Vinyl packrafts

I think that the vinyl “pool toy” (Wikipedia term) is very underrated as a packraft. In the Spring of 1975 five of us went through Copper Canyon (Urique River), Mexico from Humira Bridge to Urique in 8 days using vinyl “pool toys” (cost less than $15) with only one small puncture. The individual vinyl rafts were fully inflated the whole trip and went through rocky rapids, over waterfalls, through thorny bushes and performed admirably. We carried all of our own food and gear with no ferrying back and forth. I estimate that we spent 2/3 of the time on the water. Pat Morrow (first person to climb the highest peaks on 7 continents) duplicated the journey in the fall of 1979 using 2 vinyl rafts and 1 vinyl kayak. The rafts performed much better than the kayak.

Heya PVDman,

That sounds like an awesome trip! They musn’t make vinyl like they used to though as all of the 1-2 trips I have done with vinyl rafts have ended in some pretty substantial holes/ tears usually requiring 2-3 patching stops per boat per day. To be fair though, everything you would run in a raft in this part of Australia is usually pretty bony!

They are the perfect machine to get a feel for rafting before upgrading to something a little more durable though. Also, great for rafting trips with friends new to the sport. Here are a couple of my vinyl oriented trips:

and a more intense trip by the local kayaking club:

Very impressive! I doubt that $500 rafts would have done much better! I have also used the vinyl rafts to raft the Little Colorado River from Horse Canyon to the Big Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. That trip went over a number of travertine falls but nothing like what was shown in the movie.


Reposts from docthomas on Grand Canyon Hikers yahoo Group

Docthomas04 on

Am amazed you worried at all about Makat… and,other than getting out and doing walk around, there IS any other option. I’ve run EVERY GC rapid in pool toy boat 39 times … and got soaked and chilled to bone every time…but hell of a ride !

Hi guys;
There is a long article written about these trips in the GCPBA fine publication ,(now suspended I believe), called The Waiting List under the title “Argentine Boat Rides”. I explained that the “rule” was pool toy had to cost less than $20 at local drug store/walmart AND had to wear GCNP approved PFD…wet suits were optional ( but I learned were a necessity as I aged ).
The durability of the “boats” were always suspect BUT I always carried a spare (it was in my full regular hiking pack which lied on my belly)…BUT the cheap boats lasted usually the whole trip.
I have tons of photos …my feet hung over one end and head laid on other end…I always had parachute cord tied to my wrist and to boat because EVERY rapid caused a flip :wink:…was mucho exciting and ,yes, am admitted
adrenaline junkie…and yes,was finally caught by RANGERS,went to fed court and fined $200.


Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA) Vol. 5 #2 Summer 2001