Monday, January 20, 2020

A new instrument of adventure

I finally realized my plans and got a MRS Alligator 2s Pro XXL packraft.

There has been a bit of a radio silence here on the blog. The fall was very rainy and dark, and I've mostly refrained from riding on the wet trails, since riding a mountainbike on wet trails in my opinion should be avoided, out of respect for the trail and other trail users. Also, with some other engagements the few free weekends mostly saw rain and hard weather, making kayaking trips less tempting. Finally, in the beginning of December I got the worst flue in my adult life, lasting almost four weeks with all sorts of symptoms.

The fall and winter has this far been the worst for a long time. An almost constant rain, with very little sunshine. After new year, the rains decreased and we have had some nice sunny days, but there still are no signs of winter. Though one shouldn't draw conclusions from a single winter, the long term trend is clear and shows a climate change. A depressing glimpse into future winters?

During my sickness in December I had plenty of time to research packrafting, something I had planned to get into for several years. I did in fact get a packraft in 2015, an Alpacka Denali Llama, but the timing was completely wrong, since I was so totally into sea kayaking, and I sold the packraft after six months or so.

Four years later, the packrafts had developed quite a bit. After some pondering, I decided to get a packraft that was capable of both whitewater and bikerafting. The initial focus on bikerafting only gave way to a wider view, since all the discussions I read indicated that I would in all likelihood get interested in whitewater as well. The list of interesting packrafts was fairly quickly reduced to two alternatives: Alpacka Raft Gnarwhal XL and MRS Alligator 2S Pro XXL. These seemed to be the most modern ones, offering builtin knee straps, a whitewater spraydeck with a kayak style sprayskirt and a design made for demanding whitewater. Both have a cargo zip for storing gear inside the packraft tubes, something which is totally necessary for bikerafting and also the next step for general packrafting. I ended up ordering the MRS Alligator 2S Pro XXL from (excellent service), since it did have some attributes I liked more: It is around 15 cm longer and slightly narrower. The length is of some relevance when bikerafting, since getting the bike further away from you gives a longer paddle stroke, something which is a bit limited when bikerafting.

After a work trip to the Boston area (unusually warm there as well with over 20°C during the weekend), I returned to a Finland that still was far from wintry. I thus saw no reason not to test the packraft. The fatbike was loaded with the packraft and gear to make coffee, since I don't test significant outdoor gear without taking the time to enjoy coffee. I rode straight to the closest lake, around 10 minutes away.

Pumping up the packraft took in total under five minutes.

The final inflation is done by mouth, to get the pressure up.

Mounting the cockpit coaming.

The seat and backrest are inflated by mouth.

The knee straps should allow rolling the packraft and generally give more control in white water.

The waterproof zipper allows storage of an insane amount of gear inside the packraft. The buoyance of this packraft is about 180 kg.

The MRS Alligator 2S Pro XXL loaded with a fatbike and backpack. Some fine tuning is still necessary, the wheels unnecessarily shortened the paddle stroke and the packpack on the aft deck would probably site better mounted lengthwise, but these are things that need to be tested. The packraft otherwise seems very well made and seems like it is of very high quality.

And off I went.

The size of the packraft was quite perfect for me, being 192 cm tall and weighing maybe a little over 100 kg. The limiting factor here is shoe size. I have size 46 feet and that is about the biggest that can fit fairly comfortably.

Then there was the coffee. I landed on a small island, made a cup of coffee and enjoyed the rather nice weather.

And then it started to get dark and I had to continue. The days are still short in January,.

I landed and repacked everything on the bike.

By the time I was done and started riding home it was almost completely dark.

All in all, a nice little test trip with the new packraft, which I like a lot already.

And a small video:

No comments:

Post a Comment