Sunday, March 18, 2012

My First Packrafting Trip

The packraft arrived earlier this week which was a nice break in what was otherwise pure insanity at work. We were able to take it into the back yard and give it a good once-over since we've been blessed with 70F degree weather and sun all week. I've been itching to take it for a paddle since Tuesday.

I drove out to Gibson's Mill Pond to give the boat a first paddle yesterday. My first impressions were positive.

First off, I should mention that its very easy to inflate. There isn't much information on the process online so I didn't know what to expect going in. I'll try to remember to post a short video with more detail on the process later.

 I spent a LOT of time determining if I wanted the 2012 or 2011 style spray deck. Obviously, I went with the 2012 style and I'm glad for it. My concerns included ventilation when paddling as a open boat, weigh & complication. There's a good thread on the topic over at You can follow the discussion here: Alpacka's New Spray Deck. Based on my limited time with the boat I can confirm that the cockpit is open enough that ventilation is not a problem. The only area covered that would be open with the 2011 deck  is the last 1/3 of my shins and my feet.

If you're used to paddling a sea kayak like I am, get ready for a pirouette party! The flat bottom of the boat let's it spin on a time and paddling across flat water in a straight line takes concentration. I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl on moving water to see how it behaves there. Stability is massive, obviously. The boat is wide (compared to a kayak) there is no chine and you're sitting way below the CG of the boat. I climbed all over it playing with the GoPro. There's no chance of flipping it on flat water. You might fall out but you won't flip the boat unless you try.

First impressions were great. Next up? I'll go see how it plays in moving water with a few day trips on the Saluda & Broad Rivers. After that I have my eye on a 50 mile float combined with about 30 miles of riding the Black Sheep... good things to come!


  1. Joe - Yeah, good things to come with this one!

  2. What does it weigh? And are those wood paddles?

  3. The raft itself is about 5lbs. You can add just under another pound with the full whitewater deck, frame & skirt.

    The paddle is wooden - its a Bending Branches paddle. I've had it for almost 15 years now ... its been a great paddle.