How to attach a spray deck

I have 2 rafts without spray decks, and am planning to attach spray decks prior to trip in mid Jan. Have communicated with Sheri a few times about spray decks, and worked out how to attach my silinylon ones (designed along the lines of the currently available nylon ones) , today, whilst doing laps in the pool, I was wondering about using velcro to attach the deck to the boat, rather than gluing it on permanently. On our NZ trip in Jan, most of it will be rafting where a spray deck is useful, but there’ll be a fair bit of gorge, where some short portgages are needed (by us, that is, as relative novices), and I was wondering whether it might be better to make a completely removable, velcro attached spray deck for such situations. With this in mind, how many of you “gung ho” rafters wish that from time to time that you had an open boat, or does the attached spray deck not really make this that much more difficult?

There are situations when an open boat is preferable. Novice packrafters, small creeks, lots of wood and frequent portages are all situations where an open boat is optimal. You should read the In Search of a Dry Boat thread (

I wouldn’t mess with a removable spray deck. I think you should either have a boat with no deck or one with a permanently-affixed deck. A removable deck is likely to remove itself at inopportune moments, and the velcro seams will provide another point of water entry.

Brad Meiklejohn
Eagle River, Alaska

Gluing velcro around the edge of the raft where you would normally glue the spray deck on shouldn’t allow that much water entry, should it? From my limited and relatively gentle packrafting experiences, most of the unwanted water came over the back of the raft (and right down the top of my waterproof trousers!), and some came over the front. Any spray deck should reduce this influx, regardless of how it is attached.

Hi Andrew,

It is Sheri here. You can do the velcro thing but put it so that it is on the outside of the tube, not on the top. Meaning that the deck will be wrapping around the tube a bit. It will leak alot less that way. And you are right, it still is lots drier than an open boat. The downside is the velcro tends to make the boat roll down bigger. It takes up a surprising amount of space. If you are using silicone on your spraydeck you will find that it really suctions on to the boat when it is wet. That is a plus for what you are trying to do.

Good luck!!

I would be concerned about the potential for a water sail or getting tangled in the deck. Remember the first generation of spray decks? I envision a swim where the deck comes of on the Velcro attachment and stays partially attached to the swimmer. That would be bad. Not sure this is a good idea.

Having carefully read the posts about how to stay dry, the deck design is side opening using velcro like the current one, but with a zip across the middle of the boat instead of velcro. If you come out, and the deck stays attached to you for some reason, it should be easy enough (in theory) to rip the deck off using the side opening. I suppose the alternative to velcro would be a long open ended #3 zipper (if they exist) attached around the perimeter. My original intention with this post was to sort out whether there were times when people with decked boats wished they were open boats - gluing on a deck is a fairly irreversible option on a boat, and I just want to optomise my situation. Also, posting my 2 boats back to Sheri from Oz to have decks attached is a comparatively expensive option, which is why I’m keen to try to do it myself (my wife already equates each raft in terms of equivalent numbers of boots she can buy, so with 2 boats etc she is already at a distinct advantage, without adding X$100 for getting decks as well!). Anyway, I do appreciate the thought processes that go into the replies.