Alpacka Refuge Review
Oct 19, 2022 at 9:00 am #3762278Ben KilbourneBPL Member
Companion forum thread to: Alpacka Refuge Review
The Alpacka Raft Refuge Packraft weighs less than six pounds but includes a cargo fly and whitewater deck.Oct 19, 2022 at 2:13 pm #3762301
I’ve only done one trip (4 days of coastal AK paddling) in my Refuge so far, but I would largely agree with the points Ben made and his overall impressions. On my raft, there is only a single zipper to insert the coaming PEX. This works fine and the second zipper on Ben’s boat seems extraneous. I assume because my boat is a mid-summer production model that the single zipper is standard now, though I might be wrong.
I do like most aspects of the boat, but I do have a few gripes. First, the cockpit opening is positioned too far forward such that the stiff inner edge of the cockpit opening easily digs into the kidney area of the paddler’s back. You need to inflate the back rest enough to push the paddler away from this uncomfortable edge. Alpacka should really move the cockpit opening back 1-2″. My second issue is how loose the deck of the sprayskirt is, allowing a decent amount of water to puddle in front of the paddler. It seems like an easy enough thing to size the sprayskirt to the coaming such that you have a relatively taut deck that sheds rather than collects water. I replaced the suspender straps on the tunnel of the spray skirt as they were unnecessarily heavy and bulky. Also, I sewed my own 1.1 oz silnylon tube storage bags because the ones Alpacka sells are indeed very heavy and not sized for the Refuge. It would be nice if Alpacka made a lighter deck bow bag since when most of your gear is stowed inside the tubes, you still want secure but easy access to food, water, cameras, and an extra layer etc while on the water. I sewed one out of 3.0 oz cuben with a water resistant zipper.
Otherwise it’s an excellent boat for the applications Ben indicated.
My trip with my custom Refuge from July when I did a lap around Shuyak Island in the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska:Oct 23, 2022 at 4:11 am #3762531Chad LorenzBPL Member
@chadlLocale: Teton Valley, Wydaho
Another variable for packraft assisted expedition travel is draft: I’ve noticed a huge difference in how much starfishing I need to do in my Wolverine vs my Gnarwhal. On a recent trip, it was clear that lighter paddlers in higher volume boats were able to move downstream much easier and with less floor/tube damage. FWIW, I think for larger paddlers a Classic, sized small (so feet touch the bow aggressively) could be an efficient choice, despite the increase in pack weight.
photos from the trip, note the shallow streams… https://lightroom.adobe.com/shares/4f302ad894d24104977204074d508a89Oct 23, 2022 at 12:22 pm #3762613
Incredible pics, Chad. Are those in some trip report somewhere?Oct 27, 2022 at 9:50 pm #3763058Chad LorenzBPL Member
@chadlLocale: Teton Valley, WydahoNov 13, 2022 at 6:19 am #3764911Jens HallermannBPL Member
Has anyone tried bikerafting with the Refuge? Or is the boat too short with a bike strapped on the bow?Dec 31, 2022 at 6:51 am #3768847Jens HallermannBPL Member
“Because the Alpacka Raft Refuge has a stern smaller than the Classic’s, its cargo fly is also smaller. Once unzipped, it is just barely large enough to accommodate Alpacka’s Cargo Fly Internal Dry Bags. I would not recommend using other drybags unless they are precisely this diameter or smaller. Larger-diameter drybags are exceedingly challenging to get in and out of the boat.”
“And finally, I wish that the dry bags were lighter, because, as it is, they add a full pound”
An alternative dry bag for the Refuge are the small ones from MRS. They are lighter (weight ca. 90 g each), cheaper and fit perfectly in my Refuge.
All the best for 2023 to you all,
JensDec 31, 2022 at 6:06 pm #3768900Ronald DavisBPL Member
“I replaced the suspender straps on the tunnel of the spray skirt ”
What did you use as a replacement? Also, great work on the bow bag. The Alpacka bag is great but certainly way too heavy.Jan 3, 2023 at 6:03 pm #3769171
It’s mostly three-quarter inch grosgrain ribbon with the middle section being a foot of 1 inch light elastic. The adjustments are snap/cam buckles on either side to hold the grosgrain securely. It would be easy enough to have one side be fixed and simply run grosgrain the entire way, as the elastic is probably unnecessary as are the dual side adjustments, given the pass-thru ring in the back.
I’m pretty happy with the way the deck bag turned out. If you want to see some details, I posted about it here. It came in at 2 oz (57 g).
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.