2019 Guide to Choosing Your Kokopelli Packraft

Founded in 2014, Kokopelli Outdoors, Inc is one of several of companies exclusively focused on inflatable packrafts, and increasingly known for performance, quality and durability.

83 Mile Journey Down Lower Canyons of Rio Grande
Photo by Colin Arisman

For those unfamiliar with the term, “packrafts” are loosely defined as an inflatable raft weighing under 10 lbs, that can easily be packed/rolled up, making them a great choice for accessing remote locations. While the sport originated in Alaska, the popularity is rapidly expanding globally. 

For 2019, Kokopelli’s lineup consists of eight models for whitewater, lakes, rivers and ocean, ranging in size from 7’1″ to 10’2″ with a weight range of 4.6 lbs to 18 lbs. This includes the introduction of one new model – the beefy Recon whitewater packraft – as well as product upgrades and some new accessories.

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With all the styles, activity types, sizes and features, how does one choose the packraft best suited for them?

In the following sections, we outline the different Kokopelli packraft styles. We’ve also put together a comparison chart on each of the packrafts, detailing the features and specifications for each model, followed by weights and types of included accessories as well as compatibility with optional Kokopelli accessories. This is located at the bottom of this article, but you can also see a downloadable PDF copy of the complete table. If you still have questions, you can view details on the various Kokopelli Packrafts at Or feel free to contact us at, or call 707-998-0135.

Guide to Choosing Your 2019 Kokopelli Packraft

Kokopelli packrafts are designed with two cockpit styles – open or decked.

The two packrafts with spray decks – Nirvana SD and Rogue – feature a more enclosed seating option which reduces exposure to water, cold, sun or wind. Each includes a spray skirt which fastens to a coaming lip around the seating well, and then to your body for even less exposure.

All other Kokopelli packrafts feature open seating, with either self-bailing ports or no ports. The self-bailing ports are useful if you will be running whitewater, allowing any water spilling into the raft to pass through open holes in the floor. Conversely, if you are in calmer situations, water may accumulate inside. The two self-bailing models – Nirvana SB and Recon – have integrated floors and seat bases so that the paddler sits a bit higher, out of any pooled water. The other Kokopelli packrafts (including the decked versions) are designed without any ports.

The 2019 packrafts have been regrouped into three categories – Whitewater, Lake and Adventure.

The Whitewater Series consists of three models – the Nirvana with Spraydeck, Nirvana Self-Bailing and the Recon. While each of these can handle rushing rivers through Class III, the new Recon weighs in at a whopping 18 lbs with beefed up construction for extra-rugged conditions.

The Lake Series also features three models – the Castaway XL, Twain Tandem and Hornet-Lite – geared towards slow-moving rivers or lakes. The tiny Hornet-Lite weighs the least in the product line, making it very desirable for long-distance hiking but with a performance trade-off. The Castaway XL sports an open design with longer waterline for taller paddlers or those requiring room for gear. The Twain is one of the few packrafts designed for solo or tandem paddling. The two longer models feature removable tracking fins to aid in paddling performance.

The Adventure Series consists of two models – Rogue and Rogue-Lite – geared towards extremely packable “adventures.” Both feature a thinner hull material with beefed-up Kevlar reinforcement which packs down smaller and is lighter, making it more desirable for carrying long distances.

All models except the Recon and Hornet-Lite, are available with TiZip options. This 19-inch waterproof zipper offers additional storage options inside one of the main chambers, allowing one to carry more gear as well as keeping it more enclosed.

How do you use the following table?

First, decide the type(s) of paddling you want to do. Do you prefer running rapids, paddling calm lakes or a mixture.

Then decide how you’ll get there. Will you be backpacking into remote areas, driving to a put-in location or bikepacking?

Determine what attributes are important (or not!) to you – is weight more important or ruggedness? Do you like being enclosed or feel better in “open space?”

Last of all, will this be used by various members of the family? Do you want the ability to bring along extra gear? Do you need an option for tandem packrafting?

Then follow the color key to decide what board is good for varying activities:

Blue – The packraft is great!
Green – The packraft is good.
Yellow – This packraft is not recommended.

Photo credit: Birch Block

For instance, if running rivers was the highest priority, then focus on the Nirvana, Rogue or Recon. The Rogue – with a lighter weight and smaller rolled profile – would be great for backpacking or bikepacking. The Recon would be perfect for weekend warriors where ruggedness is a priority, while the Nirvana fits in neatly between the two and offers both decked and open designs.

Please note: For those concerned with weights, you can piece together the total package weights from the following table by finding the base packraft weight in the Packraft Model section, and adding in the additional weights in the Included Accessories. If you are having trouble viewing this, click here for a downloadable PDF copy of the complete table.

This section shows the Adventure Series which includes the Rogue and Rogue-Lite:

This section features the White Water Series including the Nirvana Spraydeck, Nirvana Self-Bailer and Recon.

This section features the Lake Series including the Castaway XL, Twain and Hornet-Lite.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can view details on the various Kokopelli Packrafts at Or feel free to contact us with questions at, or call 707-998-0135.

You can also see our writeup on the 2020 Kokopelli Product Line as well as our Guide to Choosing Your 2020 Kokopelli Packraft.

And many thanks to Zach Patterson at Kokopelli, who played an integral part in piecing together this information!



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