Looking for a packable raft for mild river crossings - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Question Looking for a packable raft for mild river crossings

There are a couple of rivers I fish with mild current, but too much depth to ford. For those days when I want to fish the Far Side, I'm in the market for a light (packable: may have to hike 2 miles each way) one-man inflatable that I can inflate riverside, paddle across (< 3 mph current, < 150') and access the runs across the way.

I already have a Water Master Kodiak and I supposed I could buy a better backpack and lug it in despite the 45lb total weight. The manufacturer's supplied existing dry bag-with-straps is painful on the shoulders, esp. with extra fishing stuff thrown on top, so I'd like to get a lightweight, cheap donut that's of good enough quality that it won't come with a duck's head on the front, or be commonly found in a swimming pool with a cocktail in the cupholder.

Any suggestions welcome.

The method doesn't matter to the fish.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 09:50 PM
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I think you want a pac raft. Alpaca makes them, and I think NRS has their own.

Solo, kayak paddle, less than 10 lbs empty, easy to inflate.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by SLSS View Post
I think you want a pac raft. Alpaca makes them, and I think NRS has their own.

Solo, kayak paddle, less than 10 lbs empty, easy to inflate.
“Pack rafting” became a “thing” about a decade and a half ago - ulra-lightweight rafts that can be carried along with your other backpacking gear to go on trips where fording deep rivers, and to a certain limited extent traveling on them for short distances. Think small, just large enough to carry you and your gear - no luxuries. But they are light enough, and fold up small enough to carry easily. If anything these should be even easier to adapt to fishing without backpacking.

If snagly does a google search on “pack rafting” he should be able to get a lot of information. There are a large number of companies now that make such rafts, and you should be able to get side by side comparison reviews. There are plenty at 10lbs and less, and a few even at less than 5 lbs. I’d say immerse yourself in the info first, think about it critically, and figure out what exactly you want do first as there are of course compromises in the price/weight/durability balance for these things - they are really on the fringe in terms of min/max feature optimization. Some of the nicer ones can cost as much as a Meiser or Burkie rod, but not all.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2019, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Found a 2019 overview of what's on the market

A search of "packraft" (who'd a thunk it?) turned up quite a few YouTube videos and this useful overview article: https://www.greenbelly.co/pages/pack-rafts

In short, you can spend $125 to $2000.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2019, 02:34 PM
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I have Alpacka packrafts, and they are perfect for what you describe. And beyond; my wife and I did a 6-day float down the SF Flathead River in the Bob Marshall Wilderness last summer in ours. The basic packraft "in the bag" weighs just under 6 pounds. A 4-piece kayak paddle is another 2 pounds for a total carry weight of less than 8 pounds. I do short river floats and crossings while fishing and then hike the whole works back to my car.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2019, 04:52 PM
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I'm just wondering about all the hate for the duck's head....
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2019, 05:04 PM
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I'm just wondering about all the hate for the duck's head....
I was just thinking that there are a few of the cheapest packrafts where NOT having a ducks head might be considered false advertising. The ones that weigh less than 2 lbs could probably be considered “pool toys”.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2019, 06:07 PM
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If this is truly easy, smooth, quiet water that you want to cross, what's wrong with a truck inner tube? Paddle of your choice, but it can't get much lighter or easier. I've used one before on above waters and it worked well. Either inflated, or pack a small bicycle pump an inflate riverside.

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man".--Heraclitus
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