Tandem DIY packraft

2 Day Class

Instructor: Bruce Campbell

Dates of the class: Two Saturdays, March 2 & March 9, 2019

Time of the class: Mar. 2: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm; Mar. 9: 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Location: Pioneer Park - Cabin 66 - Back Room

Pack rafting has become very popular. Packrafts allow us to get out on rivers and lakes not normally accessed. Light, compact, and easy to take anywhere, be it hiking, biking, car, or flying to Europe! They are fast and simple to inflate.

They are not, however, cheap. The expense of a pack raft is largely the cost of labor to hand assemble the craft. Fortunately, if you can use an iron and learn from YouTube online instructions, you can build your own from a kit. The kits are pretty much the same material as found in the best pack raft. This workshop is intended to get you off and started making your own. You complete your raft on your own time and schedule.

Please be sure to read the instructions posted online at DIYpackraft.com. You will need to understand and follow the instructions independently. If you look through the instructions and information at DIYpackraft and say, as I did: “Hey this is something I can do.” Then give Bruce a call, 322-9221. I can email you a pdf of the assembly instructions you can review to see if they make sense to you. Ask questions, explore ideas about what you can do or what a packraft cannot do. If all this has you excited, then it is time to sign up for the class and order your kit.

You will need to order your own kit from www.DIYPackraft.com. You want a V3. 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. My Tandem V3 weighs 8 lbs. A seat kit is a quick and easy way to get started, and is really needed. The inflation bag is even easier. Please be aware that kits can take several weeks before they arrive.

A Folk School workshop packraft in class III whitewater.

Pack rafts are made out of modern polyurethane coated nylon fabric. The coating on one side is heat activated. An iron bonds two pieces of fabric together. 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. I recommend ordering a model aircraft heat sealing iron and modifying it. This requires filing or grinding the show of the iron and a very small increase in the temperature of the iron. I described these in detail in the “how to” forum titled “Heat sealing iron modifications” at

The first workshop will get you off and started outfitting your pack raft. We will mark locations for attachment points, seat backs, and thigh straps if desired. We will practice on scrap fabric until you are confident judging the heat and pressure needed with your iron. Plan on spending 10 to 15 hours at home on the attachment points valve and zipper before session 2.

The second workshop will get you started assembling your raft. 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. We will attach tube section 3 to the raft, then section 2 and form a seam between sections 3 and 2. We hope to attach tube section 1 and form the seam between sections 2 and 1. This should be sufficient to allow you to feel confident in completing your raft at home.

Materials needed: Participants order their own raft kit from: http://www.diypackraft.com/. Plus an iron through Amazon or Hobby Tower. 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. Camouflage is really hard to visually inspect seams. Instructor will provide a small variety of irons you can try, and a tube a form.

Please be sure to review the DIY website videos illustrating how to build the raft. The YouTube instructions for the V2 are really well done. I can email you a pdf of the V3 instructions. You will want to print out, read, and bring to 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: www.thingstolucat.com/pimp my packraft; and Google Mark Oates, The packraft liberation front.)

Maximum number of students: 8

Minimum number of students: 4

Age range: 18 and up

Prerequisites:  none

Cost: $77 (members); $116 (non-members) Become a Folk School Member!

Contact: Bruce Campbell: brucecanoe@gmail.com or 907-488-1667

Pre-registration: This class is pre-registration only. Please register by 2 days before the class begins. Registration will be closed after this time.



Two DIY packrafts and an Alpacka. Gulkana River 2018


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