Finally got my 2014 model Yak I ordered four months ago at the tail end of a sale. My three-year-old all-yellow Yak sold surprisingly easily over Christmas, so this new boat will end up costing me only fifty quid more.
This is my third Alpacka since 2010 and second Yak. This time round I had a better idea of exactly what I wanted for my sort of paddling. I’m happy to stick with the ‘snug fitting’ Yak (I’m 183cm tall), but no spray deck which I hardly ever used, even if later designs have got sturdier. I prefer to rely on a dry suit, but am no more a crusty demon of white water than an open water sea kayaker. I’m more into traditional pack + rafting so a light and simple boat will do me. The necessary toughness comes free with Alpackas. In a way, going for a plain and simple Yak is rather the way I went with my Grabner IK after trying a Java and Incept.
I also specified the thinner 420D floor off the Curiyak which has now become the norm on most solo packrafts. No extra charge though it took a little persuading. Having seen it now I can confirm it’s a great idea, not so much for the weight saved but to make the boat easier to roll up. My old Yak’s floor felt twice as thick and was quite stiff and bulky to pack. I can report that although it may still be as supple as a new-born baby’s chubby cheek, it sure is easier to roll the boat up and the ballistic nylon floor is still up to it. I also asked for extra floor patches at high wear areas fore and aft, as on my previous Yak, but that got overlooked; they forgot the repair kit too. The rear patch and a repair kit were promptly sent on, but buying direct from Alpacka LLC has been a drawn-out process of chasing and repeating my order several times. All previous direct purchases have been trouble-free. With only a rear patch to glue on, I’ll use a karrimat heel pad from my old boat as pictured left.
The seat looks bigger and is no longer a ‘toilet seat’ U but an uncut ‘D’. I’ve attached it to the boat with reusable zip ties (below right) to make it easy to take out for a camp seat or to clean and dry the boat. The seat has a slot or pocket between the U (left) where you can stuff in the inflator bag. I’ve long been wanting something like this for those occasions when you forget to bring or mislay the quite important air bag. Talking of which, a different coloured stuff sac from the air bag might be handy so you don’t mistake the two in another low-IQ moment. I’ve since swapped with a mate for his bright orange air bag – easy to see and handy as a signal in an emergency. I’ve also since poked through some drain holes in the seal middle (above left). I realise I had the seat too far back in the stern – a little forward is better so you sit on the back of it, not over the hole.
One year in and I just noticed my Yak has a pair of mysterious attachment patches on the inside (right), just in front of the seat on either side. Turns out they’re for the Cargo Fly option – an airtight zip you can specify in your hull to enable you to carry gear inside the boat. The patches are hull interior attachment points to secure a bag. Because the latest Alpackas are only TPU coated on the outside, it makes gluing on the rough inside (see image below) less effective.
Anyway, the boat. I know it’s new but it still looks subtly better made than my previous Alpackas; the black section tape and general attention to detail all inspire the confidence you just don’t get with a £25 pool toy. No, really. The hull fabric is only coated on the outside now (left – it means outside scratches down to the fabric could cause an air leak) but looks glossier.
The three inches extra at the back adds buoyancy, aids trim and tracking and reduces white water bander-snatching (unwanted back flips). Compared to my original, old-shape Llama, Alpacka’s distinctively extended stern was a brilliant innovation when it came out in 2011, as on flat water it also reduces bow yawing (left-right, left-right as you paddle). Can’t say I can notice but it also has a bit more rocker or upsweep, to maintain or improve the boat’s turn-on-a-dime manoeuvrability.
My weights and dimensions
My dims conform closely to what’s printed at LLC, although I feel the given weight is a little disingenuous. Out of the box and in the bag my boat weighed 2550g. Sac is 20g and blow up bag is 106g. That means the boat with seat is 2424g, and the two-part seat weighs 146g + 54g. So my bare seatless boat (not how it’s sold) comes in at 2224g which is close enough to the 2.2kg listed at LLC. Now you know, though I’ve since read it is ‘industry standard ‘ to give a boat’s weight with all loose bits removed – valve cap too? The whole boat is 91 inches or 231cm long.
Back in the real world, with a lanyard (lead) and biner, bow baggage cord and biner, a karrimat heel pad and the butt patch glued and taped to my light floor, my Yak weighs 2.95kg ready to go with a strap and inflator bag. Still amazingly light for what you get.
My new 2014 yakity Yak cost $900 shipped inside the US, including $50 for the missing patches and another $50 for the blue and yellow paint job which IMO looks great. For more on my Alpacka Yak travels see the ‘Yak’ menu above. Most recently I paddled the Tarn and the Allier rivers in France in 2018. What a brilliant boat. Like with my Gumotex Seawave IK, it’s nice to finally arrive at a product that meets your needs and fulfils your desires. If only it was the same with cameras ;-)