As it was with kayaks, so it is with packrafts. AE are the first to produce a solo and two-person packraft with a removable dropstitch floor.
For years packrafters have used the idea of shoving in sleeping mats as floors, and right now Anfibio sell slot-in Multimats to fit some of their boats. The idea is improved rigidity for a better glide, insulation for your legs in very cold conditions as well as raising your seating position for better visibility and paddle draw, stability notwithstanding.
One problem with a regular packraft’s plain floor sheet is that the weight of the paddler sags downwards (as above), making a wear-prone low point in shallow rivers as well as not doing wonders to a packraft’s glide, such as it is.
Being at the heavier end of the human spectrum, one pre-emptive solution I used on my Alpackas was a double layer of floor fabric or ‘buttpatch’, as Alpacka called them. It meant I could scrape through shallow rapids, knowing the 840D floor was a little more protected withg another sheet of 840D. This is a bit less of an issue these days when packraft sterns are longer which means the solo paddler is more centrally seated and less back-heavy
The DS floors on the AE Packlite+ packrafts eliminate this sag with all the benefits stated above. And being a separate panel, you can choose to use it or not, if weight and bulk matters. The DS floor’s pressure is 4-6psi, clearly enough to stand up and paddle the raft like a board at 1.5mph. It also makes getting in easier, in that you can stand on the firm floor (left).
Despite the orange Prop65 warning label usually associated with PVC (for sales in California), these new packrafts are made from 210D TPU. Interestingly, the hull uses a high-pressure raft valve as opposed to the more common Boston valves, but this is probably to simplify inflation as the DS floor must use a valve like this, so they may as well be doubled up. It should mean the hull can hold a bit more pressure to make a really rigid boat.
The boats also have about 14/20 attachment loops, carry handles and even a 530-cm TiZip for in-hull storage. Nice touch. Plus you get carry bag and barrel pump and the longer boat gets a skeg.
Just as with IKs, I think a DS floor’s main benefit will be on longer packrafts like the tandem which could be used solo to make a fast boat similar to the MRS Nomad.
The Packlite+ AE3037 costs $899 and weighs 6.1kg, or 13.4 lbs (KG) and as little as 3.2kg with no floor or seat. It’s 99cm wide (39″) and 221cm long (7.25′).
The tandem Packlite+ XL AE3038 goes for $1199, weighs from 8.3kg ( 18.3 lbs) down to 4.4kg. It’s also 99cm wide (39″) and 3m (9.9′) long.
Great review, Chris, and I believe you are spot about removable DS-floors soon becoming becoming more mainstream for packrafts.
I was intrigued by the possibility of s.u.p in a packraft, when AE first introduced the Packlite+ last spring, but they wouldn’t sell its floor separately (yet:-) and
suggested their shortest kayak DS-floor instead.
But I am afraid with its rounded back end & 170 cm length it will just about be too long to even fit into the Nomad.
Would you have any suggestions or ideas where to find a shorter DS-floor?
Thanks Alex. Haven’t found anything but I suppose someone in China will start making add in floors, especially good for longer packrafts.
Thank you Chris and makes sense. The first separately add in floor for longer packrafts will very likely be available directly from China.
Unfortunately that could undermine local distributers, but also respected Chinese Brands like MRS yet again.