Eskimo Roll in a packraft -- For Real!

This one’s a prototype using an experimental alternative to thigh straps.


would like to try that one. what keeps you from falling out?

Very curious too. Wonder about what holds you in place.
Keep the innovativness going!

Hi Roman and all,

I have 3 of these in testing at the moment. After two salt trips this next week I suspect we will be ready to say “go for it”. The suspension system is actually from above and is very firm. It has more grip and leverage on the thighs than the thigh straps do and there does not seem to be any entanglement issues with it. When the deck is pulled the system comes loose with the deck. I won’t go into any more detail on that at the moment til the two Salt trips are completed and I am sure I am satisfied. That said, at this point it is looking really good. The stern on this boat has been elongated even further, another four inches, and the bow tubes are quite a bit smaller. The end result is the boat is trim with a person in it with no added weight. This boat is not intended to carry big loads, that is what the regular Alpacas are for. This boat is really designed to be trim and balanced in the water with just a person. This boat is being made with all floor fabric and a very beefed up deck that is actually glued on like the floor. Everything about this boat is aimed at being a more aggressive whitewater capability item. The weight looks like it will be around 8.5 lbs. So this isn’t the long distance trip boat, it is meant to be the more day hike/trip front country mud truck white water oriented beast.

Cheers, Sheri

Questions for those that have done the roll (congrats btw)?

Think its possible with gear strapped on top?

How much harder, if any, is it to “escape” if need be with the straps and such on?

Opinions on actual usability in ww situations? ie pr doesn’t glide through stuff like a kayak might, more bouncy bounce, will a roll still be doable mid rapid?

WOW Sheri! you and the Alpacka Development Team have been busy bees.

Boat sounds super cool. Can not wait to try it. Would like to get a bomber roll in the pool with it before hitting the creeks come April’s open season.

The idea of a longer stern and narrow front tubes to balance the boat is intriguing, but not nearly as intriguing as a stiff deck that holds an upside down person in the boat – Unbelievable!

Wish I’d had a chance to use it NZ! Although it sounds like its a strict day-tripping creek/whitewater boat.

Sounds like you have built what Shoutdiggity’s been describing to me as his ideal boat. Kudos!


I got this in an email from Tim Johnson in NZ:

“ps: I combat rolled (a real one) the packraft today on the Upper Toaroha (I hiked into the Cedar Flat hut & spent the night, chilled in the cold hot spring, and pack rafted out today. A good day and I was shocked I could roll so easily with a huge bulky backpack on my bow!”

The Upper Toaroha is Class IV+

As for escaping with thighstraps, well, you don’t fall out of the boat immediately, you have to straighten your legs and maybe if you have lots and lots of velcro, open the skirt. So yes, you can float along bouncing your head on rocks if you don’t roll up and don’t straighten your legs.

If you are interested in trying out a thighstrapped boat in March let me know. I’ll set up pool sessions for rolling in the packrafts I have with thighstraps now…


The new boat look pretty cool! I’m glad I’ve been biding my time; I had a feeling that something would come about from last year’s packraft exploits. When will some be available for Alaska testing? I would love to go rally one; you might even be able to convince me to try it out on a road side run.

How is the initial stability side to side? That was one thing that really made up for the lack of stability on the stern. I’m curious to see how much more stability the extra four inches on the stern will add. What are the packed dimensions of the whitewater boat?

I’m not sure if it has been considered yet, but some tie downs in the boat to clip throw ropes and other safety gear should be essential for a whitewater packraft. People that would be using this boat would be running whitewater, and people that are running whitewater safely should have a throw rope (at the very least). There are throw ropes that can strap on the person (with a quick release), but not everyone finds them comfortable when paddling or owns one. Just an idea.

I’m really excited to see one and I’m sure it is going to be amazing.

Super stoked!

Looks like Shoutdiggity and crew have been out in the new boat:

Wondering if the set can be moved forward a bit?


It looks like it paddles much differently than a traditional packraft. I really like the way it appears to paddle. It looks like the narrower tubes not only make it easier to roll, but it also makes it easier to get a vertical paddle stroke in. There has been a stereotypical packrafter paddling position (slouched in the back of the boat and desperately reaching over the tubes to get one’s paddle to bite the water). This is not to say that everyone paddles this way, as being slouched in the back of the boat makes it easier to go over backward (bander-snatching if I understand my packrafting lingo. please correct me if I’m wrong as I am new to the whole packrafting scene). It just doesn’t seem to me that paddling a packraft has been very graceful. I found that I had to really work to stay aggressively forward and thankfully my monkey arms allowed me to get in vertical paddle strokes in for more efficient power. I still felt like when I was paddling it was very aggressive, slapping, splashy stokes. Growing up kayaking, I have always admired how fluid slalom paddlers are and I have tried to paddle as efficiently as possible (part of that may also have come from rigorous xc ski racing where efficiency really pays off). I don’t know how much of it has to do with the paddler, or the boat (or some combination of the two) in the most recent video, but it looks like it is much easier to get vertical paddle strokes in. The paddling style in the latest video looks much more graceful than the typical packrafting affair.

The narrower tubes also makes it look like body english goes a long way. Notice how the paddler leans downstream when paddling out of the eddy at the beginning of the video. In a kayak if you don’t lean downstream when paddling out of an eddy you are going to get smacked right away and find yourself upside down. I know that when rafting (like the 4+ person commercial type raft) when you come into or leaving big eddies the tubes can get sucked down. I have a feeling that there will be a similar issue when paddling the ww packraft. Packrafters that haven’t had to do any body english in the past might find themselves catching a tube coming into our leaving stronger eddies. I’m really curious to see what the testers would have to say about this.

The added volume in the stern looks really nice too. I really like how the boat recovers from hitting bigger waves.

Anyways, just some speculation from an excited boater. I can’t wait to get one this spring.

We were lucky enough to get a quick run in with the new boat–it is awesome. It was easier to paddle over the tubes, and between the smaller bow and extended stern, instead of the bow riding up on bigger hydraulics and pitching us backwards, we could keep our weight more forward, and break through more water that we would have climbed before. It wasn’t a struggle to lean lean lean trying not to get bucked. Side to side stability, if affected by the smaller tubes, was more than made up for with the suspension system, which allowed for steeper leans and more control all around. I haven’t tried a thigh strap setup yet, so can’t compare the two; lets just say it is going to be hard going back to my poor ole llama after this. The skirt was much drier–you can see the last shot in the video, Ruben is swamped and getting turned around in mid-rapid in the llama, while I was able to get around him and move around more efficiently in the rapid. We didn’t try rolling it or run anything big that you wouldn’t want to run in the old boats, unfortunately, but all signs point towards being able to run some bigger, badder water. I think the drawback to this boat for me is the lack of cargo; great for light loads, but I really like the longer trips too.

Note: the Witchcraft is going to be a custom-build. It’s a heavier, much more specialized craft than the main line rafts - and also more expensive to build - designed for a specialized sub-activity, rather than for general packrafting. We’re highlighting that here because we’ve noticed some folks inquiring about it, thinking of it as a “better general boat”… which definitely is not what it is. It’s the “beast” version of an Alpackai. :smiling_imp:

Got the Witchraft prototype#1 out to the Pacific Ocean for testing in surf… and arrived to 20-30 knot longshore winds, and what looked like 3-5 surf lines going out to double-overhead rogue waves on the horizon! And mixed hail and sunshine. This is Hig & Erin’s pic: but it catches some of the feel.

Given the winds and the absence of support, I stayed in close to shore: even the 2nd surf line made it clear It Intended To Kick My Ass, but got great sustained testing in the 1st line. (Note: probably would have been more bold if I had my roll down… but I need to practice that more; I’ve got a C-to-C not a sweep, and you need a sweep in the Witch…)


  • :arrow_right: Boat-as-Assembly: The way the different parts of the Witchraft synergize together - deck, hull geometry, x-ray, and tube sizes - started making sense. There are a bunch of subtle changes that don’t jump out at you, but the way they work together in the water is what really makes the difference.
    :arrow_right: Running Awash: I spent a lot of time with water & foam rushing over the deck. What was remarkable for me was that it’s wasn’t an issue. Some water came into the boat, but not a game-changing amount. It was just “ops normal” to ship water over the bow and have it slide off. Also, it seemed like - because of the shedding aspects - the shipping of water over the bow had less of a dynamic affect on the stability and handling of the boat. (I.e., everything didn’t change because I’d shipped a wave).
    :arrow_right: Deck: way drier, way more quirky. Getting in an out a lot, in the surf, highlighted how much more of a specialist, performance boat it is. With the x-ray and the working-zipper deck assembly, there’s a lot more “stuff” going on. It’s not the same effort that putting a spray skirt on a kayak is, but there are a bunch of parts to put together… so it has more of that feel of “getting dressed into the boat.” Then you’re in, and would like to stay there and roll if possible.
    :arrow_right: Zippers will need care. The working zippers do wonders on the deck, but I’m willing to bet anyone who abuses them in sand & grit, neglecting to clean them for zipping, is going to lose them.
    :arrow_right: Beefier boat, beefier package. I haven’t even gotten to horrible durability tests, but it’s clearly a beefier boat & deck. It’s also a much bigger, heavier roll-down package: on the order of 8-9 lbs., and 1.5 to 2 times as large. It’s definitely more of a front-country hardwater boat and I could potentially see this as a “water-centered expedition boat” with the right carrying tech, but for most classic land-water trips and uses, I’d stick with a classic Alpacka.

Having “talked to Alpacka” (I’m a member, but post as a private individual; I talked to the inventor, Sheri), a concern is that folks will think the Witchcraft is an “standard Alpacka only better” or that the introduction of the Witchraft will somehow make all the mainline boats out there less good at running water they’ve been running for years. The hope is that getting a lot of information out will alleviate any potential misconceptions: it’s definitely a different boat. Personally, I already love it for it’s role, whereas I tote my 04 Alpaca around the country with me. Like a power drill vs. a swiss army knife.

New info up on the Alpacka website about the Witchraft:

Some Alaskan-style vid of the Witch