Oct 27, 2012

Winter Wishlist

dry suit



  1. Hi,
    about size choice of alpacka raft.I'm 5'10.5" 32 inseam 13 foot size 180 lbs

    i like thight fit and i want thight srap with probably withewater spray skirt

    what do you think about size for me and why?i see advantage for each 3 size!!!(alpacka,yak and Llama0

    why do you choice Llama for both of you?
    and what your size

    thanks for your help


  2. Hey J-F
    Although by Alpackas size reference page both of us could fit in a Yukon (Renee - 5`9" and kirk 5`11" average weight)we both got the larger sized Llamas for a few reasons.
    1) With a larger size boat we were able to move the seat forward to "trim out the boat" and get a more aggressive paddling stance, boofs better, punches holes better, rolls easier.

    2) Allows us to put a 15 liter dry-bag up in front of our feet (strapped in) which acts as a foot brace instead of using the boat as a foot brace. Adjustable fit with the amount of stuff you put in the drybag, also makes a 3"-4" wider area for your .

    3) Allows us to also put a 15 Liter dry-bag behind the seat-back (strapped in). Having the gear inside the boat lowers the center of gravity and allows you to evenly distribute the weight. Rolls better and not as tippy as having the full weight of overnight gear on top of the boat. Having the gear inside the boat also makes portaging or packing the boat easier. For a overnight trip we can get all out stuff in the two bags and thus nothing on the top of the boat... on a multi day trip (food is bulky) almost all our gear is in the boat with a small bag on top of the boat that carries light items and as the food disappears closer to the end of the trip most all gear is transferred inside the boat.

    4) Moving the seat forward also allows you to have a adjustable back-band that hooks into the same d-rings as the thigh straps. While you are floating you can pop the spray deck open and adjust the fit to be tighter or looser. Looser for calm water stretches and snug it up for rapids where you want a tight fit.

    5) More volume for heavier loads makes the boat float higher in the water allowing it to maneuver better in the river.

    The larger packraft is a little heavier but we feel the weight is worth the added benifits of gear inside the boat and being able to move the weight around and center the trim of the boat. In a perfect world we would have all 3 sizes to choose from but this is what we chose for our first packrafts and have been happy with them.

    Can`t say what size you would be more happy with but with your foot size I would say the smaller Alpaca is probably out. I hope some of what I listed for our reasons help you decide on a size. Renee is in the process of doing a "gear we chose" write up and I will make sure she puts some pictures of our loaded boat set up and the way we do the thigh strap, and adjustable back-band which is homemade, super cheep to make, light, and removable.

    Let me know if I can answer any questions for what I wrote if it does not make sense.

    Thanks for your interest in our Blog,

  3. Many thanks Kirk,

    an about spray skirt(two style) advantage and disadvantage of each one?

    1. Hey again,
      I think with the skirts you need to ask yourself what your primary use will be. We have one of each styles and I personally am a fan of the new whitewater style and Renee likes the cruiser style better.

      The whitewater spray deck is dry.... and I`ll repeat myself "dry", and the cruiser deck is not.

      I have been a whitewater kayaker for years and am very use to using spray-skirts and decked boats and prefer them. The set up takes a little longer to get into the boat (you can`t just jump in). If you are trying to get into the boat in an unstable, steep, rocky, swift riverbank it can be a challenge to get in the boat and get the skirt on before you start floating into rapids because you let go of shore to put the skirt on. There are tricks to not having this happen but Renee constantly just jumps in slaps the Velcro down and is floating away while I am still messing with getting my skirt on. But on the other hand she is constantly emptying water out of her boat while I can boat the whole day and only get a small amount of water in the boat mostly from getting in and out of the boat.

      The cruiser deck is removable which is nice for sunny summer days when you are just floating(lake or calm river) This is really the only time when I miss having a skirt that is removable but I can still lean back and flop my legs on top of the raft tubes and jet my legs some sun. The poles for the whitewater deck are a pain to pack and carry. Alpacka did change the configuration of this which makes it easier. At first they had four pieces of aluminum tent pole and the two rounded ends were a pain to pack. Now they use a flexable piece of tubbing on the front and back which is easier to pack and install, but if you loose one of these peices while you are hiking the skirt is useless. You can paddle the boat without the skirt on but are going to get a good amount of water in the boat.

      I feel you have to be a little more careful with the whitewater deck and the pole assembly since it is rigid. You don`t want to sit on the cockpit combing (pole assembly) getting in or out of the boat. Because the deck is rigid and tighter it is more prone to punctures although I have not had a problem with this yet. Never carry the boat or pick it up by the skirt or pole section. It it tough but I am constantly telling people to not pick it up that way when they are checking out my boat. If you do this enough the skirt will eventually stretch out and be saggy letting water pool up on the skirt or you could rip it if the boat is loaded with gear. I would say though, Alpacka offers a heavier denier fabric upgrade for there skirts and I would recommend getting the tougher fabric, it`s worth it.

      The whitewater deck also allows you to move your sitting placement more forward than the cruiser deck. When you move forward with the cruiser deck the inflatable pod gets in the way a little... its not bad but it does make the water pool up a little on the skirt in front of the inflatable pod.

      The whitewater spray skirts can implode from too much water pressure and quickly fill your boat with water in the right situation (big wave/hole or large drop) where it would be really hard to get the cruiser deck to implode in this fashion. I personally have never had a problem with this happening. I do not use the suspenders on the skirt, (actually I will probably just cut them off, though I have not done this yet), and I use a drytop or a drysuit with a tunnel for a skirt built in. Its drier, keeps the skirt up so no pooling which is the reason for the suspenders and if you were to swim and get the skirt snagged on something you could actually get it off (very rare but could happen) Rolling the boat with suspenders is also a bad idea. When your butt leaves the seat because you are upside down the suspenders pull the skirt off the combing if you have them cinched up.

    2. Continued.....
      Both skirts will hold you in the boat if you flip over so you do need to know how to release the skirt to safely exit the boat and should practice this somewhere safe before you are in the middle of a rapid and this happens.

      If you do flip, exit the boat and swim the cruiser deck style is a lot easier to get back into the boat mid river just hop back in. I have not had to re-enter the boat midstream from a swim but I feel it would be challenging and could possibly damage the deck if you jump up and sit on it.

      If I did not do whitewater I would probably prefer the cruiser deck for its versatility but I love the rapids so I prefer the whitewater deck, but on the other hand Renee does not want to hassle with the whitewater skirt and lover the cruiser deck. Just personal preference, so depending on your overall needs its a choice to make.


    3. Thanks Kirk.