Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Packrafting trips and tales from down under.
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Chris S
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Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Chris S » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:18 am

A mate is joining me for a trip with my Yak in WA but’s doesn’t want/can't afford to commit to an Alpacka.
Anyone have any ideas down there for a viable alternative packboat for a one-week trip through the bush?
Flat water, half walking, carrying food for a week so needs to be quite light.

I recently did a trip with a mate in a £30 PVC Intex dinghy and was surprised how quickly it got mashed going over mild riffles.
With some nursing and duct tape it could last but I wonder what more cash might buy in Au while staying small?

Chris S

remoteriverman
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by remoteriverman » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:28 pm

Last year I used an Alpacka Yukon Yak (just a little over 2 kgs) to explore an extremely remote river in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. A couple years before I used a Sevylor K2 two-person inflatable kayak on another month-long remote river exploration in coastal BC Canada (I took the second seat out and used the extra space for my food/gear). The kayak (empty) weighs about 18 kgs.

I have thirty years experience exploring isolated river systems alone, on foot, in a packraft, and in a kayak, so I've tried all kinds of methods.

The short answer to your question "Is there an alternative to a packraft" is sure, there are plenty. But there are none anywhere as good. An inflatable kayak will perhaps perform a bit better on open water with no current, and have more room for gear, but the advantages of a packraft in all other areas far outweighs this. For me, the deciding factor is that I do a lot of my trips overseas. I have to put whatever I'm using on a plane. The excess baggage charges for the kayak were absolutely killing me, but I've never had any excess charges with the packraft. To give you an idea, when I head to Guyana to explore a jungle river shortly, Royal Brunei Air (from Australia to London and back, which is the bulk of my journey) will allow me one 20 kg backpack plus a 7 kg carry-on - that's it. This is for a month-long, remote-area jungle expedition. Every kilo over the 20 kg limit, I am charged 70 dollars, per kilo, in both directions.

Because I have to basically carry everything I need in one backpack, it's just far more practical, at least for my (admittedly highly specialized) purposes to go with a packraft. Which, incidentally, was considerably cheaper than the Sevylor kayak anyway.

I guess if I alternatively interpret your query as "is there anything that works as well or similar to an Alpacka raft, that has the same durability etc, but is cheaper, the simple answer is no. If there was, I'd be using it.

If you would like to look at the trips I've done in both the Sevylor and the Yak, I have some YouTube videos on my site http://www.remoteriverman.com

I've produced a couple of television-quality DVDs which feature both these modes of remote river exploration. Packrafting the Kimberley (with bonus feature Jungles of Gabon), and also Coast of Bears, which was on the Ecstall River in BC. They're on my site too, on the Products page.

I should mention that the first time I ever floated down a remote river in northern Australia I did it on a 17 dollar inflatable toy boat (like a swimming pool floating boat). As soon as I brushed against some pandanus palm fronds, the spikes ripped it to shreds, and I ended up trekking in trackless terrain for at least two weeks longer than planned. So going cheap does have its distinct disadvantages. If you're in a semi-civilized area, that's fine. But I am often 400 kilometres from the nearest human, so I only use what I cvan rely on. For me, that's an Alpacka packraft. Mind you, it's a bit tight getting a month's worth of filming and camping gear, plus food on there, but I manage.

Cheers,

Kevin Casey

Remote River Man

http://www.remoteriverman.com

Fishdejour
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Location: Bega, NSW, Australia

Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Fishdejour » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:11 am

You said you are only looking at flat water sections so one of the Flyweight Designs packrafts would do I think. They are not Alpackas but they are considerably cheaper and lighter (almost half the weight!!). I have an Alpacka but am thinking about getting one for wilderness flat water trips to save on weight. It is all relative to the type of water you are paddling but these look a decent little boat for sheltered flat water. Hope this helps and offers and option for you :-)

http://flyweightdesigns.com/products.aspx

Steve

Chris S
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Chris S » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:12 am

Thanks for ideas. I mentioned Flyweight to him yesterday but he's on the way to Au and those boats are only in US, AFAIK.
I had another look at the Flytepacker but it looked pretty basic while being 10 inches wider than a Yak, if I interpret the specs correctly.
Me, I'd rather haul the extra kilo of my Yak. After a day or so you've eaten that in food anyway.
(FD are currently sold out anyway - but do have a chunkier version in the pipeline it seems).

I should have been clearer in my OP: I was actually wondering if there is anything specifically available in Australia that vaguely fits the bill.
I dont know the scene there, neither does my mate yet, but I thought some of you might. Something better than this.

I suspect not, and as elsewhere there is a big gap between PVC toys (as in the link) to fabric-based mini rafts.

Fishdejour
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Fishdejour » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:50 pm

The Sevylor kayak range are the only inflatable of any merrit available via retail in Australia (through BCF), but as pointed out they are too heavy and bulky for packing. Like the Flyweight, the Alpackas have to be ordered online from the US also and this involves a wait of anything up to a couple of months to get them into Australia. There are no Australian manufacturer of inflatibles, so I guess the answer is no there is nothing that will do the job for you unless you are prepared to pay the dollars and wait for delivery of either an Alpacka or Flyweight. An option may be to hire a raft from one of the paddlers on here or try for a second hand raft? a wanted add mabye?

This vid features a mate of mine on one of the old $200 Sevylor yaks on a 2 day WW trip, it went quite well actually but it would be a pain to carry.


Steve

Chris S
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Chris S » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:26 pm

Thanks Steve, looks like he's in a pool toy then unless he's prepared to spend or improvise.
An Alpacka really does tick all the boxes; like my Intex mate, he'll see the light in the end...
I saw your NSW vid already somewhere. Looks like a perfect packrafting river.

Chris

johnnyBgood
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by johnnyBgood » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:32 pm

Hi
Want a good alternative to an alpacka - try a modified Sevylor Fishhunter 250

i ve made 5 trips pack rafting from wollemi Creek down Colo river, exiting at canoe creek (NSW-In Wollemi National Park)
I used a sevylor Fish hunter 250 2 man boat, this boat is a bit heavy at 8kg
But since Colo is mostly flat water i cut away the main camber which reduced the weight to 4.0 kg - Not much more than an Alpacka but a
lot cheaper.
Even with the chamber removed its a very tough boat for the price,
I have never holed the boat while on the water.
I did put a few pinholes in it when scrambling down 300metres from the cliff top to reach the river, But these pin holes were easy to repair simply be wiping the holes with glue and leaving it to dry (no patch required)
The boat is good for small rapids, scrapping the bottom against rock when going over the rapids caused no issues - its quite tough
I still have the same boat and am planning my next trip for sept (bring on spring)

Chris S
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In praise of Slackrafts

Post by Chris S » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:31 pm

Good on you, JB. I'll check out the Fish hunter 250. Great name!

As you may know my mate in Au was not so impressed with his Bestway PT and left it with some kids at Fitzroy bridge.
http://youtu.be/l529Qqyxks4
But it got him there with a few repairs.

But since I wrote that I've got more into what I call 'slack rafts', including the cutting outer chamber idea.
Needs to be a bigger boat or you lose too much buoyancy at my weight.

http://apaddleinmypack.wordpress.com/slackrafts

Ch

Boucaneer
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Boucaneer » Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:11 pm

Dear johnnyBgood, Chris S or anyone else here that may know. I plan to cut down a Sevylor raft as you describe but may I ask ya, what is the stronger boat to cut down and turn it slack raft, the Fish Hunter or the Super Caravelle?

I'm trying to decide between the two and some experienced advice would be much appreciated.

Cheers, Alex.
Thames Auxiliary Marine Service.

johnnyBgood wrote:Hi
Want a good alternative to an alpacka - try a modified Sevylor Fishhunter 250

i ve made 5 trips pack rafting from wollemi Creek down Colo river, exiting at canoe creek (NSW-In Wollemi National Park)
I used a sevylor Fish hunter 250 2 man boat, this boat is a bit heavy at 8kg
But since Colo is mostly flat water i cut away the main camber which reduced the weight to 4.0 kg - Not much more than an Alpacka but a
lot cheaper.
Even with the chamber removed its a very tough boat for the price,
I have never holed the boat while on the water.
I did put a few pinholes in it when scrambling down 300metres from the cliff top to reach the river, But these pin holes were easy to repair simply be wiping the holes with glue and leaving it to dry (no patch required)
The boat is good for small rapids, scrapping the bottom against rock when going over the rapids caused no issues - its quite tough
I still have the same boat and am planning my next trip for sept (bring on spring)

Chris S
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Location: UK, mostly
Contact:

never mind the rollocks

Post by Chris S » Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:58 pm

Hi Alex, size for size, my guide would be price, ie: the lowest possible wastage of £££ when the thing craps out on you.
I do wonder if they are essentially the same shell squeezed out in different coloured PVC, with the Fish Hunter featuring added gimmicks.
On both boats a lot of the molded plastic bits like rollocks and so on will come away when you skin it.

Remember to factor in your weight when picking a size as you will lose some buoyancy once it's skinned.

An alternative to a slackraft might be a Supai Matkat. Just about as light and compact as it gets and without the fatal slackraft stigma ;-)
Problem is it's as wide if not wider than a slackraft and therefore as slow.
We tested one alongside other packrafts last year and Packraft Store in DE will rent you one to try.
https://apaddleinmypack.wordpress.com/2 ... ai-matkat/

Ch

Boucaneer
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Boucaneer » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:03 am

I shall take a look Chris, Thanks.

Do they sell the Supai Matkat in the UK please?

It was another good article, Thanks again.

Chris S
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Chris S » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:11 am

I'm not sure they do. Try and buy direct off
https://supaiadventuregear.com/shop/

But I'd rent one first.
I'd say it's a boat where the paddling is either calm with good current or the crossings are short

Boucaneer
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Re: Suggestions for Alpacka alternative in Au

Post by Boucaneer » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:17 am

Thanks Chris.

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