The 8 Best Packrafts to Buy in 2022


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October 4, 2022

Packrafts have enabled unprecedented ultralight paddling expeditions—trekking, climbing, and even hiking to remote areas to run streams and pass from one drainage to the next. In short, they’re great for spontaneity, functionality, and fun.

The modern Packraft is perhaps the most significant innovation in paddlesports over the last two decades. Ultralight inflatable paddle craft have been used as survival equipment since World War II. But it wasn’t until the millennium that Alpacka Raft’s founders Sheri and Thor Tingey introduced the concept of a recreational Packraft—a compact, inflatable raft that can be carried in a backpack—that these ultra-portable boats took off.

Packrafting may appear to the uninitiated as a niche activity reserved for extreme sports enthusiasts and the most daring outdoor enthusiasts. However, these inflatable rafts are just as useful as they are entertaining. Here are the primary benefits of bringing a Packraft on your next outdoor adventure.

The Best Packrafts for Water Adventures


advanced elements packlite

Advanced Elements made their Packlite Packraft out of PVC-free reinforced lightweight materials. With the help of these components, the boat can be easily folded up and transported in a small mesh bag. It is also incredibly tough and capable of handling a variety of water conditions.

Advanced Elements decided on a 35″ width and a 7’10” length to give their raft stability. Three air chambers equipped with twistlok valves make up the entire raft, giving you peace of mind while out on the water.

If you’re wondering why an inflatable raft might have two or three air chambers, here’s why: If one of the air chambers punctures while you are paddling, you will still have two fully inflated air chambers to get you back to shore. 


In addition to the owner’s manual and repair kit, the Packlite features a front mesh storage area that can be used as a carry bag.

Unfortunately, you’ll need to buy a paddle and a pump separately because it doesn’t come with either.


alpacka raft expedition

Two distinct configurations are available for the Alpacka Raft Expedition: a whitewater deck and a whitewater deck that can be removed. The latter is a little more expensive, but you have the choice to take the whitewater spray deck out if necessary.

When purchasing the Expedition, you can choose from a small, medium, or large length that is based on the paddler’s sitting length. The three rafts’ width and weight capacities are the same, but taller paddlers now have a few more options to choose from.

The Expedition was made by Alpacka Raft from 210 deniers high count nylon, and an additional 840 denier ballistic nylon floor was added to increase stability and durability. The Expedition includes the traditional seating from Alpacka Raft as well as its patented 4-point thigh straps, a whitewater foot brace, and numerous D-rings for additional gear.

As previously stated, you can order the Expedition with either the standard whitewater deck or the removable whitewater spray decks. The Alpacka Raft’s standard deck is the driest and warmest design, making it a great choice for class III whitewater paddlers or paddlers exploring cold-weather waters.

The Expedition’s standard deck has a large, almost kayak-style cockpit, a fitted spray skirt with shoulder straps, and a one-piece pex coaming. The Packraft can be transformed into an open boat for relaxing on warm days if you choose the removable option, which has a zipper around its perimeter.

The Expedition raft also has a special feature that is exclusive to Alpacka Raft: a Cargo Fly internal storage system. You can store all of your gear inside the tubes of the raft using this system, which has an airtight zipper installed at the back of the raft. This feature is handy because there isn’t much storage room on a Packraft, as you can probably imagine.


The Expedition raft comes with a stuff sack, repair kit, and inflation bag. Your paddle is not included and must be purchased separately.


alpacka raft gnarwhal

The Gnarwhal, is the second of three Alpacka Rafts to appear on this list. 

The Gnarwhal has a total weight capacity of 450 lbs and can hold an additional 100 lbs. The Gnarwhal was built by Alpacka Raft from 210 denier high count nylon with an additional 840 denier ballistic nylon floor to increase stability and durability. You can upgrade the boat’s quality even further by selecting the optional 420D nylon hull for an additional fee.

Although it comes standard with a self-bailer deck, the Gnarwhal can also be purchased in a whitewater configuration that, like the Expedition, features spray skirts for use in rougher water. Grab loops, D-rings, and strap plates can be found all over the boat, along with Alpacka Raft’s practical Cargo Fly gear storage system, which keeps your backpacking gear or other personal items dry.


The Gnarwhal kit also includes a basic repair kit, an inflation bag, and a stuff sack.


alpacka raft forager

The Forager, the final Alpacka Raft on this list, is significantly longer than most other rafts. Even two paddlers or a substantial amount of gear can fit inside. With a total weight capacity of 1000 lbs, the Forager is the ideal raft for recreational paddling or activities like fishing in mountain lakes because of its self-bailing open deck.

The Forager has a Cargo Fly system, just like the other Alpacka Rafts, to keep your gear dry in the tubes of your boat. Alpacka Raft built the Forager from 420 denier nylon and added an 840 denier ballistic nylon floor because they wanted it to be as tough as they could make it.

Once the boat is inflated, there are D-ring grab loops, D-rings for cargo, and a bow handle to make it easier to move.


An inflation bag, a stuff sack, and a repair kit are also included in The Forager’s standard package from Alpacka Raft. Afterward, you would have to purchase the extra passenger seat and your paddles separately.


nrs packraft

NRS chose polyurethane-coated nylon for their Packraft model and included two air chambers to keep you afloat even during a puncture. Once the raft has been inflated, you can top it off or change the pressure using the huge inflation valves and smaller twist valves in each chamber.

The raft has webbing tie-down points in the front and back where you can fasten down any extra gear with some loosely packed rope. They also included an inflatable cushion for greater comfort on a lengthy excursion

Simple Packrafts like the NRS model are perfect for kayaking over your favorite calm lakes and rivers on flat water.


Along with its Packraft, NRS provided a storage bag and a repair kit.


kokopelli nirvana self bailing x packraft

Kokopelli created the Nirvana Self Bailing X Packraft to be capable of navigating whitewater of all difficulty levels, from I to IV. You can carry the raft to distant runs, on backcountry fishing trips, or hikes because it deflates to the size of a sleeping bag.

To give the Nirvana Self Bailing X Raft a high blend of endurance and stability while battling turbulent and swiftly moving waves, Kokopelli made it with TPU and DuPont Kevlar Aramid-Nylon Blend Fiber.

We like this Packraft because the seat has a supportive backband. If you intend to paddle over long distances and value some back support, the Nirvana might be a suitable choice, as many rafts of this sort include an inflatable cushion.

The raft contains an EVA backband and multiple D-rings for attaching extra gear, and you may even choose to add a TiZip Zipper when you check out. Thanks to the zipper section, all of your personal items can be kept in the raft’s chamber portion.


The Nirvana Self Bailing X raft comes with an inflatable floor, an inflating bag, an inflation tube, a set of compression straps, an EVA backband, and a repair kit.


kokopelli rogue-lite x packraft

We recommend Kokopelli’s Rogue-Lite X if you’re searching for something that meets these criteria but at a lower price, is a bit shorter, and weighs a little less. The Rogue-Lite X and Nirvana X appear to be quite similar at first appearance, but there are some very significant variances. The Rogue-Lite X is more appropriate for class I rapids or flatter waterways than the Nirvana X.

If you’d want more storage, you may add a TiZip Zipper to the Rogue-Lite X’s single air chamber. The Rogue-Lite X also has four D-rings for attaching webbing to secure your gear, a diamond rip-stop nylon inflatable seat, and an auto pressure relief valve.

When packed down, the Rogue Lite is a huge improvement over the already small Nirvana X. The Rogue-Lite X is one of the greatest solutions for paddlers who want to trek long distances before paddling because once packed and compressed, it only takes up 12″ x 8″ worth of room in your backpack.


An inflating bag, an inflation tube, a set of compression straps, an inflatable seat, and an emergency repair kit are all included with the Rogue-Lite X.


kokopelli twain packraft

The Kokopelli Twain Packraft, the last Packraft on the list, is intended for one or two paddlers, plus a pet partner or extra gear.

The Twain is manufactured from DuPont Kevlar Aramid-Nylon Blend Fiber, just like Kokopelli’s other rafts, and it includes a reinforced floor structure for added stability on the water. Kokopelli created the raft with two distinct chambers that are inflated using Leafield D7 valves.

This raft is special because it features a detachable tracking fin on the underside to improve its performance in rivers and lakes. Even better, you can fasten an e-motor to the fin box and let it perform all the job of paddling.

Surprisingly, the Twain is still reasonably portable because it only occupies a space of 16″ x 10″ in your bag or equipment cabinet when rolled up and deflated. The Twain raft’s two seats can be removed, adjusted, and a TiZip Zipper may be added for additional storage in the chambers.


Two pairs of compression straps, two EVA backbands, two inflated seats, an emergency repair kit, an inflating bag, and an inflation tube are included with the Twain Packraft.

Every product is hand selected by our editors. We may receive commissions on purchases from a link.

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