Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 27

Thread: Alpacka alternative?

  1. #1
    Member Heg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Girdwood
    Posts
    233

    Default Alpacka alternative?

    I desperately want an Alpacka raft (not sure which model). With the spray skirt, I believe, they run about one thousand dollars.

    However, I have heard that NRS will be coming out with a similar raft this summer that will be cheaper and as durable if not more durable. The person that I heard this from certainly has a bias towards NRS as they work at AK Raft/Kayak, but I've had an NRS cat for 8 years and have been more than happy with its performance and the warranty.

    The Alpacka rafts are proven and I like buying locally, but if I can get the same/better boat (not sure if this is true) for a better price, I am all over the cheaper raft.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    13,393

    Default

    I had been wanting an Alpacka for years, so this spring I got serious about looking at them and deciding what I wanted. I went to the Sportsman Show to look around, and while there I saw the new NRS packraft and looked at it seriously as an alternative to the Alpacka. Here are my thoughts on the NRS raft as compared to the Alpacka. I am by no means an expert on packrafts and am brand new to the activity, but these are just the things that struck me when comparing the two.

    Price: The NRS raft is about $150 less than the Alpacka.

    Size: The Alpacka comes in four different sizes - three intended as true packrafts to be used with kayak paddles, and a fourth larger model that actually comes with a rowing frame but still weighs less than 10 pounds (the three regular models are around 5 pounds). The NRS raft only comes in one size at the time. The NRS raft is too long for most people. It is about the length (perhaps a couple of inches longer?) of the longest Alpacka standard model, the Denali Llama. The problem with too much length is that you tend to slide down in the raft. Additionally, bracing your feet against the end of the raft provides a substantial increase in power and manueverability.

    Features: The NRS has two air chambers, whereas the Alpacka is a single chamber boat. The second chamber adds a few ounces, but I'm not really sure what the benefit would be. I personally greatly prefer the seat design in the Alpacka, but the NRS isn't an uncomfortable boat. The biggest difference in features, though, is the availability of the spray skirt. At the time of the Sportsman's Show, the NRS raft did not have the option of a spray skirt. The spray skirt is very important to making the raft warm and comfortable, and the design of the Alpacka spray skirt is great. You won't stay 100% dry, but pretty darn close.

    Weight/Packability: Both models are incredibly light, but the NRS boat is at least a few ounces heavier than the largest standard Alpacka. Additionally, it seemed that the packed size of the NRS was a bit larger than the packed size of the Alpacka. I didn't have them side-by-side, though, so that impression may be off.


    Just some honest observations. I'm sure the NRS boat is great, but I am absolutely thrilled with my Alpacka and would recommend them to anyone. They're also a great company and they're willing to help when needed. On a side note, if you get three more people interested in buying a boat, they offer a discount of 10% for orders of four or more rafts.

  3. #3
    Member Heg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Girdwood
    Posts
    233

    Default

    Brian, thanks for the info.

    I did not know that the NRS boat wasn't spray-skirt-compatible which is a must have. Also, the one-size-fits all is kind of lame; I want something that fits. Plus, reading the Alpacka website, it sounds like the 2-tubes might be overrated.

    I am going to go with the Alpacka Yukon Yak.

  4. #4

    Default

    I bought the dory recently, and so far can only give it rave reviews. I used it 2 weeks ago to row myself and a friend across a small lake, and we felt completely stable and even somewhat comfortable most the way. My next test is going to be a river, with myself and a full pack, and see how that feels. I must say, I wish I had the skirt for the dory, you cant keep anything dry without it.
    "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

  5. #5
    Member chriso's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Los Anchorage
    Posts
    810

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heg View Post
    Brian, thanks for the info.

    I did not know that the NRS boat wasn't spray-skirt-compatible which is a must have. Also, the one-size-fits all is kind of lame; I want something that fits. Plus, reading the Alpacka website, it sounds like the 2-tubes might be overrated.

    I am going to go with the Alpacka Yukon Yak.
    Heg, I'm interested in getting one too, if you know of anyone else, I'd sure appreciate a chance at getting in on a group buy with you... Thanks, Chris

  6. #6
    Member Heg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Girdwood
    Posts
    233

    Default

    Chriso, I heard they are not doing the "group price" anymore. Bummer.

  7. #7
    New member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    2

    Default weight

    just a note on the weight of the nrs raft. it is 5.5 lbs. this is including the inflatable seat and floor (which could double as a sleeping pad?!). so it is the same as the dory w/o the frame. it is longer than the dory. i just checked it out today. i'm 6'4" and this additional length is welcome as i plan on loading heavy. it certainly does not look as refined as the alpackas but it comes with a 3 year warranty & seems to have other benifits. i'll check out the alpackas tomorrow. tough decisions... anyone used the nrs yet?

  8. #8
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    931

    Lightbulb Pack Rafts are niche watercraft

    Pack Rafts are niche watercraft receiving a current surge in recognition based by and large on lighter-weight outdoor gear trends. Are any of the brands great choices as a primary, routine-use river-runner or lake/bay floater? Absolutely nor even somewhat –NOT!

    Pioneering the pack-raft design were boats like the “Sherpa” --- intended as a minimalist dinghy for stream crossing, sledding loads, and realistic river-running for its devise and dimension.

    Now we have the Alpacas in Colorado, NRS from China… yadda, yadda – in several shapes, sizes, constructions, fabrics, & features.

    Are Packrafts extraordinary by any stretch as watercraft? From strictly an “on water” point of view --- The real answer is NO. They all (no exceptions) pretty much perform like a miniscule rubber duck or plastic bobber in a bathtub when compared with something like the “self-bailing” NRS Bandit 1 IK at 17 lbs with bona fide valves and chambers.

    So folks don’t get the sense I’m calling packrafts useless items --- What I’m more relating here is the notion that a Packraft is just that… a niche boat for supporting a backpacking means or super flyweight lengthy-portage-style endeavor.

    Now the question on the NRS Pack boats - are they any good? I’d have to be candid here and say NO. Several shortcomings lead to me giving this boat a D grade for “Darn Loser” #1 No spray-skirt in the untested mindset of designer/manufacturer & inexpert motivation of peddler for the pack-raft product! This forces the buyer to custom make their own - since the boat really could use one. #2 No real valving on the raft is faulty by design --- while lighter-weight without… why would you trust your trip to something less substantial than a common plastic soda bottle cap? (@ very least make it out of a soda cap for easy repair/replacement – hint) #3 For its overall weight, it could by leading the industry by being self-bailing. #4 No D-rings --- customer must put a few on if needed – it needs a few!

    The current enthusiasm seams bent on turning pack-rafting into all the rage… ahhh to be trendy cool via the pack-raft as mainstream watercraft. Great for sales! Not too grand for the new, unaware floater dreamingly persuaded these petite delicate boats are day in day out river/creek-runners. Honestly the same things run by pack-raft have been done in inner tubes the world over at a tiny proportion of the price.
    - “group buy on GoodYear!!! anyone… anyone?

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    Honestly the same things run by pack-raft have been done in inner tubes the world over at a tiny proportion of the price.
    - “group buy on GoodYear!!! anyone… anyone?

    I hope you're joking when you say this. If not, I'd like to see you take an inner tube down six mile.

  10. #10
    Member Heg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Girdwood
    Posts
    233

    Default

    Brian, thanks for the reply about NRS boats, I appreciate your honesty.

    However,

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    The current enthusiasm seams bent on turning pack-rafting into all the rage… ahhh to be trendy cool via the pack-raft as mainstream watercraft. Great for sales! Not too grand for the new, unaware floater dreamingly persuaded these petite delicate boats are day in day out river/creek-runners. Honestly the same things run by pack-raft have been done in inner tubes the world over at a tiny proportion of the price.
    - “group buy on GoodYear!!! anyone… anyone?
    I heard similar comments about fat skis when they first came main-stream. Now you are left behind without them.

    In the last few years, people have been accessing some incredible water with pack-rafts. And, I have seen nothing but big *!#@-eating grins on numerous rivers. Although pack-rafts may not be ideal for every situation, they are certainly not a gimmick or fad.

  11. #11
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    13,393

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heg View Post

    I heard similar comments about fat skis when they first came main-stream. Now you are left behind without them.
    That is an excellent analogy, Heg. I have to wonder how much time Mr. Richardson has spent in the water in a packraft to compare them to a bobber or rubber duck. I have been nothing short of amazed at how my packraft performs.

  12. #12

    Default packrafting

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I have to wonder how much time Mr. Richardson has spent in the water in a packraft to compare them to a bobber or rubber duck. I have been nothing short of amazed at how my packraft performs.

    I was thinking the same thing Brian. I understand B Rich has a ton of knowledge when it comes to river floating but that just doesn't sound like something someone who been on them would say. Fad? I doubt it, they add so much more to a river adventure.

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    I'll let Brian defend himself, but I don't think he said that they were a fad, which would imply that they will only be popular for a little while. He just said that they are all the rage right now (which they are), and that that the are a niche boat (which they are).

    They look like a lot of fun, but are really the best solution only for people in need of a sub 10 pound boat. That usually includes back packers, and ???. uhhh. Who else? ----- I don't know either.

    I think an IK is a better all around personal water craft for paddlers, but at 35 pounds, I don't like packing an Aire Lynx very far. What the lightweight boats excel at is being so easily transportable, and still providing a good degree of boating ability. They really are an amazing device that can be used in a wide variety of situations, but are BEST suited only for what they are designed for -- packing.

    Did someone really take an Alpacka down Sixmile? All they way? How much did they swim?

  14. #14

    Default 6mile

    Im pretty sure there have been several descents without a swim down sixmile late in the season. Roman Dial and some of his friends have some youtube of it.

    I wasnt trying to jump on Brian, he's right they're great for packing but they are so fun that i'll drive to a put in's as well and float.

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    "...late in the season..."

    That's when I usually did it in IKs too. That and early, before all the ice is out. The water is a lot lower than mid summer, and other than Staircase, is far safer. I always portaged Staircase in small boats except once when I swam it. I still shudder at the memory.

    IK's are a lot stiffer than a pack raft. It's hard to imagine doing that kind of water in an Alpacka. It would be doing the taco dance way too much for me. That Roman Dial is nuts though. Wild man to the core. You gotta admire him.

    The Alpacka is the perfect boat for people like him though. They open up so much territory that would not be possible in either a lesser or heavier boat.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    "...late in the season..."

    That's when I usually did it in IKs too. That and early, before all the ice is out. The water is a lot lower than mid summer, and other than Staircase, is far safer. I always portaged Staircase in small boats except once when I swam it. I still shudder at the memory.

    IK's are a lot stiffer than a pack raft. It's hard to imagine doing that kind of water in an Alpacka. It would be doing the taco dance way too much for me. That Roman Dial is nuts though. Wild man to the core. You gotta admire him.

    The Alpacka is the perfect boat for people like him though. They open up so much territory that would not be possible in either a lesser or heavier boat.
    hey Jim - the Alpacka website has some awesome pics and video of several alaska runs, the sixmile could be one of them, as well as Ship Creek. The discussion forum also has threads that discuss six mile I believe.

  17. #17
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    931

    Exclamation re-read my post --- AGAIN!

    First & foremost... re-read my post --- AGAIN!

    A.) I’m not joking about inner tubes and the likes… been done guys,,, the world over even by the less than sober… sorry to burst your cynical bubble.
    B.) Fat Skis are in reality a poor analogy… great for various snow conditions… however have little to no place performance wise on icy, demanding terrain. Fat skis are a joke at 80mph on bullet proof ice or even 35 in a steep slalom. The only comparison that can be made is that “FAT” skis have a NICHE in a skier’s quiver.
    C.) For those (doing all the rave reviewing on pack-rafts) that wondered about my own experience in flyweight boats…
    read your OWN posts guys!!! The parts you write like “I recently purchased” or “I got one just this spring” or how about “by no means an expert” hmmm? So quick to critically assess my comments…
    - been in them since guys like (someone mentioned Roman Dial) more or less brought early models & concepts to Alaska in the 80’s for mountaineering and wilderness race support. Wow - that’s going back a little in time… that’s back when Alpacas were just furry 4-leggers and not trade names of Urethane coated fabrics.

    Never said it was a fad… slightly different than all the rage, trend, or en-vogue --- but not by much. A fine line here for certain.
    --- For the boater seeking that niche flyweight boat, packrafting is neither too trendy nor a fad.
    --- Acquiring one as primary watercraft… well, if you pack mostly and boat moderately - still a neat alternative fitting the niche.
    --- Jumping on the bandwagon crowd boating more often than not, yet hikes almost nowhere…. You just missed the boat... you are part of a boat fad… & that’s great, nothing wrong with this picture at all!!!

    Is the Packraft an all 3-canyon 6-mile boat?
    Scenario 1.) Hike or bike to the put in from Anchorage, Girdwood whatever paddle the canyons to Hope --- after which cross the Turnagain arm paddling back to Anchorage…. Allllrighty then --- You are a bona-fide rugged Alaska pack boater on demanding waters with a lot of skill in great physical shape.
    Scenario 2.) You drive to the put in & have a vehicle staged at the take out thereby you challenge yourself through the canyons in a packraft (maybe even enjoying the support of self-bailers or cats designed for the run… better yet captained by professionals on the creek all the time). Heck you don’t even have a backpack or gear bag aboard!!! Got news for ya’ – whether ya wanna hear it or not --- you are not “pack” rafting!!! Purely in an expensive squat on performance and fragile craft on an “out of niche” river run that YES has been done in inner-tubes and much less by boogy board w/ fins head first.

  18. #18
    Member Heg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Girdwood
    Posts
    233

    Default

    Brian, I started this thread looking to get some advice on purchasing a pack-raft. Never did I mention using it as my primary boat, just another “different” way to enjoy Alaskan streams. The possibilities for those with wilderness skills, paddling experience, and a strong level of physical fitness are endless.

    You have knowledge and experience with rafting and some of your previous posts are appreciated, but the condescending tone of your first post ruffled my feathers. Maybe you are just trying to relay some sarcasm, and I don’t get it.

    As far as my analogy of fat skis, it works:

    You said,
    “B.) Fat Skis are in reality a poor analogy… great for various snow conditions… however have little to no place performance wise on icy, demanding terrain. Fat skis are a joke at 80mph on bullet proof ice or even 35 in a steep slalom. The only comparison that can be made is that “FAT” skis have a NICHE in a skier’s quiver.”

    Fat skis have allowed people to ski more terrain with greater speed, style, and safety than on “skinny” skis. Pack-rafts are allowing people to access diverse rivers and creeks where planes can’t get to or to a places where it is not “reasonable” to lug a kayak, hard shell or inflatable. The backcountry skiing, ski mountaineering, free skiing competitions, and just flat out recreational powder skiing have improved significantly and increased the fun factor dramatically since fat skis have become mainstream. I see pack-rafts as a pretty progressive movement in paddling, just like fat skis were to skiing. More people are getting out and enjoying Alaskan streams; that is something that should be celebrated not hated on. And, as far as bullet proof ice and slalom courses go, we obviously are looking at this differently, have different definitions of Alaskan skiing, and don’t frequent the same mountains.

  19. #19
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    931

    Thumbs up Agree & not the tone...

    Heg...

    My first posting was to inform you that the NRS Packrafts are in their early design period... a design time-frame that everyone on the project and sales teams will agree is moving forward, getting better, but is lacking in areas like spray-skirting, valving, D-rings, seating, sizes and so on.

    Not disssin' you at all... I answered your question -

    The tone in the second post was more directed at the doubters, cynics, and critics that could not quite read my original post, instantly got ruffled feathers before they digested what I said... then took over your thread misguiding the conversation away from your first inquiry. I gave you - sound advice based on long term experience and boating trends.... not the "I just ought one" kind of mileage that flowed into this thread.

    I was ribbin' ya a bit on skis tho' --- every ski nowadays has a niche. Niche use & attractive niche purchasing in this way saved the ski industry... carving skis, all mountain skis, shaped skis, powder skis, race skis, flyweight touring skis... all part of a skier's quiver to best match the conditions.

    No need for any ruffled feathers 'tween you & me -

  20. #20

    Default post

    I suppose my post didnt offer much to Heg's post but didnt mean to rile you up either Brian. I like the boats a bunch, they've allowed us to get to some spots I've been dying to see. I apologize if my enthusiasm got the best of me.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •