For an ordinary tourist, luggage it’s a personal belongings packed into a backpack. For a packraft traveler, luggage is a safety system with a built-in engine or a brake. Sounds surprising? Everything will be clear soon.

From this article, you’ll learn:

  • how to pack on packrafting
  • how to increase the safety of a rubber dinghy for packrafting
  • how to increase the displacement of luggage
  • how fast to cross a lake (water reservoir) by rubber dinghy

The biggest advantage / disadvantage of rubber dinghy for packrafting is …

… one displacement compartment. Thanks to it, they are light and they do not take up much space. On the other hand, it means that after any depressurized episode, the air escapes from the entire packraft. Fortunately, we can independently create an additional compartment that will increase our safety on the water.

Luggage that saves lives during packrafting

Why is it worth to change the luggage into the displacement compartment? Because it will increase our chances during a crisis situation and will allow you to stay with all your belongings on the surface of the water. To achieve this, we have to do two following things:

  • make the luggage gain positive buoyancy 
  • attach the luggage to the packraft correctly

How to increase the buoyancy of luggage (e.g. backpack)?

The easiest way is to divide its contents into a parts. Each of them tightly wrap in a thick garbage bags before packing in a backpack. Additionally we protect them against unfurl (e.g. by a Paracord Lanyard).


  • saving money (we do not need to buy a watertight transport bag)
  • better convenience (we use a tested backpack and its carrying system)
  • a large number of mounting systems in the backpack (it is also a disadvantage, because in fast waters occurs hazard of the hitching of a protruding elements)


  • the cover of a traditional backpack is not waterproof (only the garbage bags are waterproof)
  • drying the wet garbage bags takes a while
  • during repacking, the garbage bags might often get damaged
  • it is difficult to quickly let the air into the bags to increase buoyancy (or to release the air to reduce it)
  • the backpack stays wet for a long time, and when the temperature is negative it quickly freezes
  • after rolling, the empty backpack is quite a big size

Or maybe traveling with a waterproof bag (backpack)?

The second option is to buy a waterproof bag or backpack and pack there our belongings before going on a journey. We have bags and backpacks with carrying systems (suspenders and hip belts, similar to traditional backpacks).

Factory-watertight equipment is available in various sizes and made of a flexible enough material to remain water tightness after rolling. This material is also durable enough not to have us wonder if this branch will make a hole or maybe the next one.

The advantages of waterproof backpacks:

  • waterproof (it is worth taking care of it when closing the bag, I protect the items with plastic bags myself, not that thick and I pack them very tightly)
  • if the luggage gets into the water, you can quickly dry it (just wipe it)
  • resistance to mechanical damage
  • streamlined shapes
  • the ability to quickly increase and decrease buoyancy, and thus overall size
  • possibility of continuous contact with water while maintaining water tightness
  • small size after emptying and rolling
  • low price (the cost of a large waterproof bag / backpack is about PLN 200-300 which is around 52-80 USD)
  • during the camp works you can use it as a rainwater collecting equipment, water transfer and other activities
  • unpleasant odors remain inside (which will please the travel companions, and when during customs control at the border will effectively scare off customs officers)

The disadvantage of waterproof backpacks:

  • less convenient carrying system than a traditional backpack

Professional packrafting: why enlarging and reducing sizes is so important?

You will probably ask what’s about this whole increasing and decreasing in buoyancy and the size matter? Imagine a situation when you make a big “flow” through a lake or fjord and wind begin to blow from the back (dream situation). Then every square centimeter of luggage will act like a sail and allow you to move faster and easier.

Unfortunately, the opposite situation may also happen, when the mentioned wind will not blow at your back, just straight into your face, and you, with every each stroke of the paddle, will keep on ask yourself:

“What am I doing here?? Two days off, I wanted to spend time actively … Half of the free time has passed already, I’m still at the same place! “


  1. The packrafting rubber dinghy has one displacement compartment.
  2. After damage the compartment the packrafting rubber dinghy loses its properties.
  3. You can add your own compartment using luggage.
  4. Luggage can be packed into an ordinary backpack, securing it with garbage bags.
  5. Special watertight bags or backpacks can also be used for this purpose.
  6. Quick enlarging and reducing of sizes allows you to flow faster / save your energy.

How do I know all this?????

My knowledge is a combination of:

  • own experience
  • completed trainings
  • specialist literature

However, I do not think, that these are the only and right ways. I realize that as time passes, the equipment will change and I will test new techniques. I am looking forward for your views and opinions on this subject.