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Thread: General Rafting Questions

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    Default General Rafting Questions

    For my birthday my wife is getting me a PR-49 HD packraft and I am planning to get my feet wet in No. Calif. with a week-long drift trip hog hunt in late May. With very little experience I am staying away from class-rated rivers and focusing on hunting and camping. Now it is merely an assumption on my part that I would pack exactly as I would for a BP trip with the exception that everything goes into dry bags. I think my new UL Kifaru Hunter frame and Cargo Panel will serve me well here. But I'm unsure what to wear when in the raft and what (if anything) else I should pack for rafting that I would not otherwise require. A PFD is the only thing I can think of. This will be a two man trip, me with a bow, my buddy with a rifle. Any suggestions? I want to get some experience under my belt before heading to AK for moose and brown bear. Is the floorless version adequate or is the 6lb inflatable floor a good idea? All advice appreciated and links to any instructional videos showing what to do (and not to do) would be helpful too. The only thing I know is that I don't know anything. Not how to pack the raft, secure items, prevent damaging the raft...nada. TIA

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Why do I get the feeling I'm about to be Rick Rolled?

    Okay here goes... I'm assuming that this is either a guided hunt or that your buddy is an Alaska resident who is also a close relative, right? Because otherwise it's illegal for you to hunt brown bear.

    Second, the PR-49 is not nearly enough boat if you're planning a float hunt for moose and brown bear. If you want to simulate that kind of load, pack up 700 lbs to load aboard your boat, along with your personal gear and camp, and see where that leaves you. It's just not enough lift. Even if it was, the hull is too fragile with that much weight in it, and will explode if it comes into contact with a sharp rock, beaver pungi stick or what have you. You might check out our Inflatable Boats for Float Hunting section, and the related pages for more information on this topic. It's discussed many times here.

    -Mike
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    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Bruce, you would pack for whatever activity you're doing in addition to rafting. Plus you want to have the necessary gear for the water you're planning on floating down. In Alaska that probably means a dry suit, extra paddle/oar, repair kit, etc. California in May, you want to be prepared for cold water. Packrafting is not a dry mode of transport and you want to be dressed appropriately.

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    I think the ideal "on river" clothing if there is any chance of cold water or cold weather while floating is a paddle suit (not dry suit). These are generally lighter, cheaper, and more comfortable than a full drysuit. Drysuits are more suitable for whitewater and their latex neck gasket is much less comfortable than the looser fitting neoprene paddle suit gaskets. Look into Kokatat (Arcata, California). Kokatat arguably makes the best paddle clothing available. No matter what you choose just think...."What if I have an accidental swim what will I want to be wearing?".

    When you stop to camp or hunt just strip off your paddle suit, pull a jacket out of your drybag, and you are ready to go. If it's raining in camp just leave the paddle suit on. With California's large rafting/kayaking community you'll have little trouble selling the paddle suit on Craigslist, etc if you think you won't need it after your trip.

    What NorCal, non-whitewater river allows for a weeklong trip? The Klamath?

    Good luck and post some hog pics after your trip. Sounds fun!

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    Paddling suit. http://kokatat.com/products/paddling...socks-men.html

    You can find them online at NRS, Cascade Outfitters, etc. A pair of old tennis shoes will work for your on-river time.

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    On flat water I see no reason to wear anything but shorts polar fleece, and a life jacket, rain gear in rainy weather is fine too.
    Most people start wearing protective suits when you start approaching class III. The most important thing is the life jacket, knowing how to use the boat.
    1. Learn to turn your boat. Can you put it where you want it to be. Practicing aiming for objects on the opposite side of the river that you are on.
    2. Catch eddies. They are important anytime you must stop, either to look around a blind corner before committing, or to scout a violent rapid. You should practice this.
    3. Know your team. I have seen a couple of meltdowns, it is scary, and you must control the situation. I have seen this caused by weather, and whitewater.
    4. Take your time learning, do every roadside trip you can, if it goes bad, you just pick up your ego, and gear, and walk to the road.
    5. When remote, your skill should be a full level above the river your running.
    6. Safety gear. Have a throw bag, everyone always wears their vests, gear is added with difficulty. Take a spare paddle.
    7. Watch for high water. Slow water can become fast and very powerful, wood is your enemy, avoid wood, trees along the banks, or across the rivers, use those eddy skills.
    8. The first few times out, test your weight distribution, remember... don't forget stuff, CHECKLIST, you cannot walk upstream to get it, well maybe, but maybe not.
    9. We lost a couple boaters the last few years, one was world class and died on a familiar run, he was one of the best. We also through the years have lost many boaters on slow streams too. However, it is a relatively safe sport, overall, few have been hurt or killed considering how many people boat.

    Take your time, experience makes for safe trips. Go with a few guides on some trips too, we still do this even though we own our own gear.
    My son started rafting when he was 6, he learned how to read water, and through the years he knew what he was looking at. When he was 10 he started hard shell kayaking class III., he has never swam to date and is 16 now, and a solid class IV boater. It is the hundreds of trips that makes the boater, again practice, take your time.
    Have fun, you should live, you will soon have a bunch of stories to share, and pics to show the couch people.

    My first whitewater experience was a high water class IV rafting run in the 80's, the guide put us in rain gear and life jackets, nobody died, and I was hooked.
    Have fun, we do need the woods and the rivers to help with our sanity, considering the state of the world.

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    This is great stuff! A paddlesuit...huh. Makes sense. Guess I'm in for an education. To start we are hitting some small rivers NE of Vacaville w/ frequent stops in places that hold hogs. Then we may move north to lake noted for big boar (archery only) but I promised not to divulge any specific info about the location online. When i hunted along the Klammath the water didn't appear suitable for rafting but it was during bear season right after the 1st snow so that may be why. I will ask around and see if I can locate any places nearby where I can get some training. How does one die on a slow moving river?

    Oh yeah...my AK hunting plans will be guided hunts (thus the need to save the coin...big money, at least for me it is) as a moose and brown bear hunt are bucket list items. They won't likely be the same trip. Coastal bear, perhaps Brooks for bull. I greatly appreciate all the advice...now to find more places to practice...if only for a day or two at a time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Bruce? View Post
    How does one die on a slow moving river?
    Various forms of entrapment for starters. Most will drown you even with a pfd. Do not underestimate moving water. There is no substitute for getting real instruction on the skills required to maneuver a craft in moving water, the theory behind it, and reading the water itself. Its not as easy/intuitive as it may appear.

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    OMG! Drysuits and paddling suits are expensive and heavy! Even the UL suits from Alpaca are 2.5lbs. Do I really need this for the PR-49 in calm water? Yikes! $800-$1200. for these seems high...and I have never seen anyone hunting moose wearing these floating down the river.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Bruce? View Post
    ...Coastal bear, perhaps Brooks for bull. I greatly appreciate all the advice...
    You mentioned going guided on these hunts. You might call Deltana Outfitters on the brown bear. They hunt up some big ones on the Alaska Peninsula. For moose you need to look farther south. Call the area biologist about the Brooks Range; we had a late spring up there not long ago and some estimates are that we lost around 30% of our moose in the central Brooks Range. Biologist contact info is in our hunt planning section out in the main site. A good company to talk to on moose is Wayne Kubat's Alaska Remote Guide Service. He and Deltana are both in our directory under Hunting Guides.

    -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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    Thanks Mike. I read a trip report from a couple of guys my age that got moose on the Brooks Range via float and it got me drooling. Any advice on a light and comfortable PFD? Any I should avoid (like the CO2 inflatables) or a specific class of PFD? Anyone ever wear a Gill bib like sailors do? http://www.basscatstore.com/gillkb1bibs.aspx
    I know nothing. LOL

    Gill Bib

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    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Bruce? View Post
    OMG! Drysuits and paddling suits are expensive and heavy!
    You don't need a full-on dry suit. My paddle top and bottoms were somewhere between $1-200 together (I can't recall exactly). Granted, I found them on clearance, but they weren't bad. Also, I don't always wear them on flat water, but will sometimes go with rainpants instead.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Bruce? View Post
    Thanks Mike. I read a trip report from a couple of guys my age that got moose on the Brooks Range via float and it got me drooling...
    I want to be clear that my comments are in reference to the Central Brooks only.

    -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.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Bruce? View Post
    OMG! Drysuits and paddling suits are expensive and heavy! Even the UL suits from Alpaca are 2.5lbs. Do I really need this for the PR-49 in calm water? Yikes! $800-$1200. for these seems high...and I have never seen anyone hunting moose wearing these floating down the river.
    You do not need a "drysuit" unless you plan on big whitewater and the PR-49 is not really designed for that. A $600 "paddle suit" would be the MOST you need. Brian's recommendation for a dry-top/pants is solid.

    Required clothing really comes down to the river, the water temp, your craft, and your skills. Those 4 things determine the chances of a swim or an enjoyable, dry float. You'll need to decide what is appropriate. As a minimum, you can wear rain gear which you'll have along on an extended trip anyways.

    Do not bet your life on an inflatable PFD or a crappy WalMart version that's barely suitable to float you in a swimming pool. Buy a quality type III PFD that fits comfortably. Every time I've had an unintentional "out of boat" experience I've always wanted more PFD flotation and immediately back in the boat. Call, or go by Clavey Paddle Sports in Petaluma http://www.clavey.com

    Treat yourself to a guided whitewater trip this spring. You have LOTS of options in NorCal and hopefully this will be a good runoff year for California. I realize you are not planning a float hunt on a class III or higher river. However, it's always better to be exposed to bigger water under the safety net of a guided trip to know what to avoid on your own. Any trip on the South, Middle, or North Forks of the American River will expose you to real whitewater and give you an appreciation of the beauty, incredible power, and danger that rivers contain. I'd recommend a full day trip on the South Fork Amercian from Chilli Bar Resrvoir to Salmon Falls/Folsom Lake. It's the most popular trip in California. If you love that, then book a trip on the class V Cherry Creek near Yosemite. That is epic Cali whitewater!

    Good questions so far. Be careful of illegal "grows" along the California rivers. Those always worried me while fishing the Sierras and Coastal Range.

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    Ahhh pot farms...yes, as a bow hunter I have encountered fishing lines with treble hooks attached to cans. You can go from predator to prey real fast here.

    So in researching all the options here's what i've come up with thus far...tell me if my selections are good:

    PFD: Ronny Astral Designs Life Vest PFD w/Thin Vent


    Level 6 Bonavista Paddling jacket



    NRS Endurance Splash Pants



    I already have some booties I wear when surf fishing. Cost was just under $300. for all. I have a ton of merino baselayer stuff for warmth.

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    Great advice so far. As for the actual trip, if it's not tied down/strapped in, you will lose it, eventually. Except for people, never strap a person to a boat. Secondly, insert a garbage bag into the dry bag before you put anything in it. Compress the filled garbage bag as far as possible without tearing it and roll the top down as you do with a dry bag. Then seal up dry bag. A dry bag alone will usually leak a fair bit of water if submerged.

    I also recommend reading several of the books on whitewater paddling and RESCUE. These books are sobering as heck and a great resource. But as others have said, experience is the best teacher, as long as someone with experience is helping you to not kill yourself with ignorance. There is nothing like an extended trip on a river.

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    Huh...so dry bags aren't. Good to know. LOL
    I've only carried em on my back in the rain so thanks for the tip!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Bruce? View Post
    Huh...so dry bags aren't. Good to know. LOL
    I've only carried em on my back in the rain so thanks for the tip!
    They're good for keeping rain and splash off of the dry goods, but if submerged due to a flip are prone to leakage. I would guess most leaks are caused by poor sealing rather than inherently leaky bags. Also, you might consider using trash compactor bags or contractor grade trash bags as they hold up better to repeated manhandling.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChugiakTinkerer View Post
    They're good for keeping rain and splash off of the dry goods, but if submerged due to a flip are prone to leakage. I would guess most leaks are caused by poor sealing rather than inherently leaky bags. Also, you might consider using trash compactor bags or contractor grade trash bags as they hold up better to repeated manhandling.
    There are lots of stories out there of rafts that have capsized and the dry bags recovered in logjams weeks later, without any leakage whatsoever. It's about the type of dry bag, and the way it was sealed. Zippered duffels can leak if the zipper is not fully seated. They're expensive because the zipper creates a waterproof seal. It's the same kind of zipper used on dry suits. I did a lot of diving in a dry suit over the years, and never had a leak. The roll-top dry bags have to be rolled tightly and the storm flap seated correctly in order to work. But they certainly do work.

    Probably the most common leaks in the quality dry bags have to do with holes in the bag itself. To check for holes, empty the bag and look inside it on a sunny day, rotating the bag to detect any pinhole leaks. Patch them on the inside of the bag, so you don't have edges that can catch and peel.

    -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.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    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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    How's the gear selection in post #15 look? Am I good to go with these? Primarly concerned with the low profile PFD. I may hafta pack this a ways and liked the weight. Is it sufficient?


    • Weight: 1.7 lbs
    • Minimum 15.5 lbs of buoyancy.

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