Alpacka Scout Review

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Alpacka Scout Review

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    Ben Kilbourne
    BPL Member


    Locale: Utah

    Companion forum thread to: Alpacka Scout Review

    The Alpacka Raft Scout (2022 model) packraft weighs less than four pounds. We review its durability and stability for both flatwater and Class 1 river running.

    Chad Lorenz
    BPL Member


    Locale: Teton Valley, Wydaho

    A nice iteration from Thor et al.

    For frequent low-flow desert use (Dirty D, Escalante, San Juan, others…) this boat ordered with an 840d floor could make a lot of sense without adding too much weight/bulk. It sure would save a lot of time (re)applying Aquaseal to pinholes.

    Scott Cerreta
    BPL Member


    Very nice review. Thanks Ben!  I am looking forward to your review of the Refuge, which I just recently bought and received (I am 5’6″ 150). I also bought the Alpacka Classic small for my wife (5’1″ 120). I too compared these two boats, both with a cargo fly. I was a little hesitant to buy the Refuge based on previous Scout version experience. The new Scout is a new design boat and probably deserves a new name, but buyer beware, the new Scout 22 and Refuge are very capable boats and nothing like previous versions of this model line.

    I do want to contribute that the rocker hull on the Scout/Refuge is indeed upturned, but it is not comparable to the Classic. I did not measure, but it appears to have about a 3″ rise difference from the front tip bottom to the floor. The Scout/Refuge does sit much flatter in comparison between these two boats, but improved over previous models. The photo with this caption gives the best view of the rocker shape comparison “The Alpacka Scout and Alpacka Classic are now so similar in basic design they’re visually indistinguishable at times. Alpacka Scout is on right, Alpacka Classic is on left.” 

    I think this will likely be apparent when front loading the boats with a heavy pack or bike. I do plan to carry a bike at some point and my plan is to load gear into the tubes and weight the bike on the front. My bike, like most of my gear is ultralight. It is a 19 pound FS Scott Spark, which is less wight than most peoples (including mine) multiday backcountry backpack.

    My goals are to have only one boat. Most adventures will be Class 1/2 with occasional Class 3 sections and I do not want to be in the water. So, I am willing to carry more weight for a sturdier boat. The Refuge also offers the oppotunity to not use the whitewater deck and to leave it as a semi-open design for flatwater and Class 1 rivers. So, far I am very pleased with my choices, but do need to get these boats out on more adventures.

    I would also like to contribute to conversation regarding the bow grab loops and seat back. The seat back is necessary in my opinion for any paddling times over 2 hours. However, I do not think these two options should be standard. I think the Scout should be designed for TLO (the lightest one). Some users may not need these options and their goals may be different. As Ben mentioned, you can add these options in the custom lab or you can add these yourself. I prefer the latter and modify everything I own. Alpacka does an excellent job of selling everything you need to customize your boat for your own needs. So, you don’t need the custom lab for simple modifications like this. It will also cost less to DIY and it won’t require longer build wait times.

    I added the adjustable backband option (upgrade from the inflatable seatback) and grab handles to my Refuge. It took a couple hours to complete and was fun.


    I am really looking forward to your Refuge review. I think you will love it and find that the additional weight for your type of adventures are the best of both worlds. I hope to discover the same.


    James Taylor
    BPL Member


    Locale: Indy

    I’ve had some time to test my Scout on lots of Class II and a single Class III rapid on the Nantahala River. The hull shape is great for easier whitewater like this. It’s really fun to paddle. The boat edges and carves, and can hit eddies and punch moderate holes. It doesn’t have the bow rocker of a Wolverine or Gnarwhal, which limits its hole-punching ability to small or medium Class III holes. Because it’s open, it takes on water and has to be emptied after every  splashy rapid. It takes on noticeably more water than a Classic because the tubes sit lower in the water. It’s also “sportier“ in feel than a Classic.

    According to Alpacka’s marketing the Scout isn’t designed for whitewater (get the Refuge instead), but for skilled paddlers interested in occasionally stretching the boat by doing short rapids up to Class III in difficulty, the Scout can be coaxed into it and will perform well.

    Anne Flueckiger
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern Minnesota

    Scout on Lake Superior

    Older model of the Scout (pre-2015) with 4-yr old on Lake Superior at Split Rock State Park, MN. I use mine for leisurely paddles on small inland lakes or Lake Superior. I’ve biked to a lake with the Scout in a backpack, but I haven’t hiked or backpacked with it.

    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Good review. Well done.

    I own a few Classic Alpackas and have done many trips in them. I’m 5′ 11″ and actually like the smallest size rafts and I just skip the inflatable back band. This summer I picked up a custom Refuge. I generally agree with Ben’s take on the hull design (same as the new Scout). The smaller diameter tubes (10″ on the Refuge/Scout vs 12″ on the Classic) is noticeable and provides a splashier/wetter ride, and the reduced bow rise does mean a bit more water coming over the front, especially if there is a backpack sitting up there. The new hull shape is much (much!) nicer to paddle than the old Scout/Curiyak shapes and offers better tracking and speed. I’d say it actually paddles a lot like the current Classic hulls.

    I’m a somewhat recent convert to the cargo zips. For many years I just stuck my pack on the bow and that worked fine for my applications. But eventually I became zip-curious and picked up a Classic with one, and wow, what an improved paddling experience for longer paddles or rough-water stints in the boat. It does complicate the transition from land to water or vice versa a bit, so I only do it if I’m going to be in the boat for an hour or longer. For a quick crossing of a bay or river I wouldn’t bother, but if you are looking at a 10-mile coastal paddle in choppy conditions, it sure is nice to tuck all your junk inside the tubes. This is especially true with the smaller diameter tubes on the Refuge/Scout if you have a multi-day load. The zipper length on the Refuge is shorter than on the Classic (14″ vs 18″ I think) makes getting your backpack through the aperture a bit more difficult, but I can wriggle my empty Flight 2 through the hole decently easily now with some practice. Of course this does start to complicate the operation and add weight, so maybe the Scout is best left as a minimalist setup and leave the cargo zip to a light expedition boat like the Refuge. But as Ben pointed out, it would be incredibly foolish not to at least get the 4 gear loops on the bow of a Scout.

    Anyway, it’s cool that Alpacka is improving the hull shapes of their lighter boats and filling in a few gaps in their lineup.

    This is the only trip I have done in the Refuge (10″ tubes like the Scout) so far. All the paddling sessions were long enough that I always put my gear inside the tubes. A few of the portages were short enough that I just carried the boat with my stuff still inside the tubes. This will give you an idea of how the Scout would ride:

    This is using the Classic (12″ tubes). Unlike with the Refuge, I didn’t feel the need to put my gear inside the tubes for any of the paddling sessions until the second to last day where I was looking at a 10-mile paddle up the coast.

    Jens Hallermann
    BPL Member


    “…the Refuge, which I just recently bought. (…)  I do plan to carry a bike at some point and my plan is to load gear into the tubes and weight the bike on the front.”


    have you had the opportunity to try bikerafting with the Refuge in the meantime? Does that work or is the Refuge too short with a bike on the bow?

    Any insights (from other users as well) would be very helpful.

    Thanks in advance,


    Scott Cerreta
    BPL Member


    Jens, i have not loaded a bike on the bow, but I am confident it will work just fine. I have loaded about 20 pounds in the bow bag and there was no significant drop in the bow. i should also clarify that my bike is ultralight at 20 pounds, full suspension, MTB size small, 27.5er. i am also small at 5’6″. hope that helps.

    Jens Hallermann
    BPL Member


    Scott, thank you very much for your answer, that helps a lot regarding load capacity and trim.

    My concern was more about length of the Refuge: Do you think a bike on the bow would inhibit normal paddle strokes? (Please excuse my English, I am not sure if that is described correctly.)


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