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Just made the leap! Ordered a packraft!
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Jesse Reeves
(JesseR.)

Locale: Reno, NV
Just made the leap! Ordered a packraft! on 03/16/2012 13:30:36 MDT Print View

I've been eyeballing a packraft for a while. I've gotten really into bikepacking, and so it only seems logical that it's the next toy in the quiver... I've done a ton of research, and I know Alpacka is the leader of the packraft market. But, I've opted to save about $400 and get the NRS Packraft through REI as my first step towards realizing this new dream/goal/adventure. I can easily look past the 1lb weight penalty, the slightly larger packed size, and the lack of a spray skirt(not planning any class III or gnarly stuff). The slightly larger size is a perk to me, as it will carry a bike very stable at the front. Not to mention, REI's return policy is unbeatable should it suffer a "manufacturer's defect". Not only am I using this thread to gloat, but I figured I'd spread the word, as this might be the time for others to venture into the sport for cheaper than has been possible in the past. This is largely due to REI offering the 20% off coupon for members! So it's an easy $115 savings on the raft. Now I have a list of MYOG to make for it, and other things to buy!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Rafting on 03/17/2012 20:22:03 MDT Print View

Congrats on the raft. I've only been on the water once so far (stuck up in the arctic right now for 4 weeks of geology exploration work) but it's definitely a riot.

Two quick comments on the raft selection since at this point your raft is still new and thus returnable:

1) Be very sure you're not going to want a spray deck since selling your raft and buying one with a spray deck is going to be really pricey if you decide you want to do that a year from now. My experience is limited, but even on class II water it seems like a nice to have since you still hit the occasional decent wave that can splash you pretty good if you're not a savvy paddler. Not a big deal in warm conditions, but if you're on class II water in the shoulder seasons it can be nice. Keep in mind my experience is very limited though.

2) Since you're valuing low cost and don't want a spray deck, have you considered a Flyweight Designs raft? They make 2 rafts ranging from 2.3 to 3.5 lbs depending on how rugged you want it. They're also cheaper ($299 and $399). The design seems a bit less refined (ie. no upturned bow), but the 3.5 lbs raft is likely of similar durability as the NRS raft (200D urethane coated nylon for both?) and you'd save some money and weight.

Edited by dandydan on 03/18/2012 20:15:51 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Rafting on 03/18/2012 18:27:08 MDT Print View

Congrats, they're a blast! I just had my Alpacka out this weekend in Class III+, maybe IV rapids. WOAH!

I agree with Dan about the spray deck. Even if you don't plan on doing whitewater, a spraydeck can be very nice when it is a bit chilly, or you get caught in a bit of rain.

Edited by T.L. on 03/18/2012 18:27:48 MDT.

Jesse Reeves
(JesseR.)

Locale: Reno, NV
Reply: on 03/19/2012 12:23:34 MDT Print View

Love the feedback from you guys, seeing as I have zero experience in a packraft...
Spray deck: At this point I'm pretty sure I don't want a spray deck. Since I'm just getting into it, I think I'll feel more comfortable not being "confined" in the boat. I know that in a worse case scenario, the spray skirts are easy to get out of, but just the simple idea of it all in the back of my head can be unsettling. I have 3 or 4 local rivers that I plan on rafting this summer, and they're all pretty mellow(I've floated them in $15 pool toy rafts in the past). With that, I really can only foresee myself using the raft during the summer or early fall, and plan on getting wet, which will be a welcome reprieve from the heat. And finally on this topic, I figure that I could make my own spray deck if it turns out that I like the NRS raft enough to not justify buying the alpacka. I've seen several people mod their Alpackas, and I'm pretty comfortable with MYOG stuff, so I'm kind of looking at it as another project if it gets to that point. Truly, the way I'm looking at it is, if I use it several times this summer, and find that I want to get further into it, then I can fork out the additional cash and get an Alpacka. At this point, spending $1,000(raft, paddle, etc) to get setup to do a sport that I've never done can be daunting, so minimizing that startup cost was a lot of it.

Flyweight: I did look into the Flytewater, their rugged version of the Flytepacker. It was on my list, but it appears to be much smaller than the NRS(over a foot shorter). This matters mainly for cargo room. I plan on being able to strap a bike to the front of the raft, so the large size of the NRS is welcomed by me. The weight listed for the Flytewater is one pound lighter than the NRS, while the NRS comes with a full inflatable floor, and seat, so aside from those, I think they're almost the same weight wise. And something about the Flytewater just doesn't look as sturdy, nor as "refined" with the lack of upturned bow. The tie out points look really weak, and that's compared to the Alpacka and NRS ones that people already complain about. I plan on adding some addition tie out points on the raft down the road. And again, the NRS wins with purchasing it through REI... Their warranty is simple and worth some peace of mind.

I look forward to getting my hands on it, and giving it some real use. There isn't a ton of information out there on the NRS rafts, so I'm hoping to learn a few things and be able to pass those on to others in a similar position as myself. Thank you guys again for bringing up very valid points!
-Jesse

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Reply: on 03/19/2012 12:51:05 MDT Print View

>I have 3 or 4 local rivers that I plan on rafting this summer, and they're all pretty mellow(I've floated them in $15 pool toy rafts in the past). With that, I really can only foresee myself using the raft during the summer or early fall


Ahhhh, that's how it all starts! You'll get hooked and want to do longer runs and beefier rivers! If you do go the Alpacka route, you won't be disappointed.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
NRS on 03/19/2012 21:45:40 MDT Print View

Sounds like you've thought this through well and come to a smart conclusion. Post pics.

Jeff J
(j.j.81) - F

Locale: Oregon
More info, yes! on 03/20/2012 06:06:18 MDT Print View

Dreaming of a packraft, I'd love more info and pictures when you can of the NRS packraft. I didn't realize REI carried it. I have three kayaks that I don't get enough time in, so I'd have to sell those off to justify a packraft. But I would have a much easier time figuring out trips where I carry my boat, rather than need two vehicles.

Jeff

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
To each his own! on 03/28/2013 13:39:35 MDT Print View

Gratz I'm right there with you.

I just ordered my first pack raft(s) a few days ago. I went with the Yukon and a scout, base model no options. My big shepherd is going to love the extra floatation of the Yukon and the scout will fit my wife perfectly and give her a huge advantage in the wind with her short paddle stroke.

The NRS will be a fine first raft and I'm sure suits your needs perfectly. A lot of people around these forums probably wouldn't buy a scout to go with a Yukon either, so the way I see it to each his own and gratz on the new toy and all the future trips to come from it.

I don't know if you're around Michigan, but in late May we will be packing up, and floating down the lower part of the upper Manistee River on pack rafts. Searching for some world record browns right before the bulk and crowds of the hex hatch and feasting on walleye and brooks each night.

Edited by tchilds on 03/28/2013 15:00:46 MDT.