Packrafting for Newbies According to the Experts at Kokopelli

By: Edy Guy

Kelley Smith, Tez Steinberg, and Brian Plavnicky got together to talk about Packrafting for newbies and well-seasoned cross-Pacific rowers. Kelley’s the owner of Kokopelli, a packrafting company that’s broadened their reach by offering options for what you can raft on at any stage of your experience. Tez, is the guy who rowed from California to Hawaii. The first person to do so, and he admits he wasn’t very well-trained. Somehow, he still pulled it off and now he’s in the market to continue his massive water adventures with Kokopelli’s help.

Brian, our co-founder was on the call as a newbie, trying to get the ropes of pack rafting. We’re here to share with you what he learned in hopes that you might have a new favorite summer activity.

At Kokopelli there are three types of rafts. The Lake, Whitewater, and Adventure series all address a different type of adventurer. Here’s the breakdown:

The Adventure Series is their ultra-lite, packable, and versatile rafts. They’re multi-sport, so if you’re on a camping, biking, and rafting trip these are the boats for you. They range from 6-13lbs in weight and are the lightest of the bunch.

The Whitewater Series addresses a wider array of customers. This is the line that differentiates Kokopelli from other raft companies. These rafts maintain their lightness, but are made with a more durable material so that they last longer and can handle rougher terrain. The Nirvana boat is roughly 10lbs, so biking with it on a multi-sport trip is an option while The Recon is 18lbs and is used more for daily river trips.

The Lake Series are the boats for spacious, relaxed boat trips with friends, a partner, or a doggo. They’re the heaviest and largest, built more for transporting in a car for a day on the water than backpacking in or bringing on a multi-day adventure.

Outside of what to buy for what type of adventure you’re on, we learned a lot about the difference between buying a raft with a spray deck vs. a non-bailing raft. As far as safety is concerned, this topic is huge. What we found out is that when you’re on longer trips and the likelihood of capsizing is greater, a self-bailing/rescue is the way to go because you can flip the raft back over more easily. If you have a boat with a spray-deck, you’re likely to gain 100lbs in water weight if you flip, making it near impossible to recover without heading back to shore.

Whether you’re a professional rafter, multi-sport curious, or just trying to get a relaxing day out on the water with your loved one, Kokopelli has got the best of the best. Kelley, the owner and founder grew up in Durango, Colorado near the San Juans and has the ultimate adventure experience under his belt to ensure that whatever your level of experience, you’re safe and you’re having fun.