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Commentary: The Packraft in 2013
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Commentary: The Packraft in 2013 on 11/21/2012 08:56:31 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Commentary: The Packraft in 2013

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Commentary: The Packraft in 2013 on 11/21/2012 11:02:25 MST Print View

David, thanks for the highly persuasive article!

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Commentary: The Packraft in 2013 on 11/21/2012 11:14:21 MST Print View

Good stuff...currently trying to decide on rafts for the wife and I for pretty much the "serious weight savings in serious conditions, but not serious whitewater" that you describe (thinking linking up big loops in Escalante/Roost area, crossings, etc). Affordability is important since we're looking at two. The scout is leading the pack at this point...the Curiyak looks good but it's a decent amount more expensive and a full pound heavier (and we're reasonably short). The flytepacker price and weight is appealing but the extra width (for flat paddling) and durability are a bit concerning.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: packrafts on 11/21/2012 11:42:38 MST Print View

For me bottom durability is a big deal with packrafts. I think they'll invariably be used in shallow rivers and creeks. This is what concerns me about the current Flytepacker, and what has impressed me most about my '10 Yak.

FWIW Flytepacker told me, during correspondence for this article, that they're working on a burlier raft which would be more direct competition for the main line Alpackas. I hope they succeed.

Jean-Francois Jobin
(jfjobin) - MLife
alpacka drysuit... on 11/21/2012 13:03:26 MST Print View

Thanks David,

The short reviews of alpacka dry suit coming today?(like said in last letter of next week coming?)
If not,any first opinion about durability and dryness?


Sparky Millikin
(smillikin) - MLife

Locale: Vermont
alpacka drysuit on 11/22/2012 07:04:29 MST Print View

Would love to hear about the applicability of these new ultralite drysuits to Nordic Skating where a fall through the ice can be life threatening...

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Alpacka updates on 11/28/2012 14:46:39 MST Print View

The drysuit update will have to come from Ryan. It certainly seems like it could be a good option for skating on thin ice.

Folks should also take a look at Alpacka's latest close-hold innovations: the Cargo Fly ( It's a zipper on the stern which allows gear to be stowed inside the tubes. Retrofittable on 2010 and newer boats.

My initial reaction, for my own use, is meh. I have no doubt it works very well if you balance the load, but as I said above packrafts are already too complicated. Nonetheless, huge credit to Alpacka for not resting on their laurels. We now await the tricked out, full on, 1300-1400 dollar whitewater boat.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
table on 12/11/2012 12:22:55 MST Print View

Nice article.

Could you change the table to read in grams instead of fractions of kilograms? It would be much easier to read/comprehend.

Amy Hatch
Changing Tide on 12/13/2012 08:51:48 MST Print View

Nice summation! For Jackson Hole Packraft & Packraft Rentals Anywhere a switch flipped in July. We went from struggling to get people interested in packrafting to needing more rental boats. We're even doing some December rentals!

Next year we're going to offer both the a Denali Llama with the whitewater deck & the FeatherCraft self bailing boat (the latter seems great for roadside & short hikes, family trips and rivers where a double hull is required - or for kayakers who don't sweat the difference between a few pounds, thinking its all lightweight).

We're definitely on the cusp of widespread interest in the sport ....

Sergey Karzhaev
(kartametro) - MLife
Re: Re: Commentary: The Packraft in 2013 on 02/07/2013 13:07:25 MST Print View

David, thanks, very awesome!

"It (Alpacas) will be an expert’s tool, and while it might weigh 5 kilos"
It seems to be truly, for example, old Alpacka weighed only 1.7 kg! ( Now we have additional pound!

May be do you have some additional info about weight/size dynamics of Alpacas from the beginning to the present day?

Edited by kartametro on 02/07/2013 13:09:06 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Alpacka over the years on 02/07/2013 13:43:37 MST Print View

"May be do you have some additional info about weight/size dynamics of Alpacas from the beginning to the present day?"

A good question. I don't have direct access to enough boats to provide solid numbers, but it's easy to speculate.

The original Alpacka, sans skirt and seat and with a small stern, was a bit under 4 pounds. Not much more than my 2013 Scout, which has smaller main tubes but a large stern. The first attached decks were heavier (70D?) sil, and thus I would assume a bit lighter than the current cruiser deck, with its heavier fabric, zippers, and lap pillow. The 2010 boats got a substantially larger stern, and then again the first pointy boats in 2011. Neither of these added much weight, but they did add some.

So how did a conventional boat go from 4 pounds to 6 in the last ten years? The deck and seat/backrest account for most of it, with smaller amounts going to the added fabric in the boat, and perhaps extra tie downs and thigh straps.

I bought the aforementioned Scout through the end of the year sale to test just what the limitations of the small, deckless boat would be under serious conditions. With four tie downs added (three for the pack, one on the floor for a seat) it weighs 3 lb 11 oz, and packs to about half the size of my 2010 Yak w/ deck and wilderness thigh straps (1.5" poly webbing). I haven't had it on the water yet (it's all frozen), but I imagine an article will come out of this experiment.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
PFDs on 02/07/2013 14:26:48 MST Print View

It seems that there is a good spectrum of lightweight packable water craft in 2013: from foldable/inflatable kayaks on one end, to ultralight 2-3lb boats.

Now I hope that the cottage industry will turn some attention to the PFD. As of right now, there aren't a whole lot of lightweight solutions.

I ended up ordering a Stormy Seas SV100 (which is not certified by the US Coast Guard btw), which came to $160 CDN once the dust settled (USD conversion, shipping, duty tax).

I realize that certifications, different governing authorities in different countries, and the potential for opening oneself up for litigation is maybe not an attractive prospect for a cottage gear shop owner.

If companies didn't want to sell PFDs, they might be able to sell DIY kits, or even the individual parts: oral inflation tubes, inflation bladders, valves, materials, patterns. As of right now, even getting good materials for a MYOG PFD is tricky.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: PFDs on 02/07/2013 14:52:11 MST Print View

I don't think you can get much lighter than what already exists and still provide the necessary flotation for big/fast water.

You can always strap some air-filled platys to yourself for paddling flat water, at your own risk of course.

Edited by simplespirit on 02/07/2013 14:55:03 MST.