My OE seat (below) burst at the heat-welded seam inside the ‘U’ while bumping through the shallows in France. I re-heat-sealed it to the full seam width with an iron and it’s lasted since then, though Alpacka say it will fail eventually. There was a rash of failing seats and they sent me a replacement a few weeks later. On the original there was only a 5-8mm heat-welded band; the new seat base is yellow (less prone to sun-heat expansion-bursting) and has an even 8-10mm wide heat-welded seam all around.
One annoyance is that the seat backrest always flops down just as you’re staggering about on the rocks trying to re-enter and get set up before the next rapid. It needs holding back somehow; easily done with an elastic to one of the back lashing points, though I’ve since realised this won’t work with the skirt zipped up, so maybe a velcro patch then, inside at the back below the skirt zip.
In a bid to make the seat easily removable for drying and camp use, I removed the seat holding laces, tried some electrical wire instead for a while (as left), was going to velcro it in and finally decided just to attach it to the tabs in the hull with another couple of mini-krabs.
They say using an air mat is better for the floor, reducing high points of impact and also keeping your legs warm in cold water. I have a Thermarest (left, on right) which fits pretty well and is light, or an Exped (orange, left) which is much better to sleep on and fills out the back of the seat too. More weight forward is better, especially unloaded in white water with a strong headwind! Again, you wonder if inside the boat, gritty boot soles may cause excess abrasion when jammed in around the front end, so mats are best.
An Alpacka comes in a pretty basic form which allows you to customise it to your needs. Some mods I’ve made include attaching a clip and some bright tape to the main inflation cap – don’t want to lose that. I’ve also added a bit of garden hose to the spray skirt release tab to make it easier to find and grab in a panic. I still have a phobia about skirts, but am already learning to appreciate it in rapids. A 12-kg load sits very securely across the four bow lashing points using Alpacka’s Packtach quick release system. They say if you flip over with a pack on board you want to release it fast to make it easier to flip and drain the boat, if necessary. I’ve yet to try this but I’d imagine it would be quite easy to flip stern over bow, pivoting on the load. The load would also make getting pack in easier (though I have not tried that, either). I’ve improvised a toggle (inset left, pink) onto the Q/R buckle to make it easier to find and grab to release a bag, if needed.
I’ve also added mini carabiners – a blue one at the bottom below) to clip the thin Packtach chords to the 4 mounting points on the hull; it’s bad form having chord rubbing on nylon web under tension, plus it makes the whole Packtach system easy to remove without undoing fiddly knots.
As you can see I’ve also added a 3-metre lead (yellow/green tape) for towing and tying off. I’ve since changed that to a piece of paracord. ‘Painter’ I believe is the correct boating term, but I’ve become aware that whatever you call it, needs to be hooked carefully out of the way for faster rivers. I find threaded across the two mounting tabs can be done and undone fairly quickly.
I’ve glued another tab mount to the middle of the floor inside with Aquaseal and clipped a krab in to hold a day bag. These mini-krabs are my new thing and I’m using them for all sorts of things on the boat, the pfd and elsewhere.
- Packrafting the Wairoa River (NZ)
- Trying out SUP paddle boarding
- Preview: Decathlon Itiwit X500 D/S kayak
- Pumps for inflatable kayaks
- Drop-stitch Gumotex Thaya IK
- Book review: Best Canoe Trips in the South of France
- MYOG: TiZip Pakbag
- Deckbags for packboats
- Kayaking and packrafting the Allier (France)