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Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:36 pm
by RomanDial
Tim Johnson. Today. Bird Creek. See for yourself.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:16 am
by Esben
Wow, fantastic! We are entering a new era! The taboo is broken. Congrats.

And the straps are the key! I tried many times without in summer lakes, no chance, then I glued on tie downs, made it almost, but they came off under stress (glue problem) :( I recently bought a Yak and had Sheri customed 4 bomp proof strap plates to apply straps. The Yak has not seen any water yet, but is up for pool practice over the winter (in Germany). The ability to roll will indeed change everything.

Infact, as with Kayaks too, the ability to roll is most usefull to prevent it. It gives a lot of control in almost flips.

How did Tim place the straps? Wondering of any difference to the way I have. Pictures would be much appreciated. Sven

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:17 am
by Esben
However, we should not forget what Paddling Regression said in the thigh strap thread:
Paddling Regression wrote: In a packraft, at least IMO, they seem like more than is necessary even at the upper end of whitewater. IMHO if you feel you need thigh straps you should probably think about improving your technique or further developing your skills. Weather it be reading the water better and seeing the clean lines and hitting them or simply spending more time in the raft, one needs to have skills. Given their design, there are just certain things that will be difficult no matter what you do. eg big holes on big water. These things are already about as idiot proof as it gets. Don't get me wrong, there are probably a hand full of people that could really push what is possible in a packraft with thigh straps, but for most it will simply be a substitute for skill and ultimately not help them in the long run. In fact I'd be willing to bet that most packrafters would not be able to roll a raft even if they were glued into the thing. It is certainly more difficult than a kayak by a long shot. Not to mention much harder on one's shoulders as well.
Although vastly appreciating the benefits of it, I agree, the addition of this feature will distract from the simplicity, the core idea of packrafting.

Just seen Tim's video showing where he put his straps:

Exactly the place I put mine initially - and where they got off. This was apperently a glueing problem, but I noticed the force at the rear end attachment points (all the momentum is distributed to a single upper rear end point while rolling). With a prober hip bend (like Tim's) the force is minimized and short, but there remains a quite stroke in initiating the back flip - just remember how hard it is to capsize a packraft in flat water.

Wondering about the stress resitance of the fabric (question to the designer).

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:29 am
by RomanDial
I disagree with Regression and Esben.

If you care to read why: ... aters.html

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:40 pm
by alaskabackcountry
This is at least as revolutionary as spray decks. Could be the beginning of actual popularity for these boats. If the kayaker population realizes what can be accomplished with packrafts... Thank you for having the vision!
Any tips for making the roll work? Same technique as kayaking?


Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:51 pm
by DaveChenault

Tim made that look E-Z.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:24 pm
by RomanDial
He said at the time, but you can't hear it the videos, that it was much easier than he thought it would be, contrary to the naysayers.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:06 am
by Rods
Many congrats to Tim Johnson. This is a great development!

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:46 pm
by Shaggy
Indeed, well done! The development of a good technique once again turns the "impossible" into the evolutionary :D

In the midst of trying move some behind-the-scenes mountains (hence its quietness on the forums, etc. for much of this year), Alpacka has been keenly watching whitewater techniqued developments in the community. This is a big one. In my "official" capacity, I'll post as Alpacka Raft LLC about some ideas we have, a little later.

FYI for now, I don't know if anything will come of it, but I recently asked Astral PFDs about the possibility of modifying one of their designs to create a packrafting PFD that would work better with the Alpacka spraydeck. If they would like to do something like that, it would potentially pave the way towards a drier deck and a recommended PFD.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:41 pm
by alaskacreeker
So, where to start...

First off, you guys shouldn't look up to me or put me on a pedastal at all, I simply made a modification that should absolutely be an option in the first place for these little rafts. Even in flat water, the thigh straps give you back support and help stabilize your body & make paddling much more efficient. As a whitewater kayaker, I felt naked not having any connections with my pack raft, almost as though I was sitting in a bathtub.

A general rule of thumb for kayaking is the better you are attached to/one with your boat, the more control, efficiency, and power you have, period. I've paddled nearly every craft imaginable extensively on whitewater: class IV/V in solo & tandem whitewater canoes, raft guided the big boats, inflatable kayaked things that shouldn't be inflatable kayaked, squirt boated (underwater realms never even imagined by surface boats or even normal plastic kayaks), river boarded on boogie boards w/ fins, walmart 1-man rafts, innertubes, sea kayaked all over PWS & Resurrection Bay, strided (stand-up kayaking on I.K.'s), slalom kayaked through courses, and of course the classic kayak hard shell which includes creek boating, play boating, big water runs, and general river running.

Now I've added a new era of craft, the pack raft, to my paddling experience. I saw thigh straps as an absolute necessity for what I planned on using the pack raft for (which is HIKING into wilderness class IV runs). I'm sure I'll boat plenty of class V in what I though was once a "pool toy," but by no means will this little raft every replace a hardshell kayak. There is just so much more control, finesse, agility, power, and preciseness in a kayak. Whenever I can walk it into a river a reasonable distance, fly-in via plane or helicopter, or put-in on the side of the road, you'll probably find me in a kayak. But the niche in these little bugers IS remote access via hiking... and I know of dozens of first class runs that are prime suspect for the Alpackas potential.

Back to the thigh straps... if you want to improve your skill, technique, and boat manipulation dramatically, then I would absolutely invest in putting them into your boat. My advice for them:

1) DO NOT use tiny, thin straps to save weight.
2) Be careful where you place them. Stay away from seams & don't mount them too far apart, as you will lose stability and power.
3) PRACTICE getting out of the boat from within your straps in a safe environment. THESE WILL hold you in your pack raft when you flip, so familarize yourself with getting out of them.
4) Go to the pool, borrow a whitewater kayak, and teach yourself how to roll. It is much easier to learn in a whitewater kayak... because they flip easier, so of course you can roll them back up easier. It takes a great deal of well-practiced technique to up-right a packraft with a smooth, consistent combat roll.
5) HAVE FUN with your newfound oneness with your boat! This brings a pack raft one HUGE step further to how you should feel in your whitewater craft... attached & as one!!!

As far as spray skirts, I don't necessarily feel that a new life jacket should be made, because most people already have life jackets/PFD's and it would make much more sense to make a new skirt design that is more adjustable. I have a few pretty sweet ideas that I'll be toying with over the winter and possibly on the New Zealand trip this winter if I get motivated enough in time...

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:31 pm
by shoutdiggity
To paraphrase Timmy J's post:

Look, I'm just a regular guy, although, true, I have have paddled nearly every craft in the known universe extensively on sick whitewater bro, and now packrafts, which are squirrely, slow, and clunky, but good for remote access via hiking, and only good for that, never mind anything else you suckers use them for--because the only the only really worthy packraft activity is running the sickest gnar bro, and only hard shell men and kayaks can really do that. Now here are a few tips that you babies can follow if you don't want to be a sucka with no skillz. And remember--this is how you should feel in your whitewater craft, because, yes, I even know how you should feel--I am on no mere pedestal--I am a God, and you shall worship me, mortal packrafters!

Timmy, don't take this too personally--I think the roll option you broke to the public is great; I'm looking forward to my own rolling (attempts), and I too have a massive, often uncontrollable ego (proof in this pudding). It just bothers me that so many kayakers don't even seem to realize when they are thumping their chests and snubbing their noses, and it comes off as insulting and rubs me wrong. I'm tired of kayakers I meet whose sole purpose in life is to run the gnarliest gnar, document their badassness, post their artistically lacking trophy 1st D videos, write their trip reports and guidebooks, and think the world of themselves for doing it. Is packrafter attitude next? Is the sport getting too "cool"?

I don't want to be taken seriously as a packrafter--I am a joke on the water, doing everything in my own fucked up way, often dangerously and inefficiently--and that happens to be just how I like it. It is one reason I love the packraft--there is no status quo and no rules, and it has been a joy exploring both the sport and the wilderness without these restrictions. Packrafting getting serious is just what I don't want to see.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:01 pm
by alaskacreeker
No offense, but I don't think you've ever met me or you wouldn't have responded like you did. I wasn't pounding my chest. My soul purpose in life isn't running the gnarliest whitewater, though it is a passion. I document the stuff we do because it's fun to have footage to look at all winter long when there's not much else going on in the paddling realm & I'm not trying to be artistic about it, I'm just doing what I do and filming for some entertainment later. I'd love to see more people film their adventures, it's fun to watch! And I definitely don't think the world of myself, I'm a paddler just like everyone else here. I didn't do the guidebook for status, I spent all that time (and believe me a lot of the process was a bitch!) putting that together for the community, because it was needed and wasn't being done. Part of the reason I got into pack rafting was to help diffuse the negativity between kayakers & pack rafters. I never understood it and have seen things said from both sides. And doing what we're doing in pack rafting doesn't mean it's getting serious, it just means people are seeing yet another new realm of use for these Alpackas, and since I'm already into creeking in remote places than these things make it that much easier to get in to, which is what I bought it for. There still is no status quo & no rules... well, the only rules are the rules the river makes, and those are rules to be respected. But hey, I'm a redneck at heart so I hear where you're coming from. ps: think I'm boatin' six mile this weekend... just can't stop:^)

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:36 pm
by RomanDial
I have boated with both or you, AkCreeker and Shoutdiggity, and think both of you are not just great packrafters but also authentically honorable men. Neither of you ever displays a real shred of arrogance in your demeaners, and honestly when you two do meet, my hunch is you'll get along jus' fine.

Shoutdiggity's vids are the best butt-boating ones out there and Timmy J's book is, to quote a blurb from the back of it, "a much needed resource for kayakers and pack rafters (sic) alike." Honestly Timmy J loves water and likes to share it with all people.

Indeed, I look forward to next summer when I can go out with the two of you together, two who have inspired not just my boating but others as well.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:21 pm
by BanditBo
I propose a packrafting battle royale: each of you going off bigger waterfalls until a winner is declared.
Just make sure to put it on youtube.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:32 am
by Rods
shoutdiggitty wrote:
I am a joke on the water, doing everything in my own fucked up way, often dangerously and inefficiently
To those of us overseas, where even flatwater can sometimes possess challenges (okay, this might just be me :oops: ) you are no joke on the water, shoutdiggitty. Even the music choice of your videos inspires...

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:21 pm
by RomanDial
Three of us who can not roll kayaks rolled packrafts tonight -- each of us three times in fact: ... skimo.html

We did it in our own f-ed up way, since we couldn't do it kayak style.

Let the revolution continue......

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 8:27 pm
by RomanDial
Several more people have rolled the packraft in the pool. Total's up to like seven now, of the twelve that I have seen try. Of the twelve, four are people who are "kayakers", i.e., started with hardshells and still paddle hardshells. Half of these hardshellers failed to roll, the other half did it on their first or third try. The other eight are packrafters, most of whom, I am pretty sure, had never rolled anything before. Each packrafter required about an hour of trying to finally get it.

Thigh straps placed as Timmy J has done (low on tube in front and just above the hip valve in the back see pull the boater more centrally in the boat, right off the seat in fact, which I have now cut free of its stock location. The stock seat location is too far back and leads to bandersnatching and places the paddler right over the widest part of the boat necessitating a longer paddle.

Most boats have seats attached at two forward and two rearward tabs on the boat and seat. I now sit with the rear tab of the seat located at the front tab on the boat, because I cut it free.

Thigh straps located as most of us are placing them pull the paddler forward such that even a backrest is not as important because you are levering off of the straps. Instead of getting a short boat that you cram yourself into, pushing off the back and the front (or shoving something into the front that pushes you back) you are now connected at the side tubes.

This is a qualitatively different arrangement that makes the boating much more secure, positive, and connected. It does add more than a pound to the boat, however, but again they are easily removed if you don't want them for one trip or another.

Now a short paddle is easier to use because you can reach farther forward over the narrow part of the boat. Strokes are more forward and boat paddles straighter.

This will substantially change how the boats are paddled. Previously it's like we've been wearing loafers to climb rocks. Now we have laced up our shoes and, boy, the rocks are easier to climb.

It sure would be nice to have an adjustable seat: then when I take my straps out I can kick back and relax in my loafers and when I want to paddle the good stuff I can put the straps in and slide the seat forward.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 8:45 pm
by RomanDial
PS -- thigh strap packing

Now that the seat is pulled forward, I am able to strap gear behind my back and use that as a backrest. My new inflatable backrest is removable so that if camping I can use gear and if sport boating I can use the inflatable backrest (an old seat from the early days of Alpacka, before they were toilet-seat shaped and sewn in). I can put my tent or sleeping bag in a 15 L dry bag and attach it to a "strap plate" ( ... &do=detail) on the center stern seam to hold it in behind my back.

Because my legs are not extended to hold myself into the boat, and instead knees are bent and pressed against the tubes, I have room between my legs and on the deck beneath my bent knees for another 15 L WxTex dry bag also strapped to the boat with the "strap plates".

So the idea is now to distribute weight in the boat, instead of just in a big pack lined with a 65 L dry bag on the bow. Because the paddler's weight is now centrally located, loading up the bow for balance is not so important for people who want some bow inertia. You can still put stuff on the bow if you want but there's also room under the deck behind you and under your knees.

Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:28 am
by andrewallan
Wow - glad that verbal intercourse settled!

From way down south the by, can you guys in Alaska hear me? observations are that packrafting is an evolving pursuit, and that any positive addition that anyone may have to our mutual enjoyment of the pursuit is most welcome.

Tim obviously has a huge experience in floating "things", and I think it is perfectly reasonable for him to try to qualify his experience, as it gives him some basis for making comments about rolling packrafts (if I tried to do similarly, my experience is zilch, minus 100). On the other hand, I do also see how Shoutdiggy may have misinterpreted the post, and this is a problem with communication via the net. We don't get to see the facial expressions, etc of those posting, so we may (and regularly do) miss the nuances.

This forum is about packrafting, and not about how packrafts compare with kayaks, UFOs or vacuum cleaners (other than just occasionally doing such comparisons). Let's learn from each other, and take the positive spin on whatever is posted. This forum is great, as it combines a whole series of experiences, for everyone's benefit.

My primary aim this summer (remember, I'm way down south) is to learn how to roll my sea-kayak, not packraft. I've been paddling for several years, but not needed this skill to date. Whilst I've pushed the packrafting well beyond my skill base, over the last few years, I am still way more comfortable without a spray deck, so I can just "fall out" when needed. Hats off to those who are prepared to spend time upside down in a packraft, whilst trying to get it back upright. Once I'm over, I want to be out of it.

And, Roman, I really enjoyed your comment some time back that you had never successfully rolled a kayak - it gave me hope!

How is the likelihood we'll meet on the Karamea on 23rd Jan? It'd be a real hoot, if possible......!

By the by, I misquoted you on the chopper ride into the western edge of the wilderness zone - they quoted me NZ $900 return, but only NZ$500 one way.


Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:26 am
by cutecub00
Congrats to Tim Johnson. This is a great development forever.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:05 am
by Shaggy
This one's a prototype using an experimental alternative to thigh straps.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:28 pm
by RomanDial

would like to try that one. what keeps you from falling out?

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:44 am
by Esben
Very curious too. Wonder about what holds you in place.
Keep the innovativness going!

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:40 pm
by sheri
Hi Roman and all,

I have 3 of these in testing at the moment. After two salt trips this next week I suspect we will be ready to say "go for it". The suspension system is actually from above and is very firm. It has more grip and leverage on the thighs than the thigh straps do and there does not seem to be any entanglement issues with it. When the deck is pulled the system comes loose with the deck. I won't go into any more detail on that at the moment til the two Salt trips are completed and I am sure I am satisfied. That said, at this point it is looking really good. The stern on this boat has been elongated even further, another four inches, and the bow tubes are quite a bit smaller. The end result is the boat is trim with a person in it with no added weight. This boat is not intended to carry big loads, that is what the regular Alpacas are for. This boat is really designed to be trim and balanced in the water with just a person. This boat is being made with all floor fabric and a very beefed up deck that is actually glued on like the floor. Everything about this boat is aimed at being a more aggressive whitewater capability item. The weight looks like it will be around 8.5 lbs. So this isn't the long distance trip boat, it is meant to be the more day hike/trip front country mud truck white water oriented beast.

Cheers, Sheri

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:47 pm
by johnz1967
Questions for those that have done the roll (congrats btw)?

Think its possible with gear strapped on top?

How much harder, if any, is it to "escape" if need be with the straps and such on?

Opinions on actual usability in ww situations? ie pr doesn't glide through stuff like a kayak might, more bouncy bounce, will a roll still be doable mid rapid?

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:32 pm
by RomanDial
WOW Sheri! you and the Alpacka Development Team have been busy bees.

Boat sounds super cool. Can not wait to try it. Would like to get a bomber roll in the pool with it before hitting the creeks come April's open season.

The idea of a longer stern and narrow front tubes to balance the boat is intriguing, but not nearly as intriguing as a stiff deck that holds an upside down person in the boat -- Unbelievable!

Wish I'd had a chance to use it NZ! Although it sounds like its a strict day-tripping creek/whitewater boat.

Sounds like you have built what Shoutdiggity's been describing to me as his ideal boat. Kudos!

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:57 pm
by RomanDial

I got this in an email from Tim Johnson in NZ:

"ps: I combat rolled (a real one) the packraft today on the Upper Toaroha (I hiked into the Cedar Flat hut & spent the night, chilled in the cold hot spring, and pack rafted out today. A good day and I was shocked I could roll so easily with a huge bulky backpack on my bow!"

The Upper Toaroha is Class IV+

As for escaping with thighstraps, well, you don't fall out of the boat immediately, you have to straighten your legs and maybe if you have lots and lots of velcro, open the skirt. So yes, you can float along bouncing your head on rocks if you don't roll up and don't straighten your legs.

If you are interested in trying out a thighstrapped boat in March let me know. I'll set up pool sessions for rolling in the packrafts I have with thighstraps now..

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:11 pm
by P.Schauer

The new boat look pretty cool! I'm glad I've been biding my time; I had a feeling that something would come about from last year's packraft exploits. When will some be available for Alaska testing? I would love to go rally one; you might even be able to convince me to try it out on a road side run.

How is the initial stability side to side? That was one thing that really made up for the lack of stability on the stern. I'm curious to see how much more stability the extra four inches on the stern will add. What are the packed dimensions of the whitewater boat?

I'm not sure if it has been considered yet, but some tie downs in the boat to clip throw ropes and other safety gear should be essential for a whitewater packraft. People that would be using this boat would be running whitewater, and people that are running whitewater safely should have a throw rope (at the very least). There are throw ropes that can strap on the person (with a quick release), but not everyone finds them comfortable when paddling or owns one. Just an idea.

I'm really excited to see one and I'm sure it is going to be amazing.

Super stoked!

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:54 am
by RomanDial
Looks like Shoutdiggity and crew have been out in the new boat:

Wondering if the set can be moved forward a bit?


Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:39 am
by P.Schauer
It looks like it paddles much differently than a traditional packraft. I really like the way it appears to paddle. It looks like the narrower tubes not only make it easier to roll, but it also makes it easier to get a vertical paddle stroke in. There has been a stereotypical packrafter paddling position (slouched in the back of the boat and desperately reaching over the tubes to get one's paddle to bite the water). This is not to say that everyone paddles this way, as being slouched in the back of the boat makes it easier to go over backward (bander-snatching if I understand my packrafting lingo. please correct me if I'm wrong as I am new to the whole packrafting scene). It just doesn't seem to me that paddling a packraft has been very graceful. I found that I had to really work to stay aggressively forward and thankfully my monkey arms allowed me to get in vertical paddle strokes in for more efficient power. I still felt like when I was paddling it was very aggressive, slapping, splashy stokes. Growing up kayaking, I have always admired how fluid slalom paddlers are and I have tried to paddle as efficiently as possible (part of that may also have come from rigorous xc ski racing where efficiency really pays off). I don't know how much of it has to do with the paddler, or the boat (or some combination of the two) in the most recent video, but it looks like it is much easier to get vertical paddle strokes in. The paddling style in the latest video looks much more graceful than the typical packrafting affair.

The narrower tubes also makes it look like body english goes a long way. Notice how the paddler leans downstream when paddling out of the eddy at the beginning of the video. In a kayak if you don't lean downstream when paddling out of an eddy you are going to get smacked right away and find yourself upside down. I know that when rafting (like the 4+ person commercial type raft) when you come into or leaving big eddies the tubes can get sucked down. I have a feeling that there will be a similar issue when paddling the ww packraft. Packrafters that haven't had to do any body english in the past might find themselves catching a tube coming into our leaving stronger eddies. I'm really curious to see what the testers would have to say about this.

The added volume in the stern looks really nice too. I really like how the boat recovers from hitting bigger waves.

Anyways, just some speculation from an excited boater. I can't wait to get one this spring.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:42 am
by shoutdiggity
We were lucky enough to get a quick run in with the new boat--it is awesome. It was easier to paddle over the tubes, and between the smaller bow and extended stern, instead of the bow riding up on bigger hydraulics and pitching us backwards, we could keep our weight more forward, and break through more water that we would have climbed before. It wasn't a struggle to lean lean lean trying not to get bucked. Side to side stability, if affected by the smaller tubes, was more than made up for with the suspension system, which allowed for steeper leans and more control all around. I haven't tried a thigh strap setup yet, so can't compare the two; lets just say it is going to be hard going back to my poor ole llama after this. The skirt was much drier--you can see the last shot in the video, Ruben is swamped and getting turned around in mid-rapid in the llama, while I was able to get around him and move around more efficiently in the rapid. We didn't try rolling it or run anything big that you wouldn't want to run in the old boats, unfortunately, but all signs point towards being able to run some bigger, badder water. I think the drawback to this boat for me is the lack of cargo; great for light loads, but I really like the longer trips too.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:34 pm
by Alpacka Raft LLC
Note: the Witchcraft is going to be a custom-build. It's a heavier, much more specialized craft than the main line rafts - and also more expensive to build - designed for a specialized sub-activity, rather than for general packrafting. We're highlighting that here because we've noticed some folks inquiring about it, thinking of it as a "better general boat"... which definitely is not what it is. It's the "beast" version of an Alpackai. :twisted:

Witchcraft surf test observations

Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:03 am
by Shaggy
Got the Witchraft prototype#1 out to the Pacific Ocean for testing in surf... and arrived to 20-30 knot longshore winds, and what looked like 3-5 surf lines going out to double-overhead rogue waves on the horizon! And mixed hail and sunshine. This is Hig & Erin's pic: ... 83-800.jpg but it catches some of the feel.

Given the winds and the absence of support, I stayed in close to shore: even the 2nd surf line made it clear It Intended To Kick My Ass, but got great sustained testing in the 1st line. (Note: probably would have been more bold if I had my roll down... but I need to practice that more; I've got a C-to-C not a sweep, and you need a sweep in the Witch...)

  • :arrow: Boat-as-Assembly: The way the different parts of the Witchraft synergize together - deck, hull geometry, x-ray, and tube sizes - started making sense. There are a bunch of subtle changes that don't jump out at you, but the way they work together in the water is what really makes the difference.
    :arrow: Running Awash: I spent a lot of time with water & foam rushing over the deck. What was remarkable for me was that it's wasn't an issue. Some water came into the boat, but not a game-changing amount. It was just "ops normal" to ship water over the bow and have it slide off. Also, it seemed like - because of the shedding aspects - the shipping of water over the bow had less of a dynamic affect on the stability and handling of the boat. (I.e., everything didn't change because I'd shipped a wave).
    :arrow: Deck: way drier, way more quirky. Getting in an out a lot, in the surf, highlighted how much more of a specialist, performance boat it is. With the x-ray and the working-zipper deck assembly, there's a lot more "stuff" going on. It's not the same effort that putting a spray skirt on a kayak is, but there are a bunch of parts to put together... so it has more of that feel of "getting dressed into the boat." Then you're in, and would like to stay there and roll if possible.
    :arrow: Zippers will need care. The working zippers do wonders on the deck, but I'm willing to bet anyone who abuses them in sand & grit, neglecting to clean them for zipping, is going to lose them.
    :arrow: Beefier boat, beefier package. I haven't even gotten to horrible durability tests, but it's clearly a beefier boat & deck. It's also a much bigger, heavier roll-down package: on the order of 8-9 lbs., and 1.5 to 2 times as large. It's definitely more of a front-country hardwater boat and I could potentially see this as a "water-centered expedition boat" with the right carrying tech, but for most classic land-water trips and uses, I'd stick with a classic Alpacka.
Having "talked to Alpacka" (I'm a member, but post as a private individual; I talked to the inventor, Sheri), a concern is that folks will think the Witchcraft is an "standard Alpacka only better" or that the introduction of the Witchraft will somehow make all the mainline boats out there less good at running water they've been running for years. The hope is that getting a lot of information out will alleviate any potential misconceptions: it's definitely a different boat. Personally, I already love it for it's role, whereas I tote my 04 Alpaca around the country with me. Like a power drill vs. a swiss army knife.

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:33 am
by Shaggy
New info up on the Alpacka website about the Witchraft: ... &do=detail

Re: Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

Posted: Sun May 30, 2010 12:16 pm
by RomanDial
Some Alaskan-style vid of the Witch