Step 0: Trace Plans & Cut Fabric (skip if you have a kit)

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If you have ordered DIY Packraft plans (patterns) and uncut fabric, the first step in constructing your packraft will be to trace or stencil the patterns onto your fabric. The procedure is similar to that for the first generation plans (described here), but the shapes are different and can be arranged on your fabric as in the picture below. The plans show only one side of the packraft (and the floor), so after you trace one side, flip them over and trace them again.

When cutting out the paper patterns from your DIY Packraft plans sheet, the shapes on the plans should be cut inside the black lines for plans shipped before May 25, 2017; plans shipped after this date should be cut on the center of the pen line. If you can’t remember when you placed your order, another way to tell is if the paper your plans are drawn on has a thin plastic coating on one side, they should be cut along the center of the lines; if there’s no plastic coating, cut inside the lines.

After the paper patterns are cut out, place them on top of your fabric and trace around the edges with a permanent marker (tape and/or paperweights can help hold the patterns in place). Flip the tube patterns (1-5) over and trace them again. Then cut out the fabric shapes by cutting inside the pen lines so no pen marks are left on your finished packraft. You should trace and cut carefully, but a few millimetres of deviation in the shapes will not affect the final shape of the packraft in any noticeable way.

Note: After you trace the tube patterns 1-5 once, you must flip the patterns over before tracing them again! If you do not, you will end up with two left sides or two right sides instead of one left and one right.

This is the most efficient way (that I have found, at least) to lay out the plans on your fabric.
This is an efficient way to lay out the shapes on your fabric. (Not to scale)

Note: The plans are drawn assuming you will make your packraft with the TPU side of the fabric on the outside of the tubes (you can read more about this here). If you prefer to make your packraft with the TPU side on the inside of the tubes, you will need to extend shapes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 by ~4 cm on one of the straight sides. (If you imagine each piece as being fish-shaped, the side you must extend is the “tail” end of the fish.) The picture below shows this being done on the older, Version 1 plans.

DIY Packraft Instructions-7
Version 1 plans, showing 4 cm tabs added on the ends of the tubing limbs (required for TPU-in tubes).


Once the shapes are traced onto the plans, cut out the fabric shapes (along the inside edges of the lines). To keep track of each piece and where it fits, label each piece by placing a piece of tape on it and writing its number (1-5), whether it fits on the left or right side of the packraft, and draw an arrow pointing towards the front of the packraft (e.g. “2 Right ->“). This will help you orient them around the floor piece in the next step. If the label comes off or you aren’t sure how they fit together, refer to the image below.


With the floor laid out TPU-side up, the tubing pieces (1-5, left and right) are laid out around it with their TPU sides facing down. Each piece is different enough that you should be able to tell where it fits by studying the above picture, except for the two #3 pieces (left and right), which are nearly symmetrical (but not quite). The picture below shows how you can tell which is the front side of piece #3.

If you get piece 3 Left and 3 Right mixed up, place a straightedge along the ends to determine which end is the front.
If you get pieces 3 Left and 3 Right mixed up, align a straightedge from corner to corner along the ends  and use this picture to determine which curved side should be oriented towards the front of your packraft.

Onward to Step 0.5

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