Might get me a Pack Raft - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-23-2013   #1
Homo erectus
Bozo area, Disrepair
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 5
Might get me a Pack Raft

So, I have been kayaking for a long time. Been rafting for a long time too. I have sorta lost my passion for it over the years. Now I see these pack raft things and they have me interested. They seem like a great way to explore the wilderness and see new places and mess around in boats. My question though- are they the real deal and will a former devotee of the steeps be satisfied with the performance of them, or will they just seem like a pool toy? Any real boater into them? Or are they just for folks who never learned to kayak

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Old 07-23-2013   #2
Western Slope, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 8
I guess I'm not a real boater. For me, packrafts opened up the boating thing by packing small and being light. I'd not have a boat at all if it weren't for that.

Seems like the limits of the boats are still being explored. Videos like this might help to start answering your questions.

Spray skirts, whitewater decks, knee straps, back bands, cargo fly… Some mods people are making for whitewater are available from Alpacka. Many of the mods are DIY based on perceived needs of the paddlers. I've seen some prototype boats that are further blurring the line between inflatable raft and hardshell.

My wild guess is that one should probably spend less time trying to make a packraft into a kayak. Instead one should explore the genre for its own merits. Packable. Capable.

Notes from my limited experience: Packrafts are more stable, less "carve-able", more buoyant. Rolling takes a modified technique and is a bit harder due to the stability. (Kayak guys can't seem to jump in one and roll it immediately.) Cargo fly equipped rafts have amazing capacity for multi-day gear. (I've had 6 days of crap loaded in mine.) My packraft has encouraged me to go where I wouldn't have gone before.

Definitely a great way to mess around in boats!

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Old 07-23-2013   #3
Pugetopolis, Washington
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 767
Well put,Greg. Packrafting is not about being a "real boater." Its about exploration. Not first descents type stuff(usually) but more about getting to wilderness and rivers that most other boats can't get to. Unless you're Dan Mcain.

I'm new to PR'ing so have limited experience in it yet. 2weeks ago I drove out to the Olympic peninsula and broke it in on some mostly class II sections on the Hoh river and upper Queets. I started out kayaking(raft now mostly) so have some hard boat experience. That being said,I was really surprised with how well it handled. I was catching every eddy and and ferrying with ease. They don't handle as well when you backstroke though,due to the big butt design. But not a big deal. Im pretty amazed with the design of them-they're very cool little tools. From the cargo fly to the skirts to the weight and pack ability....very cool.

think the biggest draw to Packrafting is the exploring aspect of it. If you're going to get one and truly utilize what makes Packrafting so much fun and unique,you HAVE to incorporate the hiking side of boating. They're meant to be lugged into the wilderness. Half the fun is trying to find/create routes,and rivers,where you can hike in and boat out....the upper Queets that I did was pure primitive wilderness that most people can't even access without fording the river first. I was able to inflate my boat,ferry across,then pack it up and hike for miles on a trail with no one there but bears and elk. Then boat back down,on a section of river that very few get to see,back to my truck and camp.

You get the idea....plan on incorporating hiking to your boating regime. If you're just doing roadside stuff then I wouldn't get one.

My .02. I'd elaborate more but got to get to work...
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Old 07-23-2013   #4
Homo erectus
Bozo area, Disrepair
Join Date: Jul 2013
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That video is awesome. Those guys are good paddlers! thanks for the info
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Old 07-23-2013   #5
Denver via GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 346
I boated this spring with a guy in a pack raft on Gore Creek at moderate flows and echo how nimble it seemed. He could hit the same lines slide over holes and catch the same eddies. Biggest limitation seem to be punching standing waves.
"I plan to leisurely advance through my existence" - Terry Fuhrman 1991
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Old 07-23-2013   #6
Homo erectus
Bozo area, Disrepair
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 5
Didn't mean to offend with the phrase "real boater"....but, there is a certain time investment required to be able to truly call yourself a 'kayaker'- (which I no longer am, now I am just a guy with a kayak) however, people can hop in a ducky or pack raft and be running stuff with some degree of success right off the bat.

I am excited about the possibilities that the Pack raft option opens up. Much more exciting to me than a SUP or cataraft (the other old man options).
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Old 07-23-2013   #7
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 517
well, I'll side step the whole "real boater" issue ....

but I'm getting one, waiting on it right now. If anyone is interested in WA trips in the north cascades, olympic peninsula, or gifford pinchot, hit me up!

I love self-support boating. Dunno how much raft-packing I'll do, but a 5lb boat sounds ideal for stuff like the Chetco, or low water OWyhee type trips.
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Old 07-23-2013   #8
GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 747
A good boater will be satisfied with a packraft most of the time. A newb boater will get away with stuff they probably shouldn't.

The only people that seem disappointed are steep creekers in steep creeks looking for a point-and-shoot hardshell experience, or big water types at peak flows. Neither of those are within the design intent of packrafts, though that is slowly changing with each evolutionary iteration of the genre.
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Old 07-23-2013   #9
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
FWIW, me and the lady are looking at Alpacka's Explorer 42. This is more about getting her on the water with me than anything. I won't be hitting up Gore with her anytime soon (like, ever), but time on an easy river with her is the goal I have in mind. Remote runs that require lots of hiking and light-packing (or a helicopter, if we hardshell it in New Zealand) are enticing but not on the agenda for the first couple of seasons.

Just sorting out her gear list right now and our budget. Alpacka truly knows their stuff when it comes to packrafts. For my end, I'll just need a slightly longer paddle.

If you're going for the single-person setup, I'd definitely consider the outfitting they have catered to that. There's video of people doing rolls in packrafts; if you're new to the kayak roll, I can't imagine trying to learn one with a packraft though. It's going take a really powerful roll or some pulled muscles trying to learn one in it, I imagine. Still though, the spraydeck (single-person setup only) would be nice, even without a roll.
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Old 07-24-2013   #10
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 97
What a sweet technology! They are starting to look like kayaks. Interesting to see where this goes. Dudes must drink a lot of bootie beers!
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