First strokes with the new design

With the last Christmas sales at Alpacka Raft, I bought myself through the freshly established European packrafting-store, a Denali Llama with the new whitewater spray deck. With my open Yukon Yak which is still an older model from 2007, I felt like I was often pushing its limits. Whenever in sections of splashy whitewater I always had to look multiple times for a place to stop, get out of the boat and throw all the water out. Even though I learned quite well how to keep most water out by back paddling as Roman Dial describes in his guide, there is always a limit where after it is impossible to keep all the water out and I often found it frustrating in these circumstances by not having a spray deck to keep me dry and warm as I ended too often sitting chilly in inches of water in the boat. The new design of the rafts with the pointy bow and stern is yet another improvement I’m very pleased about.

Kleine Nete 20120216

After trying Willem’s Yukon Yak with the cruiser spray deck, I didn’t felt very confident with this spray deck design so eventually I chose the new whitewater spray deck instead. Even though I don’t have the intention to search for heavier whitewater now, I feel at least happier with this spray deck as it keeps me drier and I can attach and detach the hatch already fluently without much practice.

Kleine Nete 20120216

Some might say the whitewater spraydeck is a compromise in packraft portability since it makes use of four pieces of aluminum tube to construct a strong base for the hatch opening. These pieces of aluminum tube fit in or on my backpack though I will test first if this remains as portable in use on a long trip before I make a final opinion about it. The small weight increase over the cruiser spray deck is a fact unfortunately. The choice between one of the two spray decks now seems to be one of compromise anyway.

Kleine Nete 20120216

I made my own packtach system from fluorecent dyneema and line loks and made a smaller one on the tiedowns on the stern even though I suppose too much pack weight on the stern will be detrimental to stability and speed. So only lighter gear items might be transported in the backside.

Kleine Nete 20120216

I had the plan to make a rather long winter packraft trip last week, running a river over its whole length in several days, but two weeks of very cold (at least for the region where I live) weather made the rivers freeze up here. So I was bound to play with the boat and the spray deck by sitting in it in the living room. Last Thursday when the ice had just melted away, I finally ran the Kleine Nete river at home while playing and getting the feeling with the slower maneuverability of the pointy design. I must say, this boat with the spray deck is much more comfortable than my Yukon Yak, even though I will keep my Yak for bikerafting and trips where the hiking is more prominent than the boating. With the mild weather expected here over a week, I’m excited to get out here soon with my new boat on a multi day river trip.

Kleine Nete 20120216

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9 thoughts on “First strokes with the new design

  1. Good post. I’ve been curious about how the new deck performs. But now you will need to carry a seperate spray skirt. Will be interesting to read your future reflections.

  2. I agree, the curved aluminium part of the deck hatch will take some time to find the optimum carrying position (outside the pack will make it susceptible to getting lost I fear) but it does look like it will be a far drier place to sit than the older design. I can also envisage plenty of trips over easier water where I will leave the skirt and hatch at home.

    My boat has not been paddled yet, well, apart from a couple of sailings across the living room sea….

  3. Interesting picture perspective Joery. And thanks for the mention! I thought the same on the pole segments in regards of transportation, but then again, a break down paddle is always on the same dimensions anyway. An issue to take care of losing though, but worth the effort, I ‘d say. Soon, this will be the standard, I would predict. I really like the large cockpit. However, one in danger to become a pure boater 😉

  4. Hello, we’re also interesting in starting packrafting and consider buying one. Can we eventually meet somewhere for seeing yours?
    Grtz from Limburg!

    • Hi Patrick,
      What size of Alpacka raft that fits you is only dependent on your inseem. Your body height can be misleading and should not be used as a measure for the best size of the raft. Have a look on the Alpacka raft website for more info about inseem and raft sizes.

  5. After a couple of years experience, what’s your view now on the merits of the white-water(fixed) vs cruiser (removable) spray deck? I’m in same quandary over which way to go when buying my first Alpacka so your thoughts would be appreciated

    • I would say, go for the white water spray deck and forget about the cruiser, especially if you intend to packraft in inclement weather conditions, white water or would like to try long flat water crossings with high waves. The white water spray deck is much drier and safer in these circumstances.

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