Packrafting Packs

It’s been a while since the last post on packs has been made…

Was wondering what everyone’s been using these days? It seems like Hyperlite is a crowd favorite:

Strong agree that this is the benchmark packrafting pack.


I have the Hyperlite Porter. But if I was buying one now I would look at this pack after reading a nice review.

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Yeah you convinced me with your review! It looks great.

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After doing some research, it seems as though the following are the only packs that I could find which are labeled for packrafting:

The only manufacturers I could find with designated packrafting pages in the dropdowns were:

  • SWD
  • Six Moons Designs

But for Hyperlite, they have a packrafting sub-page, but it’s difficult to find.

And on ULA’s Epic page, in the description, packrafting is mentioned.

Anyone know of anything different?

Also, I’ve been trying to come up with a list of the ideal features in a packrafting pack. Here’s what I came up with so far:

  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable
  • Ability to haul 20-50 lbs loads
  • Storable in the hull of the packraft (TiZip)
  • Storable on the bow of the packraft
  • Area to store paddles
  • Area to store whitewater helmet
  • Wet + dry storage areas
  • Area to store PFD
  • Front water bottle / phone pocket(s)
  • Hipbelt pockets
  • Hydration reservoir sleeve
  • External lashing points
  • Ice axe loops
  • Area to secure trekking poles
  • Ability to compress / collapse (for shorter, lighter trips)
  • Modifiable (for differing trips)

And I recognize that many of these depend on how you choose to pack your pack, what type of packrafting trips you are going on, etc.

But do you think any key features are missing? Or over- or undervalued?

The Seek Outside Unaweep looks awesome, and they list expedition packrafting as a use on their website. Supposedly carries up to 200 lbs comfortably, as it was originally made for hunters. I think it has most of those features listed. Frame comes apart and can store in the TiZip. Anyone using this pack?

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Oh, wow… Thanks for that @adventuregrrl - I have heard the name before but never looked into their packs. They look amazing, esp. for packrafting.

It seems as though the price + weight of the Unaweep might not be quite as appealing to many as that of the Rugged Big Wild, but I’d be interested to hear others thoughts?

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I have been using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 4400 since 2019 for many packrafting trips. I have use it packrafting/backpacking to Canyonlands, Wind Rivers, Buffalo Fork in Wyoming. The wraparound outside pockets do well to hold paddles securely. I have backpacked with the packraft both inside and outside of the backpack. The PFD is always placed outside of the backpack.

This pack version has also been my go to pack for my backpacking high adventures including: the Wind Rivers, Olympics, and the Grand Canyon. A HMG porter would add some extra space, but I think the pockets are a better trade off compared to the increased volume of the Porter. I have five Southwests for myself, friends and family. My first was purchased in 2015. None have worn out.

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The Unaweep is awesome. I bought it last year. Hands down the best fitting most comfortable pack I’ve owned. I took it off-trail, descending steep scree filled slopes, scrambling etc. Very comfortable still. Mainly because you can really dial-in the fit — it’s not small and large. You can make it fit perfectly to your exact torso size.

Pricey though…


What are your thoughts on volume, folks?

I’m moving up in volume to accommodate a dry suit this season, as my current pack isn’t quite big enough even for just boat PFD and helmet, but I’m not sure how big to go. I have some friends with HMG 5400 series, and they seem to be right on the cusp of enough volume.

The SWD Big wild seems like the hot ticket - would you beet the 70 or the 95? I’m leaning toward 70 because I’d like to use it for normal backpacking trips too, but I can’t decide.

Any input?


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The SWD Big Wild is amazing. I strongly prefer 90 liters for packrafting. I don’t like having things dangling off my pack. The longest packrafting trip I have done was 10 days. That’s a lot of food plus boat, PFD, Helmet. It’s really nice not to have to pack the boat super tight. 90l is a little huge for backpacking, but you can just compress it before you load, and a lot of the volume is up in the top of the pack. I’d rather deal with the downsides of a larger pack than the downsides of a smaller pack.

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Nice, thanks. What size pack would you say you use for a normal backpacking trip? I’d really like to get away with the 70, it seems so big.

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That totally depends on type of trip. If I’m in fast and light mode, I can do a 10 day trip with a 50l bag like a Hanchor Marl. So that’s another 40l for packraft equipment.

70 liters is as big of a bag as I would need for most backpacking trips. I have never gone out for more than 10 days between resupply personally.

It’s kinda nice to have extra space if you just want to go hike in 5 miles w a group of friends and bring hella beer and frisbees and whatever.


Right on, thanks dude. I’m going with the 70!

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Post pics when it arrives!

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I just got a Slot 50 Liter pack. Its a little tight for everything but a great canyoneering/packrafting day pack. A little on the heavy side but it’s bomb proof. It carried gear a lot better than the 6 moons designs flex pack.

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I still prefer models with an internal frame or stays for raft-packing, as you very rarely have a light or non-bulky load. If you want to spend some dollar bills and save a few ounces, go for it, but any 70-110L internal-frame pack will work, especially if your gear is going to be stowed in your tubes.

I also prefer to keep all my gear inside, not lashed on and hanging-off, the pack when hiking, so for a true raft-packing trip I like to have a 90L minimum pack size. So, my recommend would be the SWD Rugged Big Wild 95L. Any of the other models that Adam listed would be great for ultralight and/or weekend trips.

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I’ve been really happy with my ULA Epic. Much more adjustable than the Hyperlights and around 8 ozs heavier with the 79 l drybag I usually use. I’ve also used it to carry elk quarters and a ski pack plus duffle of clothes and food for a Yurt ski trip. Lashing my boat on the bottom is really easy and convenient. I worry about my boat being exposed to sharp things but that has never actually been a problem.

I have numerous packs, and try to stay on the very light side. The issue I have run into is when on a proper excursion - one needs an expedition pack. I started my travels in high-altitude mountaineering, and through numerous adventures led one into better and better gear, e.g. Gore-Tex mountain tents, and the ultimate expedition backpacks - McHale & Co. This guy was a big wall climber back in the day. He built me a custom SARC P&G of all spectra about 15 years ago - this rig is light and indestructible. It was like I was suddenly walking upright, my knuckles no longer dragging the ground - or as we said in the military - one reached a point where we were officially no longer fu— about" I highly recommend them.