Finally a budget packraft and awesome whitewater packrafts
Feb 6, 2016 at 11:18 pm #3380676Luke SchmidtBPL Member
Just noticed Kokepelli has updated their packraft line and couldn’t be happier.
The Nirvana and Nirvana XL rafts have improved shapes, spray decks and cargo zips. They also have the attachment points for thigh straps already installed. If you’ve ever glued thigh straps to a raft you know how nice it is to NOT do that. These rafts are intended for whitewater so they are heavier and bulkier then a simple Alpacka with a cruiser deck. What you get for that though is a cheaper raft with lots of whitewater features. If you compare a Nirvana to an Alpacka with aftermarket accessories the weight/bulk difference is less of an issue. A final benefit in my mind is the double chamber. I know raft failures are rare but they do happen. Last year’s double chambered Nirvana saved my bacon in Canada.
The Hornet-lite is the boat for people who don’t want to spend a ton of money on a packraft. Its currently on sale for $472 but even the regular price of $525 is a bargain for a packraft. It is less bomb proof and has no spray deck so you’ll want to paddle a bit more carefully but it looks like a good option for those on a budget. I probably would have started packrafting years earlier if this raft had been around.
Its a good time to be a packrafter. If you want to give it a try rentals are a good option or check out the APA Packraft roundup.Feb 9, 2016 at 9:55 am #3381056
I’m genuinely curious as to why they’re so heavy. 4 lb 10 oz for the Hornet-lite without the seat seems excessive given the denier of the tube fabric. And almost 14 pounds for the Twain two-person? Maybe it’s the floor fabric.
In any case, the low cost is impressive.Feb 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm #3381071Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I like the idea of cheaper packrafts. The price of an alpaca has been the main thing holding me back from packrafting. $1,000 plus more for accessories when there aren’t many floatable rivers around here that can’t be accessed by vehicle. So many other things that $1k+ could be put into. If I lived in motana i would have bought one long ago.Feb 9, 2016 at 7:57 pm #3381154Luke SchmidtBPL Member
Dave I suspect the floor does have something to do with it. The blue 70 d fabric that I handled on prototypes felt just a bit lighter then Alpacka fabric so the floor is the main place to gain.
I have no need for a Hornet lite at the moment but 5 years ago I wanted and Alpacka but didn’t have the money for one. If the Hornet had been around I might very well have bought one. So I’m happy its there for other people.
By my count a Yak with a cargo zip and whitewater deck would weight about 8 pounds plus a few oz more after you add tie downs for thigh straps. The Nirvana is 8 lbs 10 oz with a cargo zip added (and includes thigh strap tie downs). By that count there isn’t a huge weight difference. On the other hand the price would be $1420 for the Yak verse $912 for the Nirvana (at current prices).
Now to be fair I believe the Alpacka Cargo fly system weight includes the bags that clip inside. Moe said he didn’t use them. So if you left those out and just threw your stuff in the tubes a tricked out Yak would probably weight more like 7 pounds.
For me a simpler lighter raft like a Yak with a cruiser deck an no zipper makes the most sense on easier rivers in the lower 48 or rivers in Alaska that have been run and have no major surprises. If I’m going to be doing an unknown river in Canada or Alaska though I’m willing to haul a heavier boat if it might keep me safe in a rapid (ditto for carrying a drysuit and extra clothes). At this point the two chamber design on the Nirvana makes a lot of sense, cost aside.
The one thing I would change on the Nirvana is the floor material, its pretty beefy. I think a lighter floor would still be plenty durable and it would make the raft a few oz lighter but also less bulky rolled up.Feb 11, 2016 at 8:26 am #3381423
I think Alpacka and Kokopelli have to build with floor fabrics that both guard against careless users, and still the fears of new buyers. I think the lighter floor on the Scout is perfectly adequate for a general use (including WW) packraft.
The cargo fly is neat, but the added expense for the drybags and interior clips is not needed. I’d like to see a simpler attachment system and a less costly consumer option that is zipper-only. It is a nifty system, and getting to the takeout with a dry backpack is nice, but the thing adds a considerable amount of bulk. One comparison photo I didn’t get before I sold my old Yak was packed size; the 2015 boat with cargo fly, big butt, and ww deck takes up a lot for space than the 2010 with cruiser deck. It’s hard to argue that the performance gains aren’t worth it, but…
I still want a Yak sized boat with Scout-spec materials, 10 inch tubes, minimal bow rocker, and a deck that’s almost as dry as the Alpacka WW but doesn’t involve additional poles. And 5 pounds all in. Not asking too much, right? ;) Unfortunately the packraft market seems to be moving more in the direction of sidecountry boating, which I find hard to understand.Feb 13, 2016 at 12:08 am #3381759Kelley SBPL Member
David, a couple of things, first I have seen floors come back 840 denier that have been sliced up. Probably folks in bigger water than packrafts are rated for but people out in bigger whitewater would shred a lighter weight 210 denier floor. The Scout weighs 3 pounds 9 ounces but wondering why the Hornet-lite is almost 5 pounds. The Scout is 41″ long, while the Hornet-lite is 51″ inner length, 20% bigger than the Scout and weighs 20% more than the Scout at almost 5 pounds. The Kokopelli packrafts also uses v-tape construction on all of their floors where as Alpacka just glues the floor material to the pontoon. Whether you need this added piece of durability is questionable but worth pointing out.
Kokopelli offers exactly what you want by including only the Tizip storage system without the additional clips and bulk of inner dry bags. Some people think this is fine, but others think you need the clips to keep gear in place, all personal preference. The reason Kokopelli’s weight is higher is because they include the weight of the seat, spraydeck, sprayskirt, thigh straps and inflatable floor on their website. Alpacka only includes the weight of the raft and you have to add the accessories. Kokopelli (except for the Hornet-lite) all have two chambers which means they have one extra valve, and material that creates the bulkhead. As mentioned above the Kokopelli uses v-tape construction seams on both the floors and the spraydeck. Apacka simply glues the floor and deck material to the tube without any reinforcement. The price you pay, both economically and weight wise is for performance, comfort, and safety.
Help me understand if I am correct, but it sounds like you are looking for something like the Scout size, with an ultralight spraydeck system, and a Tizip with no accessories.Feb 13, 2016 at 8:09 pm #3381903
Kelley, thanks for the reply. I’m sure every company has at least a few users who can break anything, no matter how burly. As an employee (?) of Kokopelli you have to choose where the break point is on that particular issue.
Could you define “v-tape construction” ? I can guess but would be curious to have confirmation from an expert.
In fairness, I’m not sure about the denier of the tube fabric Alpacka uses. If that used in the Scout is indeed comparable to the Hornet-lite than the comparison between the two is reasonable.
In a comprehensive comparison betweeen the two companies it should be said that while double coated fabrics are easier to repair (you can stick tenacious tape to the inside), it does have lower tear strength than single coated fabrics (which Alpacka has used for at least a few years).
As for my dream raft, it is a light as possible wilderness-specific tool that will keep you dry in mild class 3 and deal well with headwinds (hence a flatish bow and smaller tubes). Scout-level durability is acceptable, but a good deck (without those fu*&^#@ poles) is a must, and thus far the missing link. As is on majority walking routes in colder conditions I can either bring my fatty boat and be dry(ish) while floating but have a bigger pack, or bring my Scout and freeze with a lighter pack. In a perfect world I’d like to not have to pick between evils.Feb 22, 2016 at 8:02 am #3383717
“I believe the point you made about Alpaca only using single coated urethane may be the biggest difference in weight as Kokopelli builds packrafts with only double side coated material. What are your thoughts on using a ripstop nylon material with single side coating?”
If my memory is correct Alpacka switched in 2012-2013; I wasn’t even aware of this until a conversation with an Alpacka employee last summer. The only real criteria in my mind is being able to do a good field repair. In theory a double-coated boat gives you an advantage here, being able to adhere stuff to the inside. Of course better still would be not having to make that repair in the first place, thus making compelling argument for tear strength being the first priority.
I’ve cut a boat once in the last six years, and was sidecountry, so I did the repair at home, and the process was quick and easy. I’ve done field repairs twice, once on floor abrasions which were my fault (pack frame against the floor) and once to seal the old, poor valve design (something which has since been fixed). Point being that while I’m not an easy user of my boats, I’m also not careless, and think the Alpacka durability formula is well balanced.Apr 19, 2017 at 12:21 pm #3463986Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I am just trying to ensure that I am comparing apples to apples here:
Kokopelli Nirvana (decked) is 9 lbs 8oz including everything but the 4oz inflation bag.
Alpacka Llama with WW deck is 7lbs 7oz including everything but the 4oz inflation bag correct? (Are there significant weight differences in the 2012-2017 boats?)
The Alpacka is $1,200 and the Kokopelli is $875
The Cargo Fly adds 4oz (not including interior bags) and $250 to the Alpacka
The equivalent T-Zip adds 3.2oz and $125 to the Kokopelli
Now the Kokopelli has 6 tie outs standard and D rings for thigh straps – I am not sure how that compares to the Alpacka other than thigh strap attachments are not included.
Both have 840d floors and 210d bodies – with the Alpacka single side coated and the Kokopelli double sided.
Alpacka is USA made and Kokopelli is made overseas.
Per Luke, the Kokopelli is 30-40% bulkier than an equivalent Alpacka
The Kokopelli has dual chambers and the Alpacka’s are single chamber.Apr 19, 2017 at 1:28 pm #3463993Brian BBPL Member
If I’m not mistaken, if you go to Alpacka’s thigh strap page, it says
attachment points are now installed standard on 2017 boats…
Correction: standard on ww boats.Apr 25, 2017 at 9:53 pm #3464890nunatakBPL Member
Just got one of these in the shop. They are marketed by a German company, but made in the Far East.
The weight is 3 lbs, and the guy sitting in there is 6’4″ and all legs. So plenty of length. 420d bottom, 210d single coated pontoons.
For overland trips with sections of medium to long flatwater paddling this boat will save 2.5 lbs from my pack weight. The bulk is almost 50% of the Llama.
We have had Alpackas since 2012. These German packrafts are not of the same build quality, but the price of $480 delivered isn’t bad either. I imported it as a commercial sample via my business, as these guys are not able to sell in the US.Apr 27, 2017 at 9:36 pm #3465183R YBPL Member
Wow, that is quite intriguing. Can I ask how you managed the commercial sample ? I have a side business as well. I can use the contact form on your site if that’s better.Apr 27, 2017 at 9:48 pm #3465185nunatakBPL Member
I contacted them and asked. A no is the worst that can happen.
For more on the boat, Gear Junkie got a review. Not very good, but you might gleam something from it.Mar 12, 2021 at 3:33 pm #3703991John “Jay” MennaBPL Member
What is your long term opinion of this boat?
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