Intro to Packrafting


“It was an incredible experience - I learned an incredible amount, met amazing people and saw amazing things.”
—Dorje, Packrafting Student

Course Overview

Dates:  June 15-20, 2024
Age: 16-18
Group size: max 10 students/3 instructors
Length: 6 Days
Tuition: $1,980
6-day introduction to fundamental outdoor skills, river navigation and paddling skills. Great intro option for those wanting to learn whitewater skills!
Packing List 
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Course Highlights

  • Fundamental outdoor skills for traveling in remote environments
  • Packraft (inflatable kayak) skills
  • Swiftwater rescue techniques
  • River navigation skills
  • Adventurous backcountry paddling experiences on exciting whitewater
  • Wilderness decision-making and communication skills
  • Pristine ecosystems, huge river beaches, and natural hot springs

Course Description

Introduction to Packrafting Expedition (IPE) is an entry level, 6-day course for 16 to 18 year olds interested in learning the basics of packrafting and navigating swiftwater. Students will travel in a small group down a wild and remote stretch of river, developing skills in backcountry wilderness travel, paddling, cooking, communication, and decision-making.

While on expedition, students will learn and practice Leave No Trace® camping principles, learn about local ecology, and engage with land history lessons and curriculum. This remarkable outdoor classroom takes students through a striking river corridor with rare and beautiful volcanic rock formations found nowhere else in the state! Technical paddling skills taught will include: reading moving water, on-water communication, hazard assessment, and partner and self-rescue techniques. Each student will have an opportunity to lead the group as the Expedition Leader of the Day to gain experience with newly acquired leadership skills.

The IPE course is specifically designed to help students gain the necessary skills and confidence to explore more challenging whitewater travel in the future.  For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression, check out Expedition Life.

If you have additional questions, please check out our FAQ page or reach out to

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

  • Inflating, deflating, packing and securing equipment in an inflatable packraft
  • Reading water and understanding hydraulics in swift moving water
  • Swift water rescue skills
  • Packraft control and paddling skills in swift moving water and rapids
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Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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