The Rogue Leak

I recently purchased 2 yukon yaks. Love em to death. Been on a couple of 3 day trips so far
(all this weekend warrior can afford right now). My one problem is that one of my rafts has had
a slow leak in it from day one. Before the rafts even hit water I noticed this. At first i dismissed it
as changes in air temperature, or perhaps I didn’t tighten the mouth valve, or main valve quite enough.
But after several days and some light flatwater trials, it was pretty evident I had a leak. Takes a couple
of hours for the boat to get noticeably ‘squishy’.

This is not a complaint, or by any means nocking the quality of alpacka rafts. I would imagine that
most or all boats are pressure tested for some length of time before leaving factory ? At any rate,
it could have easily been a result of shipping, as when my package arrived it came in such a battered
state, that one might think the box had been kicked and dragged all the way from Alaska to Ontario,
through all imaginable weather. I have a chronic E-bay problem, so i’ve seen many a bruised and battered
packages come out of the far east, but the wreckage of box my rafts arrived in, takes the cake.
Gotta love the canadian postal system.

At any rate, I figured this was a good learning experience and first hands practice for patching my boat
myself. Figure this is a skill I am bound to need at some point, so not really put out by the whole issue.

My problem is, finding the leak has proven way harder than first imagined. It is obviously a very small
and difficult to find leak. I tried slightly diluted soap and water over all the seams of the boat. Then I
tried to force-submerge the raft in fairly calm flatwater in hopes of displaying the tell-tale bubbles. Then
I went out and bought some ‘leak-detect’ soap with brush in bottle and started meticulously going over
all the seams again, making sure to check valve seals. I just can’t seem to find this pesky leak. If I had
a bigger bathtub I would try submerging the raft in that.

All I can think of now is making up more soap test and painstakingly going over every inch of every
individual panel of the boat until i find the pinhole leak.

Anyone have any insights or tips to make this process easier? There has to be a better way, no?

Also my floor on both boats is delaminating from the tubes in several places. I don’t think this
is any defect in the adhesive product used to mate the flooring material to the tubes. Rather
I don’t think any was applied near the edges of the seams as I can easily peel the seams back
and reveal a line drawn in permanent black marker, obviously used as a guide to align the
floor to the tubes during manufacturing. I am sure this does not affect the integrity of the
floor bond to the tubes, but the open gaps in the overlapping fabric catches debris quite easily.

Will a little aqua seal fix this right up, and close the overlap seam back up?

Overall I am EXTREMELY happy with my purchase, and have fallen in love with packrafting.
While still way more at home in a WW creek boat, i am just getting a cautious feel for packrafting
in bigger water. I can see that maintaining these little boats is going to take a fair bit of TLC.

I know someone is going to suggest that I could return the raft for replacement, and I am sure that is probably
an option, but one i would prefer to avoid. I would like to tackle the repair myself, so I have practice for when it
really counts… on the shore … in the rain … with the blackflies :mrgreen:

Hi Turk,

Your new boat shouldn’t be softening up so quickly. We can’t stand selling leaky boats. Before a boat goes out the door, we leave it overnight inflated to a pressure over use-spec to check for leaks. We’re hoping yours didn’t somehow slip through the net: about 90% of the new boat “invisible leaks” we see are the result of dust or grit in a valve. Fortunately, this is a quick fix:

  • 1. Clean out the Main Valve. Make sure there’s no grit in the base or on the plug.
    2. Seat the Main Valve tightly in use. I imagine you’ve done this; I find sometimes I end up losing air because I didn’t tighten my main valve enough.
    3. Clean the Mouth Valve This is the most likely culprit. A typical new-boat slow leak is from a tiny foreign object in the screw valve. Unscrew it, pop it off the elbow valve, and give both a good blowing out. You can even wash the screw-valve in the sink. Re-assemble.
    4. Tighten down the Mouth Valve in use.

After doing this, you can inflate the boat and leave it inflated for about 24 hours. Any inflatable is going to soften a bit, but after you’ve tempered the boat, the loss shouldn’t be a dramatic softening over just a few hours. If this doesn’t fix it and your boat did get damaged in shipping, we can walk you through a super-quick fix on such a small leak, if you find it.

Regarding the floor - sometimes the interior edge does get a little wavy; this is a side-effect of the manufacturing process, and doesn’t affect seaworthiness. There should always be about a 1" wide strip of glue along the outer edge of the floor which is totally bomber. That’s the actual structural part of the floor attachment. Wavy pockets can be touched up, cosmetically, with a little bit of Aquaseal (see the Reparis & Enchancements area of our Tips & Techniques page ( for information on using Aquaseal.) However, the best way to dress up those areas is with a little Clifton 1-Part on Stabond glue for uethane.

Hope this helps, and let us know if your boat keeps leaking. Cheers, -Andrew

Hi Turk,

Sheri & I were just talking about your floor. Could you call me at (970) 903-9991? We want to check some stuff out on it.


I have the similar floor problem on the outside of my raft. See attached photo. Should I try the above mentioned repair?

Lov’n my raft!

ps. i resized this photo but it still preview huge???

I can’t see what is actually happening in the photo you put in. It doesn’t look right though! Give me a call at 970 903 9996 and tell me on the phone what is happening to the floor and I can give you a cure or have you send it back to get fixed. I just can’t make sense of what the photo is showing.

Cheers, Sheri

I’ve also found it extremely hard to find certain leaks… tried the soap and the submersion. I’ve thought that I could try filling the boat with gravel and letting the tide come in… There are certain leaks that proved extremely difficult to locate. Sometimes the only way I find them is that the water conditions are such that the hole makes noise. I don’t know a better answer, does anyone else?

A small thing though… definitely worth it to check the mouth valve by putting spit in it and around the screw. You can check the main valve this way too.

I’ve found small leaks by using a headlamp on an inflated boat (in the dark).

I also had a rogue leak. I took my alpacka on a remote 10 day trip. I injured it and repaired it with duct tape as I had forgot my repair kit (duh!). It seemed ok, but still was loosing air, which I realized when a huge wind started to whip up in the middle of the Yukon River and my boat was almost pushed under water! I got home, repaired the raft properly, but it still leaked. I had to go over it several times with soap in a very quiet location. I finally found the leak, down in the seam between the tube and the floor by hearing it. I cannot repair it…believe it is a manufacturing defect.

One way to chase a leak on the inside join between the tube and floor is to pour a bit of water in the boat, then slowly run the water around that inside join. I’ve often worried about a leak there, and used this method to eliminate the possibility, but never actually had to patch it.

That said, I think you could deflate the boat and expose that join, then seal the leak with Aquaseal.