making my own packable raft


*splash* *splash* *splash*, I need a life vest
too far in R&D right now to anticipate this actually working.... although with the material I have lying around from post R&D I could probably pull off some hippers.


Not to be confused with freestoneangler
I have had a few ideas but I'm not sure if I'd ever risk trying them so proceed at your own risk! First, I'm not sure I'd try to duplicate a Curtis or Alpaca but I've thought of some other floating devices that one could create. I would start with replacement urethane bladders from a float tube or pontoon boat as urethane bladders are very light and strong. I'd try to find ones with the red inflation tube or a Boston valve for easier backpacking inflation. Note that these would be intended to be used only for fishing on small alpine lakes by someone with a death wish...a pfd would not be optional!

In my first 'design' is not the lightest but less outlandish. I'd use 2 urethane pontoon or long float tube replacement bladders and sew cuban or silnylon covers for them to provide protection. Then, I'd lash my collapsed trekking poles to the tubes with some thin Spectra cord to create a frame of sorts. My sleeping pad would be lashed on top to make a padded seat; if I weren't too worried about weight, I'd use a T-rest chair kit on top. I might play with using my pack as a seat or part of the 'frame' depending on the pack's construction. I'd play with the trekking poles to see if I could have a small gap between the tubes so I could use fins, maybe making the tubes into a V-shape so I didn't overstress the trekking poles. I'd make some knee-high waterproof wading socks from light heat-sealable nylon using my regular hiking socks underneath for insulation. For fins, I can think of 2 light options: There is a company that makes Lexan fins designed to be worn with Tevas. Though not the lightest camp shoes, the Tevas would serve a duel purpose so they might be worth the extra weight. The other option is to use my 'Flips' fins, a very lightweight fin once sold by Orvis. I'd just strap these on over my stocking foot, knee-high wading socks. Then I think I'd say a prayer before pushing off from shore...

A lighter weight idea could work if you are a tarp camper though I'd first try it at home in warm shallow water! I'd buy a replacement bladder for an Outcast Odyssey, Scadden Escalade, Deschutes, etc which are basically one long, thin urethane tube. I'd blow it up and lay it on top of my tarp bending the tube into a circle. I'd draw the tarp up over the tube gathering it in the center. Gasping the bunched up tarp ends, I'd use some cording to tie it off (like you tie a trash bag together with a twist tie). I'd use a knot that was quickly released as I probably would need to occasionally drain water that seeped in. I might play with the tightness of the tarp to see if I could create a raft-like well in the middle and use my pad for insulation. I'd use hand paddles to propel it or preferably NRS Propulsion gloves. This set-up would be extremely light as the only additional weight would be the bladders and the gloves.

If one could be content with an even simpler albeit less comfortable idea, I would try the tarp cover idea over a replacement urethane doughnut-shaped bladder if you can find one. I have an even lighter weight idea but it's probably best not to publically encourage anyone to really risk their life!

colton rogers

wishin' i was fishin'
anyone have any experience with CO2 inflation systems?
they inflate with manual or automatic triggers, the most flotation of one i've seen has been 40 pounds, if you go in with a coat, waders, clothing under waders, and boots 40 pounds isn't going to matter much. even with waders alone it will not help, or much at all. sadly the only way to save your ass is to use it and cut the waders off, don't worry about your leg. cut with the grain not against it.

float coats are bulky and not for hiking but they will pull up an anchor, thee is foam in the back chest and sleeves so i think they are the best. and they are very warm!

colton rogers

wishin' i was fishin'
I was thinking super slacker raft inflation.
:beathead::beathead: i thought you were talking about life jackets because you keep mentioning you will be on your own.hahaha i have never tried that but i don't think it would be very economical because they are heavy and about 50cents each. there is no way to re-fill them a double action hand pump is pretty small but kind of heavy, the k-pumps are supposedly light? or you can blow it up with the lungs.........hope you don't smoke or that could be a little harder!


*splash* *splash* *splash*, I need a life vest
Well, I think I'm going to give up for the summer. Time to start fishing and stop playing with my project. Perhaps wait until winter (after deer, pheasant, and duck season of course)

Lessons learned
Alpca, well worth it... costs lots (to me anyway) but an at home build costs some too.

I'm in easy 40+ hours (design/build/fix)
materials were $100, add 40 for aquaseal
$40 R&D materials, 6-pack of beer for R&D
4x take out dinner
additional 4 6packs of beer

add another my guess easy $100 materials and 20 hours build time plus $50-$100 hardware for the next build.

Lessons learned, think through and maybe non permanent mock up the build prior to building... make sure my methods will work.
This proved a problem working out the seal that turns all the flat pieces into tubes, I connected everything together hoping to fold then seal up.... that didn't work had to make those seals in tension rather than shear (I was warned about the seal style, but i was stuck).(mine were shaped like { )

Work out a better idea than a piece of wood and a clothing iron, didn't seal the pieces together nicely, fought with that for way too long.

Figure out supply of aquaseal and the fancy accelerator, sure the company's headquarters are in my town.... but they're closed on weekends.
Also, get more brushes, nothing gets it off the one brush in the package.
If safety is a concern a float tube is way safer than a raft in still water. There's just no comparison, and i speak from personal experience. Even the law recognizes this as a PFD is required for rafts and not for tubes. Breathables and fins don't add much weight since you won't need oars.
Good ideas here. My question - has anyone looked at modifying the Sevylor backpacker raft to work like a Watermaster? Any ideas about how to reinforce it?

(Sevylor on sale at REI this week.) thanks, Mark
Back to first things: what, exactly, is so wrong with the Sevylor backpacking raft?

It supports even my 240 lbs. in comfort. Padding the floor with clothes keeps out most of the chill; an inflatable, or closed cell foam pad would be even better. About 4.5 lbs. including paddles. Inflates easily by breath. Tricky to launch in or disembark from, but even this old wallarus can usually manage it without shipping water.
Mack, nothing wrong, just think it would be more manueverable and easier to fish from with fins, and easier to enter/exit with a hole in the floor. I haven't looked at the boat - if the floor is inflatable, my idea is probably a nonstarter. Mark


*splash* *splash* *splash*, I need a life vest
Got me the Sevylor after my failed build.

My only negatives are the valves and the room (granted my design wasn't going to be much bigger).

The valves, to me kinda scary, begging to get pulled out. And way too small, takes a while to fill. However if they did get pulled out that small valve would provide me with the 20 seconds to fix it before I went swimming.

and well, not a lot of room. Though me shifting around to do this that and the other never felt like I was gonna flip it or anything.

But if you use the paddles like the book says to (like you're skiing) you can get a pretty good clip going, though direction like any small raft is a little rough.

Small enough that with a spinning rod and a small rooster tail you don't need to paddle around much, just fish in the direction you want to go (one cast in to shore, one out, one to get the boat facing the right direction again, repeat)