inexperienced packrafter looking for upper midwest mentor

Hi there,
I am new to (obviously) and packrafting in general (slightly less obviously). I come from a whitewater/expedition canoeing background and have almost zero whitewater kayaking experience. I am, in fact, so new to packrafting that I haven’t yet gotten a boat (they are pricey you know), but I should be getting a Denali and gear in a month or two. Thus, I am confident that I’ll be competent on flatwater, but don’t know any other upper midwestern packrafters who could show me the ropes on whitewater or with whom I could even go on trips. My ultimate goal with packrafting is to enable very long multi stage trips (like the nahanni river for its on river climbing) and get as far away from people as possible. I’m going to school in Northfield MN (1 hour south of the Twin Cities) and call the northern suburbs of Chicago home. If you’d let me learn to paddle with you, or know of a group who would, let me know.


Spencer, in perusing this forum, you’re the only other upper-midwest-based person I have come across. I am in Wisconsin. I got my raft just 15 months ago.

I have learned to paddle it and and to do whitewater by joining the Sierra Club Wisconsin River Touring Section I have done a bunch of their trips and classes, including the river safety and rescue course. Most of the trips are in northern Wisconsin, but some are in surrounding states. Also, individuals get together for personal trips. The club is all about helping others to enjoy river paddling. A half dozen trips with them got me ready for a 25 mile hike, 50 mile paddle down the South Fork of the Flathead in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana that I organized with FredK off this site

I am also all about doing adventure trips. I will put together a trip for this next summer, perhaps to Alaska. Contact me once you get a raft, we could do a weekend trip or possibly one of the releases at the Wausau Whitewater park


It’s great to hear that another aspirant midwestern paddler exists! Those trips sound awesome and best of luck with logistics; organizing whitewater trips can be a serious challenge… Will do.


Hello Dana & Spencer, I too am living in the midwest and have just purchased a packraft. Thanks for the info on the Sierra club paddles Dana, looking forward to getting in on some of those classes. I love backpacking and bikepacking, looking forward to including packrafting on these adventures. Thanks again and hope to see you out there on the water.


Thanks for the heads-up, I’d like to take the Sierra Club classes and meet folks that are interested in packrafting, bike aboard and backpacking. I’m from mid Michigan, Detroit copper graduated Wayne State University. Living in Chicago 28 years, married 36 years. retired IT & real estate sales, small business owner. Currently, recruit Chicago students for Wayne State by attending college fairs in Chicago, Member WSU Alumni Board of Directors, KofC 4th Degree, hunt, archer, defensive handgun and self-defense training. I will schedule time for white water training classes through Sierra Club, N WI if you would like to do the same training lets coordinate dates. Dana, if you do any training I would be interested in learning whitewater.
Doug Tally

Add me to the list of midwestern packrafters. I live in southern MI, have a lot of experience with Class 1 rivers of the Lower Peninsula, and am looking to step it up a notch this summer. I hope to hook up with the Sierra Club trip to the Pike and Wolf Rivers in WI in a couple of weeks.

Is anyone interested in a trip to the Bob (MT) or to Green River in the Winds (WY) this August? Or anything else? I just want to get out and would prefer not to do hard whitewater by myself.


Hi Dave (Spencer, Dana and Karen)
My experience kayaking is the lower penninsula Sturgeon River, Wolverine (not Sturgeon in the UP) and canoeing the AuSable. I’ve been been persuading my wife for an Alpaca but she worries knowing me to lack training discipline, but I am respectful of water any level or speed. Eye opener… fly fishing on the Pere Marquette a month ago standing in 2 feet of water that was so powerful in its flow I could not walk against the current. So I’m really looking forward to packraft training… it’s what I want, not just that it will mean green lighting the Alpaca. What interests me most about packrafting is I can carry it in my packpack for hiking or biking. I’d love to speak with any of you. Dave, let’s talk and schedule training via Sierra in WI. I live in Chicago Northside near Wrigley… Lake Shore and Irving Park Doug 312-282-4179.

Hey Doug

How’s the packraft training going? I finally made it out for my first packrafting adventure this past weekend. It was awesome, I didn’t tackle anything too hard, still learning the ways of the packraft. I did sign up for the water rescue and safety in Aug, should be a good learning experience.

Hello Karen, where did you go on the adventure? I saw a great deal on a used kayak and took it for a spin but it was to long, too slim, and desiring to turn over. The owner described it’s really hard to handle in 10-15 mph winds unless your really experienced, so that was that.
However, we have 3 trips coming up in July, first may be WI, 2nd starts in NV because we’ll already be there on other business and the 3rd will be in MI: Charlevoix, Petoskey including the Sturgeon River from Wolverine, Harbor Springs, Mackinac Island and then south shore of Lake Superior. I’m planning on either kayak or paddleboard (if it’s available) pictured rocks and bike or paddle Grand Island. From there I’m uncertain, it will depend on how much rain they’ve received and the flows of the rivers. It will overlap August and they may be to low for an strong current. I’d love to visit the Appostle Islands but when we get close enough, we’re always out of time. I’ve not taken any lessons but I don’t see an opportunity to be on whitewater this summer. Lower Penninsula Sturgeon River is a nice flow in July and lots of fun for all it offers but it’s not deep which precludes a lot of what otherwise would be dangerous. Where is home for you?

Hey Doug, I went on the Flambeau river it’s pretty nice. I really do like the simplicity of the packraft, blow it up and go. you can bike it or hike it. What type of kayak are you looking for? Did you end up getting an Alpaca? Pictured rocks is a beautiful place definitely on my list of places to go. Sounds like you have some fun trips planned. Definitely get out there and enjoy the summer.

Sorry to say I’ve not made a purchased the Alpaca yet. Now I’m intrigued by the SUP (stand up paddle) boards as an alternative to a kayak. It doesn’t compete with the Packraft. I was in a small plastic kayak in the Sea of Cortez about 1/2 mile from a guy on an SUP. For hours we went the same speed so I assumed there is probably no appreciable advantage for speed for either. It didn’t look comfortable on the SUP because you have to stand and the paddle looked to be hard at that stand-up angle and I incorrectly assumed it would be hard on the back to paddle standing up. Now I’m thinking, you can stand or sit, load and SUP with pack-gear and have a cooler for seating if you want to sit. Then I envisioned the Sturgeon River on an SUP and decided it would not work at all. So the conclusion is more questions… how stable is the SUP v kayak in rough or windy Great Lakes.

There is an in water boat show in Chicago some weekend probably soon held at 31st street Marina. They have a large boat ramp area and extended sea wall so you can tryout any of the offerings of kayaks or SUPs so I’m planning to go again this year and see how the SUP feels. I started out at the show last year looking at the Hobbie Kayak with the penguin like flipper peddle drive, then I tried the long sleek ocean kayak which was like walking a tight rope sitting down. Now I’ll try-out the SUP. I’m still going to purchase the Alpaca, if I did something with my wife we could rent SUPs… it’s more her style, she’s affraid of kayak’s thinking they are all unstable and will flip over on her, she just needs to try a stable kayak.

The grad student from Northwestern and going back to the Netherlands didn’t call so I guess he sold his kayak…

Did the Flambeau River trip include instruction?

Hey Doug

Hope your summer is going well, I completely know where your wife is coming from on the kayak issue. I have a fear of the water and thought the same thing about kayaks. I didn’t think any of them were stable and did not even want to try one out. I took a solo 1 & 2 class and did some time in the water in a canoe. I even did a 2 day trip down a river. A friend of mine convinced me to try out one of his kayaks, he said it was really stable. He was right I’ve been paddling that kayak for almost 3 years and it’s awesome. I even bought a used kayak that I use around here and it’s really stable. The packraft is also really stable and very maneuverable. I love it!!! As far as the Flambeau trip there were no instructions. Check out the website It has all the info on the river. Basically we blew up the packrafts and went for it. Can’t wait to do it again.

Hey, I’m back! Purchased the Alpacka Denali Llama, camo, all the gear in place and I’m heading out to Lake Michigan. Hope you all get a heads-up the conversation is still alive. Where we goin next?

Any of you that posted still checking this string? I’m having a ball at Montrose Harbor (Chicago) with wind waves get huge and there are lots of kit boarders. I have the Alpacka Denali Llama and it does move through waves and 20mph winds gusting highter. Last went about Oct 2015 at around 60 degrees air and water. Same temp in and out of the water allows no wet suit… fells very normal with matching temps. BTW… you wold not believe what an Alpacka can do in big waves and the fun. I live in a high-rise on Lake Shore across from Montrose so when I see the kit boarders out there I head out.

I’d love to meet up with some folks for a river trip in WI or longer in the UP and as well I’m looking forward to Boundary Waters for the first time. I’m told not to make a reservation. Just go to the Park Office and ask if there are permits available for that area. They say they never have a problem getting in where ever they go.

Doug Tally

Anyone still reading this string? I have an Alpacka Denali Llama, avail anytime for whitewater. Live in Chicago, avail WI, MI (and UP). Now the mentor and won’t go alone even with SPOT tracker.

So I did go alone on the Peshtigo Pierson Gorge from Niagara, WI. ClassI IV PG drop may be rated due to drop and level/fps time of year at its worst.

Wintering on the Gallatin River, Gallatin Gateway, MT in the ‘Canyon’. Instructing at Big Sky 2 days a week. Ready to slip into the Gallatin today following thaw and rain.

The RoundUp is a great place to meet other packrafters from all over the place. Registration is open for this year and last year it was a blast! So you should check it out:


What’s up guys? I live in northern michigan (lower peninsula) I spend a boatload of time in the u.p. every summer, I have 3 well technically 4 boats but I’m trying. To sell my fwd flytepacker. All alpackas, scout, curiyak, and ww decked yukon yak. I just started getting into whitewater last year and as such am trying to expand my repertoire of tricks. I have a sturgeon river gorge trip planned for mid to late April if any ones interested. Some other u.p. favorites are pictured rocks and mccormick wilderness. I’m around and ready though my schedule has to be flexible for work.

Hey, I’m back! Purchased the Alpacka Denali Llama, camo, all the gear in place and I’m heading out to Lake Michigan. Hope you all get a heads-up the conversation is still alive. Where we goin next?

สมัคร maxbet

I’m still looking for a partner for my sturgeon river gorge trip. I have a lot of others to, pictured rocks is cool so is mccormick wilderness, there’s the fox river near sent if your into Brooke trout fishing. In the lower peninsula there’s the ausable, I’ve been meaning to do the mrt but that place is a zoo, the mason tract is also nice. Where u want to go?