Tested: Kokopelli Rogue R-Deck packraft review

In a line
Robust, well-made and comfy, but hefty and expensive.

• Thick 210D fabric has a chunky, solid feel
• Counter tensioned seat band gives great back support
• No overhang with the fixed deck sections (less snagging)

• £1199 ($1199; €1400)
• Relatively bulky and heavy
• As usual, some of the Kokopelli online specs (below) seem miles out

What they say

We took our most versatile, best-selling packraft, and upped the game. The Rogue is award-winning for a reason. (A handful of reasons, actually). Weighing in at only 9.1lb (4.1kg), and packing down to the size of a (large) roll of paper towels, it’s become the standard for portability and durability. 
We kept the best-in-class 210d DuPontTM Kevlar® Aramid-Nylon Blend* reinforced floor system for increased durability on the water. We kept the 210d TPU + Nylon sidewalls for the perfect combination of strength and weight. We kept the spraydeck to keep you warm and dry, and add extra reinforcement in high-wear areas – perfect for bikepacking.
… Rated up to Class II rivers, the Rogue R-Deck is now THE packraft for bikepacking, backpacking, high alpine lakes, fishing, climbing, travel, whatever you can throw at it, wherever you can throw it.

  • Hull: 210d TPU + Nylon
  • Floor: 210d TPU + DuPont Kevlar Aramid-Nylon Blend
  • Leafield D7 push-fit, twist open
  • Valve (Seat): Stem
  • Weight (Boat): 7.9lb (3.6kg)
  • Weight (Boat + Key Accessories): 9.1lb (4.1kg)
  • Weight (Boat + All Accessories): 10.0b (4.5kg)      
  • Length: 90in (229cm)
  • Width: 37in (94cm)
  • Inner Length: 57in (145cm)
  • Inner Width: 16in (41cm)
  • D-Rings: 6
  • Packed Size: 16 x 8in (41 x 20cm)

I rented this boat from AS Watersports (not all accessories were requested)

Out of the box

Kokopelli are the other well-known US brand of packraft that’s maybe even more widely distributed worldwide. Their distinctively angular 8-panel design, like Alpackas – also originally made in Colorado – have been put together in China for some years now, with models in both PVC and TPU.
Out of the box the boat feels big and heavy, but the thick, waxy TPU also adds an IK-like robustness. Interestingly, they describe the fabric as 210D all round, which just goes to show how misleading Denier ratings (relative thread weight) are, once you apply lashings of TPU.

From the start Kokopelli have used Leafield D7 ‘raft valves’ in their boats. These are push-fit (not bayonet), like on old Gumotex, but for the low pressures you pump in a packraft they work fine and if a nozzle blows off it’s just a kind of pressure release valve. The seatbase has an old style twist-lock valve, but again, with a sturdy quality I don’t ever recall on my old Alpackas. I used my mini electric pump and mini handpump to inflate the Rogue.

The seat is a similar and proven system I adapt on my IKs: a big, inflatable seatbase which attaches to the hull via a strap, and a chunky EVA foam backrest with a rear mesh pocket and which is tensioned from front and back to stay upright. It means that even if the 130-cm cockpit is too long for you, you can shuffle the seat as far forward as necessary to get a good, braced position with your feet against the bow.

The separate deck goes on with a perimeter zip, and the 90-cm long hatch coaming is held in shape with a bendy nylon rod, with no creases, just like the Moki IK we rented a couple of years ago. Curled up, this rod does make the packraft a bit awkward to transport (but it may have been two-piece inside the hatch’s sleeve)

Inside there is a thick valance or edging band between the floor and the hull which I’ve not seen on a packraft. It’s a nice touch and is sure to keep crud out of this join, though does make the boat a stiffer to roll up. The floor we’re told is 210D TPU with a Kevlar Aramid-Nylon blend (they missed a chance to use the word ‘ballistic’) with a broad four-inch overlap against the hull. No buttpatch needed here.
Old-time Kokopellards tell me fit and finish wasn’t always this good in the US-made-era, but what I have here all adds up to a durable-looking boat, that’s as well made as any packraft I’ve seen and may partly explain the price.

packing down to the size of a (large) roll of paper towels…” Really?

On the Water

A wintry pre-dawn start saw me and Robbo on the water at Tonbridge by 10am. Once on the move it was clear the Rogue was a bit faster than the Rebel, even though both are the same length. It could be down to the Rogue’s tapered bow, though I suspect the longer stern which sits the occupied but otherwise unloaded Rogue level on the water has something to do with it – compared to the back-heavy Rebel.

We are more or less the same weight, but watching Robbo (lately unpractised in packraft paddling) yaw along in the symmetrical Rebel (ie: identical bow and stern) underlined the rationale behind the extended stern idea which Alpacka came up with over a decade ago and which positions the paddler more centrally, as in a kayak. Then again, the Rebel was being paddled without it’s skeg which may have reduced yawing, but not fixed the trim.

Once hitched up into the small of my back, I also found the backband gave very good support, just like on my Seawave (possibly helped by the orange holdall shoved behind it). It may be down to it’s solid, non-inflatable form, but the EVA foam does make it bulky and twice as heavy as the Rebel seat. Then again, Robbo said he found the Rebel more comfortable.

As I was zipped up in my drysuit, I didn’t paddle the Rogue with the deck zipped on but, at a push, I think it could be zipped on on the water. It all just about crammed into the bow bag with the coaming rod.

There’s not much more to say about the Kokopelli Rogue R-Deck: it looks like a packraft and paddles like one: it tracks well and doesn’t yaw that I noticed. And it’s very cleanly put together but is on the heavy side for my sort of use. At the four-figure price, you sure hope they’re paying them well back in China, because they’ve done a darned good job.

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