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It's no secret that I love paddling and exploring.  In my quest to visit new places in the Upper Peninsula, few pieces of new gear have opened up as many hidden corners as a packraft.  The advantage of a packraft over a kayak or canoe are huge.  I can hike (or bike!) in to a waterway from any direction and leave from any other direction, no launch needed.  Packrafts are meant to be ultra portable, unlike their rigid brethren.  Lakes that are miles away from roads are now accessible... if I'm willing to stomp through the swamps to get there.

Packraft Bike.jpeg

Packrafting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula may seem like an odd place to take up such a niche hobby.  Most folks that packraft are adventuring down remote rivers, climbing mountains to hidden glacial lakes, or doing equally badass things in treacherous country.  I'm using mine mainly to paddle on as many lakes in the Ottawa National Forest as I can.  Which I suppose is similar in a way!  Many of the lakes I'm visiting are surrounded by extensive wetlands, dense forests, or are otherwise inaccessible.  I can now hike into tiny corners of nearly-private lakes and surprise the landowners with completely legal moves.  "How'd that guy get in here?!"  I hiked in with a 6-pound packraft, that's how.

I built my packraft using a kit I purchased from DIY Packraft.  Yup, I spent about 25-30 hours slowly cutting and heat sealing my packraft together until I made something that floated with no leaks.  A few extra hours have since been spent outfitting it with extra features to make it more usable.  I got the Skeena model for a little over $300 and have been quite pleased with it!  If you have the time and patience to build your own, picking up a DIY Packraft definitely is a winning move to save yourself several hundred bucks.  Plus, you get to customize your colors.

Here's a list of places I've packrafted in Michigan.  I'm always adding more, so check back and to get inspired!  If I've uploaded photos those are linked to each.

Packrafting Curry Lake.jpeg
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