Newbie with question about alternative use of raft

Greetings, just found this place. Looks awesome. Im 27, from northern ontario. Love wilderness exploration, but I don my alter ego of a simple mild mannered plumber, rest of the time. Very active hiker, kayaker. I am into bushwack treks along routes nobody else is doing. I can see already that many here feel the same way and are doing the same kind of thing. Thats awesome. Way too many web groups are focused around the major highways that are americas premiere trails.
I am a huge hammock camping advocate. So ya… me in a nutshell. You can check out my website at if you are so inclined.

I have a couple of questions of newbish nature.

  1. I have been saving my pennies for last couple years, to get into packrafting. A particularly grueling week long trip that involved more portaging of my 43 lb boat than river running was the final straw. So here I am with some newb questions before I order. Is it true that the new spray deck design on alpacka rafts opens fully on one side? If so, how does this feature effect wet exits? What type of seam makes this closure? And is there some sort of continuation of this seam to the waistline of the skirt? I have found no pictures of this feature, don’t even know for sure that its true.

  2. I’ve seen pics of people sleeping in/on their rafts. Can anyone comment on the comfort of this? Do you still use a pad? And do you/ can you flip the boat over and sleep on the floor, or is this ill advised?

Some insights would be great.

Thankyou for your time. Awesome to have found this place.


Alpackas use a “spray deck” not a “spray skirt”. The difference; a spray deck is primarily attached to the boat, while a pay skirt is primarily attached to the paddler. Two inch wide Velcro is used for the seam closure. And yes they open fully on one side. The seam makes a dog-leg turn at the waist. The Velcro gives either by pulling it open or just by body force when making a wet exit. I have not, nor heard of anybody, having any trouble exiting the boat when flipped. The spray decks still leak some when subjected to lots of whitewater.

Some people flip their boats over for a sleeping platform. Personally I found it uncomfortable. On multi-day trips I use the InslulMat Sleeping Pad that doubles as a floor. I am not convinced that the pad/floor stiffens the boat but it does keep you much warmer when paddling in frigid water.

I believe you will be very impressed with the design, construction, durability and function of an Alpacka. They are different from previous boats you may of used and do take a little getting used to. However, once converted you will never look back.


Dude, welcome! One of the coolest things I love about my raft is being able to put it in my luggage whenever I fly anywhere. You’d be suprised, no matter where you go in the world, there’s usually some water somewhere big enough to put the packraft in!

Hi Turk, welcome to the forums.

I use my Alpaca as a groundsheet, sometimes. Hig & Erin use theirs as gear sleds in the snow, etc. (check out but that’s not design use :smiley: .

Sleeping on a raft: My big challenge w/ sleeping on a raft is that 1) it has to be long enough for your body, and I like to run a small boat, and 2) it’s warmer than sleeping on the ground, but still not as warm as a sleeping pad. I know folks sleep on Dorys, and there’s YouTube video of a guy seeitng his Dory up for that.

My Favorite Alternative Boat Uses: Firewood Pod, Lazyboy. On a recent trip down the Grand Canyon, I’d use my raft for two things: 1) when we stopped to grab firewood from the river shore, I’d pull my Alpaca ashore, load it up with firewood, then close the spraydeck and lash it onto the stern of my oarboat. Then I could run rapids with a load of firewood, and the wood stayed dry! 2) I’d strap my Alpaca on the stern of my oarboat, give my oars to my highsider, and lie in it like a recliner chair. Sooooo nice after a long stretch of rowing!

Too much dry land use of boats eventually puts small pinhole sized leaks that are impossible to find but lead to slow air loss.

It’s unlikely that Shaggy or many other people here on the forms have noted this, as it takes 5-10 years for this to appear, but some of us have older boats and no longer use boats for dry-land applications like beds, couches, etc.

Even Hig and Erin report that the bottom of their “sleds” have been abrading.

Thanks Roman - I wasn’t aware of the slow leak issue; I’ll be judicious about my dryland use.

I have seen pics of Hig & Erin’s sled-used boats, and there is definite deterioration. The lifespan of the boats will be much shorter. Possible? Indeed. Design use? Definitely not.

sleeping on an uninflated boat is not bad, if you’re out in the open and its raining though be sure to be using the bottom side up or else you’ll wake up miserable in a moat of water.

I think its amazing that even with the wear that erin and hig put on their “sleds” that they have held up ok. The boats are actually the one piece of their gear that was still looking good (minus the silnylon decks…) when they came through anchorage… remember their tent?! backpacks! oh my…

Hey, I designed and half-built those packs! … Well, okay, so Hig’s was the crappy first prototype. … And then we tore it apart. And I drank a bunch beer during Erin’s… And the poly webbing sucked… and the, oh… jeez, no, that didn’t work out either… And I found that fabric on Erin’s in the back of the jump loft, under some dead spiders… and the seams were an abomination… Aw, Hell. Nevermind.