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Top Picks

How we choose: The best rafts highlighted here were selected based on 9 reviews of 6 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a raft that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Top Packraft

Klymit LiteWater Dinghy (LWD)

user rating: 4 of 5 (4 reviews)

This product is well suited for anyone wanting to enhance their backpacking experience by floating or paddling mild rivers and flat water lakes without adding excessive weight to their backpacking kit. This ultra-light product works as advertised with some small caveats. This is one of the most fun things I've thrown in my backpack in some time!

Reasons to Buy

  • The light weight is the primary pro, but that's too simplistic. This raft can significantly change the dynamic of a backpacking trip by letting you see and experience areas not easily accessible by foot and with a minimal weight penalty.
  • Intuitive to maneuver
  • FUN! (in case you didn't hear me: this thing is FUN!)
  • Dries quickly
  • Inflates and deflates quickly

Reasons to Avoid

  • The design is a bit short for extended paddles with a pack strapped on
  • backflow valve for seat cushion started failing on fifth inflation, annoying but not a big deal
  • Single chamber construction leaves little room for error in terms of cut or puncture
  • Swamps easily in even mild white water
  • Utility is somewhat limited per recommended uses, UL paradigm changes with expanded use

    About the raft: The Klymit Lite Water Dinghy is an ultra light entry into the pack-raft market. The manufactures specs and story on this boat are here. The primary spec is the 35 oz (992 gram) weight. The raft inflates with a bag bellows that also serves as a dry bag. The seat has a small air chamber that can only be inflated by mouth (as the bellows doesn't fit it) and must be inflated before the primary air-chamber. There are six tie points for securing a load. There are two dedicated valves for raft body inflation and deflation.

Read more: Klymit LiteWater Dinghy (LWD) reviews (4)


FlyWeight Designs FlytePacker Packraft

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Flytepacker raft by Flyweight Designs is a great lightweight stillwater rafting option for mountain lake fishing. The $299 price tag and weight of less than 3 lbs appeal to backcountry fisherman.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Less expensive than comparable rafts
  • Very packable (9"x12")

Reasons to Avoid

  • External seams cause drag
  • External seams can fray
  • Go out of stock quickly on company website
  • One air chamber presents safety risk on water.

I purchased my raft used on a packrafting forum only because that was the only place that I could get my hands on one. Because of their popularity they are almost constantly out of stock. When a new batch does come onto the market it sells out remarkably fast. I have been using my raft for 1 year now and I have taken it to over 100 mountain lakes all over Washington. The strong 200D polyurethane material is resistant to abrasion from rocks and other lake debris. I use my raft in conjunction with the Instaflator which has an adaptor for the boston style valve.

Read more: FlyWeight Designs FlytePacker Packraft review (1)


Alpacka Raft Mule

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

This pack raft has been a game changer in the types of trips that I am able to do. I've owned the raft for six months and it is now a key part of my gear. I haven't taken it through any rapids yet — mostly calm waters on lakes and rivers within Southern Ontario — so my review is limited to those uses. It is very light (a bit over 5 lbs), and impressively strong. I am taller (6'2"), and usually carry a lot of gear so the Mule's larger specifications were perfect for me.

Reasons to Buy

  • Completely changes the types of trips you can do and places you can see
  • Lightweight (weighs just over 5 lbs)
  • Very durable/rugged
  • Ability to handle a lot of weight (I've had two people plus all their gear in it; it wasn't ideal, but it worked fine)
  • Perfect for taller people like myself (6'2")

Reasons to Avoid

  • Doesn't track so well in the water, but then again, it's not meant to be a kayak or canoe
  • They are expensive

Like most of my gear, I did a lot of research before purchasing this pack raft. At first I was exploring inflatable kayaks, however they were too heavy for hiking long distances with. The Alpacka Raft was exactly what I was looking for — something that was light which I could carry for long distances, yet cross lakes and float down rivers when needed. The solid reputation of the rafts was also something that helped me in my decision as the price tag on it easily make it the most expensive piece of gear that I own.

Read more: Alpacka Raft Mule review (1)


Feathercraft BayLee 1

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

The Feathercraft Baylee is a true whitewater-worthy packraft that is crafted of super high quality urethan that has been electronically welded. This boat will give you many many years of service. For anyone who wants to paddle rivers, lakes, the ocean, this is a fantastic boat that you can take anywhere in the world.

Reasons to Buy

  • Strong coated urethane fabric, good design, self-bailing option
  • Excellent inflatable seat, comfortable
  • Sprayskirt has shoulder straps

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavier than other brands because the fabric is so beefy and durable
  • One size fits all may not work for small or very tall people
  • Doesn't pack down super small

Feathercraft is well known in the paddling world for their uber designed and constructed folding sea kayaks. They are the best in the world. Feathercraft ventured into the inflatable world some years ago when they were asked to construct packrafts for Alpacka. The joint venture did not last, but Feathercraft came up with their own design for small inflatables, creating the Baylee 1, 2 and 3. Each can be used as a sailboat tender. But the Baylee 1 comes into its own as a whitewater packraft.

Read more: Feathercraft BayLee 1 review (1)


NRS PackRaft

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1 review)

Excellent product for getting into packrafting. Durable, easy to inflate, fine for short paddle trips away from roads. Too bulky to carry on a long backpacking trip.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durability
  • Easy inflation

Reasons to Avoid

  • Bulky to pack
  • Slow compared to hard kayak

I'd been wanting to try packrafting, so when I found the NRS Packraft on clearance at REI, I picked it up. I'd been reading reviews of the Alpacka Rafts, and this product is heavier, bulkier, and less evolved than those top-of-the-line packrafts.   But the NRS raft is much cheaper (especially on sale), was available locally, and lets me try out the sport. I could always rent an Alpacka via mail order if I wanted to do a challenging packrafting trip. The first issue was a pump or inflation bag to fill it.

Read more: NRS PackRaft review (1)

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