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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m starting to research options for a float tube or pontoon for hike-in lakes in the 1-3 mile range. I use my watermasters for walk-in spots less than 1 mile over flat trails (like Lenice) but I’d like to extend my range. I’ve read good reports on everything from simple donut tubes to Outcast Fat Cats and Scadden Freestyles to SuperCat packable pontoons. I’m 6’ 1” 190lbs so I don’t need huge capacity. I’d like to hear what you use for longer distance day trips and how you rig for a longer walk. Do you inflate before you start and use pack straps on the boat? How comfortable are those straps after an hour of hiking? Or do you hike everything in using a standard pack and inflate the boat at the lake? I’d like to keep my total load including waders to around 30-40lbs.

Thanks for your input.
 

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I've been float tubing since the days of canvas covered truck inner tubes. Man those things were heavy! Modern tubes using light weight bladders & coverings are a quantum leap forward. Don't even think about do-nut tubes. Too damn hard to get in & out of. U-tubes, walk down to the water, wade out knee deep, sit down in tube & put your fins on. Away you go. Get a tube that can be inflated by lung power. Not that you will actually do that. But being able to top it off while on the water is a plus. Carry a short length of plastic tubing to facilitate this.

I use pack straps & carry my tube inflated. Make sure your fins float. First of all, so you won't lose them if a strap breaks. But since you're packing them, being lighter than water is a plus. Get a landing net that floats. And tether it to the tube when on the water. With a little thought, you can come up with a way to carry everything you need in the tube, back pack style. Forget the vest. You won't need one.
 

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30 to 40 Pounds? Been there and done that. Life's too short to lug that kind of weight, especially with an inflated tube on a rough trail with any kind of elevation gain. I've got it down to about 25 pounds using this combination of main gear:

REI Flash 65 backpack (http://www.rei.com/product/778468, ~3#)
TU/Classic Accessories Gunnison float tube (~6.5#)
Simms Classic Guide waders (~2.4#)
Caddis backpacking fins (1#)

The remaining 9-10# is fishing gear (1 rod, 1 reel, 1 extra spool, lanyard, 1 fly box), water, food, extra clothes, 10 essentials, headlamp, bug spray, headnet, etc. For most Cascade lakes you're probably not gonna need a net and unless you plan on walking around a lot, you probably don't need wading boots either.

K
 

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I'm about the same size as you and I pack in for day trips a lot. I have a caddis tube that weighs about 6 lbs. I carry it inflated on an old frame pack that also holds any gear I may want. Most of the trails here on the dry side of oregon are no problem for width. From ellensburg there is a lot of great fishing to be had with this kind of rig. If the trail is narrow I have deflated the back of my H shaped tube before and that worked out great. My pack with everything is about 25 pounds.
 

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Ditto the advice re: u or v-type tubes. I also preferred to carry mine inflated. Knee mileage has limited my pursuit of such activities in recent years, but it is an excellent technique.

the days of canvas covered truck inner tubes
. . . me too, and the first ones I had I made . . . but they got me out to fish-central . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for the input. I ended up with a SuperCat pontoon. Just got it today and can't wait to get it out on the water. My intended destinations are out in the sagebrush over trails with low to moderate elevation change. I'll update my report once I've got a few days in the field.
 

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During my "Gilligan Adventure", (a 3 hour float trip, that took 17 hours), on the Iroquois River, (between Kentland & Morocco, Indiana), I tried to hike out across a meadow that had about 75-90 horses in it. The daylight was rapidly turning dusky quite fast, & my silhouette must have looked like some kind of mutated Sasquatch/cartoon monster as I emerged from the treeline into the field, one of the horses whinnied really loud, then they all bunched up together, then began a charge straight towards me. I froze as they covered the fast closing gap of about 100 yds in lightspeed time. It would only be a couple of more seconds until they would be trampling all over me. I let a yell of WHOA! ! ! as loud as I could muster, & it must have been enough, because they skidded to a stop, ...right in their tracks. I stepped back, one step at a time, very slowly, till I reached the edge of the treeline again. I hurriedly dropped my Gunnison floattube into the river, & all but jumped into it, splashing, and flailing, trying to get a hold of my 3' paddle, & store my rods out of the way without snagging a hook into the side of it. The horses had proceeded to follow me, but stopped @ the wooded treeline, not venturing past it.
The fading sunlight was gone, & it was now dark-thirty, my heart, still caught up somewhere around my tonsils, beating out a staccato rhythm to my pulse, which was pounding out it's own beat, as if it were racing against the beat of my heart, all while I'm thinking "Wow! What a rush! I was cotton-mouthed, and I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins, all of my senses were on overload. My eyesight, hampered by the darkness, only served to increase the other four, my hearing, touch, taste, & smells were on full alert, working overtime.
Long before this night would be over, there would be two more somewhat crises, but more about that at a later date.
Enjoy your time on the water, but be aware that tragedy is just around the corner, waiting to happen for the unprepared. Be safe.
 

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Enjoy your time on the water, but be aware that tragedy is just around the corner, waiting to happen for the unprepared. Be safe.
I have a hard time remembering better advice on this or any other forum. Thank you for the reminder.

K
 
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