Review: Pristine Ventures PR 49

The idea of packrafting a river deep in the wilderness is exciting. Doing so with a couple hundred pounds of fresh elk meat—now that’s an adventure. The PR-49 from Pristine Ventures makes this type of epic Montana outing possible. At 15 pounds, it’s heavier than most packrafts, but the burly construction means you can safely float yourself, all your hunting gear, and a quartered elk back to the truck—up to 850 pounds total. The PR-49 inflates quickly with a compact two-way pump (included), the setup of the mesh seat and cargo sling is quick and intuitive, and the multiple lashing points make it easy to strap down cargo. The raft handles well with the collapsible kayak paddle (also included), and if you’re going into whitewater or a stiff headwind, just tuck your legs into a kneeling canoeist position and power through. The heavy-duty model (PR-49 HD) comes with reinforced skid guards, to help protect the boat from rocky riverbeds; this adds 1.5 pounds to the total weight. For either model, you’ll need to get creative when packing in; at nine feet apiece, they’re bulkier than other packrafts. $1,350 and $1,425;