Build Your Own Pack Raft from a DIY Kit

Instructor:  Bruce Campbell

Date of the class: Saturday, February 10, 2018

Time of the class: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Build your own Pack Raft that you order from a DIY Pack Raft Kit.

Pack rafting has become very popular. Light and easy to use, they allow one to get out on rivers and lakes not normally accessed. They are easy to take anywhere you travel, be it hiking, biking, car, or flying to Europe! They are fast and simple to inflate. The expense of a pack raft is largely due to the cost of labor to hand assemble the craft. Fortunately, if you can use an iron, you can order a kit and assemble your own from material much like the best pack raft. This workshop is intended to get you off and started making your own.

You will need to order your own pack raft kit from I recommend a V3. My Tandem V3 weighs 8 lbs. Yes, you want a zipper! And be sure to order a small tube of seam sealant, valves and other accessories you might choose, add about 30+ hours of assembly by yourself, more time for outfitting as desired, and you have an affordable pack raft. A seat kit is a quick and easy way to get started, and really needed to use the raft.

Pack rafts are made out of modern polyurethane coated nylon fabric. The coating on one side is heat activated. A household iron can melt the coating and bond two pieces of fabric together. However, a household iron is too big for the narrow seams in a pack raft, so to build your raft you must also order a Heat Sealing iron. There are several choices. Most of our early rafts were built with Clover Mini-Irons available through Amazon for about $25. I am now recommending an Adjustable Leather Iron through Aliexpress for about $30. The Aliexpress iron is a 220 volt unit, but it works just fine on 110 volts with a simple plug adaptor, and it is a much more durable iron that will require shaping with a metal file to work best. Please note that Aliexpress free shipping takes longer than Amazon. Several online stores carry them. I got mine here:

A better price and much better cloth cord is available here:

If you choose an iron from Aliexpress, I also recommend ordering an inexpensive plug adaptor, like this one:

This one day workshop will get you off and started on your pack raft. We will practice on scrap fabric until you are confident judging the heat and pressure needed with your iron. We will practice both simple flat seams and the curved seams forming the raft tubes. Once you are ready, you will lay out your raft parts, and begin construction. The goal is to complete enough of the raft that you are comfortable taking it home and finishing it on your own. Instructor should have extra tube forms you can borrow to finish your raft at home.

Materials needed: Participants order their own raft kit from: Plus an iron of your choice. Please order your raft and iron well before the class.

Recommendations: The easiest colors to use are Yellow and Red. Solid Green, Blue and Black are less transparent and more difficult to visually observe the completeness of each seam weld. Cammo is really hard to use. Instructor will provide a small variety of irons you can try, and a tube a form. If you chose a Clover Mini Iron, we will reinforce it before you use it to minimize breakage.

Please be sure to review the DIY website videos illustrating how to build the raft, they are really well done. Print out the pfd of the instructions your instructor will send you and read them before class.

Participants bring to the workshop: your raft kit, your seam sealing iron (instructor has several model aircraft irons you can try), fabric scraps, parchment paper, 1 ½ and ¾” wide rolls of masking tape, flashlight, gloves.

Instructor will provide wooden ironing surfaces, extra scrap fabric, finished raft(s) to learn from, extra attachment patches, etc.

(Note: Outfitting, including spray skirts and thigh braces are beyond the time available in this introductory workshop. Discuss them with Fairbanks Paddlers, including John Schauer, at the Hamme Pool paddling sessions. See Luc Mel’s outfitting descriptions: / pimp my packraft; and Google Mark Oates, The packraft liberation front.

Maximum number of students: 8

Minimum number of students: 2

Age range: 18 and up

Prerequisites:  none

Location: The Folk School kitchen area

Cost: $55 (members); $83 (non-members) Become a Folk School Member!

Materials cost: Participants must order their own raft kit from: (along with seam sealer – aquaseal – valves, and any other parts you need), as well as a heat sealing iron (see recommendations above).

Contact: Bruce Campbell: or 907-488-1667

Pre-registration only:  This class requires pre-registration. Please register at least two days before the course begins. Registration will be closed after this time.

To Register: Please fill out the Class Registration Form below and click on the “Submit” button. This will take you to the Payment page, where you can complete your registration through PayPal (or you may send a check by mail).


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