Dog in Packraft

Im new to the forum but have been lurking for a while now. Ive just finished Roman Dial`s book and continually seek out everything that I can find on the subject. This forum has been most insightful and is a terrific resource.

My question for all of you experienced in expedition style packrafting is: could a large dog like a 90lb Chesapeake Bay Retriever be taken in the raft with you and your backpack for long trips. Difficulty of rivers would be about max PR3-4, mostly PR2-3. (I suppose he could run on the bank for any of the more difficult sections if its not too rocky.)
What about his toe nails, would they be too hard on the tubes and floor. (I suppose he could wear boots like the sled dogs do.)

I`m thinking of getting a Fjord Explorer to accommodate the extra weight and space needed plus my gear.
Is this a really bad idea or will it work.

The only reference to something such as this was by Bradmeiklejohn
however I was unclear to how much rafting the dogs did versus walking on shore.

Any insights would be most appreciated.

Hi PacMan,

I can speak a little to this. Sheri (our inventor - I work at Alpacka) pretty regularly took her 60-70 lbs. (I think that’s right) black lab out in an Explorer/Dory when she was living in Anchorage, with no problems. I’d go out with them too, sometimes. On the company end, I’ve never heard of anyone having a dog-nail puncture problem, and there’s a dog-in-boat pic or two in the galleries. I’ve also had lucy (the black lab) in a yak with me (I’m about 5’7") but that was a bit cozy, and I’m not sure how lucy felt about it.

That said, I don’t know what grade of water people have run with dogs. Being in a small city apartment, my current two pets are a Tasmanian Devil stuffed toy and a very large pelt. They’re good conversation pieces.

Cheers, -A

Thanks Shaggy Man,
Sounds favorable. I appreciate your comments.

I’ve only experimented very minimally with the dog-in-packraft thing, but it seems to me that it would be extremely dependent on the training and temperment of the dog. Many dogs won’t touch a packraft. (“What the heck is that thing?”)


I am an avid whitewater canoeist and looking at the possibility of getting into packrafting. I wanted to bump this thread to see if there has been anymore people packrafting with their dogs for multiple nights and paddling Class I-III whitewater? I have a pitt bull mix that weighs 80lbs, I am 230lbs, and looking to carry gear for anywhere from 7-14 days.

I think with a bit of practice my dog would love one of these because she could lay right with me! I would really apprecaite hearing more of people carrying larger loads, their dogs, paddling whitewater etc… . From my research I also understand that if loaded down too much these rafts will respond slower…same as any boat…but if I where to get a size larger raft should I be good to go in whitewater?

Thanks for any help!!!


I’ve had my 70 lb husky catch a ride down the Coghill River. Class 2, saltwater end. 2 ft chop.

But it was much easier after he was dead tired from chasing fish and swimming after me. Very stable with or without the spray deck. Just like a backpack on front.

my experience is they can do it, but hate it. I have done a couple trips with my 65 lb lab/pit mix now, usually flatter water, up to class II. Getting them to find a comfy spot that they are ok with is key. Facing forward is better than facing you, because then your paddle doesn’t continually smack them in the head. Rapids freak my dog out a bit, as do tighter creeks, such as being in headwaters that require ducking under alders - she’s actually bailed at one point in a situation like this. I guess just don’t do something that the dog wouldn’t realistically be able to swim out of if need be. Its fun to have them with you, but my dog anyway much prefers the hiking portions of our trips.

yes they can but they are uncomfortable if the dog has not gone earlier

Our Border Collie, Hamlet, loves packrafting, whitewater rafting and sea kayaking. Luckily he is pretty mellow and enjoys just sitting there watching the world go by.

He only weighs around 44 pounds but fits in a 2010 model Yak. Check out the following video if you are interested:

I’ve never heard of anyone having a dog-nail puncture problem, and there’s a dog-in-boat pic or two in the galleries. I’ve also had Lucy in a yak with me and I’m about 6’1 but that was a bit cozy, and I’m not sure how lucy felt about it.

I travel with my dogs nearly everywhere we go. Never had more fun that seeing our dogs lounging aboard our packrafts.

I float rivers from Class I-IV and the dogs love it. Never a puncture or tear resulted…to date.

Here’s a collage of three boat types we’ve used with our dogs:

  1. Big Rig (me and 2 dogs plus gear for a week

  2. My Wife with 60-lb cool breed and her gear for a week (Alpacka Explorer)

  3. Me and my bud Skeeter in a Baylee 3.



Bringing it back again (with the theme of the annual thread lol).

My Yak is great with the 100lb shepherd. Pictures next time! So far the key is their nails. If your dog is an outside type dog constantly running across a concrete patio, their feet stay pretty benevolent, even their nails are nearly stubby and always rounded.

When I lived in an apartment and they got a lot less time in the back yard to run around like crazy, both my 40lb border collie and my 100lbs shepherd needed their claws groomed monthly to keep them from A.) tearing up everything/getting sharp and long enough to really puncture or lacerate a hard coating, and B.) nails that are too long do not work well in dog shoes which was my first solution to avoid $30/month in grooming costs.

Use dog shoes, be very careful you don’t break their claws off with shoes! If their claws are long or sharp, they need more time running outside or their claws groomed before an extended trip with shoes ALWAYS. Be careful with your best friend and they will love you for it!

Pics soon of my wife in the scout with our border collie/shepherd mix (40lbs) no shoes required as she is gentle, and my 100lb shepherd in the yak with shoes (as he is a freaking BUMBLING IDIOT).

During the 2013 McCarthy Creek Packraft Race Monty ran the ~11 mile stretch with a small 40-50lb(?) dog in his boat, a whitewater decked boat but w/o the sprayskirt to fit the dog in the cockpit. The creek is up to class IV but was at low water that day. Neither him nor the dog swam, and as far as I know there was no canine related damage to the boat.

Photo here:

I understand some cat breeds love the water, like the savannah cat. I’m curious if they would tolerate a whitewater vest, and being enclosed underneath my whitewater skirt when the river gets most gnarly. Or would it go crazy in there?