The Packraft Store in Germany has collaborated in design and production with MRS (whose Microraft we tested last year) to bring you the slim-tubed and sporty Alligator 2S. Suited to white water action, the fixed deck has a secure coaming for your spray skirt, which is included, along with fully adjustable three-point thigh braces (right) to help you edge on the pile (or whatever it is these crazy whitewater cats get up to ;-). Lashings of lashing points too which are always useful for more sedate touring.
The overall dimensions make it two inches slimmer and three inches longer than my close-fitting Alpacka Yak, which should add up to speedy response. Inside it’s an inch narrower at the hips and three inches longer. Shorties may need some fore or aft padding. Buoyancy is rated at 140kg. Cost is €1149 with free shipping in the EU. More details at the PK Store.
The 2016 range of US-branded Kokopelli packrafts will be in the UK in a few weeks. Comparable in specs and intended use with the MRS above is the decked Nirvana model with upgraded skirt and deck as well as less width than last year’s model. There are four D-rings inside for thigh braces and you can get an optional TiZip (right) to store stuff inside, like Alpacka’s clever Cargo Fly system (scroll down the link). Kokopelli rafts have six external lashing points and are built on two chambers which adds a little weight but also some residual buoyancy in case of a flat far from shore. They also use what look like one-way Boston valves (right; as found on inexpensive Slackrafts) which looks like it eliminates the need for a top-up twist valve. As you can see I am up to my old interpolation tricks here.
Kokopelli also have a self-bailing Nirvana in the works (left): same as the decked version but with a removable inflatable floor panel that you sit on to keep you out of the swill, and with draining holes in the actual floor. On the open boat you can see how the seat doesn’t lean against the back of the boat, but is positioned with tabs: great for adjustment but could stress the tabs unless there’s padding behind. We tested the Aire Bakraft self-bailer too, but didn’t really get into gnarly enough water. On both these boats, because you sit above the water line on the inflatable panel/floor, thigh braces become more necessary to aid control in tippy waters.
More details here with the UK distributor here and who may supply a test boat later. Both places are discounting some 2015 models and the Packrafting Store will also be selling some 2016 Kokopellis (left).