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Thread: Pack raft experts?

  1. #1

    Default Pack raft experts?

    Any pack raft experts out there that can help me pick the right boat or advise not to buy at all? I like the idea if getting a couple light weight rafts for hike in, float out trips. Or pack into remote lake fishing/hunting access. Or two or three night river trips. I person and gear per raft of course. I don't want to get all wet and sit in water while paddling. Can you get camp and enough personal gear in a pack raft and paddle it around sweepers ok? How of they paddle? Can you do the J stroke? Or kayak paddles? Can an experienced person steer me in the right direction on this subject?

  2. #2
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Not an expert by any means, but yes there are pack rafts that will do what you have in mind. You should contact Larry Bartlet he sells rafts and has a lot of experience using them for both hunting and fishing. I own 3 different pack rafts, but prefer the PR49 for what you are talking about doing. I prefer kayak paddles.







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    Top of the line hiker's packraft today is the Alpacaraft with the big butt, whitewater skirt, and zipper for in-tube storage. They also sell a Sevlor break-down paddle that is very nice. The PR49 is a larger boat that's great for float hunting if you are hauling camp and meat, but not the best hiker's boat and won't keep you dry. Other brands are available, but not even close to the quality and maneuverability of the Alpacaraft.


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    You sure can pack enough gear, and you don't even have to worry about the J Stroke. I have several Alpacka's and have used Feathercraft too.

  5. #5

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    Thanks that's the info I need to hear. I owned a pro pioneer and wasn't impressed with the quality. And raft weight will be important so I will check out the Alpackaraft with spray skirt. Thanks! And great photos!!

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    I've never hunted with an Alpacka and only have a short day trip with one. However, I can't imagine paddling even the largest (Denali) with more than the bulk and weight of a backpack. I would think adding game meat would require a slightly bigger craft like the PR49 to function properly. I know guys have hauled out game meat with an Alpacka but you'd need to be super careful.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Like I said, I'm no expert but I have done more than a few miles in both and I have been wetter in my Alpaca with spray skirt than I have been in either my Big Rig or PR49.

    My rule,, more hiking than floating,, Alpaca,, more floating than hiking,, PR49. YMMV



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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    Like I said, I'm no expert but I have done more than a few miles in both and I have been wetter in my Alpaca with spray skirt than I have been in either my Big Rig or PR49.
    This has been my experience as well. Even with a spray skirt on the Alpaca, water gets inside. Just getting into the boat you usually end up with some water transferred off your footwear, and more often leaks in from above even with the spray skirt. The design of the alpaca is such that you end up sitting in water because you sit down in the bottom of the boat. Even in flat water, sitting in an alpaca is a wet ride. The spray skirt, particularly with a pack or other gear on top will also restrict the movement of your legs beneath it. In AK I nearly always use paddle or rain pants if I use an Alpaca to keep from getting cold between being wet and the lack of movement. The Alpaca is significantly lighter, and likely more maneuverable because its smaller. It is certainly narrower as well.


    Even though the big rig and PR49 are open at the top, the cargo panel chairs mean you are sitting up above the bottom of the boat where you can stay mostly dry. The larger tube sizes on these boats seem to keep you from taking as much water over the front too, at least in conditions that aren't super splashy.

    Both styles of boats have their uses, and we have kept both typed around and choose which to use depending on the purpose of the trip.









  9. #9

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    Ok I will check out what Larry B. has as well.

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    Member Gilliland440's Avatar
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    I have both an Alpacka and a Big Rig (PR49 w/ self bailing floor) And like mentioned before if you are going to be hiking more than floating the Alpacka is the way to go or if you plan on floating more and NEED the weight capacity the Big Rig works great! I believe Baylee has an updated version of the Big Rig called the Beast now.
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  11. #11

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    In my experience packraft is not a dry sport (unless you are wearing a dry suit).

    A PR-49 packraft from Larry Bartlett (Pristine Ventures) will be drier in class 2 or less due to not sitting down in the boat and in the water like in an Alpacka and even with the spray deck water will get in the bottom of the boat and your tush will be wet over time from splashes.

    But once things start cranking up the Alpackas come into their own and a better option for running whitewater (without a cargo load however). Neither would be a choice for hauling gear and a caribou in constant Class III.....get a "real raft" for that, but thats likely more limited to my skill level than the boats ability. Just what I have found.

    Both have their place, but if I could have just one I would go with the PR-49 my wife and I both can ride in one with our gear more comofortable than what it would be in our packrafts. That and the weight penalty between a PR-49 or two Alpackas with spray skirts is less than 2 pounds. Last summer I packed a PR-49 in 35 miles before beginning our float. For solo endeavors that don't involve hunting or hauling the Alpacka is the clear winner.

    Just depends what you are primarily wanting to do. Thats my experience with them, but I am far from an expert.

  12. #12

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    The PR49 certainly has my interest. How do you think a PR49 would do when used as a dingy for an ocean boat? That would be calm water, paddle only to shore. But it needs to be stable enough for two people to get in and out of in deep water from a bigger boat. This would be a duel purpose bonus if it works well enough. Plus you could pack it into some PWS mountain lakes for black bear, goat or cutthroat fishing. So how stable are they and how well do they hold up?

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Predator Control View Post
    The PR49 certainly has my interest. How do you think a PR49 would do when used as a dingy for an ocean boat? That would be calm water, paddle only to shore. But it needs to be stable enough for two people to get in and out of in deep water from a bigger boat. This would be a duel purpose bonus if it works well enough. Plus you could pack it into some PWS mountain lakes for black bear, goat or cutthroat fishing. So how stable are they and how well do they hold up?
    I have used mine for this very thing, getting to shore in PWS that is and have used it cross lakes as well. Would just need to be cautious near the shore line in PWS as some of the rocks there are covered with very sharp marine growth. Because of the tidal swings I anchor in deep water and use rafts to paddle to shore.
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  14. #14

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    Yea you have to be careful around those barnical covered rocks with hypolon. Maybe the PR49 HD would be worth it. I think this boat could work out for me. Anyone interested in a group purchase?

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    Thinking about getting a pr49. When were you thinking of doing the group purchase?

  16. #16

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    Got an email asking about a group purchase for the PR-49 ST or HD. Thought I'd post a reply to let you know what deal we could do:

    PR-49 Standard

    2 total = $1300 each

    3+ total= $1250 each

    PR-49 HD

    2 total = $1350 each

    3+ total = $1300 each

    Thanks as always for supporting our products.

    Larry 388-2477

  17. #17

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    I ended up buying a couple Alpacka rafts at the outdoor show in Fairbanks from Northern Ak pack rafts. Thought my son and I could do some hike in / float out trips. I don't have the boats yet but they are in the mail supposedly. I bought the paddles and spray skirt. What other must have accessories do I need. Thermorest pad for the floor and a dry suit or rain gear I heard?

  18. #18

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    i'd order some extra loop discs to be glued on your alpacka's for lasing gear bags and/or meat. The best advice would be that must have system figured out. Then, practice a few dry runs with your new boats to make sure all your shiz fits. Get it dialed in before you hit the river for real.

    good luck.

    lb

  19. #19
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    Any of these thin skinned inflatables are highly susceptible to punctures from rocks, trees laying in the water with the sharp branch staubs sticking out. Ever see what a boat looks like after a bear chews it up? Haul your meat in one and chances are you will find out.

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