Packrafting Argyll & the Isles

Scotland's Cycle Coast

Packrafting is increasingly popular and Argyll & the Isles is the ideal place to explore on a pack rafting adventure in Scotland.

With over 40 lochs, numerous slow-flowing rivers, great gravel trails and quiet single-track roads, you’ll be limited only by your imagination.

A pack raft is a lightweight inflatable rubber boat which folds into a rucksack and allows hikers and cyclists to access bodies of water – with the bike and baggage on the front!

It sounds precarious but in calm water, it’s pretty stable and offers incredible possibilities for adventure. With a pack raft, water is no longer an obstacle – you can safely cross to explore remote areas.

ScotRail’s new Highland Explorer carriage is designed for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts allowing you to venture into the wilderness to make the most of Scotland’s fantastic access laws. And it’s all easily accessible from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow.

Packrafting on Scotland's Adventure Coast

Bikepacking – but not as you know it!

If you’re new to pack rafting, this film from the Global Cycling Network is a great introduction.

It features professional cyclist Manon Lloyd and record-breaking bike packer Jenny Graham on a two-day route. Starting from Taynuilt Railway Station, they paddle across Loch Etive and Loch Creran, take the passenger ferry from Port Appin and finish on the beautiful island of Lismore.

Safety first

Pack rafting is a wonderful way to explore but it’s not without risk. Keep safe by following these packrafting safety tips.

  1. Always pack raft with a buddy.
  2. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  3. Keep your bike roadworthy – maintain it well and check it is in good working
  4. Check your lights are working and wear high-vis clothing.
  5. Don’t forget your mobile phone and a charged power bank.
  6. Carry essential tools and spares.
  7. Know your navigation. Plan your route and carry a map and compass or GPS.
  8. Familiarise yourself with cycling with a pack raft .This will be added weight so limit your speed and keep your distance.
  9. Ride within your skill level and take your time. Consider your fitness levels, the terrain, weather forecast etc.
  10. Know the water. Some inland lochs and rivers are tidal so research local tide timetables and weather forecast
  11. When cycling, wear a helmet.
  12. When in or near water, always wear a buoyancy aid.
  13. Pack for all weathers. This is Scotland. Pack waterproofs and sun cream.
  14. Pack a basic first aid and survival kit. Know how to summon help if you need it.

Global Cycling Network Go Wild About Argyll

Check out and downloand GCN's route
Packrafting Day 1: Taynuilt Station to Appin

Packrafting Taynuilt Station to Appin


Packrafting Day 2: Appin to Isle of Lismore and Oban

Packrafting – Appin to Isle of Lismore and Oban

Other Pack Rafting Routes in Argyll

Please note: Pack rafting is not without risk. Featured locations and local businesses are featured for your information only. All activities are undertaken at your own risk.

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Bridge of Orchy

Hop on the ScotRail West Highland service to Fort William and dismount at the Bridge of Orchy Station. It’s a half-hour cycle to the stunning Loch Tulla, lined by old Scots pine woods. This is one of the more remote corners of Argyll and, most days, you’ll have it all to yourself. You can paddle in Loch Tulla and head down the River Orchy back to the Bridge of Orchy – it should take about an hour to complete. A wonderful spot for birdwatching, you might spot osprey and white-tailed eagles. The waters can be quite exposed so check conditions before setting out.

Loch Awe

The largest freshwater loch in Scotland, Loch Awe is rugged, remote and perfect for getting away from it all. For cyclists, the Loch Awe loop gives great views of Ben Cruachan, Argyll’s highest mountain, and, with your pack raft, you can explore areas of the Loch along the A85 and from the single-track roads to the south. The Loch is dotted with tiny islands and you can paddle short distances to explore around the castles of Kilchurn, Fraoch Eilean and Innisconnel. Scotrail's 'Highland Explorer' carriage calls at Dalmally and Loch Awe stations which are at the north end of the loch.

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A designated National Scenic Area, Knapdale offers endless opportunities for packrafting - cycling trails in the forest around small lochans, the mountain bike trail with wonderful views towards the Isles of Jura, paddling through heavily wooded country or drifting down the Add Estuary near the Crinan Canal.

Share your packrafting experience

We love to see people packrafting in Argyll and the Isles. Share your photos with us on social media and inspire others by tagging us @wildaboutargyll.

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Packrafting FAQs

What is packrafting?

Packrafting is an inflatable reinforced kayak you carry on your back or bike to cross waterways as part of a longer adventure. You can use it to explore remote lochs and rivers which you can't easily access with a rigid canoe or kayak. It is sometimes combined with other activities such as camping, hiking and climbing.

Why try packrafting?

If you like exploring off the beaten track and immersing yourself in nature, packrafting is ideal. It’s relatively easy to do – you just need a little practice to be able to balance your bike and kit on the boat. It’s worth it though as it opens up remote corners and hidden gems that you couldn’t otherwise explore. You’ll see some incredible views and wildlife.

How do I inflate a pack raft?

Pack rafts come with special inflation bags that fill with air which you pump into the boat. It’s surprisingly quick and easy.

What about my paddle?

Special pack raft paddles are available that take apart and can be strapped to the pack for easy transportation.

How do I balance my bike on the pack raft?

It depends on lots of factors, but most require you to remove the bike's front wheel and strap the bike to the front of the boat using specially designed straps. Balance is key!

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Explore all the places to visit in Argyll & the Isles

3700km of coastline, 23 inhabited islands, major towns and villages are all waiting for you.

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