The Packrafting Store in Germany are now selling the Russian-made Nortik Trekraft. As mentioned a few months ago, it does bear an uncanny resemblance to a standard Alpacka, right down to the ‘fastback’ stern. In appearance you might call it a knock-off, but it has it’s own distinctive attributes and anyway, every rotomolded creek boat you ever saw looks the same.
Overall the tubes are a bit smaller diameter than an Alpacka and the whole boat is only thermo-welded but not sewn (as other boats are). Very slightly thinner tubes may provide less buoyancy but add a lot more room inside (1.34m). You’re feet aren’t jammed against the bow too, which is a plus over my Yak.
This extra foot room also allows positioning bags low down in the boat. The bow has less of a lift which means it won’t ride over waves so well but be less slowed by head winds. In white water situations that slack space in length and width will be less good for quick turns and feeling connected to the boat. Even on flat water I find it’s good to push against something with the feet to make an effective power stroke.
It occurs to me that you could put a bag behind you and then be more centrally seated, like in a kayak. A few years back whitewatards were trying that with Alpackas to reduce bandersnatching which was the partly why Alpacka introduced the elongated stern in 2011. The Nortik uses that idea too.
The Trekraft is made from double-sided TPU-coated nylon as opposed to whatever Alpacka uses – higher-spec’ polyester TPU? The ‘roller-press’ coating method Trekraft use is less expensive to manufacture but makes the Trekraft about 20% heavier than a similar-sized Alpacka (we’re talking ~500g here).
It’s going for €599 with tax and free shipping in the EU. Right now with the weak Euro for us Brits that’s a good deal.
Enough speculation and interpolation. Recently I tried out a Nortik Trekraft for a day, along with a few other alternatives to Alpacka packrafts. The green, early-production batch Trekraft I used (left) weighed 3331g on the water, so plus carry and air bags and big repair kit. That is 430g more than my customised Yak once I added extra floor patches and other bits, but subsequent versions are expected to weigh some 200g less..