Packrafting Afghanistan

Inflated Ambitions:  Packrafting in Afghanistan

Check out this great video from Jon Rider and Edmund Le Brun of their journey through Afghanistan.  Their spirit of adventure is a great compliment to our packrafts.  We do recommend the use of drysuits:)!

From Jon:

A friend and I recently made the first descent of the Oxus River using your pack rafts. I thought you might be interested to see the video on Youtube:

The rafts were incredible – strong, light and very tough – perfect for rafting high up in the mountains.

I hope you enjoy the film.

Jon

 

Rafting Afghanistan:  Inflated Ambitions

Thanks to Jon for sharing!  Contact us if you have an adventure worth sharing.

Alpacka Raft LLC.

Calendar Contest Winner- January 2016

2016 Alpacka Calendar Contest:

January

This Month’s Photo:

January’s dramatic winner is a self portrait submitted by Paxson Woelber.

Packrafting the ice canyon at the mouth of Campbell Creek, in Anchorage, Alaska. Extreme tides and running outflow prevent permanent ice from forming over the whole channel, even when temperatures are below zero. Successive tidal flows cause ice to build up vertically on the slopes of the V-shaped banks, forming an overhanging canyon that can reach over 20 feet from water to rim. The walls of the ice canyon feature a fascinating array of ever-changing features, including sheer faces, icicles, caves, frost flowers, and other formations. Packrafting river outflows can be an exciting break from more typical winter activities like skiing and snowshoeing, though boaters must remain aware of the risks posed by extremely cold water, difficulty in getting out of the canyon, and the hazard of shifting icebergs that can rush in with the tide.    -Paxson

 

©Paxson Woelber
January Calendar Winner Campbell Creek-©Paxson Woelber

Submit your photo to photos@alpackaraft.com for next year’s calendar

2016 Calendar Contest Winners

The 2016 Alpacka Raft Calendar is out, featuring amazing photos of sent in by packrafters from all over the world.

We’ll Be featuring each month’s photo here on our news feed, so check each month for the story behind the photo.

This months photo:

Our stunning cover photo was taken by Clint Helander
Clear and sunny skies were the norm for south-central Alaska in the summer of 2015. A lack of rainfall left many of the creeks and streams at too low of levels for enjoyable pack rafting. Six Mile Creek had many weeks of cancelled commercial rafting trips due to low levels, but pack rafters were taking it over and floating all three of its world class canyons with ease. Here, Chris Page takes a breath between the first and second canyon on a wonderful evening.
2016 Calendar Cover Photo ©Clint Helander- Alpacka Raft
2016 Calendar Cover Photo ©Clint Helander- Alpacka Raft

New products for 2015

The Mule New for 2015!

Introducing the Mule, our new XL whitewater/multi-purpose expedition boat!

 

The Mule, like the name suggests, can carry some weight! The Mule is Longer than the Llama, with a wider bow with less rocker (bow upturn).  The Mule is ideal for larger folks and those who want more cargo room and stability, while maintaining maneuverability.  Ideal for hunting, fishing, and whitewater alike!

Generally preferred by large and tall boaters who need more leg and foot room than the Llama provides,  or those who want more room and stability for packs, dogs, and small kids.  Available with both Cruiser and Whitewater Spray-decks, as well as the Cargo-Fly System.

 

 

Fjord Explorer  Redesigned for 2015!

2015 Fjord Explorer in Blue

Our longest single person raft!  The Fjord Explorer can be paddled with a kayak paddle or rowed with our packable RowFrame and oars (sold separately).  With a long symmetrical hull for added speed and flotation, it’s great for fishing, flat-water rowing, and as a small roll-away sailboat tender.  It can be rowed with our collapsible RowFrame and oars on calm water, or paddled kayak-style on class III rapids.

 

Deluxe seat

DeluxeSeat

The deluxe seat is just what it sounds.  This ergonomically shaped seat provides some of the stiffness and feel of a traditional inflatable floor, while still allowing your feet to ride lower than your hips.  Having your hips higher than your feet is essential for comfort while paddling.

Designed for comfort and support, this seat fits snugly and adjusts forward and back along the standard seat tab.  Great for both relaxed and aggressive paddling.

Not recommended for extremely low water situations, our standard horseshoe seat provides the shallowest draft and works best for the lowest water.

Versatile!  By moving this seat forward and making room for your feet behind, the Deluxe seat becomes a kneeling pillow.  With a little practice, you can paddle and even fish from this position.

 

 

Scout by Wind Paddle Sails

Wind Paddle Sails shown folded and open

Strong, simple, and lightweight.  These sails will have you cruising downwind!   A great little sail for your little boat.  Paddle upwind across the lake, then cruise home with ease!

 

 

Mother of God

An extraordinary journey into the uncharted tributaries of the Western Amazon

Book:  Mother of God

This riveting story by Paul Rosolie highlights some of the more adventurous uses of packrafts.

 

 

 

Camouflage Packrafts!

We are now offering Camouflage packrafts in 2 patterns.  Great for hunting and fishing, or just being hip!  After many requests and a lot of R&D, we are happy to open a new door in the colorful world of packrafting.   These fabrics cost a bit more and will add $75 to the base price of the raft. (Camo is difficult to photograph, photos may vary)

 

Woodland Camo:

Mule in Woodland CamoFjord ExplorerRetroCamoWoodlandCamo

 

 

Digital Camo:

FjordExplorerDigiCamoGnuDigiCamoDigiCamo

Alpackas in Action Vol. I

There is something magnetic about white water – the stationary “V,” standing waves, the hole at the bottom of the drop.  Even simple, splashy water moving us along.  Like the glide on a bicycle, the fall line through powder snow.  There is something magnetic about white water.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”12″ gal_title=”Alpackas In Action Whitewater Vol. 1″]

 

 

 

Review of the Alpacka Gnu

Gnu Digi Camo- ©Alpacka Raft LLC.

Review of the Alpacka Gnu

by Tobias Schwoerer

 

Capable of handling almost all water conditions as either an open canoe or a white water boat, the Gnu can easily be tailored to meet a wide variety of needs from family outings to adventure racing and hunting to long distance wilderness traveling. Alpacka’s canoe-style Gnu may revolutionize the way people travel with boats.

For families who want to do a canoe trail or take their kids paddling across a lake, the usual scenario is cumbersome. Strap the canoe on top of a car, drag it to the water, haul it across portages fully loaded, or take time to unload and re-load gear. The Gnu can deal with these problems. A super lightweight inflatable boat can also save a lot of money when bush planes are involved, since an overall lighter load can mean fitting in one plane instead of two. Depending on the cost, this may make the financial investment in the Gnu pay off right there.

The Gnu can be ordered in Vectran fabric, an especially light and strong woven fabric whose applications include NASA’s Pathfinder mission to Mars and high-performance sailcloth. The fabric’s excellent flex/fold characteristics allow the Gnu to easily fold down to 20x12x3 inches. Depending on whether you need the white water deck and center kneeling tube, you only have to carry between 6 and 10 lbs of boat. After a while, you may not think twice and just bring the Gnu for routine backpacking or road trips with your family.

For adventure racing teams, the Gnu may be an intriguing alternative to otherwise taking individual packrafts. Racers usually travel in teams of two, and with this boat can save weight as well as improve travel speed on the water. Just imagine the times you paddled your packraft into a headwind on flat water. With the Gnu’s “power of two” and reduced surface area, headwinds are much easier, traveling is more social, and both paddlers are faster down the river. Also, one paddler can take a break while the other one continues to paddle, keeping the team at pace.

As far as gear, the Gnu helps optimize packing and keeps the boat balanced and steady. The cargo flies are located in the stern and the bottom of the center kneeling tube. Day gear can be placed in the center kneeling tube for easier access, while additional food and gear not being used during paddling can be stored in the main tubes. This allows you to keep the boat inflated while camping or taking a break. Storing cargo internally also keeps gear dry and off the deck, minimizing entanglement. With internal loads, the boat is also easier to turn upright after capsizing, allowing paddlers to re-enter the boat quickly from opposite sides, one at a time.

The cargo fly in the center kneeling tube is placed at the bottom of the tube and is only accessible by opening one of the zippers attaching the kneeling tube to the main boat. This makes the cargo area of the center kneeling tube somewhat inaccessible but it keeps the zipper away from shoes and unavoidable dirt. Future versions of the Gnu could benefit from longer cargo fly zippers to allow for easier internal packing of gear, keeping the zipper cleaner in the process. One drawback of the cargo fly zippers is their sensitivity to dirt sometimes leading to air leaks. You can prevent air leaks by keeping the zippers clean and lubricated, especially the port, which is the closing end of the zipper.

Paddling the Gnu in whitewater takes some canoeing skills, but the Gnu is forgiving and like other packrafts is not as edgy and tippy as a canoe or hard shell kayak. The large internal volume, if not packed to capacity, offers buoyancy for larger rivers or Class IV whitewater. With its lengthy hull it can handle hydraulics and compared to single boats gets considerably faster hull speeds.

The Gnu can be paddled either by one person with a canoe or kayak paddle (Pic. 1) or paddled by two people using canoe paddles (Pic. 2). I found the Aquabound Split Splat canoe paddle adapters an economical way to convert a kayak paddle I already had into two canoe paddles for the Gnu. Paddling the Gnu with two kayak paddles is also possible but requires coordination among the paddlers as the seating in the Gnu is tight (Pic. 2).

Depending on water conditions, you can change your seating positions. In whitewater, my partner and I use the kneeling position with spray skirts, both sitting on the center kneeling tube. In the beginning, this may take a bit of practice as your joints adapt to the position and may require somewhat frequent stretching breaks. Shin and/or knee guards are recommended. After a test voyage which ended in knee bashing, we jammed a slightly deflated U-shaped Alpacka seat underneath the center kneeling tube in the bow (Pic. 3). This “knee-saver” raises your knees slightly off the floor and keeps your knees off the rocks.

Pic. 1: The Gnu loaded with caribou meat after a successful hunt.
Pic. 1: The Gnu loaded with caribou meat after a successful hunt.
Pic. 2: Whitewater ready during the 2014 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.
Pic. 2: Whitewater ready during the 2014
Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.
Pic. 3: “Knee-saver”, a yellow Alpacka U-shaped seat tucked underneath kneeling tube end in the bow. The two hoses are for pressurizing the main and center kneeling tubes
Pic. 3: “Knee-saver”, a yellow Alpacka U-shaped seat tucked underneath kneeling tube end in the bow. The two hoses are for pressurizing the main and center kneeling tubes.
Pic. 4: Yellow seat tucked underneath whitewater deck raising seating for paddler in the bow allowing better forward reach.
Pic. 4: Yellow seat tucked underneath
whitewater deck raising seating for paddler in
the bow allowing better forward reach.

The spray skirts are made of durable fabric and have adjustable bungee cords that fit tightly around the cockpits of the white water deck. If you adjust the suspenders to the right length it will prevent the skirt from popping off in case you over extend your paddle stroke. In a pinch, spray skirts can also serve as rain gear for overland travel. The whitewater deck keeps a dry interior and the one-piece plastic tubes for the two cockpits are a simpler solution compared to the oval four piece cockpits of the Gnu’s packraft cousins.

I learned that good air pressure is particularly critical for a long boat. Having the kneeling tube well pressurized provides additional stiffness. The black color of the Vectran also helps keep the boat pressurized on sunny days. If you can use a pump like a converted bicycle pump, it will further increase your hull speed.

However, pressurizing the center kneeling tube can be a bit tricky. It is critical to secure the two zippers attaching the center kneeling tube to the boat. If one of the two zippers pops open when the center kneeling tube is pressurized, the zipper pulls are not securely fastened. Make sure after loading your gear into the center kneeling tube that you fully shut the zippers before pressurizing. A piece of shot cord with cord lock on one zipper pull can be used to lock both zipper pulls into place.

Overall the Gnu’s performance and versatility are impressive. It can meet the needs of both the experienced whitewater paddling team and the family going out on the water for the first time.