Ideal for beginners?

Hello everyone,

I found out about packrafting only recently and have taken it to heart and can’t wait to give it a go. Can anyone recommend any specific models which will be ideal for a beginner and preferabley at a reasonable price; or alternatively a good place in the UK to get a decent second hand one. Any other hints or tips would be gratefully appreciated :slight_smile:.

Thanks Everyone,

Already have most things so would only need the boat and paddle. I was thinking of using it to make my outdoor trips more varied and exciting (not being blessed with any mountains in Hampshire). I should have used a better term, by begineers model I meant a ‘lower’ cost boat which would suffice for my local area (no rapids here). I want to try it out to see whether I find it viable before I save up (and on my wage this could take some time) to be able to splash out on say an Alpacka. From what I’ve seen on-line a Sevylor or Flytepacker would fit the bill but I can’t find a UK stockist.

Out of curiosity which type did you get McNik and where from?


You should check the ‘Swap Shop > For Sale’ section, as there’s a Decked 2010 Denali Llama IN THE UK!

Chris S is upgrading to a 2011 'Llama, and used Alpacka Rafts in the UK are extremely rare… I think I got the last one (a brand new Dory/Explorer).

I don’t blame you for hesitating before splashing out on an Alpacka or similar.
You may think this is a joke but if you’ve never paddled before and want to try out packboating I’d consider buying something like an Intex Sea Hawk PVC raft which is currently no less that 31 quid on amazon. It’s a cheapo beach toy obviously, but I suspect it will be nearly as much fun while it lasts. I get the feeling it’s an oar boat but with a long paddle and something to sit on you ought to be able to paddle kayak style.
On rivers like the Wey or Arundel it would be fine just as long as you steer clear of any pecking waterfowl or unusually sharp-edged waves.

I’ve just persuaded a kayaking mate with a good GSOH to buy one and, assuming it’s not complete crap out of the box, we plan to do the Ardeche Gorge this summer (3-4 days, fun rapids, loads of families in rental hardshells). As long as he nurses it, it ought to last and at the end he can give it away to some kids on holiday.

I wrote this a few months ago and may update it once matey gets his Intex.

PS - thanks for the tip, Aero

I will be a beginner in a couple of weeks when I get all my kit together and try one of these

Grr it won’t let me enter an URL, but type in Sevylor Super Caravelle - XR56GTX-7 into Google, it’s £32 delivered. It’s also very light 3.3kg apparently.

P.S. Thank you Roman for answering my e-mail and encouraging me to try the boat out. It’s to be ordered this week.

I’m planning on walking from my house in Herefordshire to the legal navigable starting point of the River Wye, nearish Hay-on-Wye/Glasbury and going all the way down, then get the bus home.

Will have a PFD, Helmet, whistle etc etc and Alpkit drybags and the like.

I actually don’t own a phone or camera, or even an ipody thingy, but I might get a Motorola Defy or similar and so be able to take pictures and compile a little blog/account of it all. Perhaps I can even get some pictures of it on our pond before hand too, so as to update here.

I’d like to try the Severn afterwards, and the Thames, but that’s pipedreaming in the extreme, let’s get the Wye done first.

Hi newbie here as well…

i’m about 5’9", I see the recommended sizes are based around the idea that the fit should be snug but not overly tight.

I’m interested in the Explorer because I can see my wife in the boat with me. For times when one person is paddling, would the explorer be simply too large? What is the consequence / disadvantage of paddling in that large of a boat?


i was just in your same, uh, boat (sorry). i’m 5’8" and wanted a boat that my girlfriend and i could keep in the car for occasions when we might stumble across a lake or slow river on our frequent road trips. i opted for the unrigged explorer, but was worried about it being too large when only one person was aboard. i just tried it out on hebgen lake, mt, and had a good time (worked great with two aboard), but it is definitely too long for me to touch the end with only me on board. If I were to take it on a river, I’d want to put something up in the bow, like a dry bag or something similar to serve as a foot rest. in the end, we concluded that it might have been better to get two small boats (e.g. alpacas or yaks) than to try to do everything with the explorer. don’t get me wrong – we loved it – but now my girlfriend wants her own small boat anyway, and my boat is probably a shade too long for just one. hope that helps!


Thanks for the info gladie! When the two of you were in the boat, did the other person sit at the bow and faced the paddler? Also, I assume you had to paddle while sitting cross-legged? How did the explorer track? I understand it being longer, it should track a bit better than the smaller boats?


we tried several configurations: passenger in the bow facing the paddler w/ feet crossed; same but w/ knees up/feet on the floor; and both facing forward/knees up/feet flat. i’d previously tried what i believe was about a 2009 yak (maybe alpaca, but in any case w/o the big butt and pointy bow), and the explorer definitely tracked better than the smaller boat. part of that might have been that having experienced the smaller boat previously and gained a little experience overall, i learned to dip the paddle less extremely into the water. that is, i found that i tracked a lot better when i took somewhat more frequent, less-aggressive strokes, alternating right to left and back. we also had a tributary tomcat tandem with us, and we noticed that – while you had to paddle a lot more aggressively with that larger boat – it tracked somewhat better (at least until we made adjustments to our paddling style with the explorer). again, we were only on flat water, but we ventured pretty far into hebgen’s main channel and experienced some white caps, and we always felt very confident. the bow sat somewhat lower in the water with the passenger, but we never felt unstable. in fact, we participated in a pretty gnarly water fight in the explorer, but we never tipped and were able to maneuver and even switch positions in the boat (e.g. passenger from facing backwards to forwards) to better douse our opponents. although the explorer is “unrigged,” we did spring for the skeg, but we never bothered to attach it on this trip. i’ll let you know if i experience a difference when i experiment with it down the line. in the end, we loved the boat, so much so that we both thought, “damn, we maybe should have just gotten two yaks or something smaller,” but no loss… we can always add a smaller boat down the road. and the best part… carrying an explorer a 1/4 mile or so up the hill under your arm beats the hell out of lugging the 53lb tomcat any day. in that regard, our goal was definitely met. from now on, we’re keeping the alpacka in the car for spontaneous paddles on mountain lakes and lazy rivers. the tomcat is simply impractical for that as it eats up much of the space in our vehicle. hope that helps and good luck with your decision!

not sure how to do this (new here), but hopefully here’s a pic of the UE in action:

To add to the discussion. I just recieved an FX with the rowing kit. I havent used it yet but in my living room the new rowing kit looks like an amazing design, compact light and very quick to set up and it takes up no room in the boat. With the rowing kit, I imagine that the FX is a completely different boat than the other ones.

gladie, when you’re paddling by yourself in the UE, does it bow rise due to the length and does the bow “snake” since the legs aren’t able to brace against the bow and support the boat as a frame? I wonder if these draw bags of an oversize boat only comes in play when paddling in whitewater. For anything less than that, are the draw bags significant?


with only one occupant, the bow didn’t so much rise (i.e. out of the water), but it leveled out. if you see the photo i posted, having a front occupant sorta made the bow sit low in the water, but with only one, it just rides flat. so i guess it “rose” a little, but not to the point of lifting out of the water and/or causing the boat to flex in the middle. keep in mind that i’m about 5’8" and 145ish, so one might have a different result with more or less weight or a different size. i had the same concerns you had about the long boat and the lack of the “frame” created by an occupant’s legs, and when i voiced these concerns to nancy at alpacka, she recommended putting a dry bag or other object in the bow to give me something to push my legs against. i messed around with putting my pfd up there, and it seemed fine. i guess it all comes down to how often you plan to use the UE with two occupants. if it’s not that often (e.g. only for infrequent lazy lake floats), i’d maybe consider a yak or a denali and just cram the 2nd person in or have them sit on the bow. or go with two smaller boats?

gladie thanks for the info. I bit the bullet and purchased a used UE from this forum. Don’t know what my wife’s interest level will be, but I couldn’t justify spending all that money on just a single person raft lol.

Glad to hear that you were able to make it work with one person. We actually have very similar dimensions… hopefully the older alpacka design will work close to what you experienced.

I also hear that the spray deck is necessary… that even on calm water, the occupant will get very wet. Did you find this to be the case? Oh well I guess I’ll see for myself once the boat arrives.

tothewest. I bought a 2010 fx and I now have a 2011 FX. I took the FX out last year a couple of times on calm water with a kayak paddle and didnt get wet. Using a kayak paddle you may get some paddle drip, but not a big deal for me. I never tried 2 people. If your older FX is not too old, it may be configured to accept the new rowing system. I set mine up but havent used it yet. It does not get in the way at all. rowing would keep you dry.I would think that rowing would be an easier option with 2 people in the boat,I would have the passenger sitting on the bow tube, but in practice I dont have any experience with it yet. Wouldnt a spray deck get in the way if you had 2 people? hopefully some one else can answer this for you.

ah you’re right… a spray deck will not work with two passengers… and correct me if I’m wrong… even with a removable spraydeck, isn’t a small area in the bow continuously covered?

I have not considered adding the oar frames as I just regard them as additional things to carry and to install onto the boat. I’m picturing quick deployment into the water…

Yeah I know what you mean about quick deployment of the boat. I was thinking that last year. I got on the water quick but I really didnt like using the kayak paddle( my shoulders arnt great) so it was fast to get on the water but I never ended up going out. I decided to give the Alpacka another chance so I bought the new FX with rowing kit. I think once Ive done it a couple of times I should be able to asemble rowing kit and put on boat in about a minute. Its a really great design (havent tested it on the water yet) It takes up more weight and room in your bag but not much I dont think

so i received the explorer from another member from this forum. Took it out on a local lake today. Worked out great! My wife wasn’t with me and paddled comfortably while sitting on the Explorer seat. If I slouched down a bit my feet + keen sandels could touch the bow end. I would imagine something like a Yak would be so much smaller! Yeah it didn’t track that well but I still had fun.

thanks for everyone’s input on the boat… helped me in my decision making.