New boats development report

Hi Everyone,

Thought we’d post the beta on our new raft development projects here, for anyone who’s interested…

:bulb: The Two-Person Boat.
We’re beating up one of these boats right now, to see how it does.

2-Person Specs:

  • Inner length: 58", outer length 86".
    14.5" inner width (about 2" more than our other boats), outer width 37"
    Weight is about 6.5 lbs.

Torture Testing: The most dramatic testing we’ve done so far involved two of us (total dry body weight: about 370 lbs. + gear) in full whitewater gear running several miles of Class II-III, including deliberately hitting some midstream rocks broadside, going down wave trains, etc. This isn’t the intended usage, but a destructive-testing exercise, trying to cram years of use into hours of outright abuse. Boat weight was increased by frequent swamping and water in the boat, due to the kind of water we were crashing thorugh. Report: No rips, no punctures. The increased speed, with a guy in the stern and a guy in the bow, was noticeable: we really moved downriver, with the bow guy paddling and the stern guy steering. When we sat on the end-tubes, there was some buckling in the middle of the boat, as is to be expected.
In another instance, we got the boat out with a friend & local Dory-owner who’s 6’9" and 300 lbs. Sitting alone in it, he had significant stern sink, but not enough cause flooding over the stern tube. With both of us in it (I’m 160 lbs.), I sat on the bow tube. the boat trimmed out better (still off course a bit ‘tilted’) and remained maneuverable, but there was a partial buckle in the middle.

Intended Role: For those who are looking for a lighter total packweight for two people doing non-whitewater river floats, lakes, fishing, etc., the goal is to provide a boat for that, and which is also a lot more affordable than getting 2 main-line boats. With the longer hull, that also means a higher flatwater speed as long as the boat is well-trimmed, + more interior space. Although the Unrigged Explorer can be used for this, it’s more of a heavy-lift cargo hull; this one is designed to be for lighter applications, but more comfortable for 2 people.

Overall Report: For two-people-facing forward, sitting in the craft (preferabbly on seats or seat-pads), the boat structure holds shape well, and weight capacity is good. We’re still looking at the best ways to strap gear on. We’re looking at enlarging the stern somewhat, to better support asymetric loading.
As large amounts of weight are pushed out towards the very ends of the boat, this can create a minor buckle in the middle of the boat. We’re figuring out the thresholds of weight/load configuration that create this, and what the effect is.
In addition to higher speed, we’re seeing that this boat, when well-trimmed also tracks better, do to the distributed weight. Basically, it soaks up rotational energy better, as a long hull - and so it tracks more effectively.
We’re seeing what appears to be a 2-person, calm river longer-distance and/or fishing boat appear.
There’s a possibility that, unlike the single-person mainline boats, this one would do very well with skeg. Still investigating…

Minimalist Boat Report

Another initiative we’ve got going is to develop a more stripped-down, light boat: basically, a craft with the durability of our other boats, but with a slightly lighter weight and for those who don’t need the whitewater function, and are more interested in negotiation river floats, crossings, etc., including in remote environments & cold water.

The working title for this boat is the Scout.

Scout Specs:

  • Outer length: 64", inner length: 41".
    Outer width: 33", innner width: 13" (similar to our other boats).
    Weight: Slightly over 3lbs.
    Paddle Weight: Looking at a 24 oz. (1.5 lb.) paddle right now.

Torture Testing: We’ve been putting this guy through the wringer. It’s not meant for whitewater, but to compress abuse, we’ve been running ( w/ safety-boater & proper gear) C-III and even C-IV whitewater (if anyone is familiar w/ Boulder Drop, Skykomish river, we ran Boulder in it), scraping over rocks, ramming logs, sealing-launching off sand, skidding down concrete stairs, [ouch, that hurt] dryland drags, freezing it & jumping on it, etc… Yeah, our philosophy is “test by overkill.” Basically, trying to combine peak stresses caused by unfortunate, unforeseen events with the rigors of a long service life. So far, this boat is doing really well.

Intended Role: As we really look at it, this isn’t a “lightweight” Alpacka: it’s a minimalized, stripped Alpacka, as it is right now, for boaters who need the reliability and function of our boats, but would like a lighter pack weight and smaller package instead of whitewater capability. The Scout has no seat, and is configured for kneeling-paddling and - actually - lying back & lounging. We keep wanting to go out on a lake and test napping performance. It’s set up for your pack to be carried in-boat, with you, and perhaps used to sit on, instead of strapping across the bow.

Overall Report: From the design & testing standpoint, the Scout is doing really well. The question for us is really “what’s best role of this boat?” Our experimenting has really led us to feel this is a good boat for those who want the toughness & reliability of an Alpacka, but want to paddle-from-kneeling and/ or lighter weight, but aren’t going to do whitewater. Those design changes incidentally lets us bring the cost down a little bit, too. It’s really not an ‘ultralight boat’, though, in the sense of being built to our mainline spec.

Excellent news, 2009’s going to be a great year for Packrafting!

That is indeed good news.

We then have (as I can see it) 4 lines of Packrafting:

Cassic (Alpaca/Yak/Llama)
Heavy (Explorer/Dory)

I like that! Eager to see the minimalist in picture.


That Scout’s looking good, heck of a good weight and size too!

A Packraft this small and light, yet still ‘Alpacka Tough’ is quite an achievement!