For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

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JohnClimber
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For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

This is a first view comparison and not a review of the only true wide fronted bike and load carrying pack rafts on the market, the Alpacka Caribou (grey) and the GP Cargo (Green) from Anfibio, https://www.packrafting-store.de/

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Both of these packrafts are designed to carry bikes and carry loads on their wider and bulbous front ends, this gives the inexperienced paddlers a very stable platform for when the water gets a little bit choppy without the fear of tipping over.
Please note these packrafts are for calm water only, maybe a bit of downstream paddling over grade 1 white water maximum when loaded up, I would always recommend the paddler gets training before taking to the water from professional packraft coaches.

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I bought my Alpacka Caribou back in September 2018 and I’ve have many adventures with it, both with and without the bike, with and without camping gear and sometimes carrying everything.

What I like about the Alpacka Caribou?
Small pack size
Light weight for what it can do
Designed to carry bikes with tie downs angled perfectly to hold the bike in place without error
Easy to repair
It’s comfortable seat
Very basic with no whistles and bells, it does a job and it does it almost perfectly
Doesn’t come with a skeg to keep the packraft tracking better on the water, but I bought and added an Anfibio removable skeg to solve this.

What niggles me about the Alpacka Caribou?
I find that the valve doesn’t seal when it’s almost up to pressure, so needs spit in to it to help to seal it and then I need to blow in around 20 lung full’s of air to reach the right pressure. I hate doing this as it always adds moisture which you can never get out.
The short cockpit means when the bike is strapped down correctly the paddle stroke is restricted because of the paddles keep on clipping the strapped down bike.
No back rest.
Only 2 anchor points at the rear restricting what can be carried on the rear end.

Knowing this my friend Sven from Anfibio packrafting-store.de suggested I try a demo Anfibio GP Cargo packraft to compare the 2 together as well as paddling them both on the water with mates who want to try bike pack rafting but for those who can’t justify the spend without trying one out first.

So, after it’s arrival I blew them both up in my back garden to compare the 2 side by side.

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*£800 for packraft, shipping and all taxes 7/7/22 Euro/GBP
**£626.83 for packraft, shipping and all taxes 7/7/22 Euro/GBP
*** on my un-calibrated kitchen scales

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Packed down - the GP Cargo is on the left and Alpacka Caribou is on the right
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It's been very windy here since the packrafts arrival and work means that I haven’t being able to take the GP Cargo out on the water as yet, it looks and feels like it will paddle just as well as my Alpacka Caribou, both with or without the Skeg.

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Remembering that neither the Caribou or the Cargo don’t have thigh straps and my feet don’t reach the front of each boat it is only for calm water paddling or gentle rivers up to grade 1 ripples when loaded with a bike on top.
Luggage/camping gear in dry bags will be used as a foot rest/brace when I go on trips.
The extra 12” or so of length to the Cargo will be so much better for bike packrafting, with no chance of the paddles hitting the bike frame or wheels, the larger rear end with more tie down points can be used to strap down gear here too which you can’t do on the Caribou.
The lager rear end will (hopefully) enable the Cargo to lay flat in the water with the paddlers weight more to the rear and won’t lift the front into the air as some packraft’s do.
The extra length of the Cargo could be used for a passenger on a 2nd seat in the front facing backwards which would be impossible on the Caribou.

Neither boat is perfect.
The Cargo has a row of metal D rings down each side, I believe that these are to tie ski’s into place. These are not much for use here the UK, but they may be useful for something.
Personally I don’t like the Caribou’s valve (see above) but others love it, it’s non return valve slows down the filling and emptying of air from this packraft, but it does lay flatter to the boat than the quicker and easier to use Boston valve on the GP Cargo.
The Cargo has slightly better puncture protection underneath the packraft over the Caribou with the (all be it lighter) black base overlapping the air holding tubes more on both the front and rear of underside on the packraft.
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The Cargo also has a good grab handle on the front and another really useful one on the rear, whereas the Caribou only has one on the front.

Their packed size is proportionate to both pack rafts size with the smaller Alpacka packing down smaller and the larger GP Cargo only 5cm longer when rolled up.

Now I’m not here to say buy one or the other, I’m just given you my initial side by side thoughts from my experience of bike packrafting.

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With a bike on board both of these pack rafts come alive as this is what they are designed for.
I enjoy my trips with my Caribou, apart from some of the niggles mentioned above, but the longer bodied Cargo the will avoid the dreaded paddle stroke striking the bike, give extra comfort with the back rest and with the gear in dry bag used as a foot rest or/and behind on the rear end will help the panorama view up front as any luggage won’t be on the front strapped on top of the bike spoiling the view.
The double handles on the GP Cargo will make getting in and pout of the water with the bike and load on board a lot easier I feel.

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Which would I paddle?
Short light weight day trips with or without the gravel bike - Alpacka Caribou
Short light weight day trips on an MTB or Fat bike - GP Cargo
Longer trips both bike and camping – GP Cargo
Trips with Molly (our Border terrier – GP Cargo
No bike on the trip on white water or light weight walking and paddling trips – Anfibio Revo CL

If anyone has any questions please just ask or message me, I am not loyal to either brand, I just want more people pack rafting

Thanks to Stuart for letting me post this comparison to try and help those interested into the hobby.
Web links
https://backcountry.scot/product/alpacka-raft-caribou/

https://www.alpackaraft.com/products/caribou

https://www.packrafting-store.de/New/GP ... anguage=en

Please note for those interested that their is a unique discount code for the GP Cargo lower down in this thread
Last edited by JohnClimber on Mon Jul 11, 2022 10:43 am, edited 6 times in total.
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

Prices updated £626.83 for the GP Cargo including shipping and taxes etc
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

Ready for the first paddle tomorrow

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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

First paddle today was brilliant

If you are in the market for a bike carrying packraft this year the GP Cargo is the one for you.

Why?
I'll tell you tomorrow

Does it have its faults?
Yes but only 1 and its easy to live with or remove altogether.
Disco
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by Disco »

Interesting John 👍
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

It's hot in work, the boss is off so I'll add bits on here throughout the day when no one is looking and they think I'm working :wink:

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Loaded and ready

Just be ware that you do need the following to get you on the water, some are essential some are luxury

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Essential
PFD (personal Floatation devise) I use this Anfibio Bouy boy PFD although not CE certified, being a strong swimmer and always paddling close to the edge it's great for carrying packed down on the bike
A paddle, 4 piece ones are better for carrying on the bike or in a back pack

Luxuries
Voila straps and a longer strap, (cheap bungies could do this work)
Skeg, nice for keeping any packraft tracking straight on flat water
Rechargeable pump, but the packraft comes with an inflation bag, I'm just lazy and the pump os great for sucking the air out completely to aid it's packing away easier.
Hand pump (red in photo) to get the packraft to the higher pressure saving blowing moist air into the packraft from your lungs
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

My thoughts on the GP Cargo after it's first outing this weekend

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Advantages of the Alpacka Caribou (grey one in the above photo) over the GP Cargo
Smaller pack size (see graph in 1st post for details)
Lighter weight
Perfect if you are under 5'6" for a full paddle stroke
Bike mounting points specially designed to make sure the bike is in the right place


Advantages of the GP Cargo from Anfibio (green in the above photo) over the Caribou
Lower front end increasing the general view over the bike.
Longer body means you never hit the bike with your paddle, luggage can be carried under the bike in dry bags and used at foot braces to help with longer trip
Super stable when loaded up, this packraft is by far the most stable pack raft than I have ever paddled.
So, stable that getting in and out is the easiest packraft that I've ever tried
The Boston valve let's almost all the air out (the Alpacka one is fiddly) and a reversed rechargeable air pump can suck 100% of the air our meaning packing up is quick and easy.
I really like how the seat is firmly fixed to the packraft with velco but is easy to remove for drying out.
Comes with a back rest
Available in stock now from Germany
£626 over a minimum of £800
Under £590* with the 6% discount code GP_Cargo_John

* exchange rate and taxes may vary this price and only while stocks last

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Better views with the lower front end
redefined_cycles
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by redefined_cycles »

What's a skeg please Jon.
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whitestone
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by whitestone »

redefined_cycles wrote: Mon Jul 11, 2022 11:19 am What's a skeg please Jon.
It's an extension of the keel of a boat. For packrafts I think it's removable. Helps with steerability as when you paddle you cause the raft to yaw from side to side with each stroke. The water pushes against the skeg and reduces that motion.
Better weight than wisdom, a traveller cannot carry
redefined_cycles
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by redefined_cycles »

Thanks Bob.
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

redefined_cycles wrote: Mon Jul 11, 2022 11:19 am What's a skeg please Jon.
https://www.packrafting-store.de/Access ... anguage=en
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Cheeky Monkey
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by Cheeky Monkey »

Interesting stuff John. Tell me about the row of D rings on either side - do they interfere with your stroke and wouldn't they be really in the way if used to lash something to the boat? Did you ever get to the bottom of thinking behind them?

Observations from an armchair on my part so fully accept I could be way off about them.
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

Cheeky Monkey wrote: Tue Jul 12, 2022 12:10 pm Interesting stuff John. Tell me about the row of D rings on either side - do they interfere with your stroke and wouldn't they be really in the way if used to lash something to the boat? Did you ever get to the bottom of thinking behind them?

Observations from an armchair on my part so fully accept I could be way off about them.
See my film in my next post ref the D rings
They are to carry ski's (not much use here in the UK)
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

First thoughts film here.

Please note it's not an out and out sales film like some do.
The Alpacka Caribou is a great boat, its just that the GP Cargo is better for me and its available now for a lower price than the Caribou.
All the info you will even need is in the tread about this and the film is here.
Discount code for this month get 6% off using code
GP _Cargo_John

Please note I get nothing in sales or commission, Sven from Packraft.de asked for my honest views and here they are.

https://youtu.be/nBBhW2TZLEk
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Cheeky Monkey
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by Cheeky Monkey »

JohnClimber wrote: Tue Jul 12, 2022 1:38 pm
Cheeky Monkey wrote: Tue Jul 12, 2022 12:10 pm Interesting stuff John. Tell me about the row of D rings on either side - do they interfere with your stroke and wouldn't they be really in the way if used to lash something to the boat? Did you ever get to the bottom of thinking behind them?

Observations from an armchair on my part so fully accept I could be way off about them.
See my film in my next post ref the D rings
They are to carry ski's (not much use here in the UK)
Cheers John and yet more interesting stuff, particularly that the way the D-rings lie is a potential "fix".

It does baffle me that they are for skis though. All I can imagine is sliding the paddle hand down the edge of a ski - ow!

What did you think to the lack of a top deck, just one of those things sacrificed in the weight / bulk / function equation?
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JohnClimber
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Re: For those interested in Bike packrafting this summer

Post by JohnClimber »

Cheeky Monkey wrote: Tue Jul 12, 2022 4:06 pm What did you think to the lack of a top deck, just one of those things sacrificed in the weight / bulk / function equation?
Spray decks are for white water paddling or staying warm in really cold conditions.

The Cargo and the Caribou are not WW packrafts and if you are using them in cold weather you wear a good dry suit instead.

Also the paddle and crank arms of the bike needs to be "in" the packraft not laying on a spray deck.
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