Hunting and fishing with a dog in a pack raft

Last year I brought an inflatable kayak (Sevylor Rio) to hunt and fly fish rivers in New Zealand. I’m happy with the crafts performance but now that I plan more trips I realise that the weight of my Rio (16kg) is going to be a problem, limiting me to road end or fly in destinations. Having “found” pack-rafts I see there are further options but because I want to hunt & fish with a dog this throws up some issues, namely the size of craft required and the impact of not been able to use a spray skirt.

I’m 5’8", 73kg. My pooch is 15kg. My pack, rod & rifle is 20kg. I could have 20kg of boned-out game. All up weight 128kg.

Rivers would be grade II-III. I consider myself an intermediate kayak paddler, having raced down river kayaks for a number of years.

I think I’ve narrowed it down to two options; the Alpacka Unrigged Explorer (2.6kg) and the Feathercraft Bolder (5.68kg). The self bailing floor on the Bolder is appealing but it’s twice the weight.

I would appreciate any feedback.

I would go with the Bolder despite the extra weight. Primarily because of these reasons:

  1. it is self bailing. It would be a pain in the butt to search out suitable places to make landfall, get out, turn over and drain, and get back in with an alpackraft and a muddy dog after shipping water after rapids. May I add that shipped water is alot of extra weight as well.

  2. The Bolder is longer than the unrigged explorer, the explorer 42, or the Double Duck. Not only can it carry more gear for extended trips, but it is also large enough to comfortably sleep inside, I have found that sleeping snuggly inside inflatable kayaks, especially with inflatable floors and side tubes that hugged my body, like the Bolder does, improves warmth at night. I used to sleep in my Rio and loved it. You will not need a sleeping pad, and can get away with a lighter sleeping bag. You may not need to bring a shelter such as a bivy, tarp, or tent either, because the Bolder’s internal length is so long. If it rains, you could just turn it over on top of you and use it like a tent. Or you could run a cord from the bow and stern grab handles and then place an emergency blanket over it while taping the sides taught to the raft with your tyvek emergency patch tape. Or place your packraft inside one of those emergency tube tents made of the same material. This would keep you even warmer at night. And if you learn how to make a coal bed, you can get away with just a 50° bag during cold nights. This is a very simple and takes no time to set up or stow away, meaning more time to travel or hunt, and it largely makes up for the extra weight of the raft.

  3. It has a more durable floor. When you are so weighed down, you may find yourself floating lower in the water and hitting more rocks if on shallow rivers.

instructions for a coal bed:

dig out a depression near the length of your body (works best with sand). Make a fire in it (including several depression length logs.) Let it burn down to cinders. Finally, cover it over with 6 inches of sand. This will keep you warm all night long, even with a 50 degree bag on freezing nights. You wont have to worry about condensation at night. You can dry out the damp clothes that you are wearing while you sleep. Insulation such as a mat between you and the ground helps to spread the heat and prevents hot spots. I would imagine that a small coal bed would work great under a tent, or an inflatable kayak that you sleep inside, because they will trap warm air inside.

The Dolores River near Moab, Utah is a beautiful desert wilderness run and has a great flow at the moment

If you are planning a trip to NZ there are many rivers you can float, fish & hunt. Tell me where you would like to travel in NZ and I can give you some recommendations.