I have been sent this Alpacka Caribou Packraft from Packraft Europe to test and review and I have become completely fixated and fell in love with it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I don’t have any experience with these packable boats. After a couple of sessions paddling it I’ve realised just how many opportunities packrafts can give you.
They really do open up so many doors of adventure. Whether it is helping negotiating a river on a multi day hike, fishing or exploring areas with very difficult access.
I plan to use this to explore some local rivers hardly ever paddled combined day and overnight hikes.
History of packrafting.
1946-mid 1950s: Inflatable “packable” rafts start to appear in army surplus stores. These boats were left over survival equipment from World War II airplanes.
1845 is the first record I can find of packraft use: The ill-fated Franklin expedition. Where he attempted to find the northwest passage using small rubber packrafts.
2000: Thor Tingey spends the summer traversing the Brooks range with a Curtis packraft. When he returns in the fall, he talks his mom, Sheri, into building him a packraft to run rivers.
2002: Sheri Tingey sells her first boats and the Alpacka Raft company is formed. Offering two sizes of rafts: a “Yak” length, and a “Denali Llama” length.
Soon there’s a “Fjord Explorer” and a two-person packable “canoe” called the “Gnu,” capable of running class 4 whitewater.
2014-15: After seven years of development and research the “Alpackalypse” is brought to market, bridging the worlds of packrafting and hardshell-kayaking.
Packrafting has increased over the last few years.
Many people are purchasing them and developing routes to take into account the ease of carrying a packraft to reach areas normally inaccessible.
Alpacka Caribou Packraft
After reading as much information I could and also looking at the Packrafting 101 from Packraft Europe I was happy to head out and give this raft ago.
Now my local river (River Waveney) is a slow river and this was the perfect place for a test paddle.
Using a dry bag I packed the packraft, PFD, paddle and a few other bits, grabbed and rod and a net and headed out.
After fishing to no avail for a while it was time to check out the packraft.
The Caribou has been designed with weight in mind. It has also been designed as a packraft for bike rafting (did confuse me at the start).
The packraft weighs around 2.2kg (with the cargo fly). Now the cargo fly, what a great idea.
A dry zip on the stern allows your to stuff gear into the tubes of the packraft.
This will your gear dry as you paddle and also limiting the amount of gear you have piled around you.
This I thought was ingenious!
Unpacking the Alpacka Caribou Packraft.
Unpacking the Alpacka Caribou packraft was easy, it comes in its own stuff sack with a basic repair kit to cover a multitude of accidental dings.
Inflating the packraft with the filling bag was easy (once I found out how to use the one way valve). The valve of the pack raft will turn to make it one way or two way (for deflation).
Once the packraft was full, you can remove the bag and with a few lung fulls there is enough pressure in the packraft.
Now i’d read somewhere that once you set the packraft on the water the pressure can lower due to the water cooling the air in the tubes.
So once it has sat for a while another couple of breaths and we are ready to go.
Now safety first as any paddlesports, PFD on and getting into the packraft was easy it is really stable.
The first thing I noticed was that it turns on a six pence so close paddle strokes eliminated this.
I fell in love with this sport and can see how this will open up doors to adventures.
Buying a Alpacka Caribou.
Where I am in the U.K. There are a few resellers of Alpacka Products like Backcountry Scot. Which means you haven’t got to worry about the dreaded import tax when purchasing products from overseas.
The great thing about Alpacka Pacrrafts is you’ve got loads of choice and you can have your packraft made bespoke.
When going through the website, once you have chosen what raft you are after you can then add all the optional extras onto it: Cargo Fly, Spraydeck, internal dry bag etc. (depending on your model).
A big thanks to Packraft Europe for sending this to me to test.
Please check out packraft Europe as there website is full to the brim with everything you need for packrafting: Packrafts, Accessories, Information, Training the list goes on.
What I loved about the Alpacka Caribou Packraft?
- Packs up small
- Opens up doors to adventure (either multi-way or micro adventures)
- Cargo Fly (loved it what a great idea to carry gear in the tubes)
- Easy to paddle
- Easy to inflate
- Plenty of space (i’m 1.83 tall)
What I didn’t like?
- Not the cheap (but don’t be put off by the price). There are many more on the market but purchasing the Alpacka Caribou Packraft won’t be false economy.
The 3 videos below show the test paddle of the Alpacka Caribou Packraft, the first micro adventure using the packraft and a trip out bike rafting.