Packraft Equipment List

Please follow this equipment list and do not bring extra gear.

Less weight in your pack equals more fun on the trip. Having lots of items only makes packing and unpacking an ordeal. By carefully following this list, you can keep your personal gear, including the weight of the backpack itself, to 30 pounds. Depending on the party size and duration of a trip, we’ll give you from 15-25 pounds of food, fuel, and community gear to carry plus around 10 pounds of boating gear. Expect to start an 8-day trip with no less than a 50 pound backpack. You will be floating and paddling much of the trip but there will be some hiking with a heavy load. With the exception of warm clothing, when in doubt, leave it behind.

This checklist has been developed from years and years of wilderness experience. These are proven items. That said, personal clothing is indeed personal. Bring what you know to be comfortable and practical. All garments should be synthetic or wool because they are light, fast drying, and warmer when wet. Please leave your cotton clothes at home.

This is Alaska, and it snows every month of the year! You should have 5 layers for your top and 4 for the bottom. For example, on top: a short sleeve thermal shirt, one heavier long sleeve thermal shirt, one fleece jacket, one down vest or parka and a Goretex shell over everything. On the bottom: two pairs long johns, one pair hiking pants and Goretex wading pants/ bibs on top. With a warm hat and a neck gaiter you’re cozy even when the north wind howls.

About pack rafting: Previous backpacking experience is highly recommended for most of our routes. Paddling experience is helpful but we can teach even very inexperienced people to be safe on most rivers. Though we usually don’t hike terribly far with packs and boats on our backs, you will want to pack light so that the hiking isn’t unbearable. When paddling, weight isn’t such an issue but simplicity is one of the joys of pack rafting.

Conditioning for pack rafting trips: The better shape you’re in, the more you will enjoy the trip. Even if you are very athletic, we recommend walking as often as possible with 25-30 pounds in your backpack, wearing the boots you plan to hike in. You can alternate this with other cardiovascular and strength and balance routines. Be sure to build your upper body too, especially working on the strength and flexibility of your shoulders.

We have a selection of camping equipment that we can lend you during your trip. If you have your own equipment you may prefer to bring it. If you do want to borrow ours please fill out our Equipment Request Form at least 60 days prior to your trip. Items which we can provide for you are denoted with “AW” below.

We suggest that you use this as a literal checklist. When all the boxes are checked, ✓ you are done. Anything not on the list doesn’t belong.

Having trouble keeping your personal gear within limits? Please contact us.

Backpack: Your backpack needs to be large enough to carry all of your personal gear, plus the food, fuel, packraft, paddle, PFD and community gear we will give you at trip’s start. Packs should not be smaller than 5,000 cubic inches. Choosing a light pack and ideally one that doesn’t absorb a lot of water is also important.


Tent: A 3- or 4-season tent, able to withstand strong winds and medium snow-load. Make sure your tent is seam sealed either by you or at the factory. The stakes you bring must hold in gravel. We highly recommend yellow plastic 9” “Power Pegs.” There are lots of great tents on the market including Hilleberg and North Face. We offer MSR tents for backpacking trips.


Sleeping bag with stuff sack: Your sleeping bag should keep you comfortable to 15 to 20F. Pack into a silnylon waterproof stuff sack.


Sleeping pad: Thermarest makes some really light ones if you want to invest in comfort. Ours aren’t quite that plush.

Hiking boots: There are no constructed trails in the Brooks Range. We hike cross-country, on soft, wet tundra and across streams. Make sure your boots fit well and are broken in. One approach is to wear slightly oversized hiking boots both while backpacking and over the stocking feet of your wading pants/ or drysuit.

Camp/ River Shoes: Many packrafters just bring hiking boots to keep packs light. But a pair of light sandals or crocs make decent camp shoes and can be worn over your waders on the river too.

Waterproof stuff sacks: For packing gear and clothes. Sea to Summit silnylon bags are ideal. At a bare minimum bring one for your sleeping bag and one for your clothes.

Rain Jacket: Good quality, truly waterproof rain jacket. Don’t skimp here. Multi-layer Goretex or similar is good. Newer the better. A paddling jacket works as a rain jacket.

Wading Pants or bibs: Waterproof pants or bibs with attached booties. These double as rain pants and will be worn each day in the packraft. They allow you to wade into the river without getting your socks or pants wet. They are essential gear. Kokotat and Patagonia both make good ones.

Goretex Socks: At days end, your boots will be wet. Goretex socks worn over regular socks let you wear wet boots without getting wet socks.

Socks: 3 or 4 pairs, synthetic or wool.

T-shirt and shorts: Sometimes it is hot. Really!

Light weight long johns: 1 – 2 pair tops.

Light weight long johns: 1 – 2 pair bottoms.

Heavyweight long johns: 1 set of bottoms. Fleece pants are good too.

Warm layers: Fleece jacket, wool shirt, and down sweater. You need to have 5 layers including long johns on your upper body. They should be sized so they can be worn together.  A cozy configuration could be 2 long-john shirts, one down puffy, one fleece jacket and a down vest. Your rain gear should be able to fit on top of everything.

Parka: This is for the really cold, bitter days or for the Arctic Coast. Marmot makes one that is both light and WARM.

Hiking pants: Synthetic and fast drying. Make sure these fit over long johns or fleece pants and under your wading pants.

Warm hat: A nice warm comfortable winter hat. Many guides prefer 2 hats. One thick one for the day and a thinner one for sleeping.

Neck gaiter: A little tube of fleece or wool to wear around your neck or to augment your hat. A scarf works too. Buff makes some stylish ones.

Brimmed hat: You will need something for the intense, ‘round the clock sun.

Paddling Gloves: 1 pair of river gloves. Another option is a rubber fishing glove, the Atlas 282 is excellent.

Fleece gloves: for camp.

Quart water bottle: Or 2 if you want.

Personal toiletries: Scale down… e.g. you won’t need a 6-oz. tube of toothpaste.

Toilet paper: Place the roll in a quart-size Ziploc bag with a lighter.

Flashlight/headlamp: August and September trips only. Really!

Mosquito head net: You hope you won’t need it, but you’ll be so glad you have it.

Mosquito repellent: 35% DEET – put in a plastic bag.

Emergency Kit: Band-Aids, aspirin, Moleskin, sewing kit. We carry a full medical kit, but a few personal things come in handy.

Medications: Inform the guide of your medications and bring a backup supply of essential medications for the guide to carry.

Glasses or contacts: Bring an extra pair.

Sunscreen: 24 hour sun!

Lip balm, and hand cream: High quality cream will help prevent splits and cracks.



Binoculars: Though optional, we strongly recommend bringing binoculars.


Gaiters: These help keep water and debris out of your boots when backpacking


“Bug shirt”: A very good idea during late June and July. The Original Bug Shirt Company is a good brand.


Straps: For attaching things to your pack.


Pocket knife


Lighter: For burning toilet paper. We have some but you might want your own.


Cell phone: It won’t work.


Watch: Leave it at home with the cell phone and other worries.

Not recommended

Satellite Phone, InReach, Spot Tracker or other satellite communication device: We carry a satellite phone for emergencies. Unplugging from communications is a valuable part of our trips. Call us if you want to discuss.


Trekking poles: While theoretically optional, they can be essential on stream crossings and on tussocks (rough ground) but they are hard to pack in a packraft.


Camera, extra cards, spare batteries


Fishing rod, reel and lures: Pack in rigid container. A small, folding backpack rod is ideal. Keep it light and simple.

Required if fishing

Fishing license: Fishing licenses can be obtained at many stores in Fairbanks or online. You may not fish anywhere in Alaska without a valid Alaska fishing license.