Retailer Spotlight: Alpacka Raft, Colorado

The folks at Alpacka Raft have one focus: Design and handcraft the world’s most innovative, premium packrafts…

Alpacka Raft paddler with Aqua-Bound paddle
(Photo courtesy of Sam Flanagan)

Alpacka Raft: A Packraft Built for Extreme Adventure and Everyday Fun

Alpacka’s audience is very specialized: they’re looking for the toughest, most maneuverable, most packable raft available for their demanding adventures. Those adventures can be a several hundred mile trip in the Arctic or an afternoon’s wild ride down a whitewater river.

Alpacka Raft delivers with handcrafted, customizable boats made at their Mancos, Colorado headquarters.

A packraft’s advantage over hardshell boats? Its ultimate packability and light weight. Even Alpacka’s biggest boat, able to carry over 500 pounds of gear, weighs just over 13 pounds. Its smallest and most packable raft weighs a mere 2.5 pounds.

You can stuff your packraft in your backpack and carry it for miles at a time. Or, you can pack it on your bike to cover even more miles.

“A packraft is a tool that allows you to add water to your adventure. It allows you to take the blue line on the map and turn it into a trail instead of an obstacle. Suddenly your whole concept of ‘How can I move through the wilderness?’ changes. It changes the way you look at the wilderness and wilderness travel.” (Sheri Tingey, founder and co-owner)

Not an “extreme adventurer”? Alpacka rafts are built for you, too! They’re simply great boats for flat water, slow-moving rivers, fast-moving rivers, the ocean…Wherever you want to paddle, whatever your skill level is, a packraft is a fun, safe and reliable boat.

Alpacka Rafter
(Photo courtesy of Steve Fassbinder)

Alpacka’s Beginnings

Sheri Tingey and her son Thor started developing a new kind of packraft back in 2000.
Thor had just completed a 600-mile packrafting trip in Alaska with some college buddies. He was full of ideas on how to make a better packraft:

  • A packraft that wouldn’t take on water
  • One that didn’t need regular patching to stay afloat
  • One that was quick to inflate and deflate

Sheri had designed and made outdoor clothing and gear for years. So she called on all her experience to design a new kind of packraft. The first materials she used in her test designs? Shower curtains and duct tape!

Sheri was 55 years old when they started this journey. “I knew I couldn’t afford to fail…too risk much. I couldn’t go into this casually.”

Sheri learned about and experimented with inflation. She found fabric experts to help her develop the perfect fabrics that are ultra-tough, waterproof, yet light. She called on connections she had met over the years for help. They tested on the water, re-designed, and tested again.

The rafts they developed—by now called Alpacka Raft—changed the packraft world. They opened up a world of wilderness travel where adventurers weren’t limited to either land or water anymore. They could have both just by carrying a few extra pounds in their packs.

For Sheri, this is the bottom line: “We build boats that people can trust their lives with. It’s not about the boat. It’s about the journey, and that boat got you there. You should never have to worry: ‘Is this thing going to get me there?’ “

Alpacka Raft paddler
(Photo courtesy of Steve Fassbinder)

A Proud Partner of Alpacka Raft

Alpacka Raft has offered Aqua-Bound paddles to their customers since early-on. Co-owner Thor Tingey said:

“Aqua-bound has been an incredible paddle partner for Alpacka Raft.  We first started using Aqua-bound over a decade ago. At that time, Alpacka Raft was a tiny one-woman operation, and packrafting was a complete unknown to all but a few people in the adventure world.

“Over the last decade, as packrafting has grown into a more widely recognized paddlesport, Aqua-bound has continued to provide us with great paddles that exactly fit the needs of our customers.”

Nancy McClain Halls, head of Alpacka’s Customer Service/Sales department, shared this with us:

“I cannot say enough good things about the staff and customer service we have received over the years from everyone at Aqua-bound. All our customers are satisfied with the Aqua-bound paddles we carry on our website.”

Want to learn more about packrafting and Alpacka’s line of world-class packrafts? Head to Alpacka Raft’s website.

Sources: Much of the information for this post was taken from an audio presentation by Sheri Tingey.

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