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  1. #1
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    Inflatable Boat / Packraft

    Does anyone here do 1/2 pedal, 1/2 paddle day trips?

    What are you using for the paddle portion?

    I've got quite a few navigable rivers at my disposal so I've been looking into inflatable boats

    I'd love an alpacka packraft but I'm not 100% sure I'd get my money out of it at $900+

    Been looking at reviews for the Sea Eagle 370, it looks very manageable for hauling in my YAK trailer and will hold the weight of 2 riders, 2 bikes and the trailer while being very river tolerant unlike some of the wider raft options

    Sport Kayaks ? Inflatable Kayaks For One or Two Adults ? from SeaEagle.com - Prices start at just $239. FREE SHIPPING to lower 48 US States.

    I don't foresee doing any rapids, more like lazy river cruising

    I think I could easily get my $350 out of this thing and I can head out unassisted unlike a regular kayak or canoe
    Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can do what others can't

  2. #2
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    Inflatable Boat / Packraft

    Bike rafting is definitely on my to do list but I have never done any to date (though plenty of paddling and biking separately). The first thing I noticed is that the sea eagle weighs 26lbs vs. just under 5 for the Alpaca. That's a huge difference. I also didn't see if the sea eagle came with a pump. Another important consideration.

    I suspect there are other options out there as well. I have also toyed with a trailer to haul my Kevlar canoe upriver and then float back down. But I have to be able to fit it all in the boat and I haven't figured that out yet.

    If you search something like "bike rafting" you should get some good trip reports from which you can figure out what boats people are using.

  3. #3
    saddlemeat
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    I ride with the best people.




  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    As a New Mexican, I must exalt Kevin's badassedness. That's one hell of a trip!

  5. #5
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    Get an Alpacka Yak or Lama. Thought out and perfectly designed boats that are light, tough, tracks well on longer flat water crossings and can do whitewater. They have excellent resale value, if you find you don't use them enough.

    We've only had ours for 3 months, but find new routes to do with them about every weekend.

  6. #6
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    I should add here that I'd like it if someone could come with me on the trips, my wife or another friend, I could stretch for the alpaca but there's no way I'm buying 2 of them and finding another person willing to make that big of a commitment is highly unlikely

    Has anyone taken trips with a lesser "boat"?
    Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can do what others can't

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TitanofChaos View Post
    Has anyone taken trips with a lesser "boat"?
    i'm also very interested in anyone else's experience with this. I live a half mile from a beautiful river to paddle and have been itching to do some rides out and float back trips, but i can't spring for an alpacka for the job.

  8. #8
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    Alpacka's are worth it. Way worth it. They've been on the market for so long, that older models are now starting to pop up on craigslist. So, you could try that route.

    Although, even if you get one of those, you will still have a very awkward time strapping both a bike, and a trailer, to your deck. It's something I would not recommend.
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  9. #9
    @adelorenzo
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    Alpackas are the bomb and worth every penny. I can't say enough good things about them as a product and a company, and they have been proven in the field time and again.

    That being said, if price is a concern you could also look into NRS packrafts. They seem to be popular with packrafters and they are a good deal cheaper than the Alpacka. They are also under 5 lbs.

    Check the buy and sell forums on packrafting.org as used boats can be a good deal. Especially if you are not doing a lot of whitewater, a used first generation design raft would be a good choice and probably more affordable.

    I'd say you'd want to leave the trailer at home though.

  10. #10
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    I agree with you guys on leaving the trailer home assuming I'm not hauling a 30 something # "boat" and other gear, a normal packraft would easily fit in a larger camelbak or strapped to a rack

    came across this yesterday New Pack Raft Model Weighs 35 ounces. We Put To Full Test | Gear Review | Gear Junkie

    looks like a cheap enough option for a day trip and could certainly buy a 2nd for whomever comes along
    Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can do what others can't

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TitanofChaos View Post
    It looks like a nice boat for completely flat water, but with a bike attached, I probably would not run even class II in it. Especially rocky class II.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthony.delorenzo View Post
    Check the buy and sell forums on packrafting.org as used boats can be a good deal. Especially if you are not doing a lot of whitewater, a used first generation design raft would be a good choice and probably more affordable.
    thanks for the link for packrafting.org. a good used on would probably be the best route to go for me.

    here's a bit of a curve ball question for people: do you know of any 2-person inflatable rafts that could work? the best situation would be to find something that my wife and i could take out on some days and then could double as a packraft with my bike secured to it on others. i can't say i've looked a lot, but if anyone had ideas about something that would work without too many compromises, that'd be awesome. thanks!

  13. #13
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    wait.
    This for something that will be hopscotch between water and trails? or ride to water, leave bike on shore and paddle the day away?

    For the latter, the sea eagle would work

    Have you looked into pontoon boats?
    I have a older one of these:
    The Creek Company :: Pontoon Boats :: #886 - ODC Classic XL
    Love it. Its my fishing rig complete with Lowrance fish finder. Could easily strap your bike to the back and float.

    I used to have a Classic Accessories Colorado, heavy beast (built that way to handle a trolling motor). They make (or made?) a backpackable boat. Think they have frameless ones now.

  14. #14
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    I've never used it, but Alpacka's new tandem boat may work.

    I probably wouldn't take it on anything too crazy.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    I've never used it, but Alpacka's new tandem boat may work.

    I probably wouldn't take it on anything too crazy.
    thanks! that is exactly what i had in mind.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    I probably wouldn't take it on anything too crazy.
    I would!

    I got to see one in action last summer, and was intrigued enough that I made another, separate trip down there to paddle it. I've been waiting ever since with baited breath for them to release it.











    Amazing, capable, and light. I'd take it on any III to III+ whitewater run I've ever done. It's at least as capable as I am as a paddler. Probably more.

    I'm currently considering it for an upcoming ~weeklong traverse in SE AK. So fast on flat water, so light (when split between the two of us) on the back.










    Last edited by mikesee; 02-03-2016 at 09:50 AM.

  17. #17
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    Holy crap, Mike. That deck looks incredible. Any chance you know for sure if they are going to release it, or something like it? This may be great for mellow runs with one of the kids.

    Also, you heading to the Packraft Roundup this summer?

    Edit: Just checked and it has been released - Alpacka Gnu. Crazy cool. And yes, I agree, this one looks fun water worthy. (the above link I threw out was to the Explorer 42)
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  18. #18
    @adelorenzo
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    It should be worth pointing out that any Alpacka can handle a two person load for things like river crossings or paddling around a flat lake for fun. They have more than enough flotation, it's all about trying to squeeze people and gear into the boat.

    SE Alaska is near my neck of the woods. Mike I'd be curious to know where are you headed on your trip, if that is something you'd be willing to share.

  19. #19
    Hermit
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    I'd be careful about ordering that Sea Eagle. I've heard that their quality is fairly sketchy.

    See if you can find someone selling a used one, so you can take a look at how it's made before you consider buying.

    Better safe than sorry.

    Steve Z
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    And paddling when it's wet

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    Holy crap, Mike. That deck looks incredible. Any chance you know for sure if they are going to release it, or something like it? This may be great for mellow runs with one of the kids.

    Also, you heading to the Packraft Roundup this summer?

    Edit: Just checked and it has been released - Alpacka Gnu. Crazy cool. And yes, I agree, this one looks fun water worthy. (the above link I threw out was to the Explorer 42)
    Roundup is on my radar, but that's a long ways away at a busy time of year. We'll see.

    Gnu arrived today. Few more wheels to build before I can unbox it and schlep it down to the lake for a maiden voyage.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthony.delorenzo View Post
    It should be worth pointing out that any Alpacka can handle a two person load for things like river crossings or paddling around a flat lake for fun. They have more than enough flotation, it's all about trying to squeeze people and gear into the boat.

    SE Alaska is near my neck of the woods. Mike I'd be curious to know where are you headed on your trip, if that is something you'd be willing to share.
    Southern half of the Northern half of AK's Lost Coast. No bikes, just feet and boats.

  22. #22
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    I am a bit biased as I helped start Alpacka and still keep a role in some of their operations. That being said, the Gnu (2 person) is a really great boat. I have one of the prototypes and have used it mostly for fishing, but the bike applications are fantastic as well. There may be some accessories down the line specifically geared towards biking with the Gnu as well. Otherwise, for an all purpose bike raft, I'd have some one get either the Fjord Explorer (for big and comfortable) or the Curiyak (named after Mikesee) for something lighter and faster.

  23. #23
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    so being cheap got the best of me, I want to try out some 1/2 pedal 1/2 paddle days and for $200 I went with this

    Intex Mariner 3

    The actual weight is around 60# after the top 1/2 of the rod holders are removed and I'll be switching to a kayak paddle rather than the oars when I go solo

    the bag that it comes in is almost exactly the same size as the dry bag that came with my YAK trailer

    pictures to follow, I'll get some of it loaded in the trailer and of course with the bike(s) and trailer in it as well

    I'll get my $200 out of this thing just fishing with the kiddo even if I don't do many bike trips with it, if the pedal/paddle trips are something I want to do more I'll end up buying an alpaca
    Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can do what others can't

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TitanofChaos View Post
    The actual weight is around 60#
    ?!?!?!?! Holy cow! I love my Alpacka Yak. With all my equipment I can always find something to to fault it, but my packraft, I seriously can't find anything wrong with it, except maybe to have more attachment points, but those you can glue on yourself. You can't beat < 5 lbs!

  25. #25
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    Inflatable Boat / Packraft

    Here's 2 bikes on an Alpacka Gnu. Keep in mind this was all class I-II.

    Inflatable Boat / Packraft-gnu2.jpg
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    Here's 2 bikes on an Alpacka Gnu. Keep in mind this was all class I-II.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Care to share some thoughts on how it worked for what you did?

  27. #27
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    This was a day trip. We rode out along the Blackfoot river, and paddled back through the newly opened confluence with the Clark Fork and back to town. While rigging the Gnu on shore the bikes seemed awkwardly top heavy, but once everything was in the water it was not noticeable. We went through two class II rapids. There was not a problem on ether, but then again I am intimate with both, and folks tube them in the summer.

    I'm using those newish 1/4in-webbing Sea-to-Summit straps. Used about 7 of them total. In the future i will not have both handlebars on the same side. I've also thought about taking stem/handlebar/fork off for longer trips.

    We bought the boat for a few different reasons. One was to use with an 8 year old in front, and occasionally it will be used by 2 adults, but my favorite is the idea of using the Gnu as a packraft gear boat. The massive cargofly that comes installed on the center tube hold an impressive amount of stuff, and if you'd add one to the outside you could hold 2 peoples gear and bikes on one boat. Maybe even 3. Maybe even 5 if you get that added accessory on the back Steve was telling me about, but I'm not really interested in a flat water trailer.

    I have not try to put 2 people + two bikes on one boat. Although this intrigues me too. It would be a crazy light setup with canoe paddles.

    Speaking of paddles, I just threw up another comment on the packraft forum thread, but I'll add it here too:
    "This past weekend we did 2 days on the North Fork of the Flathead (class I-II) followed by activities at the Packraft Roundup. I was not able to get a kayak paddle beforehand, and was forced to deal with the canoe paddle (2 piece Aquabound Edge 56cm). I was certainly apprehensive, but once I got use to it the canoe paddle worked great. Granted, the boat is definitely not as nimble, but using the paddle half the time as a canoe paddle, and half the time as a guide stick, equaled a whole lot of fun. I never missed a line or eddy. The only time things got to be an issue was on Lake McDonald in Glacier. Paddling went very very slow. Everyone else was casually cruising across the water while I was doing some serious work. I did not have the skeg on."

    The other thing I'll add to that is that a normal sized boat with a kayak paddle was kind-of boring after running the Gnu this way. At least on class I-II. Every time me and Erin would switch boats I couldn't wait to get back into the Gnu.

    Here's what one bike + one Gnu + 5 days worth of food looks like while Beverly-Hillbillies style hiking. It's heavy, but doable. (had to bail on this one a few weeks ago due to partner failure):

    Inflatable Boat / Packraft-r_77.jpg

    Have you got one of these yet, Mike? I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
    Last edited by flumphboy; 07-18-2014 at 02:30 PM. Reason: spppeelllin
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  28. #28
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    Great info.

    We demo'ed one but couldn't immediately see a need for it, so we didn't buy it.

    That said, every time I look at a map some part of my subconscious is searching for a reason/justification to own one...

  29. #29
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    Couple shots of a day trip with my daughter and our bikes on the Gnu:

    1 Instagram
    2 Instagram

    I got lazy here and did not take the rear wheels off. Class II was fine. Downside was she did not have a ton of room to paddle up front.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    Here's 2 bikes on an Alpacka Gnu. Keep in mind this was all class I-II.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Gnu2.jpg 
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    Nice. I've started to ponder a packraft for bike or hike assisted fly fishing trips. The Gnu caught my eye because it's faster on flat water and can hold 2 people easily. That way I can take a fishing buddy or my GF along for the trip. They sure aren't cheap, but the quality/design/construction detail seems to justify the price.
    Safe riding,

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    Another boat option

    I haven't paddled a packraft before, and I see the allure of the lightweight inflatables, especially for remote river exploration. However I think that the design of these boats is rather low on the actual on-water performance spectrum compared to other river specific designs that are significantly heavier and bulkier to pack.

    I wanted to add another boat on your radar. The Urethane Thrillseekers made by Custom Inflatables could be a good option for a faster more performance oriented boat. They also do custom work, and would probably be interested thinking up some more specific designs.

    Disclaimer: I do not seek out the bike-packing + river trips. I do however ride a lot of bikes and do a lot of whitewater kayaking. I have once in a while combined the two in a weekend. Mostly when I combine bikes and rivers its using a bike to run shuttle for the river.

  32. #32
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    My only problem with the Gnu, and a kinda significant one at that, is that it's basically a canoe, and I struggle with that concept when incorporating it into a bikepacking trip. My knees are bad enough already, I'm afraid of the implications of throwing an extended duration in kneeling canoeing position into that mix.

    Now, if it were a sculling boat, I would be selling blood to buy THAT.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by ru-tang View Post
    I haven't paddled a packraft before, and I see the allure of the lightweight inflatables, especially for remote river exploration. However I think that the design of these boats is rather low on the actual on-water performance spectrum compared to other river specific designs that are significantly heavier and bulkier to pack.
    That's the big compromise. I've had a friend push the Thrillseeker on me, but i can not get over the bulk and weight. Basically any boat over 10lbs is too much weight for me to be hauling around on multi-day trips. Or, I should say it limits the versatility of the boat for the uses I have for it. Which is basically nothing over class III. It is the best option for remote day trip creeking though, and if I was more into that, I'd probably grab one.

    There is one boat that is going to be released this fall which looks to be a heathy combination of Alpacka's whitewater packrafts and the Thrillseeker: Bakraft

    I need to get down to Idaho to test one out.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristianCoté View Post
    My only problem with the Gnu, and a kinda significant one at that, is that it's basically a canoe, and I struggle with that concept when incorporating it into a bikepacking trip. My knees are bad enough already, I'm afraid of the implications of throwing an extended duration in kneeling canoeing position into that mix.

    Now, if it were a sculling boat, I would be selling blood to buy THAT.
    I only kneel in the Gnu when i have to. Like going through rapids and such. Most of the time i sit on the back when paddling. Or, on the front while fishing.

    Example: Instagram

    But the more gear/bikes you throw on top the less space you have on deck for sitting. The cargo fly in the centertube is massive, and if you get the cargo fly option for the main tubes... Well, you could probably store 4 people's gear inside + a couple bikes on the front.

    I've found the Gnu a crazy versatile boat. It's only hindrance being crazy whitewater with inexperienced (me!) paddlers.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Nice. I've started to ponder a packraft for bike or hike assisted fly fishing trips. The Gnu caught my eye because it's faster on flat water and can hold 2 people easily. That way I can take a fishing buddy or my GF along for the trip. They sure aren't cheap, but the quality/design/construction detail seems to justify the price.
    A Gnu is perfect for that, and an uber lightweight option with 2 canoe paddles and 2 people hauling it all. Or, even lighter with just 1 kayak paddle.

    I suspect if you got one you'd probably use it for a tad more then just fishing trips though
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  36. #36
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    My Alpacka Llama w inflation bag, drybags, paddle, life jacket and repair kit is around 9lbs. Maybe a little more.

    This is a serious weight addition to any multi day backcountry kit, whether biking or on foot. Especially if the boating component of the trip is short. And it's all personal weight, unlike kitchen, shelter, etc, which is shared weight.

    For me it's worth it for these reasons:
    Adding fresh options to the old local stomping grounds.
    Opening up a whole new adventure concept to all future trips.

    Alpacka's are high quality, extremely capable boats for their pack size and weight. This company currently provide, for me, the only craft that is not too heavy, not too skimpy, with design features suited to everything from long coastal paddles to whitewater.

    I keep seeing links to upstarts and establishment offering alternatives, but none yet have trumped what I get out of Alpacka.

    Here's pics from three very different trips:


    image by kullaberg631, on Flickr


    image by kullaberg631, on Flickr


    image by kullaberg631, on Flickr

  37. #37
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    Hoom. Is Bakraft made by the same people who manufacture the Oru Kayak, or do they just have coincidentally similar web design?

    Oru is a nice product, by the way, but not suited to anything like what we're discussing. Would fit great on a Big Dummy though if one were to, say, want to cycle over to English Bay and row around to their heart's content. Not naming any names here.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    I suspect if you got one you'd probably use it for a tad more then just fishing trips though
    So far I haven't felt the need for a packraft for bikepacking where I live as waterbodies haven't gotten in the way of my trips and I'm not a whitewater paddler. The fishing application has appealed to me because my plastic kayaks are only good when you can drive close enough to water to tow them in on wheeled cart. With a Gnu I could access high mountain lakes where the trout haven't seen a ton of fishing pressure.

    Having said that maybe once I get a packraft I might use it bikepacking on trips away from home. If that was the case I'd probably be better of with a Yukon Yak which wouldn't be as ideal for fishing, but is half the weight and half to 2/3rds the cost of the Gnu.

    Given the costs of these packrafts I definitely can't afford two so I need to figure out which way to go.
    Safe riding,

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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristianCoté View Post
    Hoom. Is Bakraft made by the same people who manufacture the Oru Kayak, or do they just have coincidentally similar web design?
    The Bakraft folks are in Idaho, and it seem Oru is in Cali.

    Quote Originally Posted by jan_nikolajsen View Post
    I keep seeing links to upstarts and establishment offering alternatives, but none yet have trumped what I get out of Alpacka.
    No way anyone could argue with the versatility of an Alpacka.

    But, Bakraft is interesting to me because of the design help they've received from a local Idaho company called AIRE, who apparently knows a thing or two about designing boats. I'm not saying it will be better then Alpacka's boats in whitewater, but it the first boat in the same weight category who has the potential to do so, and that's pretty exciting.
    Last edited by flumphboy; 08-19-2014 at 12:32 PM. Reason: spealllin
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Given the costs of these packrafts I definitely can't afford two so I need to figure out which way to go.
    That's definitely the tricky part. I get the feeling that most people end up going with a standard Alpacka Boat (Yak) with the cruiser spray deck, for their first boat. It's burly enough for whitewater, it can take a bike on the deck, and it's not too heavy to carry up to a mountain lake for fishing.
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    Thrill seekers where the first, and are still the best whitewater inflatable kayaks. They were used to pioneer the steepest whitewater around the time that mountain biking was being invented.

    They now have a lighter weight option, and would be the only option I would ever consider. I'm glad you like your Alpacka, but I'll stick with modern design features like self bailing floors and multiple air chambers. There's a reason every raft outside of communist russia is built this way.

    Yes they are heavier but the performance and efficiency Of not having to bail your boat will make up for the extra calories burned while biking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ru-tang View Post
    Thrill seekers where the first, and are still the best whitewater inflatable kayaks. They were used to pioneer the steepest whitewater around the time that mountain biking was being invented.

    They now have a lighter weight option, and would be the only option I would ever consider. I'm glad you like your Alpacka, but I'll stick with modern design features like self bailing floors and multiple air chambers. There's a reason every raft outside of communist russia is built this way.

    Yes they are heavier but the performance and efficiency Of not having to bail your boat will make up for the extra calories burned while biking.
    Totally agree.
    If all there was to talk about was "whitewater performance", Alpacka would not exist because Thrillseekers have it nailed.

    Again, what is so intriguing about the Bakraft linked above is that it looks like a nice combination of a Thrillseeker - shape/selfbailing - and an Alpacka - weight/packability.
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    Thrillseekers seems to have as much in common with packrafts as a yurt compared to a tarp tent.

    Just my opinion. Maybe people are really hauling those things over mountain ranges and thru deserts to hunt for unnamed little creeks.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by flumphboy View Post
    That's definitely the tricky part. I get the feeling that most people end up going with a standard Alpacka Boat (Yak) with the cruiser spray deck, for their first boat. It's burly enough for whitewater, it can take a bike on the deck, and it's not too heavy to carry up to a mountain lake for fishing.
    Makes sense. I need to see if using the Gnu solo is a good idea. If not that will help make my mind up. I've got 2 bikes to sell to free up the $$ for a raft and I am heading to Moab in Oct so that might be a good time to pick up a raft straight from Alpacka and save the shipping to Canada. So no rush to figure this out.
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    That Thrillseeker is at least 15 pounds heavier than an Alpacka. For me that's a non-starter for anything more than maybe a very heavily-loaded overnight trip. When you're carrying 10+ days of food it would be impossible to add that much weight to the load.

    That self-bailing Bakraft, OTOH, is very interesting to me. I've been looking at the 10 lb. self-bailing Feathercraft Baylee but the weight is a bit much. I'm keen to hear some reviews on that Bakraft once it gets out into the world.

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    I'd go with a Litewater Dinghy - it's small, it's lightweight(~2lbs) and will carry your bike if you're not too heavy.

    The bigger packrafts are just too bulky imho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inch View Post
    I'd go with a Litewater Dinghy - it's small, it's lightweight(~2lbs) and will carry your bike if you're not too heavy.
    That looks absolutely perfect for super calm river crossings and lakes, but i'd be hesitant to run it through boney class II with a bike on board.
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    Just wanted to throw out a couple of links:

    - Forrest McCarthy has probably the best run-down of the different types of packrafting there are out there, and the gear you would ideally want for it, And yes, he even mentions an IK in there.

    - Ryan Jordan over at BPL has a more in-depth review focusing on only on the different boats themselves. Unfortunately, you have to be a member to access the article, but it's a good one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inch View Post
    I'd go with a Litewater Dinghy - it's small, it's lightweight(~2lbs) and will carry your bike if you're not too heavy.

    The bigger packrafts are just too bulky imho.


    Seems pretty marginal and very wet.

    The weight and price is right. I guess it depends what you are after. It would float you and your gear across some slower moving water.

    I'd like high sides to keep water out.
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