Tag Archives: Micro Rafting Systems

Packraft Group Test: Summary

Packraft Test Intro • Supai Matkat • MRS Microraft  • Aire BAKraft • Nortik Trekraft • Alpacka Yak

pgtYAK03One tends to compare new boats against Alpacka because they were the innovators who took the whole packrafting game forward. Now that I’ve tried the competition I can see the gap between the Colorado-made boats and the two similar packrafts from China and Russia is much smaller than most would imagine.
starpaxBut between them these five boats occupy three different categories, with some overlap. The MRS, Nortik and Alpacka all make great do-it-all boats, especially as the later two have spray skirt options. The Supai and the Aire (in prototype form) are more single-minded and uncompromising: extreme lightness or kayak-like hair-boating agility.
Back pgtMRS16in the day the question was ‘which Alpacka should I buy and what specification can I afford?’ Now it’s great to have the choice that’ll no doubt see the new contenders evolve and others emerge.
packdogsOther vendors do exist but you can see the full range of the Packrafting Store’s 14-odd packrafts here. And don’t forget, you can rent before you buy to save you making an expensive mistake.
Thanks to the floating foursome: Bob, Hannah, Lois and Robin, for giving up a day to help out with this group packrafting test.


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Packraft Group Test: MRS Microraft

Packraft Test Intro • Supai Matkat  • Aire BAKraft • Nortik Trekraft • Alpacka Yak • Summary
See also Anfibio Alpha XC – 2018

pgtMRS17yeahbabyAfter being pulled out of the Matkat this was much more like. I was gliding along, whoosing forward with each paddle stroke, tucked under the deck of the MRS Microraft. Yeah, baby! However unfair, we all admitted that whichever boat you used after the Bin Bag was the best boat of the day.
pgtMRS19A Chinese-made packraft sounds like a hard sell, especially when it so closely resembles a Gen II decked Alpacka that it risks being labelled a cheap knock off. But the price of the Microraft isn’t cheap, and as far as we could tell neither is the build quality. With China’s enduring if outdated ‘made in Hong Kong’ reputation and MRS’s unsophisticated website on Aliexpress, this can be something that’s hard to get your head around. But we forget that good and cool stuff is made in China too: when’s the last time someone scoffed at an iPhone because it was made in Chengdu? The difference is that pgtMRS13iPhones are probably designed in some groovy Californian creative play pen. That’s not the case with MRS but whoever’s behind them is definately not in the knock-off or pool toy game and has gone out of their way to make this comparable with Alpacka in more than just looks.
pgtMRS07The deck may look identical to the thin velcro-and zip item I had (but rarely used) on my first two Alpackas. But the Microraft differs significantly in having parallel side tubes (like a white water raft) and less bow upturn. You imagine the parallel tubes simplify construction a little and I didn’t sense any noticeable tracking drawbacks on the water. On the contrary this arrangement makes for a footbox that’s as wide as the seat so that even in this Small/Medium 120-cm-long model my large feet weren’t jammed as they are in my 177-cm long Yak.
pgtMRS04pgtMRS18At 27cm the Microraft does run the thinnest tubes of the bunch and I noticed that Bob (at 85kg – right) looked quite low and back-heavy (I’d have been even lower) while Hannah and Lois looked just right in this raft. And we’re told that a side benefit of slimmer side tubes is better edging in rough water. The picture from the Store (left) clearly show that the Microraft can tackle the white water with the best of them.
pgtMRS11The seat is threaded in with string like Alpackas and our boat came with nine attachment loops, four up front, two at the back and three inside. The fabric has less of a shiny sheen too, but is applied to both sides so is more puncture resistant. Another thing I liked about the MRS was the non-featherweight air bag that feels so much nicer in the hand than my Alpacka’s net curtain. (They say restos with heavy cutlery can charge more). And the valve cap attached to the valve body: a simple solution to lost caps held on with string.
pgtmu-24I never trusted that lightweight ‘Cruiser’ deck on my Alpackas, and the attachment was messy with exposed positioning tape peel;ing away on a hot day. But as our test day grew increasingly chilly and wet, so everyone in the MRS including me was pleased to tuck in and zip up, like a granny by the fireside. It’s not a bomb-proof solution to white water – the decked Trekraft or self-bailing BAKraft are probably better, but it sure slows down the swamping while keeping your legs warm.
pgtMRS21Only the 1000-euro price tag needs some getting used to; it feels too close to an Alpacka while you assume Chinese workers’ wages aren’t, even if their workmanship and the materials used are hard to tell apart. If you took off the MRS label, I could have easily been fooled that this was a new Alpacka model. And that alone must be worth the price.

MRS test boat supplied by the
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Gumotex Framura

framura

Even with the new Rush models for 2020, Gumotex still claim their Framura IK, out in the UK is their fastest boat. For coastal ‘yaking the numbers certainly look great:
16kg + 4.1m x 75cm wide

That’s 29.5″ and about as wide as you’d want to be in a proper IK. I see that in France it’s homologated for use as a kosher ‘Cat C, 10km from shore’ sea kayak while in North America it’s sold as a Swing EX.

framurai
Not sure I’d be dragging my IK over the sand like that.

From the bow shape it looks like it’s based on the slightly shorter but much wider Swing 2 – or the longer but also wider and higher pressure Seawave. That lightweight deck is fixed and has Swing-like struts to keep it up and shed water. Access is by straight zips or down the hatch. If they’re like the Swings they probably leak.

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As for pressures, the Framura runs a disappointing 0.2 bar/2.9psi, not the 0.25 bar of the Seawave. But I also hear that Gumo-recommended max pressures are on the conservative side: the side tubes can be run up to 50% higher with great improvements in rigidity (the floor runs an 0.2 bar PRV so can’t be over-pressured). I also read somewhere they got 12kph out of a Framura while testing at sea. The best I ever got out of my Java or Incept was a short burst of 10kph.

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framurarudder

In 2016 they introduced a rudder kit (left) for the Framura/EX. I made one for my Seawave but in the end, could not be bothered with it on day paddles. On multi-day runs where you get the weather you’re given, a rudder may be a good idea.

I like the look of the 4.1-metre-long Framura but I liked my Seawave more. Framura, by the way, is a nice spot on the Italian Riviera, not far from Portofino. Not, as I thought, a hint that the new boat uses a frame(ura) to maintain rigidity. That rarely works with IKs, in my experience. Uou do wonder if the new hybrid Rush 2 supercedes i2015’s Framura.
More Framura in this video. See also this.

gumbo framura