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Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
New to packrafting (need recommendations) on 08/28/2013 10:26:04 MDT Print View

When I first started backpacking I bought everything I "needed," 2 years later everything has been replaced by something lighter or more durable. I want to avoid the same costly mistake with packrafting.

I have no idea what types of rivers I will be on, but I assume mostly calm to moderate. I am skilled with the kayak and I have been on class 5 rapids on the Gauley River.

If you had unlimited funds what would your set-up be? Any help would be appreciated!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: New to packrafting (need recommendations) on 08/28/2013 10:49:52 MDT Print View

I'd get an appropriately sized Alpacka with whatever spray deck would appear to make most sense for the kind of trips you'll be taking. The cruiser spray deck is lighter, removable, and will suit your needs most of the time. The whitewater deck is made for it's namesake. I don't know if it's removable.

An appropriate paddle (some are more robust for rocky waters). I use the Sawyer paddle that Alpacka sells and have been very happy with it. Some people really like the Werner paddles. EDIT: Alpacka no longer has the Sawyer paddles on their website.

A Sweet Protection helmet is top quality, but you can get by with many of the other brands. Just make sure it fits correctly and is made specifically for whitewater if you really want to be safe. Any helmet is better than nothing, but I'd personally stick with one made for whitewater.

Fingerless gloves for warm temps, THICK neoprene gloves/mitts for cold. Have been happy with ones from NRS.

A farmer john wetsuit paired with a rain jacket for 3-season use; mine is from NRS.

A dry suit for winter. I don't have one of these.

Neoprene socks for cold runs.

An inflatable belt-style PFD for when you don't really NEED one (lazy rivers, lakes) but is required by local laws. I have a Stearns 16g belt.

A foam PFD for moving water that allows you to sit comfortably in the raft and doesn't get in the way of a paddling motion. I use the MTI Journey.

Edited by T.L. on 08/28/2013 10:57:13 MDT.

Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
Thank you on 08/28/2013 11:17:58 MDT Print View

Thank you! I will look into all of these. I was leaning towards Alpacka but I wanted to be sure.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
gear for packrafting noob on 08/28/2013 13:39:33 MDT Print View

Alpacka is still the only serious option. Everything else is too fragile for moving water or too heavy (Feathercraft).

For an all-around, backcountry and moderate whitewater setup I'd get the Alpacka suited to my size (their recommendations are accurate) with a cruiser deck, a four-piece Werner touring paddle in 210cm, a simple foam PFD, and a pair of Kokatat paddling pants to go with my rain coat. If I got really cold easily I'd consider the Alpacka drysuit, but probably wait a few years until they make it actually dry and durable.

If I were going to be carrying a bike on my boat often I'd get one boat size larger.

If I were going to be running class IV on a routine basis, I'd get the whitewater deck, a four-piece Werner whitewater paddle in 205cm, an Astral YTV, a helmet that fits, and a Kokatat G-tex drysuit with feet and a relief zip.

Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
Size on 08/28/2013 14:59:48 MDT Print View

I am only 5'2" but I would like to take my dog sometimes. Should I go a size up as mentioned with the bike? He is a 25lb American Eskimo, not too large.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Size on 08/28/2013 15:40:05 MDT Print View

Having a dog in a packraft is something I would not recommend. There is no place for him except your lap or legs and he'll only be in the way. Packrafts are meant to be "fitted," and are not a roomy vessel. Your body, in a way, is part of the boat's 'frame.'

Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Re: Size on 08/28/2013 15:56:14 MDT Print View

That makes sense. I just saw a few pictures on the Alpacka wesite and thought he might like it. He has been in a kayak before and that was kinda tricky . Thank you!

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
dog on 08/28/2013 15:59:58 MDT Print View

Id say your dog will be fine,
these guys always bring theres and some great info in there blog.
http://dirtanddogs.blogspot.ca/

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: dog on 08/28/2013 16:14:57 MDT Print View

Huh. I guess if it works, then cool. I know that personally, I'd be cramped, but if you don't mind the body on you, then have a go at it!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
packrafting dogs on 08/28/2013 17:39:23 MDT Print View

Maggie, if you want to take a dog on multi-day stuff, sizing up and getting the cruiser deck (and removing it when you have the dog) is probably the way to go. If the boat feels too big in whitewater without the dog thigh straps will take care of that.

Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: packrafting dogs on 08/28/2013 20:50:18 MDT Print View

The Alpacka site says the "Alpaca" fits up to a 5'8" person. Like I said, I'm only 5'2" so my guess is there will be some extra room anyways. I am definitely getting the cruiser deck.

I spoke to them on the phone briefly and was pointed in the direction of the cargo fly. I've read some forums and I'm more confused than when I started.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: packrafting dogs on 08/28/2013 21:43:59 MDT Print View

Maggie,
Feel free to ask anything you want to know here. There are some very experienced packrafters on BPL! (Me? I just moonlight as a packrafter). Also, fire off an email to Roman Dial. He knows a little about packrafting.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
size on 08/29/2013 08:09:17 MDT Print View

Maggie,
I am 5'4' with 28" inseam and have an Alpaca. I had to move the seat up several inches to get a good foot brace on the front tubes. If you are willing to keep your seat back when the dog is with you (and add thigh straps for control if necessary), I imagine it will work without sizing up. The seat is held in place by lacing that is a little tedious, but not difficult, to adjust.

I looked at both sizes (plus the Scout, but decided I wanted a deck) and am glad I went with the Paca. I would be swimming in a Yak.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
dogs and cargo flys on 08/29/2013 08:09:22 MDT Print View

The Cargo Fly is an interesting option. If your case, if you're doing a four day trip with your dog you could put most/all of your gear in the boat, thus freeing up more room for your dog in the bow. Frankly, I'm skeptical about the handling claims Alpacka makes here, and suspect that the "handling more like a hardshell" aspect has more to do with effectively lessening the bouyancy than moving the carried weight further down. Then again, I've not used a boat with the Cargo Fly and might be full of it. It is quite expensive, and adds a potential failure point.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: dogs and cargo flys on 08/29/2013 08:34:07 MDT Print View

I love the idea of a cargo fly. I'm a bit leery of it too.

Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
Thanks Everyone! on 08/29/2013 10:49:23 MDT Print View

Today I purchased the Alpacka "Alpaca" with the Cruiser Deck and the Cargo Fly. I figure even if I never use it, it's there and most of the added weight is in the dry bags and not the zipper itself. I did some research and no stories of zipper failure. I was told they can always cut the zipper out and replace it or you could just use Tyvek tape for a quick repair. I hope this is all true.

I went with the Werner Shuna paddle 210cm. I custom ordered it so I could get one that breaks down into 4 pieces.

Question regarding PFD: I like the idea of a self inflating over the foam, less bulk, ect. From what I understand, if I jump in the water it will automatically deploy. I am a very strong swimmer and don't think I would need one in most cases. Is it a big pain to rearm if I was to capsize? Does it get expensive?

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Thanks Everyone! on 08/29/2013 11:24:49 MDT Print View

CO2 cartridges for self-inflatables run about $20-25 a pop. The self-inflators come in auto-deploy and self-deploy. If I were to get one I'd choose self-deploy so I wouldn't be charging myself $20 every time I took a swim!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Thanks Everyone! on 08/29/2013 16:13:49 MDT Print View

I have the self deploy. It is reserved for places that require life jackets in calm waters. I'd never use it in a swift river; foam is bulky, but worth the peace of mind that it will always float without me thinking about it. I don't want to be fumbling with a pull chord while being swept down a river.

Maggie Harlan
(MaggieMaeFlower) - F

Locale: Ohio
PFD on 08/30/2013 11:07:44 MDT Print View

I went with a foam Astral YTV for now. It's only 18 oz so I figured it wouldn't be too bad.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
PFDs on 08/30/2013 12:00:21 MDT Print View

>"I like the idea of a self inflating over the foam, less bulk, ect. From what I understand, if I jump in the water it will automatically deploy. I am a very strong swimmer"

I'm all for saving weight and bulk in most cases, but unless the foam is a rule out (competitive sailing where you need to squeeze past team mates, or rowing a shell - my wife rows an open shell, solo at times, in Alaskan lakes and Californian bays), I really like the reliability of foam.

You're a strong swimmer, but what if you have a foot tangled in the boat rigging? Or if you hit your head on a rock or log? Or your hands are full trying to retain some gear from getting washed downriver?

I'm biased by my location - in our cold to very cold water, hand strength and coordination are lost so fast, that the biggest determinant of survival when a small plane ditches in water is if you were wearing a PFD when you exited the plane.

I'm unclear if this is for day trips only or for overnights. But a foam PFD has some multi-use possibilities. Very easily as a sit pad on a beach. Potentially as a very thick and insulating sleeping pad. Some of Daryl's DIY jackets using closed-cell-foam come to mind. It's a warm jacket, it's a sleeping pad, and (for the pack rafter), it's also a PFD albeit not USCG approved.

I'm an engineer, I look at the numbers. I don't worry about commercial plane crashes, terrorists or bear attacks. I worry about motor-vehicle accidents, heart disease, and hypothermia. My wife and I have always been as religious about PFDs in open boats as we are about seat belts in cars, even though I'd never really needed them until this May. After the boat sunk and we all got to shore on a remote beach, the non-Alaskans asked my buddy and me (a little accusingly), Why were you guys wearing PFDs?!? as if we knew the boat was going to sink. I honestly said, "Because I ALWAYS wear a PFD" (in an open boat, not the State Ferry, Loveboat, etc).

I modify simple, light foam PFDs (yes, I know I'm not supposed to modify them, but I do anyway) to include rather a lot of zippered or velcro pockets on the front. Because when you wash up on some beach while your boat goes under or downriver, it is really nice to have your VHF, PLB, knife, space blanket, and fire-starting kit with you. So much better than not having those things! In May, we hailed a passing boat within 30 minutes and got picked up.