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Thread: Packraft advice

  1. #1
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    Default Packraft advice

    I'm getting on a bit now and finding it difficult to get in and out of whitewater kayaks so considering a packraft. I did paddle an open for 20 years but the last 5 years I have been finding them too heavy to manhandle so I got back into kayaks which are half the weight.
    I do mainly river touring these days, the long Scottish rivers Tay/Spey etc and am going back to France for a few weeks this year to do the Allier/Ardeche. As you might know all these rivers have rocks / stoney rapids / gravel runs etc and I can't get my head around a packraft being durable in spite of the many videos on YT of them doing G4 etc in New Zealand/USA. so i am looking for first hand experience of folk who paddle them on rivers, give them abuse etc.
    Thanks for any info and re assurance you can give me
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  2. #2
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    Try a PM to Crow. He's taken his packraft darn near everywhere.

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    Thanks good suggestion.
    Always buy the best you can,t afford

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    My very limited experience of them, well seeing the better brands anyway, suggests they are very tough for their size and weight. I've also seen plenty of impressive adventures carried out in them. I think they'll handle rocks well enough for your described trips, easily.

    However, my impression is that on the slower parts of these rivers, they will be slow, better suited to the moving water bits. I know you wanted first hand experience, but as nobody has replied, I have at least prodded them and even had a very quick go in one! So, depends what you want I guess. If you also want to do stillwater, you will find yourself working harder and will probably need to adjust daily distances.

    To me, they really come into their own on trips where they are part paddling, and part walking/mountain etc. There are quite a few different types now, some more suited to carrying plenty of camping gear than others.

    Have you considered something like an Ally or Packboat folding canoe? They're light (not AS light though) and I can confirm that my Ally can cope admirably with things like shallow moving water river with rocks - that is first hand experience on Norwegian (and Welsh) rocks and both countries know how to do rocks. If you're not carrying it up mountains, it will give you a true open canoe experience for under 20kg weight.
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    Thanks for replying Mal. I kind of thought they would be slow on the flat sections of the longer rivers. Nice to hear that they are tough.
    I don,t want one for stillwater but maybe when the rivers are higher and running a bit faster after rain I think they might be fun to float downstream and i hear the wide beam makes them quite stable. I suppose I better just get one and try it out
    Always buy the best you can,t afford

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crofty View Post
    Thanks for replying Mal. I kind of thought they would be slow on the flat sections of the longer rivers. Nice to hear that they are tough.
    I don,t want one for stillwater but maybe when the rivers are higher and running a bit faster after rain I think they might be fun to float downstream and i hear the wide beam makes them quite stable. I suppose I better just get one and try it out
    They certainly seem to handle whitewater pretty well. As Sk8r said, Crow is your man for this stuff, I'll nudge him in the direction of the thread.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks Mal, i already PMd Crow and he gave me his views on them. Turns out they are his go to WW boat
    Always buy the best you can,t afford

  8. #8
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    Yes indeed.

    I now have a self bailer packraft (in addition to my first one). Which basically means it has holes in the floor! But no need for a spray deck. And it has thigh braces, if you want them. So pretty much unsinkable. Not unflippable though, but you need to work hard to capsize it. I did a WW course in it at the Scottish Packraft Roundup last year, which was very worthwhile.

    Yes they are the slowest boats I've got, but of course on moving water they're as fast as the river. Can still use them on flat water, just double your time estimate. As Mal says, great for trips involving walking too - linking small lochs up to the top of a mountain and returning down a river. Also good for shallow water - can reach places other canoes would be grounded on. Not bad on the sea either - near the shore, so you don't get blown too far out, as they are remarkably buoyant in the waves.

    And of course, they are the only canoe you can take as hand luggage on a plane! (Or bus or train). Done that several times.


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    Another thing they're good for, is using them with a bicycle shuttle. You cycle up along the river with the boat on your back, tie your bike to a tree then paddle down the river. Returning for your bike later. Done that many times, it's good fun.

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    Great to hear you've got a self bailer Crow. Thats what i've bought as well. I won,t be cycling up and down the rivers though because the Tay/Dee/Spey all have bus services running along the rivers so I can use my bus pass to get back to the car and take my boat with me
    Always buy the best you can,t afford

  11. #11

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    Crofty

    If you haven't already done so, check out https://inflatablekayaksandpackrafts.com. Chris who runs that blog posts here too (as usernameChrisS, I think) so he might be worth a PM or an email through his blog

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Inflator View Post
    Crofty

    If you haven't already done so, check out https://inflatablekayaksandpackrafts.com. Chris who runs that blog posts here too (as usernameChrisS, I think) so he might be worth a PM or an email through his blog
    Thanks I did already, he put me on to Longshore who got me sorted out
    Always buy the best you can,t afford

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