Would-be newbie saying hello

Hi Folks,

I’m 38, live in the UK, and enjoy regular hiking and backpacking trips either solo, with my wife, or with a group of regular hiking friends.

Loving this forum and have been ‘wide-eyed’ with excitement at the prospect of adding a packraft to my hiking kit though I’ve yet to scrape together the necessary funds to push the button on one.
I’ve little to no experience of canoes, kayaks or any other boats for that matter and wonder how difficult it is to learn to safely packraft. I’ve read Roman’s fascinating book on the subject though this is not so much an instruction manual for someone with such little experience as me, rather an encouragement to give it a go with some useful pointers. Accounts of peoples’ trips around Scotland have been inspiring, so much so that I’m persuading some friends I regularly hike and backpack with to join with building a little packraft armada hehe! Apologies in advance for barrage of questions to follow:

Do folks’ feel this is something that can very much be learned by ‘giving it a go’, starting on flat water etc, or should I be looking at getting some proper instruction in kayaking first via a club or similar? I’m curious as to whether learning to kayak first would be useful or counter-productive compared to how a packraft handles… Are there any other good instruction type books I can be looking at whilst I save up that folks’ can recommend?

I’m budgeting for a Denali Llama with spray skirt and a Sawyer paddle as this appears a good combo for packability, durability and my height (6ft - medium build) but I wonder what sort of extra funds I might need to cover import taxes etc. Can anyone give an indication of the likely extra cost to import to UK on top of purchase price for these?


Hi Benm,

I’m in the same boat(ha!) as you. I live just outside London and my Denali Llama just arrived last month. I’m in the process of learning how to paddle it. Granted, I have only had my boat for a month, but I’m having no issues getting comfortable in it. I come from a canoeing background and found Roman’s book extremely useful (despite the fact he said he would sign it but didn’t – sigh).

I’m looking forward some trips to Scotland and the opportunity to move to white water when I move back to Canada.

Edit - Sorry Roman, looking back at my emails I see that I never really responded in the affirmative to your comment about the signature – my mistake.

Cheers folks for very useful advice. I’ll look at what is around my way for clubs etc. and I can budget more readily now I know the extra costs involved (which are fortunately far more reasonable than I feared they may be!)…