The Itiwit Adventure 500 is a packraft from Decathlon that comes with interesting features and at an attractive price. Compared to traditional inflatable boats, with a packraft you can combine, for example, hiking or mountain biking with paddling. A packraft weighs no more than 4 kg (8.8 lbs) and can easily be stowed in a hiking backpack. Packrafts are in general not new, but still a niche in outdoor sports. They are pretty expensive, so many are quickly deterred from packrafting because of the high price.
Decathlon has now set itself the goal of making the entry into packrafting more affordable with the Itiwit Packraft. In this review, we would like to go into the details of the packraft, what it offers for the price and for which purposes we see the packraft well and less well suited. The review is based on our experience with many different packrafts from other manufacturers over the past few years, and the experience we have already gained with the Itiwit packraft.
230 cm | 7’5”
90 cm | 3′
125 kg | 276 lbs
40 x 30 x 25 cm |
1’3” x 1′ x 8”
TPU/PU coated nylon
2.5 kg | 5.5 lbs
3.8 kg | 8.4 lbs
Which model has been reviewed?
Itiwit Packraft Adventure 500 from 2021
How did we organize the review?
The Itiwit Packraft Adventure 500 was provided to us by Decathlon, a French manufacturer and retailer of sports equipment and clothing. Itiwit is Decathlon’s own brand for water sports. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or store and reflects our own opinion of the boat.
How intensively has the product been tested?
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)
Where have we tested the product?
Table of Contents
First impressions and assembly
The packraft comes in a robust transport bag, which is compressed with two packing straps. The pack size and weight of the packraft including accessories is comparable to other Packrafts. The packing straps are sufficiently dimensioned so that you can attach the transport bag to a hiking backpack or to the handlebar of a bike.
In addition to the packraft, the transport bag contains the seat, thigh straps, pump tube and some self-adhesive repair patches. None of this is packed in a PVC film or bag. We really like that. So there is no unnecessary trash.
The packrafts assembly instructions are also sewn into the top edge of the transport bag, which serves as a handy quick reference guide for when you’re on the go, in addition to the actual instruction manual.
In total, the complete packraft, including transport bag and accessories, weighs 3.8kg according to the manufacturer. We measured the boat and the individual parts ourselves, since weight plays a major role in packrafting.
The packraft itself weighs only 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs). However, you also need to consider the thigh straps with 400g (0.88 lbs), the seat with 400g (0.88 lbs), the transport bag with 550g (1.21 lbs) and the pump tube with 50g (0.11 lbs). The individual components are quite heavy compared to other packrafts on the market but the packraft itself is quite light. Thus, the Itiwit packraft makes it into the typical weight category of a classic packraft, which with equipment weighs around 4kg. For certain uses, you can leave the thigh straps at home and save some weight.
The transport bag is used as a inflation bag, i.e. as a kind of air pump. To do this, you need to open the valve at the bottom of the transport bag and attach the supplied pump tube. The other end of the pump tube is attached to the valve of the packraft or seat cushion. Both the valve of the packraft and the seat cushion are of high quality. Both valves have a check valve so that the air cannot escape during inflation.
According to the manual, first the boat and then the seat is inflated and fixed in the interior. However, we find it much easier to attach and place the inflated seat in the interior before inflating the packraft.
On the bottom of the seat cushion there is a strap adjustable in length with two hook buckles (G-buckle) each end. These two hooks are used to secure the seat cushion to the floor. This prevents the seat cushion from sliding forward or folding upward at will in the boat. When the packraft and seat are tightly inflated, the seat cushion sits very firmly in the packraft.
Compared to many other Packrafts, the seat consists of only a seat cushion and has no backrest. The seat cushion is placed so far back in the interior that you can lean against the air tube. We will see how well this works in practice when we paddle it on the water.
Before inflating the packraft you still have the possibility to stow luggage, e.g. your backpack in the air tube of the packraft. Once the packraft is inflated, you can only access the luggage inside if you let the air out of the packraft. You get access to the inside of the air tube via the waterproof and airtight zipper. Exactly such a TZIP can also be found on very high quality packrafts, which are offered as an optional feature for an extra charge. The Itiwit packraft has the TIZIP already included, which is remarkable in this price range.
However, you should be aware that a TIZIP needs care. Always make sure that it is clean and properly greased with the included silicone grease. You should also not bend the TIZIP when rolling it up.
Actually, packraft are filled with air using a lightweight inflation bag, which is screwed or plugged directly onto the valve. This works well and saves the weight and bulky pack size of an air pump. However, filling a packraft with an inflation bag takes some time getting used to for beginners at first and requires some practice to efficiently fill a packraft with air.
The Itiwit packraft is also filled with a inflation bag, but with a small difference and big effect. The pump tube allows the air-filled bag to be placed on the ground and used like a hand pump. You lean on the air-filled bag and pump air into the packraft. You roll the inflation bag a little bit every time to create a sufficiently high air pressure. The lower green part of the blowbag is much more robust than a conventional packraft inflation bag, so you can put it on the ground without getting holes in it. We have not yet experienced an easier inflation of a packraft. Here Itiwit has made the assembly of a packraft much easier with a small simple idea.
Repeat this pumping procedure several times, more precisely according to the manual “9 – 10 times until the inflation bag no longer allows it”. On the inflation bag 1.0 PSI and the packraft valve 1.5 PSI is indicate. The manual does not say how to get the last 0.5 PSI to the packraft. Usually with packrafts (even with Boston valves like this) you generate the final air pressure with your mouth or with a separate small hand pump. We use the Itiwit inflation bag for this and apply small jerky impacts to the bag to get the packraft’s air tube nice and stiff. So, from our point of view, it is not absolutely necessary to create the final air pressure with the mouth or with a small separate hand pump, as with other packrafts. Here you should be careful not to create overpressure, because otherwise material damage can occur.
We therefore recommend that you create the final air pressure with your mouth or with your own breath during the first set-up, as this will prevent you from creating overpressure. Then reach into the air tube to get a feeling of how the packraft feels with the correct air pressure. You can use this firmness as a reference for later assemblies when you want to create the final air pressure with the inflation bag.
The workmanship looks really solid overall. At first glance, we can’t see any weak points. Aluminum is used instead of plastic for many components (e.g. buckles, fastening hooks, carabiners), which creates a certain high quality. The material of the boat’s skin also feels valuable as well as robust and completes the high-quality first impression of the Packraft.
The packraft itself consists of a coated nylon fabric material. The fabric has a thickness of 420d (= denier) in the bottom and 210d in the side tube (except the orange rear part of the stern, where the TIZIP is also 420d). These are common values for packrafts. Only whitewater packrafts have higher material thicknesses in the bottom, twice as strong. The outside of the side tube and the outside and inside of the bottom are coated with TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), which has a high abrasion resistance and is also used from other packraft brands.
The inside of the side tube, which is not accessible, is covered with a PU coating. If deeper scratches damage the outer coating, the tube is still waterproof and airtight due to the second inner coating and does not need to be patched. However, other manufacturers (e.g. Anfibio, MRS, Alpacka) do without this inner coating in order to preserve the elasticity of the base material (which is made of nylon or polyester) and thus achieve a higher tear resistance of the material.
The bottom is very cleanly and evenly attached to the side tube. Here, however, we would have liked to see the more robust bottom overlap the more sensitive side tube significantly more, thus additionally protecting the side tube (the only buoyancy of the packraft) from ground contact. This is common practice of other manufacturers to protect the side tube and at the same time the only air tube of a packraft. Only with ultralight Packrafts (e.g. Anfibio) we know that the bottom does not generously cover the side tube due to weight saving.
Instead of using the bottom material for the orange part of the air tube at the rear, it would have been better in our view to make this part from 210d and to donate an overhang of the bottom for it, which would protect the side tube.
The seating position is not variable compared to many other packrafts, because the packraft does not have an adjustable backrest. Instead, the air tube serves as a backrest. You get the necessary support in the packraft via the thigh straps.
The padded thigh straps are attached to the side tube with two carabiners and can be tightened or loosened with a strap. They are quite heavy with the carabiners for a packraft, but very high quality and sturdy. Nevertheless, the 2-point thigh straps cannot be compared to the very individually adjustable 4- or 5-point thigh straps of whitewater packrafts from Alpacka or MRS. Nevertheless, they are a good alternative to the footrest to find sufficient support while paddling.
Packrafts are available as open and closed (= with deck) boats. The Itiwit Packraft is a semi-open packraft. It has a front deck. Due to the raised and voluminous bow, the deck is not mainly used as a splash water protection, but to attach luggage or especially a bicycle, without disturbing the footwell.
Packrafts usually have at least four holding loops at the bow and two at the stern for attaching luggage, equipment or a bicycle. The Itiwit Packraft has five carrying handles at the bow and two large carrying handles at the stern, which can serve as holding loops or carrying handles. Thus, you have enough attachment options to securely attach luggage and equipment to the packraft.
The carrying handles are a practical alternative to the conventional holding loops. Whether in a capsize, when pulling the packraft to shore, when two people are carrying the boat on river trips or when you carry the boat alone on your shoulder, there is always a possibility to grab the packraft properly. In our model, however, the front carrying handle is quite tightly dimensioned, so that it is difficult to grab the tightly inflated Packraft.
You can either store the transport bag with the tube under the deck or attach it directly to the deck. We like to use this as a dry nag, as it is waterproof when rolled up and with the valve closed, and attach it to the deck. The best way to attach it is via the packing straps on the side grab handles on the deck. This way you have a dry bag that you can access at any time without having to detach it from the deck.
Other small luggage (e.g. a waterproof dry abs with valuables) can be stowed in the footwell between your legs. There are three fastening loops on the floor.
Review of the Itiwit Packraft Adventure 500 on the water
The Packraft is easy to carry to the water. You can either shoulder the packraft or use the thigh straps as carrying handles. If you have loaded the packraft with a lot of luggage, it is still recommended to set up the packraft close to the water. If you paddle with somebody else it is then easier to carry it together to the water. You can use the carrying handles at the bow and stern.
The interior of the Itiwit packraft feels very spacious, which offers enough room for tall people. We with a height of 189 cm (6’2”), we can fully stretch out our legs, depending on our footwear. This is partly due to the fact that no space is given away by a backrest. Nevertheless, we paddle with our legs slightly bent. In this case the thigh straps serve their purpose well in order to provide sufficient support in the boat. Therefore, we recommend that you always have the thigh straps with you, as in our view they serve as a substitute for a footrest.
Experience on lakes and calm rivers
Only for short tours we would omit the thigh straps, so you save almost 1/2 kg in weight. Instead, a dry bag in the footwell can then serve as a footrest, which provides sufficient support while paddling. On longer trips, we consider the thigh straps to be a useful feature.
Overall, we find the seating comfort very good despite having no backrest. We do not miss the backrest. You can find good support for your lower back on the air tube. The seat height is also very comfortable, allowing a clean paddle stroke despite the voluminous side tube. On calm waters, the seat also remained very well in position and did not slip.
In addition to space and seat comfort, driving characteristics are another important aspect we’d like to discuss in more detail. Unloaded (no luggage in the air tube or on the bow), the Itiwit packraft turns very easily, which is common for packrafts of this length without a skeg. With a steeper and less powerful paddle stroke, it can be used well for small tours on the lake or long distances on rivers with noticeable current. Especially on small rivers you will benefit from the maneuverability of the packraft.
The packraft also offers high tipping stability. The voluminous sides and stern contribute to the fact that it has a large surface on the water. As a beginner, you will already feel safe in the packraft right away due to the high tipping stability and seating position.
As usual with open packrafts, splashing water gets on your clothes and into the interior on longer tours. Double-bladed paddles with drip rings provide can help to keep some of the splash water out.
In the summer, none of this is a problem. In the off-season, you should wear at least rain pants, and better yet, proper cold weather protection in the form of a dry suit. If you often paddle in the off-season, a packraft with a closed deck might suit you better (e.g. Anfibio Rebel 2K, nortik TrekRaft Expedition). This is because a closed deck serves as protection against splashing water, rain and cold. The Itiwit packraft with its small front deck at the bow cannot offer you this protection.
Bikerafting with the Itiwit packraft
We were with the Itiwit Packraft not only on several lakes in Sweden and rivers in Bavaria, but have also done a bikerafting tour. That means we did one section by bike and another section with the bike on the bow of the packraft paddling on the river.
Light as well as moderate forest and gravel tails can be ridden without problems with the mountain bike and the packraft on the handlebars. The 4kg on the handlebars you hardly feel.
The transport bag of the Packraft can be very well attached to the handlebars of the bike with the two compression straps. The bag is dimensioned narrow enough so that it does not cover the brake levers and gear shift. However, the straps of the bag should be properly tightened so that the bag does not hang too far down.
If your bike has a front suspension fork, check that the bag does not touch the tire when it is compressed. If necessary, you should close the fork, pack the packraft even more compactly or put individual parts (seat, thigh straps, …) in the backpack to ensure sufficient distance from the tire.
To mount the bike on the bow of the packraft, it is best to remove the front and rear wheels. The bike frame is placed on the bow first, and then the wheels are placed on the frame. To securely attach everything to the carrying handles on the top of the front deck, you will need at least four, and preferably six, packing straps.
Be sure to set up the packraft close to the water, as it is pretty unhandy to carry the packraft with the bike mounted. The best way to put the packraft with bike in the water is to reach under the deck with the palms of your hands and lift it up. Then you reach directly under the center of gravity and keep the best control when you carry it to water.
On the water, we really like the Itiwit packraft with the bike on the bow. The packraft is still nicely maneuverable and tip-resistant. You feel very safe on the water right away. Although the Packraft with its 2.3m is not longer than traditional packrafts, it feels longer inside. The front deck with its carrying handles allows the bike to be mounted nice and far forward. In combination with the seat without backrest, you get enough distance to the bike so that the bike doesn’t disturb you when paddling.
Where luggage is usually stowed, the bike is located, which is on the bow. A dry bag can still be stowed under the deck, as the interior is very spacious. Nevertheless, we find the TIZIP at the rear really practical, especially when bikerafting. So even tours with a lot of luggage or even longer bikerafting tours are possible without any problems.
From our point of view, the Packraft with the bag, the TIZIP and front deck, among other things, has been designed specifically for bikerafting and thus delivers a really good performance.
Whitewater paddling with the Itiwit packraft
Decathlon claims a suitability of whitewater stage 2. We paddled the Itiwit Packraft on a white water river (whitewater stage 1 and 2) and played with the one or other groundsill and went in and out of quite a bit of eddies.
Compared to calm rivers and lakes, a packraft has to cope with a lot more in white water. Groundings are inevitable in whitewater and much more frequent than in other waters. Especially if the water level is low, you don’t know the river yet or you don’t have much experience in finding the right line in whitewater. That’s why packrafts for whitewater have a generous bottom, i.e. the more robust bottom has an overhang and gives additional protection to the lower part of the side tube (which provides the air buoyancy of the packraft). This is not the case with the Itiwit Packraft. This is not a big issue. However, it has a higher risk of getting a hole in the side tube than a packraft that is designed for white water use (e.g. Mekong Pablo Whisky Bar, MRS Alligator 2S or Alapacka Expedition).
For regular paddling in whitewater stage 2, we also miss a whitewater deck or drain opening. Without this option, you have to stop and empty the boat more often. The voluminous and raised bow rides many waves well. Nevertheless, especially in white water stage 2, one or the other wave comes into the boat from the front or from the side. The front deck is too short for effective splash protection and hangs down to the interior due to the raised bow. If a wave hits the bow, it will flow into the interior.
For these reasons, we recommend the Itiwit packraft for white water stage 1 and at most for occasional use in white water stage 2. In our view, it is not a packraft designed for regular use in white water stage 2. However, we would now also like to look at the equipment for whitewater suitability. Because here some weak points of the packrafts show up.
On the one hand, the seat cushion does not sit as firmly in the interior as expected. Due to the low water temperature of whitewater rivers compared to the air temperature of the environment, the pressure of the air tube and seat cushion decreases, so that both become softer. This is completely normal for inflatable boats. In this case, you have to re-pump after a short time or you put the boat to the water before the tour, let it “cool down” there and then re-pump.
If the air tube and the seat cushion have too little air pressure, the seat cushion will slide forward about 10 cm the next time you hit the ground with the packraft (even though we have tightened the fastening strap of the seat cushion on the floor of the packraft to the maximum). The cushion is then too far forward and leaning against the tube is no longer possible. You slide with the bottom partly in the gap that has arisen. Paddling is then no longer fun. So, you need then to stop, pump up some air and position the seat correctly.
There would be a way to fix the seat more firmly to the floor with the strap (was mentioned as an idea in the reviews on decathlon.fr). This involves maximizing the length of the strap and inserting the seat cushion upside down (top of the seat cushion on the inside floor of the packraft) so that the strap is on the seat surface. Then the seat cushion sits much tighter, even though the air tube and seat cushion are softer. However, we do not see this alternative as a solution. The strap is very short for this and builds up too much tension at the fastening loops (where the strap is hooked to the floor).
From our point of view, the rear fastening loop for the seat cushion should be positioned further back on the inner floor and, above all, the distance between the two fastening loops should be short enough to prevent the seat cushion from sliding forward.
Another point of criticism are the non-locking carabiners of the thigh straps. With this type, the carabiner can be opened at any time by pressure intended but also unintentionally. There is no danger of a thigh belt coming loose as a result. This is because the carabiner has a kind of nose for this purpose, and it is not possible for thigh straps under pressure to slip out of the attachment loop. The real danger is that you get could get caught unintentionally (for example, with the life jacket or a piece of clothing in a capsize).
If you still want to use the Itiwit packraft occasionally in whitewater, you should replace the carabiners with lockable carabiners or do without the thigh straps and use a dry bag as a footrest instead. In our opinion, the luggage net with its long cord under the front deck is another danger if the cord stopper is not tightened (then there is a large loop in the footwell, which is another source of danger for getting caught in a capsize).
From the driving characteristics, you can definitely use the packraft for whitewater stage 2. It offers a sufficiently high air buoyancy, is very stable in the water, is nicely maneuverable to paddle into the eddies and the thigh straps (with the right carabiners) are a useful equipment to have enough support in the boat.
Repair of the Itiwit packraft
On a tour in Sweden, we unfortunately got a small crack in the floor of the packraft. The shores of the lakes we paddled were covered with sharp rocks. This was unfortunately bad luck and can happen with inflatable boats and that’s why you should always have a patch kit with you.
For small holes and cracks, the packraft already comes with three small and three large round patches that are suitable for quick and long-term repairs. The self-adhesive patches have a 3M 300LSE adhesive, which promises a high initial adhesion and a durable adhesive strength. The material of the patch is sufficiently thick so that the patched area should withstand stresses (e.g. grounding).
Patching the small crack worked very well for us right away, and the packraft is fully usable again with a small cosmetic blemish. However, the bottom did get more deep scratches, which we will observe over time.
Dismantling the packraft
The dismantling of the Itiwit packraft is as usual with Packrafts simple and fast. You open the valve of the packraft and release the air. If you have luggage in the air tube, you can now open the TIZIP.
On the seat you open the valve as well. There is a push button that you have to push in order to be able to push the air out. Theoretically, you can leave the thigh straps and the seat in the boat and fold the packraft like this. We take both out and put them separately in the transport bag.
First fold the packraft lengthwise. Make sure that it is not wider than the transport bag. Then you can roll up the packraft from the front to the rear. This has two advantages. Firstly, the remaining air can flow out of the valve unhindered. Secondly, the TIZIP is rolled up at the end and is not bent. The TIZIP should be closed so that no dirt gets into it when rolling it up, packing it or storing it. Now you can compress the packraft a bit with the included compression strap. The main purpose of the strap is to prevent the packraft from unrolling on its own.
When the packraft is folded narrowly, it fits wonderfully in the bag with accessories and can be compressed to the original pack size. To do this, pull the compression straps together. The packraft is compactly packed and compressed as soon as the side click closures on the bag can be closed.
Sometimes you just want to transport the packraft to the car and dry and fold it at home. Since the transport bag is generously sized and can be varied in size thanks to its roll closure, it is no problem to pack the packraft in a less well compressed state. The transport bag can be closed like a conventional dry bag with roll closure at the top and can be used as a handle for transport, unless you use the outer compression straps.
Strengths and weaknesses of the Itiwit packraft
The great strength of the Itiwit packraft is the very good price-performance ratio. It brings many features that are available from other manufacturers only in the higher price segment ( for example, TIZIP luggage compartment). Another strength is the very simple and convenient assembly. The inflation bag, which serves as a transport bag and dry bag, is brilliant.
The biggest weakness from our point of view reveals itself in the Itiwit packraft in white water. Here we lack the necessary robustness, a more effective splash water protection or a drain option and a better attachment of the seat. In addition, the non-lockable carabiners are a potential source of danger for getting caught in a capsize.
good workmanship + very good price-performance ratio + large and high-quality equipment in the price range (TIZIP, thigh straps, … ) + very easy and fast assembly through the pump bag + pump bag can be used as a transport and dry bag + sufficient carrying and safety handles available + simple but comfortable thigh straps (good padding and adjustable) + very well suited for bikerafting and multi-day river tours + numerous options to attach and stow luggage + good seating comfort + safe handling in calm waters (high tilt stability, high seat cushion, thigh straps, good maneuverability) + self-adhesive repair patches included
– lower side of the side tube is hardly protected against high stresses – above-average heavy equipment for a packraft (seat cushion, thigh straps and inflation bag) – low splash water protection – only conditionally suitable for whitewater (insufficient seat attachment, non-lockable carabiners for the thigh straps, too little protection of the side tube, no sufficient splash protection or drain possibility) – according to the valve of the packraft 1.5 PSI should go up (unclear when these are reached, no hints in the description)
Conclusion on the Itiwit packraft
Itiwit has managed to bring a well-made packraft to the market at an entry-level price, which in many aspects goes far beyond an entry-level packraft. It is a packraft with a high level of equipment and a good range of applications and its price is a segment where the basic models of other manufacturers only start.
The Itiwit packraft Adventure 500 does not try to be one of the lightest or most robust packrafts for the most demanding packrafting. Instead, emphasis was placed on high-quality and high equipment (e.g. carrying handles instead of holding loops, thigh straps with carabiners, TIZIP, …).
If you want to get into packrafting, you can’t go wrong with the Itiwit packraft in our opinion. It is a good all-rounder for large tours in flowing water and small tours on lakes. In addition, we consider the Itiwit packraft to be really well suited for bikerafting and multi-day river tours with noticeable current due to its luggage compartment and bows.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a packraft mainly for whitewater use, we recommend another packraft (e.g. from Alpacka or MRS like the Alpacka Expedition or MRS Alligator 2S). The same applies if you want to go packrafting with a very high hiking part. Also in this area there are packrafts (e.g. from Anfibio like the Anfibio Delta MX) that weigh only half as much (so-called ultra-light packrafts) and offer similar driving characteristics, a comparable robustness, a good amount of space and sufficient comfort.
If you travel with your packraft in the off-season, you should also ask yourself when buying whether you need a closed deck to protect you from the cold, rain and spray. The small front deck of the Itiwit packraft does not offer this protection.