Does anybody here have experience with packrafts? I heard about them a while back on a different forum, and they struck me as a way of adding spice & ease of travel to some hiking trips. My wife and I are planning on taking a beginners' kayaking course, then going from there.
I'm curious about how much extra bulk & weight the needed gear would add. The context would be summer lake trips, maybe two nights, with no interest in turbulent rivers. So far I've only found two manufacturers of packrafts, Alpacka & Sevylor. The Alpacka seems aimed towards more hardcore rafters, so we're thinking of trying the cheaper Sevylor first.
Wisdom? Stories? Good idea, or a pain to carry? We do like the occassional paddling trip, but haven't done an overnighter yet.
Loc: The State of Jefferson
I have a Sevylor packable that I bought for a trip that involved crossing a small lake. It worked for that but it doesn't fill me with a great deal of trust. You have to stay very low to be stable and it tracks not at all so paddling is slow going. On the other hand it it didn't sink and got me and my pack across the lake.
I had an inflatable orange torpedo el cheapo copy of a sevylor. You are way low in the boat and it has little capacity for gear, which would then be sitting in any water in the bottom. You need a 15 foot minimum canoe for canoe camping with two people, just to carry two packs and food.
I use my big DAM, down airmattress, as a boat. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
There are several good articles and posts, and even a book, about on this at backpackinglight.com (some may require a subscription). They also have a free podcast series about a couple that hiked and packrafted all the way up the Pacific Coast, through Canada and Alaska, this past year.
Looks like everyone who's doing it seriously is using the Alpacka. I have a Sevylor and will agree with everyone else on them being fine for some fun paddling around a lake, but probably not suited for serious use.
I too use a Sevylor Trail Boat, the poor man's Alpacka. I've crossed lakes with it but it's a PITA to paddle and I'm a fairly experienced kayaker. You can minimize the tracking problem by breaking down the paddle, holding one blade in each hand, and paddling with a sort of butterfly stroke technique. That's what works for me. It makes a terrible snow sled but you can inflate just the floor and sleep on it, thus saving the weight of a sleep pad!! I also used one as a makeshift door for my Lunar Solo on a cold windy night. It's a true multiuse item. Even if you don't paddle one to Hawaii they're lots of fun.
_________________________ If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*
* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.