Lightest Float Tube or Pack Raft?

#1
Hello,

I'm looking for an ultralight float tube. I want to carry the tube deflated in my backpack into high mountain lakes. What would you guys suggest as being the best option? The wilderness lite tube seems to be the best thing I've come across. Any others out there that are worth looking into?

I was also thinking that a packraft might be a good way to go. I want to be able to use the raft with fins though, so I'm not sure how that would work. Can packrafts get anywhere near as light as the ultralight tubes?

Thanks!
 

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
#2
Wilderness Lite is the best I've found. If you can find an old Woodriver V-Boat, you could just install one of WL's light-weight bladders and that would work too.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
#4
I was going to post that the Curtis raft is the lightest thing going at 2 pounds, but I see that the Canyon Flatwater is only 1.5 pounds, altho a pair of paddles would add to that. My Curtis is 2# with paddles. The Curtis raft in no longer made.

A former member of this forum named Steve built some prototype float tubes. I was lucky enough to get one. It is 2#. I also got a set of his super-light fins that are about 1/2#. Unfortunately he died, so no new float tubes are available. The disadvantage of the float tube is that you still have to carry the weight and bulk of waders.

Most packrafts weigh between 5 and 6#. Alpacka does have a scout model that is only 2.5# however, so it is a good alternative to the Curtis. I'm not sure how that compares to any lightweight float tubes presently available.

The upshot is there is no way to go ultra-light and still have all the amenities of comfortable fly fishing.

Sg
 

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
#5
My flytepacker raft is right at 3# with paddle blades for propulsion. You could modify the bottom to sit and kick but that would likely add some cross structure weight and then wader weight.
 

Rob Ast

Active Member
#7
I have one of the float tubes mentioned by Salmo_g. I have not ended up using it. And might be willing to sell. I do not have the fins, but you may be able to find the thread about the entire creation by searching the site.
 

Jon Brengan

flyfishing addict
#8
So I have been following these posts for awhile now, seems there's always drawbacks here. Wilderness Lite has a big price but does allow you to control your movement while fishing .ie. it does require waders, fins as apposed to paddles. But one thing I have never much cared for in a raft is that when the wind blows you go where it blows which really blows, trying to paddle while having line in the water can be quite a mess - I think I'm working my way towards the Wilderness Lite.
 

Sir Homey

Active Member
#9
So I have been following these posts for awhile now, seems there's always drawbacks here. Wilderness Lite has a big price but does allow you to control your movement while fishing .ie. it does require waders, fins as apposed to paddles. But one thing I have never much cared for in a raft is that when the wind blows you go where it blows which really blows, trying to paddle while having line in the water can be quite a mess - I think I'm working my way towards the Wilderness Lite.
I have a Wilderness Lite tube and generally give it a good review. I believe it was mentioned in another recent thread about tubes and I'll echo it here. One drawback on the W.L. tubes is the small valve that makes deflating it a time consuming process. If you're tubing near your vehicle and throwing a half deflated tube in the back of your truck and quickly heading home that's great. If you've hiked 5 miles to a lake and want to fully deflate your tube so it rolls up nicely and fits in your pack...then consider this drawback.
I still think the classic Caddis Nevada is a sound tube and good for backcountry use. A decent mix of features vs weight and the mofo valve on it let's you deflate it quick.
I also agree with the better control a tube allows vs a raft. Your hands are free to fish and your feet are keeping you in the position you want. In a raft you are at the mercy of the wind. My $.02USD.
 
#11
I stopped carrying a tube years ago as a raft eliminates waders and flippers and is generally an easier package to hike in; although those Wilderness Lite ones look pretty sweet. I also put myself into hypothermia being stubborn fishing a float tube in a high mountain lake in a snow storm back in the day. You can stay warmer in a raft! The obvious trade off is control - but you get used to it. Alpackas are well worth it. For hike in fishing keeping it simple and having a raft with no spray deck and is as light as possible is key. I have 2 Alpackas that cover my needs; of course both are not offered anymore - but you can pick them up used for decent prices. The Fjord Explorer is my favorite fishing raft. All in weighs 7 lbs and has a full row kit. If I am trying to go as trim and light as possible I use a Curiyak. 4lbs all in and rolls really small, has a ton of space compared to their other rafts. That new Scout is pretty sweet - but it is small... If you are 5'10 or under then it would work I would think; if your fishing you have a bit of gear that is hard to manage without a little more space. That being said, it's only 2.5 lbs and rolls incredible small. That new Caribou looks pretty intriguing and weighs in really light at under 5lbs; and seems to be a very versatile boat. Seems on paper like their best current boat for versatility. I can attest to the toughness of these boats. I have loaded my Explorer with 100lbs of gear and used it on many river miles, including a fair amount of dragging. They draft well in rivers, and are okay on lakes. Both my boats don't have a rocker, so are probably a bit better on lakes than others.

Hope I don't sound too much like an Alpacka fan boy as there are other options out there now too. Kokopelli just came out with a new raft called the Rogue-Lite which is under 5lbs all in with the seat and seems like a pretty good value and design for all around use. Generally the really lite packrafts like the Flytepacker are okay for flatwater - but you get that weight with lighter materials. I would never take that on a remote river trip. A packraft like the Curiyak or Caribou you can use for more than just flatwater. I have fished road system rivers in Alaska - going upstream all day, then pull out the Alpacka and float back to the car. I would definitely be interested in an Alpacka that has a larger cockpit like the Curiyak - but with lightweight materials like the new Scout. Hope they come out with something like this. Anyway. I'm rambling now.
 

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#12
Meant also to say that modifying an Alpacka for use with fins is probably a bad idea. The only rafts I am aware of built like this are the Water Master ones. They are billed as a lightweight packable boats - but I believe are close to 50lbs... Good luck with that. The lightest packrafts don't have self bailing floors; you would not want to open up the bow of these boats (at least I wouldn't think). If you do opt for a self bailer you would obviously need to come up with some good modifications for that to work. If you come up with something good post your idea! Probably just go with the tube if you are that concerned about using fins.
 

Freestone

Not to be confused with freestoneangler
#14
Meant also to say that modifying an Alpacka for use with fins is probably a bad idea. The only rafts I am aware of built like this are the Water Master ones. They are billed as a lightweight packable boats - but I believe are close to 50lbs... Good luck with that. The lightest packrafts don't have self bailing floors; you would not want to open up the bow of these boats (at least I wouldn't think). If you do opt for a self bailer you would obviously need to come up with some good modifications for that to work. If you come up with something good post your idea! Probably just go with the tube if you are that concerned about using fins.
I am not sure what you mean by opening up the bow of a packraft / and what purpose that would serve, unless you are thinking of a U boat instead of a WaterMaster-type boat.

However, Alpacka has made custom modified half-floor versions for use with fins.

Aire makes a light self-bailing packraft.
 
#15
The initial poster was asking about using fins with a packraft... I meant the front of the floor, not the tube... I stand corrected on the Alpacka then. Just googled it and looks like they did offer my Fjord Explorer model at some point with an open floor. Interesting. I have never seen that open floor model. Must not have done well as they haven't offered that in years. I would think that would put you in waders always with the boat as it would be very wet. Be interested to see one though. Probably a very limited set of people who would buy that. Aire, Kokopelli, Flytepacker, NRS, etc.. + a bunch of foreign makes too. Good thing as it's driving some innovation. Hope to see the envelope pushed on weight and durability and a few more fishing / lake friendly models. Really thinking of picking up that new Caribou for Alaska when the weight of my PR-49 doesn't make sense. I.E - any type of distance hiking. Open boat capable of handling more bow weight (and more importantly with these things - volume) seems pretty good. Especially at under 5 lbs. Keep the options coming!
 

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