By Grant Killian
While the mountains of Maine are remote and beautiful, and navigating through the back-country race course is typically *the crux* of any Untamed Adventure event, the packrafting discipline in Untamed New England always seems to be one of the first topics of conversation when discussing the race.
So let’s discuss it.
What kind of packraft? Where do you get packrafts? How many for our team? What about the other gear? What technique? What has the packrafting looked like in previous races? Let’s take a stab at addressing each of these questions over a series of posts here at Explore.Compete.Live. and establish an authoritative packraft manifesto for the Untamed New England expedition adventure race . . .
First topics are what kind of packraft and where do you get packrafts?
Alpackaraft produces the top-of-the line packrafts and is a sponsor of the Untamed New England race, so you know they’re the gold standard. You’ve also got to love a manufacturer with a zealous community supporting it . . . check out this pimp my packraft piece on how to add leg braces, etc.. to your Alpacka.
What about others out there that aren’t at that high of a price point? Disclaimer — realize you often get what you pay for. But who knows, some of these alternatives might be a good fit for your team and there’s subtle pros/cons to each of these.
NRS makes a packraft, and it’s priced significantly less than Alpacka. NRS offers a lot of gear for all sorts of water activities, so they’re a reliable source.
Supai is a new entrant to the packrafting landscape and might be worth a look.
FlyWeight Designs has made a FlytePacker that I’ve tried out. Very light and durable, but tough to steer. They have a new design in the works that might be worth consideration.
Klymit has a “lightwater dinghy” that could fit the bill for packrafting at Untamed New England. The 35 ounce weight alone warrants at least reading the review on their website and a couple videos show it in more detail (such as this youtube video on the Klymit).
You may even consider more conventional inflatable rafts/boats, and one more performant choice looks to be the Packlite from advanced elements. I can’t tell if this is a real contender or not, but I suggest reviewing their trade show schedule and see if you can get out to learn more. That goes for all of these manufacturers, actually, a paddle sports expo is a great opportunity to see what might be the right solution for you and your adventure race team.
Once again, let me reiterate that AlpackaRaft is the concensus best all around packraft for something like Untamed New England. Solo or tandem, there’s
Don’t forget you can rent packrafts . . . and every packraft rental operation that I know of sources Alpackas so for about $200/week you can buy a loaner.
A few rental sources include:
We can update the above list with other rental operations out there, just chime in via the comments or send an email to the Explore.Compete.Live. folks.