Apr 16, 2007 at 12:42 am #1222828
It's late and I'm tired (!) after a looong drive today but couldn't resist posting this photo, taken this morning during a packrafting descent of Boulder Creek in WY's Wind Rivers:
Thanks to my partner, Joel Walthall (BPL Sales Mgr) for taking a GREAT shot for me!Apr 16, 2007 at 3:57 am #1386123
Great shot, Ryan! Looks like a lot of fun. And I see you still use your Tilley?
I hope to see a trip report, and some discussion of your gear and how to protect it, since I am planning a Spring trip with my wimpy little Sevylor 'trail boat'.. Is that one of the larger Sealline Stormsacks you lashed on the front?Apr 16, 2007 at 6:59 am #1386139
Brett – not a Stormsack –
That's the Arctic Dry Pack.Apr 16, 2007 at 11:36 am #1386165
WOW! That looks like so much fun!
Please post more pics if you have time or put them on your blog.Apr 16, 2007 at 11:44 am #1386166
What do you use as a PFD?Apr 16, 2007 at 12:13 pm #1386172
Richard, I *normally* use an SOS inflatable — BUT — I forgot it in the car, so I wasn't wearing a PFD. I know – BAD! So, I usually, for small creeks and calm water, use a TorsoLite pad wrapped around my chest under my shell.Apr 16, 2007 at 4:36 pm #1386204
Thank you for posting the pictures on your blog. I see you were using the Wild Oasis. Care to give any thoughts on this shelter? Can we expect a review?Apr 16, 2007 at 4:45 pm #1386207
I've posted more photos and comments from this trip here:Apr 16, 2007 at 5:57 pm #1386212
Ryan – In the photo Packraftingboulder8 the pack rafts are outside the shelters. Did you leave them there overnight?
I have found that if I invert mine and put a thin insulating pad on it, it makes a very cushy mattress.Apr 16, 2007 at 7:23 pm #1386217
Richard, we pulled into camp late and didn't want to inflate our rafts until morning, but yes, they are actually pretty comfy.Apr 17, 2007 at 1:20 am #1386252
Anybody out there find the lightest foam-filled PFD?
A non-inflatable PFD?
Hoping to find something under the 2 pound mark…..
RomanApr 17, 2007 at 8:22 pm #1386373
Ryan mentioned a 14 oz pfd here, but never said what brand it was.Apr 17, 2007 at 10:54 pm #1386389
Roman – The lightest non-inflatable PFDs use kapok instead of CC foam. Astral and Norge are the two primary manufacturers of this PFD type.Apr 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm #1386394
Richard, Kapok? Like the fiber from the tropical tree?
Have you used one? What sort of construction keeps it dry?
RomanApr 18, 2007 at 5:53 am #1386419
John & Roman et al – that 14 oz vest is a Stearns Class III, you can buy them at Wal-Mart. They're not so hot for whitewater and can't punch you out of a hole well. I have a 9 oz SOS inflatable that I trimmed, but they are wholly uncomfortable while paddling (restrict mobility) and too hard to inflate on the fly if you bite it. I like my TorsoLite-under-a-rain-jacket the most, until I can find (or make) something better than the Stearns model.Apr 18, 2007 at 6:28 am #1386422
@jackflLocale: New England
I find the notion of the torso light torso burrito "interesting."
To be honest, my first reaction is that it's wacked. Ken Knight and I had a little exchange going in another thread in which I pulled in my horns a bit…but having spent 10 years guiding wilderness canoe trips and many more as an avid paddler, it's hard for me to not react strongly. The analogy that comes to mind is going back to using cloths line to "protect" climbing routes becaues of it's handling characteristics while in your pack. So rather than get on a high-horse about it, could someone just describe the experience of swimming rapids in this rig? Do you find yourself clamping your arms to your sides to hold it in place, or does wearing it under a shell suffice? Ever had the shell balloon while swimming – if so what happened? Can you swim strongly and with confidence to affect a self-rescue?
It's also certainly possible that I'm missing something here, so don't want to get to far up on the soapbox, but this strikes me as a really poor idea. It's fine with me for folks to take whatever risks that they wish, as long as they are informed…Apr 18, 2007 at 7:01 am #1386431
It's risky. A real PFD is a whole lot better.
I have swum rapids with it. Standard technique: feet down, chest up.
It gets worn around the front of the chest, it's not long enough to go around your back. Mine uses 5/8" nylon straps with side release buckles attached to 1/2" miniature grommets in the pad's RF welded rim. This, combined with wearing it under a shell, keeps it in place quite well. A 3/4 length pad works better for flotation but tends to roll you, where the short length of the torsolite keeps you chest up, but making it harder to do an aggressive swim if needed.
It's not an ideal solution, and I try to use it only in a pinch in Class 2 water. Waters with > Class 3 or strainers etc. – I'm wanting a real whitewater PFD.Apr 18, 2007 at 9:51 am #1386466
@jackflLocale: New England
Ryan, thanks – that paints a picture of small, semi-technical, low volume streams. Great detail that it works with the shorter torsolight and that it's actually better to avoid a full body wrap…you're going for a taco rather than burrito :~).
My objective in posting was to gain some clarity about what you're doing, how, and under what circumstances / constraints. Who knows – it could be helpful context for someone reading this to shape their own decisions. No intent to chide.
In terms of lightest full whitewater pfds. I assume that you've looked at "squirt vests" that pull on over the head – no zipper weight? Consider it an insulation layer in camp – a very bulky vest and pillow. Again with the :~)Apr 18, 2007 at 4:03 pm #1386535
I went to a couple of paddling shops and weighed all of the L/XL PFDs they had on display. My chest is 45" and so this is the size I weighed. I also measured the weight for a number of PFD sizes above and below L/XL. On average, there is about a .1 lb difference per size.
The MTI Livery PFD seems to be the best standard option for rough water packrafting at .9 lbs. This is only .06 lbs heavier than the SOS Scout inflatable suspenders before any modifications to lighten them. It has these additional benefits: it can be worn under a properly sized windshirt or rainwear for insulation, in lieu of a high loft vest; the two side straps and the accordion style foam on the sides allow a comfortable athletic fit for paddling; and there is an elastic safety loop that locks the zipper in place.
I misspoke relative to the Astral Kapok (natural material) PFDs. Contrary to the marketing hype I read, they weren't lighter than the comparable PFDs with foam… sorry Roman.
I am sure that a custom PFD could be created that weighs less than the MTI Livery but, the safety tolerance would probably be lower.Apr 18, 2007 at 5:43 pm #1386549
Wow, Richard, awesome data! My only gripe with the MTI Livery is lack of pockets. I need survival and misc gear in my PFD – firestarting kit, knife, whistle, camera, and a snack. So, I like PFD's with pockets. And my paddling smocks (a Patagonia Specter pullover in mild weather and an NRS Endurance Splash Top in cooler weather) have kangaroo pockets – I wear these when using the SOS or TorsoLite as my PFD.
But, at 0.9lbs it would almost be worth adding two external front pockets.Apr 18, 2007 at 6:56 pm #1386555
Richard, Thanks for sharing! This is exactly the reason I keep coming back to this site.
RomanApr 18, 2007 at 7:05 pm #1386556
Thanks for your post. Every boater, even those with backpacks, need some sort of PFD at some level of risk. It's identifying what risk level they need it at — and there are many kinds of packrafting from just crossing rivers and streams that people would otherwise wade to hucking waterfalls. Sport-boating anything Class III and over must of course be done in solid foam PFD — I think!
Others run Class III and even IV in inflatable PFDs (Too spooky for me), but many "backpackers in a boat" paddle Class I-II without anything more than a foam pad under the jacket…..Apr 18, 2007 at 7:40 pm #1386563
Richard, thanks for the info! Great work, and another post worth saving.
I'm glad this subject came up, because I was not going to use anything for river rafting in my 'toy' Sevylor TrailBoat, but this got me thinking I should at least make the 'burrito' or 'taco' with my GG ThinLight or a sitpad, and a shell.
For ocean kayaking I use the Sabre, and I also need pockets, they are stuffed with signal/commo devices.Apr 18, 2007 at 9:10 pm #1386569
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
I am not sure this post will gain the attention of those needed to input, but can anyone suggest a starting point for packrafting? I am very interested in cruising mild river conditions during an extended backpacking trek at some point in the future.
How does one select a suitable river?
Is there a publication that lays out the basics?
Has anyone been out with a guide they reccommend?
Thanks for any help.Apr 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm #1386578
Scott – A packraft paddles much more like a river boat than a canoe, raft, or a touring kayak. The major difference is the inability of the packrafts to edge as aggressively. Select a suitable river (class 1 -2 ) by picking one, close to your home, from the book, "California White Water – A Guide to the Rivers".
I am not aware of any publication that teaches the basics of packrafting but, there are many that teach river kayaking. Most skills learned are applicable to packrafting. Take a series of classes and then buy a book.
I am most familiar with California Canoe and Kayak (CCK) classes and guides in Northern CA. CCK has a three weekend series which will safely teach you the basics on the South Fork of the American River's class 2 sections. They also have a one week class called Rapid Immersion they conduct on either the Trinity River or the South Fork of the American River. I strongly recommend the Trinity River venue for a true wilderness experience combined with the learning. You base camp on the river and paddle a different section each day. It is not uncommon to have eagles above you and salmon or steelhead below you in the crystal clear water.
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