Thigh straps

Some kayaks have thigh straps. Has Sherri considered thigh straps as an accessory for those not wanting a spray deck? The straps could be removable and fairly simply/lightweight. Maybe they would be considered a hazard.

Tucker (Spore?) here in Anchorage put his own in. I paddled his boat through Campground rapids on Eagle R and they felt cool, locking me in place. I felt more one with my boat, but haven’t put them in mine. I did worry about foot entrapment too, but they might make the boat more responsive…As for keeping me in the boat or helping with an Eskimo roll I didn’t try them long enough.

I have heard rumors of people trying them. I think Nathan and Sam (Media Feliz) experimented with knee straps but didn’t like the feel of be locked in the boat. Knee straps would certainly make an Eskimo Role easier. I have wondered if the front half (knees forward) of the spray deck was constructed of stronger material and permanently attached the same result would be achieved.


we (mediafeliz) messed around with some webbing from the front grab loops to the rear ones in our vintage teal models (when there were more rear loops). i took them off after a swim when my leg stuck through the line. it was a pretty halfhearted effort and early on in our packrafting careers; i have been envisioning a shallow knee cup of solid fabric, but havnt got around to it.

I have thought about a solid sheet of fabric amidships, integrated into the spraydeck, too, but just for my personal experimentation… I agree with the other posters, that these are a cool idea but potentialy very hazardous unless well-designed. To some extent, I’m sure that hazard is mitigated for the users who are very used to using whatever their arrangement is. I’m generally reluctant to wear anything or bring into my decked boat anything that inhibits my ability to get out of it underwater.

I’ve been WW kayaking for most of my life and the first time I got in a packraft the most disconcerting aspect of it was the lack of thigh braces. It seemed like eddy lines, little boofs, and surfing would be way easier with some kind of connection between knees and boat. I am in the process of buying my first packraft and sent the Alpacka folks an email inquiring about it. They said that they haven’t given it much thought at this point but I could order additional attachment points inside the boat and then rig my own straps to secure knees to sides of the boat. This will be a necessity for me and I plan to order it as such. I can’t imagine that it would be the least bit difficult to get out of but I’m willing to give that up for better control if they happen to work. (I’ve installed airline and/or ratchet style seatbelts in most of my playboats over the last 6 or 7 years with no problems getting out. I don’t creek in them…) If anyone has a boat outfitted with thigh straps in the Anchorage area please let me know if you would be willing to let me take a look at it before I order. Thanks!

Hi Paul,
A few people have put thigh straps in and had decent success. The best thing to do is put them in yourself so they are placed correctly for your particular leg length. I have played around with several different ideas and i haven’t been sold on any of them yet. Personally I think you would really like the airline seatbelt idea better, it would hold you in the boat better than the thigh braces. There are a few differences between the hard shell and bailing out of the packraft. with the soft fabric in the spraydeck everything is a little more “grabby” when you are exiting. I think it really is easier to hang yourself up on straps etc in a packraft than a hardshell. It isn’t that it is not worth doing for sure, but do be careful how you mount them. That is just my observation over the years. And remember that all of this stuff adds weight. One of the reasons this stuff isn’t standard on the boats is that it isn’t necessary for what the majority of people are doing with the rafts and everything like that adds weight and bulk. We are working toward adding a more difficult water model option. But that raft isn’t the one that most people will want, it will be a bit heavier and bulkier to take care of wanting more control. The original packraft was and is all about going ultra light, fast, and simple.

If you are ordering a boat let me know and I will send the four attachment points for you so you can glue them in yourself.

Cheers, Sheri

Sheri put in the attachment points for me a few years ago–precisely positioned just forward of my hips and knees. Custom positioning is critical. The four points do add weight and a little bulk. I use very light 3/4" webbing for the straps, so it adds almost nothing. For upper end white water, I absolutely love the thigh straps. For an experienced user, they can increase performance and lessen the chances of a wet exit. I wouldn’t recommend them for someone just getting familiar with the boat or whitewater because the possibility of foot entrapment is there, and the straps do add a level of complication to the whole experience. I remove my straps for flat-water trips.

Curious if others besides Stefan has thighs straps?

Thinking I am ready for them now, that and a shorter paddle.

How many people are using them in the ANC area? Does anyone have a quick release mechanism on them, or would it be a knife to the offensive strap release?

Would like to have a meet-up to see and maybe test them…

In this situation, done correctly, exiting the thigh straps should take no more effort than pushing out and straightening your legs so as to pull your knees out of either a fabric pocket or a strap which is likely the simplest. In a packraft, at least IMO, they seem like more than is necessary even at the upper end of whitewater. IMHO if you feel you need thigh straps you should probably think about improving your technique or further developing your skills. Weather it be reading the water better and seeing the clean lines and hitting them or simply spending more time in the raft, one needs to have skills. Given their design, there are just certain things that will be difficult no matter what you do. eg big holes on big water. These things are already about as idiot proof as it gets. Don’t get me wrong, there are probably a hand full of people that could really push what is possible in a packraft with thigh straps, but for most it will simply be a substitute for skill and ultimately not help them in the long run. In fact I’d be willing to bet that most packrafters would not be able to roll a raft even if they were glued into the thing. It is certainly more difficult than a kayak by a long shot. Not to mention much harder on one’s shoulders as well.

For what it’s worth Roman, Timmy just put some in his raft last night. I’m sure he’ll have some feed back after the weekend.

I just put a pair in my boat a few days ago. I’ll write up a report upon our return from the Upper Kuskulana River canyon this weekend.

I have thigh straps in all of my IK;S, I have never been hung up when flipping, and when properly fitted you will feel very snug in your boat. Another great attribute of straps is the fact that a well fitted pair of straps should keep a boater locked in even when upside down, then before you straighten your legs to release yourself, grab a strap and you will never lose your boat. By doing this you are technically not a swimmer if you can reflip and remount quickly under pressure.
Another real bonus for straps is the ability of the boater to effectively use their body weight to enhance maneuvering their boat. By applying a pulling knee pressure on the opposite strap when using a draw stroke, (opposite side), to turn the boat, while keeping momentum, results in a extremely tight turn and uses economy of motion more effectively.
Another item to consider might be a flip strap for bigger water, by using this I can remount in just a few seconds and have greater control of my boat while it is upside down.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first PR trip down the Kings and will be adding these features onto my new upcoming addition to my boat collection.
Hey guys for what it’s worth.
Happy boating

Yep, thigh straps.

Tim put em in and he rolled his boat today at Bird Creek. Awesome.

Not only are packrafts real boats but real boaters use them.