Hiking with a bellyboat

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by SeanM, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. SeanM

    SeanM member

    I was just curious what folks do when they go hiking to a alpine lakes to fish.

    Does anyone use a bellyboat once they are up there?

    I've tried this once before last summer and I figured, to reduce weight (and things to carry), I would just blow it up at the head of the trail.

    This worked all right, but when the trail narrowed in places by brush, it made it a pain to navigate these tight spaces having to manage a packrod, bellyboat, waders, boots, etc.

    I was thinking there has to be an easier way ... anyone have experience with this?
  2. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

    We used to strap them fully inflated to the back of our packs on the way into Packwood. It made for very heavy packs, but was well worth it once you got there.
  3. Tim Lockhart

    Tim Lockhart Working late at The Office

    Hey JR,
    I do most of my summer fishing this way. If the route gets really technical then, yeah, go to a pack and add the pump.

    Otherwise, inflated is the way to go vs. pack-pump-fish-deflate-repack (agree w/ Flyborg). Mostly depends on the tube you have. If it's any help, here's my method...I have an old donut type that only weighs 5.5lb. Pump stays at the rig - if anything I have to take air out at the top (in countless trips I've never needed to add air). I use good padded straps - ran me about $25 at Creekside (Outcast). Waders, booties, flybox, food/water/coffee, dry thermal, etc. all go into the compartments...it fits. Net, fins, fleece & shell get tucked under the mesh stripping thingy. It's more comfortable than you'd think...weight is distributed nicely betw your shoulders and ass. And skip the packrod. I leave my 7 pc Orvis at home - that's for airplanes and such. Since I have 2 free hands I just carry my 2pc up fully rigged. I also find running shoes work better than hikers. Result is I only spend 3 min betw parking and starting out, and about 10 min betw arriving and fishing.....otherwise you can easily waste an hour or more 'dicking around' with your stuff.

    Hope some of that is helpful. Have fun!
  4. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    I have hiked in a lot carrying a Super Fat Cat. It has pack straps that make it reasonably comfortable on a hike of just a few miles. Attach your fins and pack rod to the boat with cord or bungees and roll your waders up tight and store them in the center of the boat. Put water and food in the boat's pockets, wear your vest and boots and start walking. You may have to squeeze through some tight spots but just keeping your hands free will make the hike much easier.

    If you are going for more than a day though I would recommend one of the ultra light boats and a K pump to inflate it with once you get there. Look into a pair of the flat lightweight fins also. They pack flat and are much easier to carry.

  5. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Not quite sure what you mean by a 'bellyboat'. The last time I heard that term, it referred to the the old circular float tubes that use a car tire inner tube for a bladder that required superhuman balance and coordination to get into without getting dunked (hence the name 'donuts of death'). Those things weighed a ton and you needed a pump that'd fit a car tire valve to pump it up with. I'd be surprised if anybody other than a few diehards use them anymore.

    More likely, you're referring to today's new lightweight 'U' or 'V' shaped float tubes with vinyl or urethane bladders. Their lightweight valves can be inflated easily by mouth or using a small pump.

    For leisurely strolls across flat, open ground like the trails in to Lenice, Nunnally or the back side of Beda, I'll carry my Super Fat Cat fully inflated, using snap-on shoulder straps.

    For hiking on steep or rugged trails or off-trail, I deflate my lighter (~6 lbs) TU Gunnison float tube, roll it up and strap it onto the back of an exterior frame pack where if won't get everything else in the pack wet on the trip back out and where it's narrow width won't get hung up on every branch.

    For trips to remote lakes requiring serious grunt to get to and where weight is kept at an absolute minimum, I found a used Curtis raft that's just the ticket because of it's light weight (~22 oz.) and very compact size.

  6. Krystoff

    Krystoff Member


    I actually have one of those bellyboats that I got off the classifieds here from Mike Monsos. So far it has treated me well although I did find out about the "ease" of getting into it. Found out it is much easier to slip it on over my head than try to actually get into it.

    I am planning on taking it up to a high lake but my brother in law and I are still trying to figure out where to go.

  7. bugboy9

    bugboy9 Member


    I was in this predicament myself just a couple of weeks ago. I ended up getting the Sevylor Trail boat for like $75 from Campmor. Its cheap but lightweight at 3.5 pounds. That's what it says on the box anyways. This was for serious backpacking. Packing in with tent, sleeping bag, food, etc. for 15 miles. I couldn't find a Curtis Raft in time for my trip. Otherwise I would try to get one. The Sevylor Trail raft does the job though. It is pretty small and if you are taller than 5'8 IMHO, I would imagine it would be pretty uncomfortable, with hardly any room to move around. This Sevylor Trail boat does the job, but you have to row which takes your hands away from casting. So its row, float and cast, and if there is wind, it can get a little challenging. Depending on how far you are going in, if you can, bring a float tube. The Outcast Trinity is light tube if you want to spend $330. Good luck with your decision.

  8. Coach Duff

    Coach Duff Banned or Parked

    I hiked into the Alpine Lakes and many other places dozens of times with the old "doughnut". Alot of the time I wore it fully inflated. Didn't bother me the least. Now it would drive me nuts in no time. At that time, that's all we had, and gosh darn it I was going tubing!:beer1: Now with all of the break down models and super lightweight stuff, it looks to be a breeze. Duff
  9. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Mike and I are fishing buddies. Did he make you sign the disclaimer and waiver his attorney drew up before he sold you the boat? :rofl:

  10. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

    The best boat I've ever had for backpacking is a Supercat pontoon boat. The frame of the boat converts to a pack frame, and the tubes fold in so they aren't bumping into stuff along the trail. Very comfortable boat, and it was specifically designed for packing in to Alpine Lakes and also Lenice.

  11. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

    Float tubes are the best way to enjoy alpine lakes hands down. Less tangles in dense shoreline brush.
  12. Krystoff

    Krystoff Member

    There was some paperwork but Mike had said it was for the warranty and I needed to sign quickly. Didn't pay much attention cause I was intent on getting out in the water!
  13. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Ah, but did you sign it? Better get that waiver back to Mike soon before he has to send Guido over to see how much you value your kneecaps. :rofl:

    Just kidding, of course. Mike takes really good care of his gear so you should be happy with the tube for years to come.

  14. SeanM

    SeanM member

    Yeah - I was just using belly boat as a universal term for float tube/u-boat/kickboat etc.

    I personally have a caddis u shaped float tube though - technically not a "belly boat" but I can usually count on the water splashing up to that point on my waders. ;-)
  15. andrew

    andrew Active Member

    I hiked up to Whatson Anderson Lakes with float tube, waders, boots, pump, and gear to spend two nights (tent, sleeping bag, etc)...oh yeah and about 5 lb. of polish sausage!

    It dam near killed me, but I was the only sucker that was catching fish! :rofl:

    I'd definitely pack waders...I was freezing just sitting in my light weights, as well, I'd also bring one of those inflatable pfd since your ass is not going to be able to swim back to shore if you are in 40-50 degree water and 100 yards out. :ray1:
  16. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

    I still use the ol donut of death now and again. I had to go to les schwab to get a new bladder for it last summer. I pack and inflate it. They pack up really small and bicycle pumps have come a long way in terms of weight and size.