I am still window shopping here. My use for one of these rafts would be for mostly playing around on small to medium lakes and calm rivers. I would prefer not to have a spray deck, but I am concerned tht paddle drip would be a pain in the neck. Does anyone use an undecked raft? How do you deal with paddle drip? Thanks.
Paddling on flat rivers you do get a lot of paddle drips, even with the drip rings on the paddles, and, unless it is hot, or you are prepared to wear waders/neoprene top, the moisture might drive you bonkers. My rafts had no decks, and I added my own. For flatwater paddling I’d rather have a deck. In the NZ rivers I’ve paddled to date, I am far more comfortable without a deck, as I would rather have some uncomplicated egress from the raft should it tip - I suppose it all comes down to how confident you are in white water as to whether you use a deck or not, but in flat water I think it a very useful addition.
I run all types of the boats for Alpacka (I’m an owner/member and tester), so I’m pretty frequently in both decked and open versions. For what you’re doing, in the absolute, an open boat sounds like what I’d prefer. Some factors:
- Spray deck = more weight, cost, and stuff on the boat.
The 09 decks stow on the bow, creating a mostly open boat, so versatility is increased.
Nonetheless, for things like fishing or activities where you’re in-and-out a lot (ex: canyoneering), even a stowed deck can be a hindrance, and vulnerable to damage.
Alpacka can retrofit decks on later… but if you’re in NZ, shipping costs would be a big factor.
Personally, I now prefer a decked boat for whitewater, splashy water, and cold conditions, and I’ll take an stowed 09 deck into just about any conditions. For things like canyoneering, really cluttered little creeks, and “amphibious boating,” and lakes, I prefer an open boat. I think andrewallan presents a good (and very widespread) perspective as well. Two things to consider there: warmth of the environments you’ll be using it in, and how personally comfortable you are being wet. I spend a lot of time int he water, so I’m not always the best source on that.
Thanks both for your replies. It seems then that its my choice, do I mind getting wet or not?
A Newbies reflection on the matter !
I agree with the posts above!
I was pretty much in the same situation as you, a couple of months back.
I thought i could make it cheaper ,by skipping the spray deck.
In the end i ended up with the spray deck (advised to).
Now, i have only been out twice so far and only on flat water in good weather
and i have used the spray deck both times.
This is so true!
Maybe b/c my paddling sucks
But to sum this up.
The cost of the spraydeck has almost been worth it , on just this two short trips alone.
I’ve had a boat without a spray deck since 2003 and I’ve never wished for a deck. I’ve used it for fishing, ocean play, river crossings, some whitewater, hunting, and as a shelter. I prefer the open space, the ease of getting in an out, and not feeling trapped. But it’s a pretty personal decision…
No spray deck in whitewater is a lot like canoeing – you baclkpaddle and slow the boat so as not to ship any water. But you can do a lot more snaking and maneuvering the boat through rapids following smooth, dry lines to stay dry warm and happy. I actually really enjoy it, but don’t run Class IV much with an open boat because it swamps so easily.
Also an open boat can carry much more weight than a decked boat more easily. I like a long open boat and a short decked boat – one’s a freight liner and the other is a sports car for sporty little creeks.
So if you are trying to decide what to get, my advice would be go with a decked boat as you can always roll it out of the way - but if you want light weight simplicity and want to develop better paddling habits, get an open boat to start with.
Thanks again for all the replies. My Two choices are the Alpaca because of my size or a dory(or a simmilar rowing boat)cause I like to row. Eventually I may end up with both. As far as the Alpaca goes I like the idea of no deck cause it will keep it simple and lite, I tend to abuse my stuff so I would be concerned about ripping a deck.On the other hand Most of my paddling will be on small lakes so a deck could come in handy to reduce paddle drip. Maybe I could buy a no deck boat and try it out, I could always send it back to be decked. If I bought a decked boat , I couldnt remove the deck If I didnt like it could I ?
Actually, lawnpotter, you can “remove” the deck. You just pull an edge back, pop up the deck-side of the tape that attaches the deck to the boat, a nick through the uplifted half of the tape with scissors or a knife, taking care not to puncture or scratch the boat tube. It’s easiest to do this on an inflated boat.
Then tear the deck off, all the way around the boat. Although the tape is very strong when not compromised, the dynamics of its construction let you rip it down the center when it’s cut like this. You may have to periodically re-nick the tape, and get the tear back into it, if it strays off in to the deck fabric.
I was once using a prototype deck that made me so sad I ripped it off halfway down the river
So… cost/benefit wise, it might actually be cheaper to get a deck and rip it off it you absolutely can’t stand it, versus do shipping to-and-from NZ for a retrofit. I wouldn’t suggest that if I thought you’d be unhappy with the deck, because of the waste, but if the odds are you’ll eventually want a deck, this might be a much better way to.
I live in Vancouver B.C… I will check out shipping costs.