Frequently Asked Questions

How does this work?  How do I rent from you guys?
  • Reserve your equipment through our online reservation system or over the phone at 406-272-6468. You can also email us at backcountrypackrafts@gmail.com and we can email you a payable invoice. Your credit card is charged for the rental equipment through stripe.com and is saved on-file until your rentals are returned.   Be sure to reserve early if you can due to high spring and summer demand.
  • Reserve the entire range of dates you want the rafts in your possession.   Example: March 16-18 would be a three day rental period including March 16th, 17th and 18th.  The packrafts would arrive March 15th and you would need to ship them back on  March 19th.
  • Complete our rental agreement and waiver form– Every person in your group needs to sign their own legal waiver before the rafts can be shipped.   Waiver’s can be signed online using this link.  The credit card used to pay for the rafts will be kept on file in order to charge you for any possible damages, extra cleaning or loss (we will not charge it for any other reasons).  If you’d prefer to have a different card on file than the one you reserved the rafts with, give us a call 406-272-6468.
  • We ship you the rafts, guaranteed to arrive the day before your rental begins -OR- for local pickup near Browning, MT, you pick up the equipment the afternoon before the first day of the rental period.
  • Have an awesome adventure!
  • After your trip clean and dry off the boats completely (they tend to stink if you don’t dry them off).
  • On the morning of the first day after your rental period roll them up and load them back into the box.  Attach the provided, prepaid shipping label and drop off at the nearest shipping location (FedEx or UPS depending on what shipping service was best for us to use).
Explain how shipping a packraft works?

Packrafts are  made to be portable, so it is easy to ship to your location. We provide packaging and a return label so returning your boat is as easy as possible.  We ship anywhere in the continental US, but we can always ship the rafts to your house and you can fly with the packrafts to an epic trip in Patagonia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska or anywhere else you’ve always wanted to go (ask us about winter discounts for those of you going to the Southern Hemisphere during our winter).

How much does shipping cost?

The chart below covers our round-trip flat rate system:

  1 Raft Round Trip Shipping 2 Rafts Round Trip Shipping 3 Rafts Round Trip Shipping 4 Rafts Round Trip Shipping
Montana 1-day $40 $50 $60 $70
Western US- 2 day $50 $60 $70 $80
Western US 3- Day $60 $70 $80 $90
Eastern US 3-4 Day $70 $80 $90 $100
Eastern US 5-6 Day $80 $90 $100 $110

The days listed on the chart represent business days it takes to ship packages via Fedex ground to that “zone” from our location in Montana.  For clarification, a package shipped on Monday and arriving Wednesday is 2 business days in transit.  Most accessories accessories will not add to the shipping costs, except dry suits which are priced as half a raft for shipping costs.

If your group is larger than 4 rafts an extra box will box will be needed for shipping so rates start over for the 5th raft.  Ex: 5 rafts to Wyoming is $140 ($90+$50).  Groups of 5 or more may not auto-calculate shipping correctly so please call or email if you have a problem.

Shipping to Alaska or Hawaii will increase the price as well.  Please call or email for an exact quote.

Do you charge for the days the packraft is in transit?

No, we only charge for the days you reserve the rafts.  The shipping days are free to you.

When does the rental period begin and end?

The first day of the rental period is the first full day that you have your rental in hand and the day before you send it back to us.  Essentially, reserve the raft for the days you want it in your possession.  You’ll receive it in time and you’ll send it back when you’re done.

What services do you ship through?

We use Fedex primarily, but also UPS or whatever service gets your rafts there in time.

What are my options for spray skirt styles?

We basically have 3 styles: Self Bailing, Cruiser and Whitewater.  Self Bailing is like what the name implies, the water comes over the bow and drains out the sides.  If you’re rafting during months other than July and August, you’ll probably want a dry-suit.  Cruiser– a spray skirt that keeps out 90% of the water that comes over the bow.  It can zip almost all the way off and rolls up along the side or up next to your feet.  Easy to get in and out of.  Velcros around you.  Whitewater- Goes over your shoulders like a kayak whitewater skirt, attaches to specialized deck and keeps out 95% of the water that comes over the bow.  A little more difficult to get in and out of than the cruiser.

Have your boats ever been late for a rental?

5-6 times over 5 years and hundreds of rentals.  In all but one of those cases we were able to arrange and pay for an alternative option so the trip still happened.

What if I lose, destroy or damage a raft?

Check out the damages and loss section of our waiver.  You may have to pay for the raft to be fixed or in the case of a total loss, you’ll have to pay for a new raft.  Don’t stress though, we try to treat you like we’d like to be treated and won’t charge for normal wear on the boats.

What packraft brands do you carry?

We carry Alpacka brand packrafts. Although other packraft companies are putting out better models each year, Alpacka continues to lead the pack when it comes to design, durability and performance.  They also offer the widest variety of rafts.

What is your cancellation policy?

If you cancel your rental with less than one month’s time before your rental  dates, we are unable to refund your money but will let you bank your credit and reschedule through the next calendar year without an additional charge.  If you give us notice one month prior to your rental date we can try to help you reschedule or simply refund your deposit minus 10% for credit card processing fees.

What if I’m late returning my raft?

If gear is returned late, we will charge you twice the daily rate for every piece of equipment (raft, paddle etc.) for every day it is late.  It sounds harsh, but you may be delaying, or even effectively preventing someone else’s trip by not returning your equipment on time.  Days late will be based on when you ship and not when it arrives so the raft getting lost after shipping is not your responsibility.  If the end date of your trip is up in the air, book it for the latest possible end date.  In some cases we can extend your rental period while you still have the raft, depending on availability.  You must contact us in advance and receive our permission in order to do this.

Besides Packrafts, what other equipment do you offer?

For full details on rafts and accessories, check out our equipment rates page.  We offer spray skirts on several rafts, Paddles, Dry Bags, Dry Packs, Dry Suits and  PFDs(personal floatation devices).

In case you were wondering, all our rafts come with a lightweight inflation bag and patch kit.

We also now sell a variety of accessories that may make your trip even better.  Check out our new/used online store.

What kind of safety gear do you recommend?

Life jackets and helmets are required equipment on our waiver.  It is best to wear a life preserver at all times.  Backcountry rivers can change fast and you might not have time to put your life jacket on before a big rapid if you are sitting on it.  If you fall out of your packraft, you will most likely do so backward which means a whitewater helmet is highly recommended for any rapids.  Lastly, many states require life jackets to be in your boat at all times and we have had renters get fined for not carrying them.

Throw ropes are also a good idea if you’re doing whitewater and we sell them in our new/used store.

What type of raft will fit me best?

As a general rule, if you’re on the line between sizes go to the next size up.

The best way to size yourself is measuring your sit length.  If you’re selecting rafts for other group members you can generally go by height recommendations listed below and get a pretty good fit.

The chart below shows our recommended size based on your sit length and the Classic’s fit profile. To determine your sit length, sit against a wall with your legs flat (wearing your preferred paddling shoes) and measure the distance from the wall to your heels. The Classic is sized for a relaxed fit, meaning that a typical paddler in the recommended size can fully extend their legs and not touch the bow unless they point their toes when sitting in the boat. You can size up or down for a more performance or relaxed fit.

 

  • Size Small Classic- Formerly Alpacka Original- Heights Under 5’8″ – Sit Length 35-39in | 88-99cm
  • Size Medium Classic- Formerly Yukon Yak- Heights 5′ 8″ to 6′ – Sit Length 38-42in | 97-107cm.
  • Size Large Classic- Formerly Denali Llama- heights 6’ – 6′ 4″ Sit length 41-45in | 104-114cm
  • Mule- Heights 6’2″  to 6′ 8″ and up to 280lbs-  also ideal for packing along a dog, child, big game animal or otherwise heavy load.

For the expedition, gnarwhal, 2-person and other specialty rafts, see the sizing chart on each as the fit is different.

Do I need to sign a rental agreement or liability waiver?

Yes.  Each person using the rafts needs to sign a legal waiver.  Here’s a link to the online waiver that you can sign electronically.

Do you offer group discounts?

Yes!  Groups of 6 rafts or more who pay using 2 credit cards or less and shipping to one location will receive a 15% discount with a 2-day minimum rental and potentially 20% discount during the shoulder and off-season season.  Contact us for more info. 406-272-6468 or backcountrypackrafts@gmail.com

Do you offer any other discounts?

Yes, if you’d like to receive notice of such discounts please subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the page.  We also offer discounts on our facebook page!

Do you sell used rafts?

Yes, check out our used rafts page and subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the page to get an email when new rafts are posted.  We sell the bulk of our used rafts between November and March.

Do you ship to Canada?  What about Alaska?

In general, shipping to Canada for a rental is not usually a good option for us or the person renting the rafts.  We have priced it out a few times and the shipping charges always make it not quite worth it to the renter.  Plus, it is out of our inventory many more days for shipping (which we don’t charge for).  Lastly, there is the possibility of the package getting hung up in customs which would ruin everyone’s arrangements.  We honestly wish there was someone in Canada we could refer you too, but as of now there isn’t.  However, there are a couple ways it can work:

1. We are open to discussion for longer rentals 10+ days, or rentals that are outside our busy months of May through early August.
2. In many cases, we have shipped rafts to towns along the US- Canadian border and the renters have picked them up there, so that is probably the best option, if you live close to the border.
For trips to Alaska, ideally you can take it with you and we’ll waive your air days in most cases.  Shipping to Alaska is a little more doable, but is still typically $60+ one way.
Can I use my regular kayak paddle?
Yes, in most cases.  Standard touring packraft paddles (the one we rent specifically) is 210 cm long- but if your paddle is a little longer or shorter it should be ok, unless you’re doing serious whitewater- then you definitely don’t want something over 210cm.  Other considerations are how many pieces they break into- in most cases 2 piece is fine (ours are 4 piece for shipping purposes).
Can you tell me about the South Fork of the Flathead trip?
Yes we can.  Check out this blog and if you have further questions feel free to contact us via email or phone.
Do you have rafts with cargo flies/in-tube storage?
Yes, we have one cargo fly raft in each of the Alpacka Classic sizes with a cruiser spray skirt.  The Forager, Oryx, Expedition, Gnarwhal and Caribou also all come with the cargo fly option.  If this feature is important to you we recommend that you reserve them early as these rafts tend to book up quickly.
Do you have recommendations for shuttles around the Bob Marshall Wilderness?

Yes!  Sheila with Montana Adventure Shuttles 406-493-2345 provides shuttle service where she’ll drop you off or pick you up at either end.  Please note, she does not move vehicles, just people.

4 rivers shuttle service also out of Missoula does shuttles in the Bob Marshall.  406-370-5845  is the number.
Check the outfitters listed in the next question below as sometimes they are able to offer shuttle services.
If none of those options work, contact us and we may be able to come up with something else.
Do you have recommendations for horse packer outfitters in the Bob Marshall?
Here are some outfitters that serve the area:
Dropstone Outfitters provides packing services into the North Fork of the Sun, Birch Creek, Two Medicine and some other drainages.
For the Flathead:
From the East side of the Divide, Mills Wilderness Adventures would be the ones to work with.  They have a camp on the White River and are in and out of there every week.  If someone just wanted gear packed to their base camp it could be done pretty affordably.
Rich Ranch, Salmon Lake Outfitters and the Chef’s (who have now cleaved into a couple of different outfits) are some other businesses that take boaters in primarily from the West site.
What do you recommend packing for a summer fly fishing trip with minimal whitewater?
Check out our packing list here.
What other safety equipment do you have available?
We rent helmets and life jackets and we sell throw ropes.
How do I keep my stuff dry?
The rafts with the cargo fly option are great for this, we also rent bow bags that clip nicely onto the front of your raft and you can have easy access to a few things all day while keeping them dry.  We also rent Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpacks which are waterproof except the seams that connect the straps- so as long as the pack isn’t submerged for minutes, your stuff should stay dry.  If you’re on a budget, you can line your backpack with a trash bag, or larger dry bag and get a small dry bag to keep any items that you want easily accessible.  If your pack is not in the tubes (cargo fly) you definitely want it in the front above your tubes or on top of your spray deck- this way it won’t be sitting in water, but rather water will shed off of it.
Do rafts need to be inspected for invasive species?
In Montana, yes.  Please check state regulations for your specific state.  Here’s a link to a map with inspection stations on it.
Do I need a dry suit?
For casual summer trips where you don’t expect much whitewater, a good rain jacket and a spray skirt will cover all your needs.  For trips in the Fall, Spring or especially Winter, you’ll want to have a dry suit, or a solid plan on how to get warm fast.  Hypothermia is not something to mess around with.  We rent and sell dry suits for this purpose.
Where should I go if I want to find out about different packrafting trips?
Packrafting.org has a trips forum that is segmented by country and state.  There is a lot of good info there.   There are also a number of regional packrafting groups including Teton Packrafting and Montana Packraft Forum to name a few.