General discussion for everything that doesn't fit into the categories below!
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Just getting into Packrafting, spent some of the summer in a Gnu now we are looking at separate boats. One of the features I like about packrafts is their light weight makes portaging a snap. On multiday trips I wondered how well boats with Cargo Pods portaged vs having everything in a backpack. Does the weight inside the boat in the cargo pods make portaging more difficult. The lower center of gravity sounded like a great idea but I worried it would make the boat a bit of a beast to portage.
Yes, the portage so are more difficult that just putting on your pack and carrying a super light boat, this was my concern when I upgraded a couple of years ago. I have developed a technique of putting one tube on my shoulder with the weight centered front to back, this works marginally well. If I am on a run that I know is going to involve a lot of portages I just lash my gear on the bow of my boat the way we all did it before the cargo fly (Escalante, for example). The upgrade is so worth it, don't let portaging hold you back.
I pack the cargo fly envelopes loosely full so that two of them will fit into a HMG 4400 Porter. I carry the Porter in the stern, inside the cargo fly. An Alpacka bow bag goes on the bow with stuff I'll want most acessible. When I move the loaded boat short distances I can pick it up by bow & stern lines gathered midships and walk the whole package along. For longer distances I pull the pack out of the stern, place the two envelopes into the pack, place the bow bag in the pack atop the envelopes, loosely roll the boat and strap it to the pack, put the pack on and start walking. My goal is a 10 minute boat to carry transition. If I resist filling the envelopes beyond the point where two go into the pack easily, 10 minutes is doable. If I have to shuffle stuff around then it takes a lot longer.
I think Howard is right on. The idea with the snack cake dry bags that go in the cargo fly is three fold. First, they offer a secondary inflation chamber that will keep your boat afloat and your gear dry to paddle to shore in the event of significant deflation. Second, they allow you to balance your gear load equally on both sides of the boat. Finally, with the gear load equally weighted between the sides, you can simply pop the bags out of the boat and slide them down your pack side by side with the rest of your packrafting gear (boat, paddle, pfd, and drysuit) to go on the rest of the pack. For portaging, you should be able to shoulder the boat even with the dry bags inside (its definitely more cumbersome than an empty boat, but not difficult for a short rapid portage) or in the event of a longer portage (10 minute walk is a good example), just put the two bags in the pack and grab the deflated boat for the walk.
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