Packrafting Equipment Guide


Disclaimer! I’m reviewing these boats based on my style of boating: Class IV creeks, Class III big-water, and remote wilderness trips. I like a snug fit in the boat. I am not sponsored by these brands, but I do have a good relationship with Alpacka, meaning that they provided a loaner boat for Iceland and have been really responsive to my repair needs.


I was able to try out a few new boats at the 2016 American Packrafting Association Roundup in Jackson Hole. I was pleased to discover that my preferred boat is still the one I own, a Yak with white-water deck and thigh-straps/backband outlined on the Pimp My Packraft page.

Alpacka basic models

These are still the best option. I think Alpacka‘s sizes run large. The Llama feels XL, the Yak is L, the Alpacka is M. I’m 6’1″ and the Yak is a good fit. Sarah is 5’6″ and I think the Alpacka is too big for her. I don’t think anyone besides hunters should buy the Mule. These sizes changed in ~2014 or so, when the cockpit was moved forward in all the Alpacka models.

Go with the white-water deck unless you want to paddle with a kid or dog in the boat.

I love the cargo fly and feel that it is worth the extra cost for anyone doing long trips or remote white-water. I used to feel on-edge in Class II water with a full pack strapped to the front, and now I’ve done a few Class IV sections with the boat fully loaded via the cargo fly.


I really like the boat geometry; it feels more like a kayak. The Vectran fabric allows for significantly higher pressure, which makes the boat feel edgier, which I really like. But the outfitting and price tag are a deal breaker for me. The backrest and seats didn’t hold up on an extended trip in Iceland, I don’t like the knee cups, and I’m not willing to carry all the extra crap. I’d be very interested in an Alpackalypse with simpler outfitting, but for some reason that isn’t an option. The Alpackalypse is easier to roll than my Yak.

Alpacka self-bailer

I would be too cold in the self-bailer. The inflated floor/seat extends 3/4 of the boat, which means my feet just sat in cold water the whole time. I like the idea of the self-bailer, but either this one isn’t ready, or self-bailers aren’t appropriate for cold water. If you are serious about self-bailers, I’d look into the modifications that Mark Oates is promoting.

The major breakthrough on this boat is the 4-piece thigh strap. The straps were very secure, maybe even too-secure, though I never tried to release in the water. This was the easiest inflatable boat I’ve rolled, and I love the likelihood of a reliable roll in these straps. The self-bailer I paddled was a Yak, so the only difference was the straps. Alpacka will not be selling these straps on a decked boat! Bummer.

Aire BAKraft

I liked the two-part air-bladder/shell and super clean design. The BAKraft was easier to roll than my Yak. My biggest issue, and a deal-breaker for me, is that my butt and feet are at the same level, and I’m not flexible enough at the waist to get a forward lean and as much power from my core as I want. It made me more appreciative of the double-seat in my Yak. Also, the boat was too clean for any cargo, safety rigging, and wet-reentries are more difficult.


I really wanted to like the Kokopelli boats because they are more affordable and I am cheap. My impression is that the boats are not appropriate for white-water or anything remote. I don’t like the designs, I don’t like the materials. I watched a NOLS instructor do some incredible surfing in the self-bailer, and one of the guys in Jackson liked his, so I could be wrong here. But I don’t trust the construction and the designs looked significantly behind the curve. **See the comments for a better opinion of the 2016 models. I haven’t seen the 2016 models.

MRS rafts

I haven’t seen one of these in person, but they are gaining a following in Europe. My understanding is that the high cost of importing boats to Europe led some folks to go into production. The designs and options are similar to Alpacka’s, but I don’t know how the fabric, durability, etc., compare.


I’m 6’1″, long arms, and I use a 197 cm and 193 cm paddle in whitewater. I don’t think there is any reason for anyone to get anything longer. 205 cm might be good for a flatwater trip, but the 197 would be fine with me. Aquabound (Shred) is cheaper, heavier, and has better customer service. Werner is expensive, higher quality, and charges a lot for repair/replacement. The Werner Powerhouse is a good candidate for white-water, but pretty heavy if you are carrying it on a long trip. The Werner Sherpa might be a better hiker’s option, though if you aren’t seeking whitewater, Werner’s high-angle touring paddles are lighter still. I think 200 cm is the shortest, and that’s what I’d get. You are likely to break these paddles if you use them in whitewater.

If you do a lot of road-side paddling, it is worth getting a one-piece paddle. Otherwise, you will wear out the joints on your more expensive 4-piece and need to replace it after a few seasons.


In Alaska, you have to include the cost of the drysuit when you consider buying a packraft. Rafting without a drysuit will be uncomfortable and can be very dangerous in cold water. I’m intrigued by the economical Mythic drysuits. They aren’t as durable in terms of small tears, but people seem generally pleased with them, especially given the cost. I think the O.S. Systems non-breathable rear-entry drysuit is another good economical option, especially for very cold water.

A lot of guys are happy with the thinner and lighter Alpacka drysuits, but they aren’t durable enough for my needs. Roman and Brad love theirs, but they also wear rain gear over them to protect them in the brush.

I think ‘splash suits’ are appropriate for some mellow water, but I’m not very interested in anything without latex neck and wrist gaskets and sewn-on booties. I’m wearing the suit because I think I might swim, and if I swim, I want to stay dry. If I don’t think I’ll swim, I’ll wear rain gear. For remote trips where I anticipate Class I/II water, I bring a pair of old Patagonia sea-kayak paddle pants and a rain jacket. I like both the Kokatat hooded rain jacket, and Patagonia’s M10.

For more serious white-water and durability, Kokatat has the best reputation, though other Gore-Tex options should work find. NRS suits have a poor reputation right now. For any brands, the Gore-Tex option is probably better than the cheaper breathable fabrics since packrafters do plenty of walking with the suits on. I don’t trust the 2-piece suit (I’ve heard of a few leaks) and would just stick with the standard front-entry. If you anticipate doing some kayaking as well, you will want a suit with an over-skirt, which adds cost and weight.


Vests fit differently, it is worth trying some on for a good fit and features match.

Astral’s Camino might be the best weight-to-floatation option. Something like the sub-pound MTI Quest or Journey would be a good choice for minimum weight on class II water.

Astral’s Green has been the go-to rescue vest for folks on Class IV and above water. The Kokatat Ronin is also well-reviewed, featuring more flotation and a lower fit.

Throw Bag

I’m partial to the NRS Wedge because it fits well in a sleeve in my PFD and I like how it throws. The bigger bags aren’t very practical for packrafting, but you want at least 50 ft. of rope. The NRS Guardian or Salamander Retriever (waist-belt) throw ropes are probably the best option if your vest won’t fit the wedge. The Guardian comes in a Pro model (Dynema), that is probably overkill for packrafts. Solgear is working on a packraft-specific throw bag, but it isn’t available yet.


It is worth trying some on for a good fit. The small bill is an important feature; it can create an air pocket over your face.

Repair Kit

  • Tyvek Tape
  • Aquaseal (the small tube that comes with replacement gaskets is nice)
  • Tenacious Tape
  • a strip of tube material long enough to replace the cargo zipper
  • mouth valve cap (long trips only)
  • main valve cap (long trips, big groups, only)


  1. First: Thanks once again for putting together very usefull high-quality info package.

    Second: A word on the MRS boats as I’ve been using them for a year now. For me the materials, quality, workmanship, etc. seem up to par with the Alpackrafts. So in the end it comes down to availability/costs and personal preferences as designs are little different. A month ago I bought the MRS Alligator 2S, the “white-water boat” of the lineup. Based on a few days of paddling I like it a lot. I can’t comapre it to Alpackalypse as I haven’t seen one live but compared to my (2014?) Denali Llama the Alligator:

    has better geometry (pointier, smaller tubes for edging and stroke placement, etc.)
    has better spraydeck (similar design btu beefier fabrics and somehow drier)
    comes with excellent 3-point thigh straps

    Personally I like it a lot more than my Llama. Especially as with the weak euro, they are cheaper for us Europeans. It’s little heavier but that’s the price of thigh straps and beefier fabrics. Next upgrade would be to get one with cargo-fly style compartment solution.

  2. I have a 2014 Yak with a cargo fly, zipper, whitewater deck. Paid full retail for it and got it in a custom California King Snake banding pattern.

    It has a couple other mods and I prefer the lightweight internal dry bags over the zipper dry bags if I am carrying the boat at all.

    This boat has been super versatile: it worked on a self-supported full length trip down the Grand Canyon (with a clean mountain can suspended inside the tube); Upper Willow (multiple times — see Luc’s Show Up and Blow Up Alaska), Six Mile at 10′, Lost Coast with a bike (where a long 210 cm paddle is nice), and a week long multi river trip across the Talkeetnas (including Big Su, Watana Creek, Fog Creek, Talkeetna Canyon, upper Disappointment, and Clear Creek), as well as a Class II packrafting and hiking trip from the Noatak to the Kobuk Dunes and down the Kobuk.

    So that’s one boat to do a great variety of things. Last year I could combat roll it occasionally. It has old Aire thigh straps and a Jackson back band.

    Is it perfect? No, but very versatile.

    And I love that boat. Every time I get in it I say a private thanks to Thor and Sheri Tingey for getting the packraft to where it is today

  3. Thanks for the great write up Luc. I’d like to add a few things from my perspective. For anyone that doesn’t know, my background is that I started packrafting in 1997 and founded Alpacka Raft with my mom, Sheri, in 2000. Although I remained peripherally involved in the company, I pursued a separate career in Portland Oregon from 2004-2015 and recently rejoined Alpacka full time in 2016. I do lots of different kinds of packrafting, from long hikes and easy floats, to targeted hunting and fishing trips, to both backcountry and front country big and small water whitewater runs. My personal boats at the moment are a self-bailing vectran Yak, a medium Alpackalypse, and a couple of prototypes. I still believe that the best all purpose AK boat is a whitewater deck and cargo fly Alpacka/Yak/Llama/Mule

    Sizing – Our sizing probably is a little big, but I’d make a couple of notes on that. First, I’m 6’0″ and 200 lbs and I still wear a medium in every premium brand of outdoor apparel except baselayers. I paddle a Yak for WW and a Llama for expeditions, so our sizing is somewhat comparable with the rest of the industry. If you paddle with a high knee bend as most people with thigh straps do, then the shorter boat fits better. But l don’t like sitting with my knees in kayak position for 8 hours of flat water and riffles which is where the Llama comes in.
    Comparison of your boat to current models – The boat you tested was a little bit different from your current one, the main thing being that it was made out of 100d Vectran. That adds quite a bit of the stiffness that you liked about the Alpackalpyse. If we ever get enough of it, we’ll offer it as an option although its crazy expensive (roughly 4x the cost in fabric and a minimum $300 upcharge). I really love my vectran boats. The 2016 boats also have a little better fitting deck (you didn’t test this) and a slightly more extended stern. We are constantly working on our designs and try to work those changes into the model lines as quickly as possible even if we don’t do much advertising of those changes. But overall, the shape of the boat isn’t going to be a whole lot different than your current boat.
    The Self Bailer Setup Conundrum – I think you indirectly hit on a really important issue when it comes to packraft self bailers. That issue is how high you are willing to make your seat position and what are the effects of that change–which is all about your center of gravity (COG). We know two things about that setup when it comes to self bailers. First, as you mentioned, sitting flat is pretty uncomfortable so your heels need to be lower than your butt – in my opinion a 4-5″ difference in butt and heel position is best for paddling. Second, all self bailers are going to fill with water up to the displacement line of the boat. Pretty much all packrafts are going to have at least a 3-4″ water displacement, so if you want to be totally out of the water, you need at least 4-5 inches of floatation under your heels to stay completely out of the water. But that then means your seat at least 8 inches tall to get that nice comfy paddling position.

    Here’s the issue and you noticed it immediately when rolling the Alpacka self bailer. Its not just the new thigh straps which are fantastic, but the fact that your body has a lower center of gravity in the boat which is critical to proper rolling setup and clean hip control over the boat. In my personal experience, I have found a low COG (more like a kayak) much easier to roll and actually necessary to hit a combat roll. So, when you are talking self bailer, you have a choice of either getting your heels wet and hitting the big combat roll or staying dry but probably swimming if you get upside down in a decent rapid. Also, Alpacka’s approach to self bailers really tried to offer both worlds although we’re a bit biased to the lower COG. All self bailers are shipped with a front pillow that fully covers the open area of the floor and keeps your feet out of the water. From this, you either have to sit flat or you can add another seat which gives you a high COG. The best fit with the thigh straps is the low COG and half pillow that you demoed. There are lots of ways to do it, its just kind of up to the person to figure out what they want to prioritize.

    I also would note that you might find better rolling performance in your personal boat if you slightly lowered your seat height. I tested a setup based on yours in Alaska this summer and the only thing that I found difficult was rolling from a high COG position. The four point straps will make a difference too.

    Alpacka and Thigh Straps – I figure this is as good of a place as any to clear the air a bit about Alpacka’s stance on thigh straps. Some of this is probably our own doing in not articulating our reasons better, but we get lots of inquiries from folks that say that we “hate” thigh straps. Its a bit more complicated than that, but the simple answer is that we are a really small company and when thigh straps first started being added to boats 8 years ago we didn’t have any of the risk protections that we felt were necessary to offer thigh straps on a decked boat from the factory. Many things have changed over the last 8 years and we’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out a solution that is acceptable to us–we didn’t come up with the Alpackalypse straps and the new bailer straps overnight=) It is my sincere hope that we can figure out a way to offer thigh straps in the decked boats at some point, but we won’t be able to do so until we get our ducks in a row when it comes to risk protection.

    Many new packrafters do not have significant prior WW kayaking experience which is essential to understanding how to safely evaluate and handle the risks of being upside down inside your boat in a rapid. Adding thigh straps to a boat means that the person really should spend some time in the pool or flat water (just like buying a a kayak) where you learn how to properly wet exit from the boat, shield your body from hitting obstacles underwater, and learning proper rolling technique. If you do that and exercise other normal safe boating practices, adding thigh straps to a boat is a great way to improve edge to edge control and handling. But the boater has to be both knowledgable and practiced at the increased risk that is associated with those straps.

  4. In reference to the kokopelli boats. I think you may have seen a 2015 boat. The 2016 Nirvana is totally redesign. I never cared for the pre 2016 boats. But the 2016 are pretty good. Ive been having students and myself paddle them all summer. Students are picking up WW skills fine. I have paddled a yak in whitewater, and agree smaller boat is preferred in class III+. After running Echo Bend at 4.3 ft, class IV level, the kokopelli nirvana L, performed well.

  5. Hi Luc,
    Thanks for another concise and excellent post.
    I’m interested to know if you have any experience with or thoughts on the Alpacka Gnarwhal and the upgraded Alpackalypse?

    1. Hi Tom- Good timing, I was finally able to jump in the Gnar and Lypse at the end of the season. Here is my take:

      The Gnar feels like the next logical step in the evolution of the standard Alpacka series (Alpacka, Yak, Llama). The multiple changes in boat geometry in the past ten years weren’t given new names, but they could have been. This time… bigger changes, new name, but still a very familiar boat. The higher volume boat is even more forgiving in technical water (feel free to have mixed feelings about that!). The Alpacka thighstraps are excellent, and they’ve adopted the kayak style backband that most technical packrafters have been using for a few years. So… all good. The only downside is the weight/bulk, and I don’t have a good sense for how those compared with my Yak in full white-water mode. My guess is that the Yak is still the right choice for all-around use… flatwater, throw a kid or dog in the boat, strip it down for expedition weight, etc. But for paddlers that anticipate being on technical water, the Gnar would be first choice.

      The Lypse is harder for me to understand. Much less stable, picks up speed more quickly, but loses it quickly too. I suspect that the Lypse is most appealing to kayakers who want the feel of a small, nimble boat. There are some really strong paddlers in the states that prefer the Lypse… I suspect they are just better boaters than I will ever be.

  6. Based on your findings/opinions, what size Alpacka would your recommend for a slight woman (120 lb.), 5′ 8.5” who plans to paddle max. Class III and do multi-day trips?

    1. Hi Jewel- I think you want the small (Alpacka). Advantages are… more control (I prefer the snugger fit, even for flat water), lighter boat. The only disadvantage would be if your legs are cramped up. But I think that is unlikely. I’m 6’1″ and paddle a medium.

      I think the folks at Alpacka don’t mind receiving calls asking about sizes and models.

  7. Another good economy dry suit option is the Stohlquist EZ. I actually prefer it over the more expensive Kokatats. The neck gasket is unique; comfortable and tear proof. The wrist gaskets are more tear resistant than the competition.

    1. We have used that model now use Mythic brand. Much lighter, and they have held up well with commercial use. Plus we do a lot of swift water rescue and sea rescue classes where students are submerged for extended periods.

      Mythic suits lasted all season, no seam leaks. And they start at $280. I ordered 15 for 2018, AK Kayak Academy go to dry suit .

      1. Great input Jim. Your commercial experience with Mythic Drysuits speaks much for their quality. And at their low weight and price – They seem to be the way to go for most. As for me, I will stick with the Sohlquist EZ ($400 on sale) The more comfortable yet dry neck gasket doesn’t give me headaches like the regular latex neck gaskets. On a multi-day trip, I have peace of mind that it is pretty much impossible to tear the EZ neck gasket. Also, the EZ wrist gaskets are more tear resistant than other brands, though not “tear proof” like the EZ neck gasket.

  8. I agree with your review of the Bakraft. I tried it and am also not a fan of the higher foot position. I also am not that flexible.

    1. Thanks Jay, I appreciate your suggestions! And cool to hear from Jim that the Mythics are holding up.

      My only discomfort with your suggestions is the North Water Micro Throw Line. I guess if the choice is that or nothing, I support it. But if the bag is actually going to be used… then I’d justify more money/weight on a better bag. I’ve fully embraced spending more on quality safety equipment… that isn’t the corner I want to cut. From a bunch of swiftwater safety work this summer, my opinion is that having the throw bag on a waist band is the most important feature. Longer than 50-ft is nice, dyneema is nice, and thicker than 1/4 is nice, but those are secondary to the waist band. This is especially true for women.

      1. Hey no problem Luc. The NRS Wedge suggested by the author of this article is almost identical to the North Water Micro. Here is a review of it from

        “The Wedge throw bag is a great fit for a whitewater boat or personal carry, my 75′ throw bag takes up so much space where as this smaller bag fits easily behind the back band and you don’t have to wrestle it out of its storage space which I think is a real safety feature in is own right. Even though it is small with 55′ feet of line it is an appropriate size for many rivers, and most kayakers I know are capable of throwing it far enough to use all of it’s 55′ of range, not the case with the larger heavier 75′ lines which many are incapable of throwing it far enough to reach its maximum distance should it be required. A great product in a good size at a reasonable price. I liked it so much I purchased another for my paddling partner, because it will not be my throw bag that rescues me, but it could be hers.”

        1. I’ve used both, and think the NRS Wedge throws better and is easier to hold on to in the water (rope texture)… enough to suggest it over the Micro. But both are surprisingly slick if you are actually hauling something. My bigger point is that folks should go with waist-band models and try not pay too much attention to the price tag on safety equipment.

    1. Yep, that is a nice solution. I’m surprised the ‘regulation’ is only 20 g heavier than the micro… that looks like a better bag to me… easier to stuff, and probably carries better on the waist band. The pro and wedge look good too, lots of options, but more $.

  9. Luc just wondering what size gnarwal did you use for the 205 Grand Canyon trip? Size medium or Large. Thanks

  10. Luc thanks for the response. For the seating on your decked Gnar, did you use the normal 5inch high seat or 7inch bailer seat to get higher seating position?

    1. I used the stock Gnar seat. I put a 1/2″ foam pad under the seat at the end of trip. I might not need/want that extra boost with an empty boat, but I wanted a little more lift since I had a lot of cargo weight in the stern.

  11. Hey Luc, thanks so much for sharing all this information and insight. It’s very helpful. I’m not sure whether this was written before or after Alpacka came out with the Stowaway Tough or the Trekker. If this was written before, I’m wondering if you have any further thoughts or insight about those paddling suits. I’m looking at getting my first drysuit. Thanks!

    1. Hi Stu! I don’t have any personal experience with the Alpacka-brand suits. My girlfriend has the stowaway and it is a pretty ideal suit for cold class ii+ water (like the brooks range).

      Most of my trips are either scenic floats, with no real splash/rapids, or full-on whitewater, so (with a whitewater deck) I either go with rain gear or a bomber dry suit. That said, I’m always more wet and cold on the scenic floats that Sarah is in her stowaway. There is definitely a time when each of the Alpacka suits would be perfect for the job… so the question is whether you can justify the cost.

      I wish the stowaway had latex gaskets, I don’t know why you would make a drysuit without latex gaskets. But I think that’s why they started making the stowaway tough. I love the idea of having a hood like on the trekker, but again, no latex gaskets.

      I don’t think there are any suits that compete with Alpacka’s low weights.

    2. I really like my Stohlquist EZ. The neck gasket isn’t latex, but also not just neoprene. It is coated neoprene that seals better than traditional neoprene neck gaskets (it is a dry suit, not a semi-dry suit). The result is a much more comfortable and durable neck gasket than latex ones, without much compromize to the seal. But the suit is 2.5 lbs.

  12. Luc is your Gnar made with normal 210d fabric or 400d Vectran. Can you kindly share your opinion on Vectran fabric? Is it worth the upgrade. Thanks you

    1. I went with the standard fabric and am totally satisfied with it. It is kind of amazing that the 400d is lighter and stronger… but yeah, expensive.

      Originally, one of the main selling points for Vectran was that you could get the boat to higher pressure, which makes a notable difference. But the change from the old mouth valve to the new one-way valve resulted in being able to get ~twice the psi on the standard fabric. I assume you can still get higher pressure in a Vectran boat, but the difference is no longer as significant.

      Worth an extra $200 for lighter/stronger? Probably for some people. But maybe not for most?

  13. Anyone in Alaska have experience using a self-bailing Gnarwhal? I live in the upper Susitna valley and will mainly be doing rivers around here, but also a lot of water around the state. Obviously I’ll be wearing a drysuit, but does the bailer ‘hold’ too much water for comfort? I’ve heard people complaining mainly about the water around the feet area. I really would prefer a bailer over a deck… seems like that might not be too practical though. There’s not too many posts or info online regarding this, any input would be awesome. Also, does anyone have input on the dryness of the removable ww deck vs. the standard?

    1. HI Jarren- I agree with Asher’s response (below). The cold splashing water is more of an issue for me than the standing water in the foot box. If you will primarily be on flat water, I think the bailer could be a good option. If you are looking for class ii and above water, catching splash and spray, the bailer will be really cold in Alaska. You could wear extra clothing, etc., but then you are trading deck weight for extra gear weight. So… hard to make a pitch for the bailers in Ak. I think this is Brad and Roman’s opinion too.

  14. Jarren with Bailer there will always be water at least 3-4 inches deep inside the boat. You will be constantly splashed by the water inside. In Alaska’s weather, you will be cold even with dry suit. For short trip its tolerable but for long extended trip it could be dangerous. The best solution will be having both deck and bailer boat and use accordingly but that will cost a fair bit of money.

  15. Luc can you please kindly share your thoughts from your time on the new “wolverine”? Are there any major design change? Thanks

    1. Gladly! I just ordered one, paddled a friend’s Wolverine in New Zealand a few months ago. I’ve only heard good things about the W from friends that have spent more time in them. I anticipate it being exactly what I want.

      I feel like the W is a hybrid solution to the Grarwhal / Alpackalypse end-member whitewater boats. The tube diameter is between those older models, and the W maintains the G hull design. I’m not a sensitive enough boater to really feel the difference with the square stern, but I like that it allows for a centered cargo zipper.

      The W is more nimble than the G, which I appreciate. I loved the G in big water, but found it to be bigger and more sluggish than I wanted on creeks. The W was an excellent re-design in that regard.

      The W is less stable than the G, but more stable than the Alpackalypse. This is the trade-off… stability vs. being able to lean and quickly maneuver a boat.

      The W is lighter than the G and Alpackalypse.

      For my style of boating, it is really a decision between the more ww-oriented W and the standard Alpacka design, with ww deck, zipper, and thigh straps. The original design is still excellent, those boats are more than adequate on class IV water. I don’t think there is much of a weight difference between the Alpacka and the Wolverine, so I’m going with the ww design.

  16. Luc, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the “W”. Your thoughts on “G” confirmed my suspicion on the maneuverability of Gnarwhal. I am glad I hold off on getting the “G”. Now I can look forward to the new “wolverine”.

  17. One thing everyone is completely pushing off to the side lines is the warranty through a reputable company! Alpackaraft is LIFETIME Warranty! Might take that into consideration due to the breakdown of materials in the outdoors! I try to only buy from reputable lifetime companies that help and work with the customer.
    I just ordered a Forager and alpacka raft was happy to modify it to my needs.
    Just some food for thought also had a mrs rep put down alpacka saying mrs has better products but not a better warranty! I WAS CONFUSED!! Still am lol😝

  18. I’m looking for information on sizing within the Alpacka line for tall people. I’ve got a 50 inch sit length when barefoot, weight 235, height 6’3”. I’m not looking for serious whitewater. Class 1-3 floats in Alaska. I’m in my 60’s and not as flexible as I used to be. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Hi Jim- I think any XL might work for you, and you can also have length added on a custom order. I recommend trying an XL on for size (AMH in Anchorage probably has one), and if it feels too tight, talking with Alpacka about a custom build.

      If you plan to carry much gear, you might appreciate the extra buoyancy of the XL Gnarwal.

  19. Hi Luc

    Thanks for creating this website, it is super helpful. I am a canoer new to packrafting and am packrafting in the Yukon and NWT (long hike ins, long river trips, colder weather). I have been in discussions with my community about whether or not to bring along a larger throw bag, carabiners and prussic (heavy, take up space) that would have the capacity to do a 3 to 1 pulley system. Is it necessary in a packraft to have this safety gear (as it would be with a canoe)? Appreciate any insights you have.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hi Fenton-

      To my knowledge, the only packrafters that have used pinning kits (mechanical advantage systems) used them on other boats (canoes, kayaks).

      I do carry that stuff for roadside trips … why not. But I’d only bring it on a remote trip if we were intentionally seeking hard whitewater.

      That’s my take.

  20. Hey Luc, I was curious if you have any experience with the new HD Spray Skirts from Alpacka? When you buy a new WW Raft they give you the option to upgrade to the HD for the price difference or stick with the UL. Any advice between the two, particularly for a new packrafter?


    1. Good timing! I got to use an HD skirt for the first time last month.

      It is a classic dilemma: lightweight vs. durability. How much hiking will you be doing with it?

      When I’m making this kind of decision I try to rank my applications. For me:
      1. Teaching in a packraft
      2. Remote and non-technical paddling
      3. Roadside Class IV

      So that tips the balance toward the lighter model. That said, they only last me a few years and I recommend carrying a spare on any long trip with a few partners. We shredded one during my last trip of the summer and didn’t have a spare.

      The HD skirt is great, everything you would expect from Alpacka. I believe they are coming out with an even burlier skirt next season, but I like the existing model. It takes a little time to get in the habit of releasing the skirt from the corner rather than the pull tab (for intentional releases). This protects the coaming from bending and crimping.

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