Packrafts commonly fall into one of two categories:
- Ultralight flatwater packrafts – smaller tube diameters, lighter fabrics, and fewer features.
- Advantages: light weight (usually less than two pounds), compact when stowed.
- Disadvantages: light fabrics don’t offer much resistance against abrasion, punctures, or tearing; smaller tube diameters and non-rockered designs aren’t stable in anything but calm, flat water; minimal (if any) seat.
- Whitewater packrafts – larger boats with more durable fabrics and more features for load hauling and/or whitewater river use.
- Advantages: feature-rich for longer expeditions (tie-down points for packs, more comfortable seats), features for whitewater stability (longer, larger tube diameter, spray skirts, thigh straps, etc.), more durable materials (for rocky / brushy / woody rivers).
- Disadvantages: more complicated use (proportional to the number of features), heavier (5-10 pounds).
This review features the Alpacka Scout Packraft – a “bridge” boat that perhaps spans the gap between these two categories.
The Alpacka Scout Packraft offers the simplicity of the typical ultralight flatwater packraft (fewer features), but adds weight back in its tube (stern) design and fabric durability, allowing it to be an attractive option to those of us interested in a lighter and simpler boat for trips where we don’t need a whitewater packraft.
- Made in USA (Mancos, CO)
- Double valves with a large-diameter dump-and-fill valve and an elbow mouth valve
- Single stern grab loop
- Optional inflatable seat
- Included: inflation bag, stow bag, repair kit
- Recommended boater height: 5 ft 0 in (152 cm) to 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
- External dimensions: length 72 in (183 cm) x width 34 in (88 cm)
- Cockpit dimensions: length 41 in (104 cm) x width 16 in (41 cm)
- Tube diameter: 10 in (25 cm) with enlarged stern tube
- Tube fabric: 210-denier nylon with a double-sided polyurethane coating
- Bottom fabric: 400-denier nylon with a double-sided heavy polyurethane film
- Weight: 2 lb 8 oz (1.13 kg) – verified
- Packed size: 5 in (13 cm) x 20 in (51 cm)
I’m reviewing this boat in the following context:
For an additional 0.5 to 1.0 pounds of weight vs. ultralight flatwater packrafts (e.g., boats from Klymit and Supai), what does the Alpacka Scout offer that these boats do not in terms of gear-hauling ability, stability in moving water, and durability?
Likewise, although well outside the scope of the manufacturer’s intentions, I was, shall we say, curious about the Alpacka Scout Packraft’s performance in whitewater.
Description of Field Testing
During the course of this review, I used the Alpacka Scout on the following water types:
- Stillwater (backcountry alpine lakes, various)
- Small, brushy flatwater (Class 1) stream (Laramie River, Wyoming)
- Large flatwater river (Class 1) (North Platte River, Wyoming)
- Whitewater Class 2-3 (St. Vrain River, Lyons, CO)
In addition, I paddled the Scout with and without a backpack. When I used it with a pack, I simply stowed the pack in the bow of the boat (no tie-downs). Pack weight ranged from 15 to 30 pounds.
Performance Assessment (Video)
A complete performance assessment, including the strengths and limitations and a final commentary about the Alpacka Scout, are outlined in the following review video.
- Alpacka Alpaca Model Raft (Open Style)
- Weight: 5 lb 4 oz (2.4 kg)
- Primary advantage: more whitewater worthy, better for gear hauling
- Primary disadvantage: heavier
- Supai Matkat Flatwater Boat
- Weight: 1 lb 12 oz (0.8 kg)
- Primary advantage: very light weight
- Primary disadvantage: less durable
- Klymit Litewater Dinghy
- Weight: 35 oz (1 kg)
- Primary advantage: price, weight
- Primary disadvantage: limited gear hauling ability
Alpacka Raft LLC provided a product sample on a temporary loan for the purpose of this review.