Alpacka Raft and Feathercraft

So, in addition to having an alpacka raft I also like to play around in a feathercraft sea kayak. While looking at one of their pages I noticed that they said they were now marketing an inflatable that looks nearly exactly like an alpacka. I remember hearing somewhere that Alpacka and feathercraft had some sort of business deal so I was wondering, is this a new packraft or merely a re-labeling in the Chevy vs GMC vein. Anyone know about this boat?

Oddly they do not mention the word “packraft” anywhere in the post. I wonder if this is a deliberate decision?

This is the permalink for the post mentioning their new “Baylee Inflatables”:

My impression is that Feathercraft really built the Baylee as a tender. Having seen it in person, I think it could serve quite well for that, but isn’t a “packraft” in the same sense of an Alpacka, more of a stowable inflatable dingy. Whereas the Explorer is a 1-2 person low-pressure boat, it struck me as more of a 2-3 person high-pressure boat. Larger + heavier package, and the hull design is less suited to moving water performance and impacts, but honestly I didn’t see any reason it couldn’t be a great little tender.

I can attest that there’s no connection between Feathercraft and Alpacka anymore. Regarding differences and similarities: the Baylee is a two-piece “donut” construction hull, whereas the Alpacka’s are multi-sectional hulls. That results in differences in hull performance characteristics. There is a very strong similarity between the Baylee oarframe and the old Dory frame, though.

There is a Baylee 1, Baylee2, and Baylee 3. I think the intentention is for the Baylee 1 to be a moving water boat, it can come with a sprayskirt{ around 7 pounds total.) The Baylee 2 is around 11 pounds with oar frame.

I would like to fill in the information you are requesting as to the relationship of Alpacka Raft and Feathercraft Kayaks and how that applies to the Baylee that they are currently producing.

Alpacka Raft used Feathercraft as a contract manufacturer to build their rafts for them for 3 years. There was no partnership involved, strictly contract manufacturing. Before Feathercraft, Alpacka Raft used Jack’s Plastic Welding to manufacturer the tubes. Due to the difficulties of quality control with all contract manufacturing Alpacka Raft decided to completely take over it’s own manufacturing three seasons ago. Today there is no connection whatsoever between our two companies.

The craft that Feathercraft is building does resemble an Alpacka Raft in several ways. They used some of the technology they gained from building my rafts. There are several differences as well, some more subtle than others. Most obvious of the differences, they are using a heavier material, two airchambers in the main tube, and a “donut” pattern cut. Weight is not as important in this boat as it is for an Alapcka. The donut design works fine for a flat water tender but it cannot incorportate the intricate bow and stern details that make a good river design. It is a considerably less expensive way of building a boat. Yes, the oarframe is like the first one that I designed for the original rowing boat that I designed, the Dory. That similarity is because Feathercraft manufactured that original frame for me. Alpacka Raft has since changed the design because that first design had several drawbacks.

Hope this helps,
Cheers, Sheri

I’ve used a Baylee 1. It’s an awesome boat. In fact, I own both a Baylee and an Alpacka raft. The Baylee 1 is definitely heavier than an Alpacka, Yukon Yak or Denali Llama. On the other hand, it’s likely to be more sturdy, with greater longevity. Like all Feathercraft products, the construction is bomber, seams are welded. The two air chambers are nice–makes you feel a little safer when you’re way offshore in the ocean. I found the Baylee 1 to be very responsive in Class III whitewater. In size, it more resembles a Denali Llama, so it’s not a good choice for a small person, but if you don’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight and bulk, check it out as a quality alternative to an Alpacka. That said, I love my Yukon Yak, and will travel anywhere in the world with it!

I see the BayLee 1 now comes with a self-bailing floor option, but at a price.

Would that work better than a skirt in gnarly water - less buoyant but more stable? Not that I paddle that sort of stuff, just curious.

A bit less rounded too they say, though hard to tell - not as much as new-shape Alpackas.


I run a whitewater kayak school in Ak, and we have a 2 day packraft class where we teach packraft students to be better whitewater paddlers. I have been using the Bay Lee I all summer. Have over 100 hrs paddling the self bailing boat. IT IS a PACKRAFT. I really like the “no water” in the boat. Yes the boat is heavier, but now, if I plan to run class III or higher, I take the Bay Lee I, even though it weighs 6 lbs more. I really like not having a spray cover to contend with. I have had mishaps in small boiling eddies trying to get the spray deck on my Alpacka, only to get swept out and now dealing with no skirt, and big waves or holes.
The Bay Lee is stiffer,and the inflated floor makes for a stronger hull, all charateristics that help it perform in demanding whitewater.
I do not consider it to be a “dingy”. Bow and stern have rocker, and the stern does have a larger diameter tube size than the middle of the craft.
It surfs very very well. We run the same section of river for our class, there is one wave that is a great surf wave: easy to stay on in the Bay Lee, I could not get enough speed in my Alpacka to stay on the wave last week.

Durability: I think the Bay Lee is going to stand up to the demands of whitewater, all of the Alpackas we own leak, and they are only one season old. Values leak, and small nicks in the tube leak. Took me 5 tries to find the leak in one boat. Finnally I just started putting aquaseal on every nick, like 6 of em, one must have been correct because it no longer leaks.

The Bay Lee I self bailer is a PACKRAFT Style boat that has a place if you are pursuing whitewater in your packraft, It is the boat I will take to Ecuador for our month long whitewater packraft trip… no water in the boat, no spray deck to monkey with… what’s not to like…
Alaska Kayak Academy

Jim, thanks for the great information about the Baylee. I have wondered how the self bailing floor was working in these.

Do you still have a sprayskirt in addition to the floor?

I am guessing you are referring to the redgate section of willow creek for your classes. Have you used the Baylee on more difficult runs ie. guardrail, little su, or sixmile? If so how did it perform?

I think the ideal boat would still be with a watertight sprayskirt, possibly what was trying to be achieved with the witchcraft.

Any witches still around? I would love to see the spraydeck.

John, for the current standard in dry boats, see the bomber spradydeck on Roman’s. We ran the Little Su last week at 700 cfs and he was virtually dry. SOB

I am interested in what Jim Gonski has to say about the self-bailing floor on the Baylee. I would be curious to paddle that boat in full-on big water and see how quickly the boat drained out. Word is Alpacka is taking a look at self-bailing floors…


I have seen Roman’s deck and requested one from Alpacka. They told me they would not make more because of cost, production hassle, and tendency to rip up the middle. They mentioned they are still working on a whitewater boat that will be absolutely dry, but have a much higher cost.

I have now seen Jim’s baylee in action in splashy class III+ water and I was highly impressed. The boat drains IMMEDIATELY. If the Baylee had the design of the new (2011) Alpacka’s I would buy one tomorrow.

On a side note I am having more luck staying dry in my 2011 Alpacka with slightly beefier spraydeck (floor material). I ran Moose Creek near Palmer yesterday 3 times at 226 cfs and never had to dump.

The new deck material helps and I have taken to putting my throw bag and a platypus inside the boat next to my body. I also aquasealed ALL seams on the deck. It is not perfect and not nearly as nice as Roman’s, but it is a large improvement.

would 1mm (or whatever) neoprene be a reasonable fabric to use ?

The feathercraft almost drains instantly, because unlike an IK, which has drain-holes down both sides, the feathercraft has drain-holes all over the floor. I guess, the only advantage a design like this might have, over a decked boat, is ease of use when getting in and out. But, on the decked boat side, a couple of drainholes in my alpacka floor would solve any complaints that I have with the sprayskirt, leak, issue, and if my boat is not primarly to aid in hikes, so what about a couple of extra pounds. At first the feathercraft feels like a cheap rubber toy, but it does get pretty ridged. Other than the skirt issue, the 2011 would still be my boat of choice, if I had to choose one.

John: do not need a skirt, water exits so fast you never see it, it is amazing. I even asked Feather Craft when I got the boat, and they said, try it we do not think you will need a skirt. They make one, but since I have used it, the freedom of no skirt is worth it.

Brad: I have taken it down Guard Rail, Lil Su and Moose Creek at 300 csf, which is pumping for that creek. It performs very well. Mark Oatout used the boat, he owns a 2011 Alpacka,and he liked the Bay Lee I so much that he wants to buy mine. Anytime you want to try it out… just call…
I’m buying 2 more I think they perform so well.

They make the boat in a non bailing model as well, very competitive in price to Alapacka, heavier, but I think they will hold up better in demanding conditions.

I’ve been working with FeatherCraft for developing a new packraft for hunters, or those paddling with heavy loads.

Here’s the Big Rig packraft loaded with a whole moose, plus me and gear.

Total weight of the standard floor model is 11.4 lbs

Total weight of the Big Rig with self-bailing floor is 16.3 lbs.

Have thought about incorporating a spray deck for the Big Rig, but for hunting loads this is unreasonable.

I’ve packed the Big Rig all over Alaska this summer and fall, and the 11 lb model has worked great for 2 guys, plus backpacks for 2-week trips. I also have been very impressed with its load hauling performance.

Max load for the standard floor Big Rig is 800 lbs (best performance with < 500 lbs)

Max load for the self-bailing model is 1000 lbs (best performance with <700 lbs).

wow that big rig is NICE! would like to paddle it.

anytime, Roman. i’m in fairbanks, but it’s light enough to ship down to you.

My wife and I will take the SB model Big Rig to New Zealand this Feb for a month of tramping and whitewater fun. It’s a fun packraft for 2 people and light gear. Saw some of your New Zealand footage recently…nice music selection!

Larry Bartlett

nice pics i will be looking into this raft as i know many ppl who might be interested in such a nice heavy duty raft, for moose! ppl out in the bush of AK would love it!

I can certainly attest to my Feathercraft being a packraft. It’s a special design, but same general design features of other Feathercrafts, just larger capacity and made specifically for alaska hunting. We paddle it in whitewater up to class IV. No spray deck, fully SB floor design or standard models.

But i like my Alpacka Explorer, too. If i had to choose between a Baylee 1 and the Explorer…it would depend on whether i was paddlign whitewater. I don;t care for spray skirts, so the Baylee is more attractive…the extra weight doesn;t bother me. Both rigs paddle great in moving water. I’ve used both models and still own them, and I appreciate the Alpacka for weight savings, just limited capacities. Both models are easilt repaired and fun to paddle.

But for gear or game hauling, I use this one. On this trip my wife and I floated the Karamea River in NZ. Still thinking about that place…