How to Make a Raft

By Thijmen Aalbrecht

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Wanting to cross lakes or rivers on an improvised raft? This easy to make design, is very stable, and doesn’t require you to cut down multiple trees!

To build this type of raft you need an axe, rope (paracord), tarp or big plastic sheet. A folding bucksaw would speed up the process, however it is not a necessity. Collect a bunch of sticks of about 80 to 100 cm long and approximately 4 cm thick and chop a point onto the ends of it. Hammer the sticks into the ground, in a circle of about 180cm wide, and an inner circle of about 80 to 100 cm wide. You collect a lot branches from pine trees and eventually branches from other tree species, place them in bundles in between the two circles to create the base of your raft. The base will be essentially a donut figure. Make sure the thick ends of the branches of each bundle are covered by the thinner ends of the next bundle so you avoid them to stick out and puncture the tarp ones it is ready. Once you have a bundle of at least 30 cm thick you start to bind everything together with your paracord. Now the base of the raft is ready, you use couple of the sticks you’ve used to create the circle to make a rack inside the base of the raft. To make the rack, you put the sticks one by one in between the bundle of branches that forms the base of the raft. And secure each intersection of the sticks with a square knot. Cover the rack with some foliage to sit more comfortable on top of it. Lay out your Tarp or Plastic sheet on the ground, and place the base in the middle of it. 

Finally, fold the tarp or plastic sheet around the base of the raft and secure the edges of the tarp with some paracord. To tighten the tarp or plastic sheet attach it with paracord onto the rack with a few simple knots. 

Few last tips:

- Create the raft close to the water as it will be super-heavy to move it over land.
- Be aware of sharp objects as it can puncture the Tarp or Plastic sheet.

Finally you either have paddles with you, make them yourself as shown on the picture or improvise something!

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Thijmen Aalbrecht

Amsterdam