Deck/sprayskirt decisions

I’ve looked around a bit and haven’t seen any posts laying out the pros/cons of the currently available deck/sprayskirt options in 2012. There’s the “whitewater” model which is hailed as “the greatest improvement” to the Alpacka design, and the Cruiser, which appears to be somewhat lighter as well as detachable.

I’m hoping to get into packrafting and trying to decide which (if any) makes sense for me. Most of my usage of this boat is going to involve a folding bicycle I hope to tie to the bow, and long enough trips that some kind of deck is warranted, if only for weather protection. I also hope to take it on some backpacking trips, more for river crossings – in this case it might be nice to spare the weight of a deck if it can be avoided.

From these considerations, it seems like the better option for me would be the Cruiser deck. And yet – somehow it doesn’t seem right that I should pass up on “the greatest improvement” to the Alpacka design. So I have to ask: what would I be missing out on if I go with the Cruiser vs the Whitewater deck? Could it be worth the extra (permanent) weight for me? If I get the Cruiser deck now am I doomed to eventually upgrade to a second Alpacka with a whitewater deck in six months? Or is the continuation of the Cruiser because it really does make more sense for some people?

I’d go with the newest deck and skirt for the versatility of I dont think that you will notice the extra weight.

Which type of spraydeck to put on your packraft is a matter of personal choice. The newly designed whitewater spraydeck is for boaters who primarily run whitewater; it snugs up around the boater better, and should keep one drier. However, it is a smaller opening for getting in/out of the boat and this spraydeck is not removable. The cruiser spraydeck will probably suit your needs better. It will keep most of the water out of the boat, and it is removable so you don’t need to carry the extra (8 oz) with you if the weather is nice or you just want extra room for your bike and gear…

It sounds to me like the Cruiser Spray Deck is the one for you. The whitewater deck would be a pain for river crossings, and unnecessary for flat water. If you were specializing in only running lots of grade 3/4 white water, then the whitewater deck would make sense. If you want a versatile boat, the Cruiser Spray Deck makes sense.