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Thread: Alpaca pack rafts

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    Member honeybadger's Avatar
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    Default Alpaca pack rafts

    Thinking about picking one of these up for next years sheep hunt. Anyone tried these out? I know theyre light, but how durable are they?

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    Amazingly durable. Lots of guys out there banging their way down steep creeks from rock to rock every weekend. You would not be within the first 100 people doing sheep hunts with them.

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    Member honeybadger's Avatar
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    Would you go with the Alpaca or the Yukon?

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Okay, let's pull on this little thread and see how long it goes...

    If I have my history right, I believe Alpacka was the first so-called "Pack Raft" on the market. I think it had its origins in the old "Hope to Homer" race, where contestants had to pack everything they needed with them. The official name of that race is the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic. Dick Griffith won the race in 1982, the first year it was held. He beat many younger men, a feat made more remarkable because he was close to 60 years old at the time. His key to success was a small, cheap inflatable boat he used to navigate the rivers, instead of roping up like the others did. Of course the other key to his success is that he's just a tough son-of-a-gun. There was a run on cheap inflatable boats for about 20 years or so, until Sheri Tingy built the first Alpacka prototype in Chugiak, Alaska, in 2001.

    Though there are certainly other players in the market today, I don't think you'll find many who claim to make a better quality boat than what Sheri turns out. You can read all about them and order one online AT THIS LINK.

    While you're at it, you might also give Roman Dial's book "Packrafting" a read. It's the only book out there on the subject and Roman is THE MAN when it comes to pack rafting.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member honeybadger's Avatar
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    All really good information. I plan on taking a look at that book. I was talking specifically about the model of Alpaca pack raft. I am having a hard time deciding between the classic Alpaca or the Yukon model. But all in all good information. Thank you.

  6. #6

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    For what it's worth-- the first "pack-raft" was made by SHERPA the snow shoe company, that every one seemed to copy, back in the early 70's. Mine was a fun play boat. Roman approached us, SOTAR, to start building them again, but my boss, who was eventually fired, said we were too busy making river rafts. bad move and against my wishes. What can I say?? Sherri makes a great boat! Biggest problem is one chamber and no fabric option as well as non-self baling. The company I use for my pack rafts, once made them for her, but since she has moved out of Alaska is having another company making them for her. This company that I use, has many options and improvments on their custom built quality "pac-rafts"!
    Guess enough said-- Just trying to get the forum valid information.
    Goo

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    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Dick Griffiths packraft for the first Hope to Homer race back in the eighties wasn't an Alpacka it was called a Sherpa. This raft had its origins from 1970's as I recall. I remember being up at the far end of Tustumena Lake back then on the first race and they had a trail monitor stationed up at the old Joe Secora cabin that I ended up giving a ride out after the racers went through. I didn't know they were coming through and I thought they were plenty crazy at the time. When Dick came through in the late 1990's when the race route went that direction again he stayed with me at the cabin a couple of times and he was still using the old Sherpa. Now the Sherpa wasn't a cheap raft, I can't remember what Dick said it cost but I remember it being substantial.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tustumena_lake View Post
    Dick Griffiths packraft for the first Hope to Homer race back in the eighties wasn't an Alpacka it was called a Sherpa. This raft had its origins from 1970's as I recall. I remember being up at the far end of Tustumena Lake back then on the first race and they had a trail monitor stationed up at the old Joe Secora cabin that I ended up giving a ride out after the racers went through. I didn't know they were coming through and I thought they were plenty crazy at the time. When Dick came through in the late 1990's when the race route went that direction again he stayed with me at the cabin a couple of times and he was still using the old Sherpa. Now the Sherpa wasn't a cheap raft, I can't remember what Dick said it cost but I remember it being substantial.
    Excellent info! Thanks for the correction. I was unaware of the Sherpa boat. Do you or Goeaux have a picture of that boat by chance? It would be interesting to see how they have evolved.

    Thanks again for chiming in on this one!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    It had a yellow tube and a brown floor and it was a good looking raft.

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    I went to high school with Sheri's son, Thor, and if I recall the story correctly, her decision to start making packrafts was driven at least in part by her son's adventures in the Brooks. As I understand it, Thor did some long-distance treks in the Brooks where he tried to use lightweight rafts, but they kept failing on him. He asked his mother if she could make something better, and thus began the development process that led to Alpacka, which in turn led to today's excellent options in leightweight, durable packrafts.

    For what it's worth, I love my Alpacka. I went with the Denali Llama for hunting. If I were using it mainly as a short trip/play boat, I would have bought the Yak, but I wanted a bit more room for loading it with game bags in addition to gear, so I stepped up a size. When I'm not loaded down, though, I find myself wishing I had a tighter fit that I could easily press my feet up against the end of the boat (I'm 6'0" tall). I think the newer models have seats that you can move forward, though, which would deal with that issue.
    Last edited by Brian M; 09-11-2012 at 11:09.

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    Member honeybadger's Avatar
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    I think I'm gonna go with the Yukon Yak, supposed to be a little sturdier and I'm not that tall at 5'8" that I need the extra room of the Denali Llama

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    Default Alpacka durability

    I have been pretty hard on my Alpacka the last couple of seasons and it has held up well. I have a couple of tiny holes in the floor, but a simple piece of gorilla tape has sealed the wounds, and has been on it for several demanding trips. The tape worked so good, I have since then covered my entire floor where my feet press down and makes hard contact with rocks in the streams. Works great, stopped floor damage, and is replaceable for a couple of cents, if need be.
    My biggest complaint is the skirts, I have a whitewater deck on mine, it is far removed from a kayak setup, but is still much drier than the old style decks.

    The feathercraft is self bailing, are great boats, and can avoid the deck issue altogether. Personally, I think a few drainholes with a cheap deck would be the best combination.
    I would love to find someone who would be interested in modifying an Alpacka and put a self-bailing floor in mine. Why I want that is a whole other lengthy discussion.

    Anybody want to run the Bull next week up in the park? A two hour hike and 20 miles of class II with two class III-III+ canyons, then a cool class II canyon on the West Fork Chulitna. Hike out at Honolulu.
    Last edited by mark oathout; 09-11-2012 at 11:48.

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    All things considered, I rate the Llama as the most versatile raft, smaller crew can place something in a drybag between their feet and the bow tube, as a packing piece.

    Toughness is a given, as was explained to me when I (in my ignorance) asked about ordering extra repair kits, spare hull fabric, et al.

    When I examined the fabric, I realized that short of stabbing or burning it, it was nigh on indestructible.

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    Member Gilliland440's Avatar
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    honeybadger... go with the lama ... you can then store a drybag under the deck and if you decid to do white water you can put a drybag with some water in it under there to help keep the front down... works great even with the newest version. The extra water also helps punch through big waves like that on Staircase. I would look hard at Goo's Baylees to though .. the self bailing is a huge perk.
    -JR

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    I some how deleted my first reply .. anyways short and sweet .. after two years of running nasty creeks and rivers with mine the first hole was from a 8' Griz last week! 2 days later it charged me and I dropped it at 10 yds. Watch some of my vids to see how durable they are. Alot of bottom dragging on the south fork of ER.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Gilliland440?feature=mhee
    My moose hunting video w/ the punctured rafts will be up tomorrow.
    -JR

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    Member honeybadger's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input. I settled on a used Yak for a really good price everything included. I am going to buy a new Llama here shortly as well. I looked at the BayLee's and they are just too much weight with the self bailing floor so I decided to stick with the Alpacka's. Thanks for all the input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by honeybadger View Post
    Thanks for all the input. I settled on a used Yak for a really good price everything included. I am going to buy a new Llama here shortly as well. I looked at the BayLee's and they are just too much weight with the self bailing floor so I decided to stick with the Alpacka's. Thanks for all the input.
    I have a Yak, Explorer and a Big Rig. If you are in the Fairbanks area you can have a look at any of them.



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    Member honeybadger's Avatar
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    Stid,

    Sent you a PM

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    Which one would be the best to pack out a moose and 2 people? or a moose and 1 person?

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    Member Gilliland440's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agoyne View Post
    Which one would be the best to pack out a moose and 2 people? or a moose and 1 person?
    I was able to fit the calf I shot on my Denali Lama.
    -JR

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