Packrafting - experience both land and sea, at the same time
“As a Nordic skater, I have missed a similar activity in the summertime. To be able to travel far into the 'wilderness' and go from lake to lake relatively quickly, and to be able to enjoy what I do in the winter." Our Lundhagsvän Per Sollerman talks about his newfound interest and teaches us everything we need to know about the new adventure form packrafting.
Already at the beginning of the interview, I make the mistake of calling the raft "canoe", and am kindly, but firmly reprimanded with the words: "A packraft is not a canoe", followed by a satisfied smiley ... It turns out that a pack force is a mix between kayaking and canoeing that is often quite small. You have it in your backpack and simply take it out and inflate it when you want to go out on a lake or river. That sounds simple enough, right? For Per, this is a fairly new interest, but he totally loves it. "I get the same feeling as on ice skating, so now I get to experience all these fantastic waters all year round."
The Norwegian landscape is number one
Per left Sweden for Norway 35 years ago, and it seems to be nature that attracted. The favorite area to go out in is Østmarka outside Oslo. Here are both desolate and local lands. Here you close the car door, or get off the train, and are out on the lake within 20 minutes.
It is clear that Per has a great love for the grandeur of nature, and the peace to be in it. Respect for other adventurers, and the common green living room is fundamental. “You have to have respect for the elements and behave well. These are large areas and most people want their own little adventure… think about it when you camp - give everyone their own place. And of course: leave no traces. ”
What should you think about before embarking on your very first packraft tour?
“Start small. It should be fun and feel exciting to learn new things. Stay close to land and make it a habit to wear a life jacket. When you start to feel that you are in control, you can take longer trips. And just like with skates, the best way to learn to ride is with someone who has experience. ”
What you need:
A pack power - when choosing a packraft, think about the purpose: do you want a small and light to easily get out of less water, or are you willing to carry a few extra kilos and get a more solid model?
- A paddle vest.
- A divisible paddle.
- A spacious and functional backpack - it should preferably hold up to 80-90 liters.
- Waterproof packing bags - the backpack gets easily wet from water from the paddle or any waves, so pack everything you want dry (sleeping bag, clothes etc.) in waterproof packing bags, for safety.
- Something to inflate the raft with - there is a kind of packing bag with a valve that you fill with air and press into the raft, or small electric pumps.
- Repair kit, in case of an accident.
- A paddle rope, to avoid dropping the paddle in the water.
- Good shoes! - “No matter what you do, it always gets wet at the bottom of the raft, so when it's hot in the air, I actually prefer to paddle classic Crocs (the perfect camping shoe). When it's a little cooler, I paddle with Jaure MS LT High“.
- Quick-drying clothes that breathe. Per's favorites are his Makke Pants.
- Mosquito oil!
Important tips before departure
Just like before a trip on foot, on skis or skates, planning is the most important thing. And checking the weather report is a little extra important when you go out and pack power, because you are greatly affected by wind direction and strength. “Paddling pack power in strong headwinds is actually quite tiring, so if you are going out on larger waters or planning a longer trip, you can try to adapt the start and end with the wind direction. And once out there, it is smart to follow land both in terms of more shelter and exposure to waves and wind”.
Take good care of the stuff
When it comes to pack rafting, the equipment plays a very big role, and of course it is important to take care of and review it properly when you get home. For Per, the finishing work is almost more important than the preparatory work. But it really seems to be mostly about him wanting everything prepared and ready if he suddenly gets the feeling and wants to go out quickly again… “Make it a habit to rinse off the oars and raft. Hang up and dry. Then roll it up into a fairly light and loose package and store cool and away from the sun. Then I go through the backpack and make sure that ALL basic equipment is complete and clean, and above all - in place. Charges the electric pump, and checks the packing bag I mentioned earlier to inflate (as a back-up). Yes, in short - if I decide to pull out quickly, I know that the essentials are packed! ”
What is your finest paddle experience?
“In the middle of what is called the Storfjord, in Vansjø, there are a couple of very small islets that look like classic comic book islands. A small island with a couple of trees that you can hang a hammock in. Last year, late August, my wife and our dog and I paddled out for a couple of days camping. Those days were the classic "Indian summer" with tropical heat, magical sunsets and we had our very own island. That trip still remains in the body. "
Do you have any super tricks to share?
I do not know if this is a super trick, but it can clearly make the backpack lighter: Take the boat ashore, turn it upside down and you get a very comfortable bed/sleeping pad! That way, it is enough to bring a sleeping bag and wind/rain protection before an overnight stay.
The Packraft Handbook - inspiration and tips
Do you feel inspired to try packrafting? The freedom to get around both on land and water is the best of both worlds. If you want more inspiration and wise advice, Per takes the opportunity to recommend Luc Mehl's newly written book The Packraft Handbook. Mehl comes from Alaska and is a Nordic skater and a very experienced pack rider. The book, which contains "everything you need", suits everyone - both experienced adventurers looking for new challenges and beginners.