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Which model and size should I get? We now have many shapes and sizes for a variety of uses. Most boaters will want a boat that fits snugly but doesn’t cramp their legs, but there are many models to choose from. See our Buyers Guide.
Where can I use a packraft? Wherever there’s water! Our rafts have been on all types of water the world over. Packrafts do have some limitations due to their simplicity. Packrafts do not sit very deep in the water and high winds can easily outpower even a very fit paddler. Packrafts can lose air very quickly if damaged. For these reasons, we like to keep our adventures reasonably close to the shore on large bodies of water. We recommend you never packraft any stretch of water you aren’t capable of swimming in a worst-case scenario. Some of our more experienced boaters do Class IV-V water and waterfall drops, but they’re also superb swimmers!
How durable are Alpacka rafts? We are still amazed at the places our rafts have been and the type of abuse they have endured. Our boats are very durable for their size and weight, and we see very few punctures, even in hard use. That said, our fabric is also chosen for light weight and punctures do happen. A repair kit and knowledge of how to use it is essential for any packraft adventure. Our rafts are designed to be easily repaired in the field, and we offer professional repair services at the factory. See our Repair Guide.
Are Alpacka rafts stable? Alpacka rafts are much more stable than a typical kayak. This is due to having two large tubes at your hips, a flat bottom, and a low center of gravity. With little practice, you can move around comfortably on the water. Take a look at “Packrafting 101: Strokes and Eddy Turns” to give you an idea of how stable and maneuverable you can be in a packraft.
Why Buy an Alpacka over a cheaper brand? Fabric quality, proven reliability, and progressive designs that have reshaped and pushed the boundaries of packrafting. As well as great customer service, repair and retrofit services, and warranty. We stand by our rafts. See our “about” section.
Do I need special skills to packraft? Anyone who can inflate a raft and crawl into it can packraft. We know of packrafters in their 80’s and of many toddlers who have completed extended trips in the front of their parents boat. High levels of fitness and training are only required for extended backcountry trips and challenging whitewater. Always wear a PFD and always paddle with a partner on moving water.
Where can I learn to packraft? The basics of packrafting are as simple as inflating your boat, donning a PFD, and paddling out onto the water. Paddling a packraft is easy to learn. There’s a large and growing body of information on packrafting available with a simple internet search. For starters, check out the Packrafting 101 video’s from Media Feliz. Roman Dial’s book Packrafting! is a great source of information as well as Bretwood Higman & Erin McKittrick’s website: www.aktrekking.com and www.groundtruthtrekking.org . Check out the American Packrafting Association (APA) community forums at www.packrafting.org.
How do you inflate an Alpacka? Alpacka rafts are inflated using a simple and ingenious device. Our Inflation Bag or is a high-volume air pump that weighs about 3 ounces. With practice It’s faster than a foot pump or hand pump. Finish off the inflation using your lungs. The rafts are designed to use low pressure, which causes them to go soft once they contact cold water. Expect to “temper” or re-inflate your raft a few times once it cools.
Can Alpacka rafts run Whitewater? Yes. Alpacka rafts are built to run Class III and some higher-class whitewater. Our boats handle whitewater differently than kayaks do. Check out the “video” tab for the “Packrafting 101” Video series. Or search YouTube.
Do Alpacka rafts have multiple air chambers? No, however they do have multiple chambers when outfitted with our Cargo Fly system. The seat and seatback also provide small extra chambers to keep your boat and gear afloat in case of a puncture. Keep reading…
Why don’t Alpacka rafts have multiple air chambers? A raft with 2 air chambers sounds good in theory right? Let’s see how the idea works when applied to a packraft: Packrafts are by definition lightweight and simple boats. If a packraft has more than one chamber, you have left and right chambers, or front and rear chambers. Adding a chamber adds the weight and bulk of another set of inflation valves, and adds more points of potential malfunction. Packrafts are now available with a waterproof, airtight zipper (Cargo Fly) that allows you to access the inside of the tubes for storage. Single chamber construction allows full access to the inside of the boat, which is important. This allows the boater to pack their gear as needed to balance the boat, and gives them twice the storage capacity. A multiple chamber boat would need a zipper for each chamber to achieve the same versatility. In both two chamber scenarios, losing one chamber still results in half of a tiny boat that cannot be paddled, with you swimming alongside. Ironically, our single chamber when used with the Cargo Fly zipper and the two inflatable storage/float bags results in the most balanced multiple chamber boat. These dual purpose storage/float bags are true second and third chambers. They are better than a regular second chamber in that that are a “chamber within a chamber”. Since the inner chamber is slightly smaller, it would be highly unlikely to puncture both at the same time. Since they are secured by an internal clip on each side of the raft, the raft remains balanced with the cockpit open, and the gear in the bags stays dry, hopefully giving you time to paddle to safety. This has happened to a few customers who have successfully made it to shore!
How much weight can I carry in an Alpacka? How much weight you can carry varies between different models. As a rough guide for full size single person boats we suggest:
- Yourself + 0-75lbs. (0-27 kgs.) Agile boat handling.
- Yourself + 75-120 lbs. (27-45 kgs.) Noticeable handling loss.
- Yourself + greater than 120 lbs. / 45 kgs. Your boat will float, but won’t be easy to move.
Users have loaded their boats easily in excess of 500 lbs / 225 kgs, even floating out a moose quarter and partial buffalo kills. In testing, we have put four men in an old Explorer, for an estimated 700+ lb. load… it floated! Thus far, we have not seen any loading/pressure-related structural failures, even on boats subjected to waterfall drops, overloading, swamping in ocean surf, and “mystery moves” (being held totally underwater). However, that does not mean our boats cannot be ruptured by extreme overpressure.
Why no inflatable Floor? let’s take a look at the idea… a seemingly minor feature of our boats is the seat and seatback, but this turns out to be one of the most important. The seat is essential for protecting your tailbone from rocks and anyone who has spent time in a small boat knows that back strain can become a major problem. The seat raises your hips higher than your feet, relieving a lot of stress on your low back, and provides for correct paddling posture. One great feature of Alpacka rafts is their low center of gravity, which makes them very stable. Adding an inflatable floor does not eliminate the need for a seat, and will raise your center of gravity, significantly changing the stability of your boat. In addition to this, inflatable floors are heavy, bulky, and prone to puncture. We find that a decked packraft is lighter than an open packraft with a self-bailing inflatable floor, with no comparison in handling.
What paddle should I get?. Most packrafters use a full size 4-piece breakdown kayak paddle because they are packable and durable. For the smaller ultralight boats some prefer an ultralight paddle, such as our Ninja Paddle, or hand paddles. We offer a breakdown kayak paddle that converts into two canoe paddles (The Shred-Apart), great for our two person boats.
Can I row an Alpacka raft with oars instead of paddling? Yes! we offer 2 raft models that will accept our packable RowFrame and Oars: the Fjord Explorer and the Gnu. RowFrame is sold separately.
Where can I learn Packrafting Whitewater Safety & Rescue Techniques? For those looking for advanced safety & rescue techniques, we recommend completion of a Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course accredited by a reputable sponsor, such as Rescue 3 International, or American Canoe Association (ACA) rescue course.
Can I rent an Alpacka? Yes. Currently, there are a few rental outfits in the U.S. who rent Alpacka Rafts and will ship them to you. Check the “Friends” section of this website to find more information.
What can I glue to my boat? Your boat is coated in polyurethane (PU). You can permanently attach anything that can be glued or otherwise adhered to polyurethane. Although a PVC-only adhesive will not work on our boats, a dual-purpose adhesive such as Clifton 1-Part will let you adhere either urethane or PVC items to your Alpacka raft. You can temporarily attach items with duct tape or Tyvek® house wrap tape (or, as it is known at Lowe’s hardware, “Lowe’s tape.”) Tyvek / Lowe’s tape is superior to duct tape, in terms of sticking to the boat. See our repair guide for more info.
Does Alpacka make a boat for children? Not specifically at this time, but the scout works well for a first boat.
Let’s get to the important question: Can I bring my dog? Of course. Although we don’t think it’s an official certification, Alpacka raafts are definitely dog friendly. We’ve never observed or heard of a dog causing significant damage to hull, floor, or any critical components of an Alpacka. That said, a sharp claw could definitely puncture a raft.