafting?
When Kokopelli first reached out to me and asked if I wanted to go on a Utah packrafting trip with their team, I quickly jumped on the opportunity. But, I had no idea what packrafting even was.
It is fair to say that most of us know what a raft looks like, right? The act of packrafting involves going through a body of water with a packable raft.
When deflated, the Kokopelli packraft packs down to about the size of a small sleeping bag! But, of course, that’s a lot smaller than the traditional raft. For this reason, packrafts, like those that Kokopelli makes, are perfect for travelers.
You don’t need a roof rack or a crazy amount of storage accessories to bring this tool along for the ride!
The packraft I took on my trip was the Kokopelli Rogue, weighing about 7 pounds.
And if you’re exploring the Moab area, packrafting is the perfect activity to add to a 2 days in Moab itinerary!
How Can You Go Packrafting?
Before my trip, I wasn’t sure how one even goes packrafting. Now I know it’s as simple as getting yourself a packraft and choosing your adventure.
Of course, if you’re inexperienced, you will definitely want to hire a packrafting guide to take you.
A guide will be able to get the proper permits and will know the appropriate safety precautions for taking you out on the water.
Some folks decide to find a hiking route that includes a lake, hike the trail, inflate their packraft, and paddle around the lake.
Others, like me, spend multiple days on a single body of water. Again, this kind of adventure is something you may need a packrafting guide for.
It’s also important to check the water levels and rules/regulations regarding inflatables on a specific body of water before you decide to go on your packrafting trip.
You can read the packrafting page on Canyonland’s NPS.gov site which goes over permits, equipment needed, etc.
My Experience Packrafting
So as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the Kokopelli team reached out to Scott and me about going on this trip. Their incredible team member Mina is the one that took us out!
Preparing for Launch
Honestly, I was so confused about what to expect. Before actually getting ON the river, I still didn’t understand what packrafting was.
And like, WTF do you bring on a trip like this? “So, do I need to pack really light?” “How much room do these rafts have?” I found myself asking.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept that a raft that packs down to the size of a small sleeping bag would hold little old me and all of my camping/camera gear. But alas, the rafts were much heftier than I thought!
Once these bad boys inflated, I was all, “Ah, I get it now.”
I could bring everything I usually would for a multi-day backpacking trip and then some. The best part? The raft would be doing all the carrying for me, HA.
So while all these other river enthusiasts were packing their large canoes, I was strapping my backpack to my own personal flotation device (muahahaha).
With my bag strapped in and my lifejacket clipped on, I threw my camera into a dry bag and set off on the river.
And once I felt that current pushing Scott and me further down the river, away from the boat launch, we laughed and laughed and laughed. Here were two van dwellers who had no business being on the river that just signed up for four days of it.
Then it hit me: we did belong here. You don’t get many chances to “go for it,” and this was ours.
I guess nothing says “adventure” like a carefree paddle sesh.
The Following Days
The following two days consisted of non-stop paddling. There were multiple times we approached canyon walls larger than life. I couldn’t believe I had spent 14 years living in the desert, yet I never bothered to see it in this way.
Every packrafting day felt like a “choose your own adventure” between the abundance of campsites to choose from, side hikes, and tiny islands to dock on.
And life doesn’t get much better than a campfire and a starlit sky. But, of course, there was plenty of that to go around!
The campsites, the views, the stars, every second of my Kokopelli trip left me awe-struck. I walked into packrafting, not knowing what to expect, and walked away with close friends and an adventure I long to replicate someday.
What to Bring Packrafting
Below are the items I brought with me on my packrafting trip.
I found that packing like it was for a multi-day backpacking trip ensured that I had all the needed items.
- Compostable Wipes
- Face Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Lip Balm
- Bug Repellent
- Compact Mirror
- Cotton Balls
- Tooth Brush
- Tooth Paste
- Sun Hat
- Hiking Boots
- Hiking Socks
- Tank Tops
- Packable Down Jacket (with a stuff sack)
Sleeping & Cooking
- 46L Backpack
- Lightweight Tent
- Female 0 Degree Sleeping Bag or 15 Degree Bag; Male 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Camping Pillow
- Compact Lantern
- Windproof Lighter & Waterproof Matches
- Lightweight Camp Chair
- Portable Speaker
- Water Bottle
My Final Thoughts on Packrafting
I hope this blog gave you a glimpse into my packrafting experience! Hopefully, it has inspired you to plan a pack trip of your own soon or book a packrafting trip.
If you are exploring more of Utah and want some help planning an epic trip, I suggest reading my Utah National Parks road trip blog next!