Alpacka Oryx experiences?
May 9, 2021 at 5:51 am #3711900
Morning all, hope everyone is doing well as spring rolls in.
Was wondering if anyone on this forum had experiences with the Alpacka Oryx specifically and how it compares to a canoe. There are a few articles out there on the web but not that much in depth (or seem like a marketing article). I am into lots of flatwater canoeing and am looking to the Oryx to replicate that body motion and relaxed paddling, either alone or with a partner from time to time.
I know I can just get a regular canoe but I live in a city and the packability/portability is key – I’m not doing a lot of Alaska hike-in and canoe expeditions (though sure, why not in the future) but sometimes I may just want to take a train to a lake or river (including the Hudson River, which is bigger). I just want something that works well, that feels good and that I can paddle into the middle of a lake or river, fish, jump out and swim and climb back out, just like a canoe experience. Can people speak to this on here, or am I seeking a unicorn?
Separately is it true that the zip Cargo Fly requires you to deflate the whole boat then reinflate it in the AM (on multiday trips) to use it? The Alpacka site doesn’t have too much on this.iMay 9, 2021 at 9:51 am #3711917Ben BrochuBPL Member
@crooked_creek-2-2Locale: Hinterland Outdoors
Having coming into packrafting from canoeing, the Oryx as a great boat, but the short answer is that it will not replicate a canoe experience. Being lighter it will get blown around in the wind a lot more. Any inflatable will. You have to deflate the boat to use the cargo fly, but it only takes a couple of minutes and is not a big deal. If you’re looking for a hardshell feel that is portable and compact (but not hiking in), you might want to consider a PakCanoe or Ally canoe. That said, an Oryx (or any packraft) will do what you want it to do, but the experience will be different.May 9, 2021 at 1:20 pm #3711934
Thanks Ben! Do you have direct experience with the Oryx or just generally the Alpacka line? There’s just so little out there and it is a $1800 investment.May 9, 2021 at 7:38 pm #3711955Luke SchmidtBPL Member
If you like canoeing I might consider a smaller canoe. I used a 14 foot Old Town for caribou hunting. It was pretty easy to move around and generally fun. Much much better on lakes than my packraft. There is a 12 foot model but I never tried it.May 10, 2021 at 5:21 am #3711970
Hi Luke. unfortunately a canoe is out of the question as even a 12 footer would be too massive for a 2 bedroom NYC apartment. I completely realize the Oryx isn’t a ‘canoe’ per se I just really wanted it to get close for the compactness and versatility. Thanks.May 10, 2021 at 10:30 am #3712000Bob KernerBPL Member
I asked a similar question (but for kayaking) on a couple of pack rafting sites. The consensus was : it’s not a kayak or canoe, don’t expect it to perform as such. If you’re willing to tolerate poor tracking (compared to a rigid hulled craft), being blown in the wind in exchange for packability then go for it. It’s a compromise at best.
Having kayaked in the Hudson (lower Hudson= NYC, and up by Storm King), I don’t think I’d take a raft. I’ve seen pictures of people in rafts but I can’t imagine it being fun or safe. There are rental sites if you want to give it a try. The closest one I found in 2019 was in MT (found it on the Alpaca website) and they had a whole shipping process. Then Covid came so I stopped pursuing the rental idea.
I’m East of you on LI. It’s tough being surrounded by water and not having a practical solution for storing a boat. We kept our ‘yaks on a rack behind our rental apt. Then when we had kids sold them because we knew we wouldn’t be using them for awhile. I miss the boats but not enthusiastic about tying up space in my yard with a rack.May 12, 2021 at 2:05 am #3712236Steve SBPL Member
I used an early Gnu. It was shorter than the Oryx and we used canoe paddles in a kneeling position. If you wish to kneel in the Oryx expect to need padding for your knees. The fabric floor offers no protection from rocks or other obstacles you cross. The lack of a keel seemed to limit directional control from the rear seat when the front passenger was taking pictures. But perhaps the main factor limiting control was that the paddles were from the Alpacka-sold convertible kayak paddle, which converts into too-short canoe paddles. You would prefer still longer paddles for the wider Oryx. In a wind, cooperation between the front and rear paddlers seems likely to be essential. In one person mode, I suspect a kayak paddle would be preferred to a canoe paddle, but I didn’t try the experiment,
The effort level with the Oryx would be higher and the speed somewhat lower than with a canoe due to the shorter length and the resulting lower hull speed. But (1) the Gnu was fun, (2) the Oryx would probably offer 90% of what you expect from a canoe, (3) it weighs 1/3 as much as a folding canoe and is much more convenient, and (4) you can carry it into lakes and swamps you would never explore with rigid canoe. For my taste, big lakes would be a worst case scenario; small lakes and lazy rivers the best. Because of the portability, you may find the Oryx to be superior to a rigid boat as the only boat you own.
Last, packrafts depreciate relatively slowly, so if you are unhappy and sell it, you probably won’t be out that much cash.May 12, 2021 at 6:26 am #3712245
Thanks all for the good tips. The resale tip is a good one. My intention would not be to kneel, I’m really into the sitting and just fishing/sightseeing/beer trips most of the time. Interestingly Alpacka really hypes that splitting “shred apart” paddle and I’ve seen good reviews for it, so interesting @steve_s-2 that it didn’t work for you.May 12, 2021 at 9:03 am #3712257Steve SBPL Member
If you look at pictures of the Oryx in action, whenever you see a fully immersed paddle blade, the shaft is quite long. It follows that a short shaft limits the quality of draw strokes.
I did not mention in my first post the importance of keeping a 2-person raft inflated hard. If you do not, the raft can twist between the paddlers. Inefficient for paddling and can lead to exciting experiences in even moderate whitewater.May 13, 2021 at 10:30 am #3712433Kevin BabioneBPL Member
It may not fit your needs because you’re looking for a canoe-experience, but I bought my daughter an inflatable Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2 kayak and she loves it. She lives in an apartment with not a lot of space and it folds down to the size of an aerobed. For her the best feature is that it comes with 2 seats but three seat positions. If there are two of them going out they use the front and rear positions, but if she’s solo she’ll just put one seat in the middle. It’s also only $399 which might make it easier to “catch & release”. I bought for her on Drop two years ago and paid $395 for the kayak, the pump, and two paddles and thought it was a good deal.Sep 30, 2022 at 11:31 am #3761001Brendan MulhollandBPL Member
@dools009Locale: Pacific Northwest
Dead post here but figured I would add my experience with my Oryx. Paddling a packraft canoe style with 2 people in a higher sitting position changes everything with regard to tracking. I had an Alpacka Llama for a number of years but only ever used it begrudgingly on flat water because it just felt so frustratingly inefficient having the front end swing back and forth with each paddle stroke. With the Oryx both paddlers sit quite high up and paddle at the same time. The movement feels like paddling a canoe and with relatively equal power from each side there isnt any bobbing and weaving. Max speed is obviously limited by the length of the hull and its large surface area but I was really blown away by how enjoyable the Oryx is on flat water.
I have a surfski kayak racing background and definitely have a preference for faster, more efficient hulls on flat water. The Oryx isn’t fast but you move smoothly like a canoe and if you are just trying to cruise around a lake, go fishing, or using it for a longer trip where you need to cross flat water I think you will be happy.
On class 2-3 water we deflate the seats quite a bit to lower our center of gravity and the stability is really good (much better than a wide family canoe). The Oryx is limited in its rougher whitewater capabilities because it doesnt have a self-bailing hull. The trade off there is that the smooth hull of the Oryx is a good deal faster in the water and you don’t constantly have a bit of water in the bottom of the boat like you can experience with self bailers.
Anyways, I’ve been very impressed with the Oryx when paddling it with a partner. Stability is definitely there for class 1-2 water with even moderate experience and balance but you are going to end up pulling out to drain out water as the whitewater gets bigger. Paddling solo it paddles like most packrafts but is a bit unwieldy due to its larger diameter tubes and waddles around. You have a lot of windage and if you aren’t a super confident paddler, high winds could take you for a ride on big lakes or on the ocean. That is the story with all packrafts though and is a tradeoff you take for the lighter boat.Sep 30, 2022 at 12:17 pm #3761016
Hah, love to hear this, thank you for reviving this thread! And interesting breakdown between 1 and 2 people in the Oryx; I would have been using it more for 1 person so glad to hear its not ideal.
Its not super UL but I ended up getting an inflatable stand up paddle thats on the lightweight side, and I absolutely love it for water activities – recreational, camping, etc. Can throw it on my bike trailer as well. Its not as compact as the packraft but I made the calculation in the end…Dec 29, 2022 at 3:21 pm #3768736Derek M.BPL Member
@dmusasheLocale: Southern California
I’ve found this thread helpful since, as the OP stated, there aren’t really many reliable reviews of the Oryx that don’t come off as puff piece advertisements.
With that said, I’m looking for anyone who could share their experience using the Oryx on longer paddling trips.
I’m currently looking for a boat that is very packable and light (I live in a condo with limited large storage options for a traditional boat). Nevertheless, the main use for the boat would be both smaller day trips on my local large (and flat) river, AND longer (200+ mile) trips down mostly flat water rivers.
I have past experience running these types of longer trips on flat water east coast rivers, but always in a traditional tandem canoe.
I’d now like a tandem boat to run longer rivers in the west with my wife (think the Willamette, the Snake, the Rio Grande, the Missouri, etc.). These kinds of trips would involve portaging around dams and sometimes portaging around more serious white water sections as well as running easier whitewater. Also, there is frequently more wind out here in the west and some larger lakes and reservoirs that we’d have to passage.
My primary concerns with the Oryx are tracking and paddling efficiency on an every day level during a multi-week trip down a river, as well as its performance and limitations in the wind, especially on wider rivers or lakes.
If anyone has experience with these things on an Oryx that could comment, it would be much appreciated. Thanks!Dec 30, 2022 at 4:15 am #3768755
Good old thread to remind me lol. As I wrote I ended up getting an inflatable SUP which I absolutely love. I know thats not what you’re looking for but just to address one of you questions – I found through a lot of research that there wasn’t one ‘arrow’ that was going to hit both targets I wanted. Most of these packrafts just dont track well in open water, even smaller bodies, let alone windier/larger bodies. I found this article handy in that regard – https://www.hatchmag.com/articles/review-alpacka-raft-oryx-packraft-canoe/7714861
Good luck and remember to share your thoughts!
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