These five pieces of packrafting gear have kept me safe and comfortable from Canada to Utah, on the water and off.
1. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400
High volume, water resistant, and light! What more could you ask for? On sandy desert trips and mellow floats where I’d rather not mess with the packraft’s cargo zipper, lining the Porter with a trash compactor bag and rolling down the top is sufficient to keep splashing water out. On whitewater trips, when the pack is inside the boat, the relatively short aluminum stays and lightweight framesheet allow it to fit easily inside the stern. I can get ten days of food and boating gear into and onto the pack, all for less than 2.5 pounds of pack weight.
Available for sale on GGG: Click here to shop the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400 pack.
2. Scat “The Cub” Bear Spray Holster
On hike and float trips through grizzly bear habitat, keeping bear spray accessible is important. I wear The Scat Belt Cub on the front of my body, underneath my backpack waist belt while hiking and beneath my PFD (over top of my sprayskirt) while boating. This way it’s always close at hand, even when I get out to scout a rapid or walk to the end of the gravel bar to pee. It’s lightweight, purpose-built and dries pretty fast too. I tried it on with all my boating layers and then lopped off a foot or so of the extra-long strap, resewing the end so it wouldn’t pull through the buckle.
3. Art 4 All Trucker Hat
The brimmed Art 4 All Trucker Hat keeps you cool during long, hot days on the water, especially when the rapids end and you’ve clipped your boating helmet to your bow. It also works great with a sun hoodie while hiking, and makes long hikes in the rain more pleasant by keeping the drip line from your rain jacket hood further from your face.
Available for sale on GGG: Click here to shop Art 4 All Trucker Hats
4. Small Packtowl
I bring a small square of a highly absorbent fabric made by Packtowl for a variety of uses. Drying off your boat at night takes only a minute or so, and allows you to sleep on the boat as a very durable groundsheet. I keep it in my PFD and use it to keep the sun off my ears and neck while tucked under a trucker hat, and it’s also great for drying out your boat post-trip before you throw it in a friend’s car. Quick field repairs to the tube fabric are also made easier in wet weather with a pack towel. It offers lots of utility and only weighs 0.4 ounces when dry.
5. Goretex Socks by Rocky
These Gore Tex Socks are my ace-in-the-hole on long, wet expeditions in cold environments. While not cheap, they act as my camp shoe, pack small and breathe well. After I strip off my drysuit I go directly into dry socks followed by these, putting my wet boating shoes on last. I can fetch water up to my calves, splash through a puddle between the tent and kitchen tarp and generally maneuver about a gravel bar or forest camp with warm, dry toes. I size up one whole size from my street shoe; they run small.
Also, check out Garage Grown Gear’s other articles about packrafting and packrafting gear: