5-minute read + 13-minute video
Alpacka Raft makes several different types of packrafts. How do you know which one is right for you? Aqua Bound Ambassador Caj Koskinen takes us through a few packrafts from their fleet to help you decide.
Packrafting with the whitewater kit (photo courtesy of Don Ransom)
Caj and Katja Koskinen represent Packraft Europe, official dealer of Alpacka Raft packrafts. They’re based in Parainen, Finland, a kayaker’s paradise with an archipelago of 40,000 islands nearby. They love to bring their packrafts into northern Finland and Lapland to paddle the hundreds of miles of wilderness lakes and rivers there.
In this video, the pair talk about a few of the packrafts they have in their guide service and how to know which will suit your needs best:
Katja’s personal packraft is a Wolverine. She likes it because it performs well in whitewater and is large enough for long expeditions. There’s plenty of storage space. Hers is the whitewater version.
Caj also likes the Wolverine for his personal boat. His is the self-bailer version, with a series of holes along each side of the hull to let water out. Since he doesn’t like to use a spray skirt system, this works best for him.
The self-bailing holes on the packraft’s hull
He says the Wolverine “is a little bit more playful than the Gnarwhal. I like how it curves through the eddies. I use a self-bailer because it’s much easier to get in and out.” As a guide, he likes to be able to jump in and out quickly when he needs to help out a guest.
The Wolverine comes in three different sizes, two different fabric densities (the lighter density makes it lighter to carry, the heavier density adds to stability). and four color options. The self-bailer model weighs 7.4 lbs/3.4 kg with the whitewater deck model a bit more. 2022 MSRP starts at $1,750 USD.
This boat is just 5 cm longer than the Wolverine. It’s a bit lighter and designed for mainly flatwater paddling. If you’d like to convert it for whitewater eventually, you can do that as it’s set up to receive a whitewater system.
Alpacka calls the Expedition their “ultimate do-everything, backcountry adventure boat.” It offers high performance, but is more packable than the Wolverine.
The Expedition is available in three sizes, four color choices and one fabric density weight. You can opt for the whitewater deck model or the removable whitewater deck model. 2022 MSRP starts at $1,700 USD. 7.9 lbs/3.6 kg.
NOTE: Many people prefer using a spray skirt to keep splash and rain out of their boat. It keeps you warmer in cold conditions, too. If you don’t have a self-bailing packraft, you’ll want a spray skirt for rivers and for multi-day trips (for rainy days).
(photo courtesy of Jacob Kastrup Haagenesen)
The Gnarwhal is a whitewater packraft, but with wider side tubes than the Wolverine. It’s more stable, with less chance of capsizing. If you’re newer to whitewater packrafting and value stability over playfulness, the Gnarwhal is a good choice.
It has the longer whitewater seat, thigh straps and foot rests. It comes with a whitewater deck. The Gnarwhal also comes in the self-bailer model if you prefer that over a spray skirt.
The Gnarwhal comes in three different lengths, two fabric densities and four color options. It’s available in both self-bailer or whitewater deck models, starting at 7.9 lb/3.7 kg. 2022 MSRP starts at $1,525 USD.
The Oryx is a “packraft canoe” since it’s made for two people that sit higher in the raft rather than on the floor, and can be used with canoe paddles. It can also be used by one stern paddler with a kayak paddle. It’s Alpacka Raft’s most comfortable tandem packraft.
There’s no spray skirt, there’s no self-bailer so it’s not your boat for whitewater above Class 2. (If you’d like a 2-person whitewater boat, go with the Forager. It’s more stable and is a self-bailer.)
The Oryx comes in one size and one fabric density, with two color options. It weighs 10.8 lb/4.9 kg. 2022 MSRP is $1,950 USD.
The Oryx makes a great family boat! (photo courtesy of Seon/Michaela Crockford-Laserer)
Which Paddle to Use with Your Packraft?
Solo packrafters use a kayak paddle, usually one of our high-angle models that are designed to pull a lot of weight and work well for maneuvering quickly on rapids.
Knowing which length to buy depends on your purposes. Take a look at our Packraft Paddle Sizing Guide for help.
Our Shred Apart kayak paddle is designed to be used as either one kayak paddle or two canoe paddles. So it’s an ideal paddle for the Oryx or Forager if you like the idea of buying one paddle for two purposes.
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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