By The Most:

Nov 2023

How well does a Packraft Navigate in the Ocean?

Packrafts, often associated with whitewater adventures and backcountry exploration, have gained popularity for their versatility and portability. Traditionally designed for rivers and lakes, the question arises: "How well does a packraft work in the ocean?"

Understanding Packrafts

Design Features

Packrafts, like the Alpacka Raft, are inflatable boats that combine elements of a kayak and a raft. They are renowned for their lightweight design, making them suitable for various water conditions. The Alpacka Ghost, for instance, weighs a mere 1 pound, making it an attractive option for those seeking ultralight packrafts.

Whitewater Roots

Originally designed for whitewater use, modern packrafts boast features such as thigh straps, self-bailing systems, and reinforced floors, making them competent in challenging river environments up to Class IV rapids.

Transition to Open Waters

Ocean-Ready Modifications

To make packrafts suitable for open water, manufacturers have introduced innovations like removable spray decks and attachment points for additional gear. The inclusion of a spray skirt enhances the packraft's ability to handle big waves and rough conditions, making it akin to a sea kayak in many aspects.

Multi-Day Trips and Long Distances

While packrafts are well-known for their use in rivers, their adaptability shines on multi-day trips and long-distance paddling. The Alpacka Expedition, with its internal storage and cargo fly feature, caters to the needs of adventurers looking to explore alpine lakes and calm coastal waters.

Key Considerations for Ocean Use

Competent Paddling

Using a packraft in the ocean requires a competent paddler, familiar with sea kayaking techniques and safety measures. Paddle strokes and maneuvering techniques for ocean currents and tides differ from those in rivers, demanding a certain level of experience.

Safety Measures

For ocean use, it's crucial to consider factors like water temperature and the potential for big water conditions. Wearing a life vest and having a repair kit on hand becomes even more critical in open water scenarios.

Conclusion: Is it a Good Idea?

In conclusion, while packrafts are primarily designed for river adventures, they can be adapted for ocean use with the right modifications and a skilled paddler at the helm. The Alpacka Forager, designed for both whitewater and open water, exemplifies the versatility that modern packrafts can offer.

Whether you're tackling whitewater rapids or embarking on a coastal expedition, choosing the right packraft and employing the necessary safety measures will determine the success of your waterborne adventure.

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