Packrafting is an awesome outdoor activity with not much of a barrier to entry. With their light weight, it's very easy to take one with you on a backcountry adventure, so that waterways no longer become obstacles, but rather thoroughfares.
Jackson Hole is home to one of the country’s only rental outfits for packrafts. What’s a packraft? Um, one of the best outdoor inventions ever. Packrafts are durable, weigh less than ten pounds (there’s one that weighs a mere three pounds!), and roll up to about the size of a backcountry tent. We think they are to river running what fat skis are to skiing—they make it easier and more fun.
What Makes It Great
While packrafts can tackle serious whitewater, that’s not their niche. Packrafts are meant to be packed and carried deep into the backcountry.
“Ten years ago packrafts changed how I view maps. Before then, the blue lines -- rivers and creeks -- were obstacles. Barriers. Things to avoid. Today, with a packraft on my back, these blue lines are passageways and thoroughfares. Things I seek. The bigger, longer, and more remote the blue line the better. Packrafts make explorers amphibious.”
Why try packrafting? Exploration!
Accessing other adventures! Climbing the CMC route on Mt. Moran requires paddling up String Lake and across Leigh Lake. It’s perfectly fine to do this in a canoe or sea kayak, but using a packraft makes the portage between the two a heck of a lot easier.
Maybe you like whitewater but aren’t the most confident whitewater kayaker. Get a self-bailing, open cockpit packraft and you don’t have to worry about rolling up. Yes, you’ll go for a swim, but you can push yourself right back into the boat without any stops on the bank to dump all the water out of your boat like you have to do in a whitewater kayak.
Who is Going to Love It
We’d never recommend a novice whitewater kayaker tackle the Class III Lower Hoback, but, in an open cockpit packraft, a beginning whitewater paddler can.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Packrafts cost around $1,000, but JH Packrafts rents them for $45/day. Planning a longer trip? Prices go down.
Rent a packraft by calling (307) 269-0966. If you’re looking at a packraft adventure elsewhere, know they will ship their rental boats most anywhere in the country and Canada.