Hull design is one of our passions and the driving force behind many of our greatest innovations. Although we find inspiration from many sources, we take pride in the fact that all of our hull designs are Alpacka Raft originals.
We started simple with a 10-panel “stubby” hull that featured ~12-inch diameter tubes in different lengths. Over the years, we’ve developed advanced designs to improve performance characteristics for more targeted uses like whitewater, multi-person, and cargo capacity. With the new designs, we’ve moved away from identifying hulls by tube-diameter alone. Instead, we look at the overall package of a hull’s shape, tube diameter, and fine-tuning adjustments like rocker, length, and width. We currently offer three primary hull designs:
Our Classic Hull design is a simple elegant hull that prioritizes weight savings and packability. We’ve been using variations of this hull design since our original “stubby” hull debuted on our first models. The Classic model features an 11.7-inch version of the Classic Hull, with a long extended stern to improve tracking and balance and a slightly rockered bow to improve handling in whitewater. The Scout model features a 9.2-inch version of the Classic Hull to minimize weight and bulk and a moderately extended stern and rockerless extended bow to improve buoyancy, tracking, and balance. The Caribou model features the same 11.7-inch stern and sides as the Classic model, but with a late rise bow to support a heavy load on the bow like a bicycle.
The Rally Hull is our highest performance hull that prioritizes maneuverability and performance in whitewater. The Rally Hull stern is a patented design that features a center panel (the center back) which maximizes volume and buoyancy while creating a smooth curvature for more predicable handling. The Rally Hull bow is longer and has a more aggressive rocker than the Classic Hull bow, which improves turning radius, breaking waves, and crossing eddylines. The Gnarwhal features an 11.7-inch Rally Hull, which provides maximum stability, carrying capacity, and forgiveness in big water but is not as nimble as the lower volume Rally Hull in the Expedition and Wolverine. The Expedition and Wolverine each feature a 10.6-inch Rally Hull (with different style rigging) that, in addition to being lower volume than the Gnarwhal, have a slightly shorter stern and a longer and more aggressive bow rocker. This results in a quicker, more engaging, and shorter turning radius when compared to the Gnarwhal, but with less cargo capacity and less forgiveness for beginner-intermediate level paddlers and in big water.
The Cargo Hull is our highest capacity hull that prioritizes stability, balance, and load capacity. The Cargo Hull stern is the same patented center back design as the Rally Hull, which offers maximum buoyancy and capacity. The Cargo Hull bow is the same Late Rise design as the Caribou which improves buoyancy, stability, and balance when carrying multiple people. The Late Rise Bow is also outstanding for punching through waves and whitewater with weight in the front of the bow. The Mule features an 11.7-inch Cargo Hull that is sized for one person, which makes it ideal for the largest and tallest single packrafters or a small person paddling with a dog or kid. The Explorer 42 features the same 11.7-inch Cargo Hull as the Mule, which makes it easy to paddle by one adult when carrying a dog or kid or for two small adults looking to save weight. The Oryx and Racing Gnu feature a 13.1-inch Cargo Hull that is long and narrow to improve speed and tracking, with the Oryx featuring canoe style seating and the Racing Gnu featuring kayak style seating. The Forager features a 13.1-inch Cargo Hull that is wider and shorter than the Oryx and Racing Gnu, which maximizes stability and load capacity especially in whitewater and for hauling big game animals.