Over the last month or so I've been piecing together some new gear to allow me to take to the water when out backpacking. I've wanted a packraft for a number of years and with my birthday just around the corner I finally crumbled and raided my savings. After much deliberation I ordered an MRS Microraft which arrived last week, I was hoping to get out the day before this trip but the weather had other ideas. I'd checked the forecast and it looked a little better for the following day so I figured I could wait one more night.
I was glad I waited the extra day, blue skies and sunshine :-) A short drive North out of York followed by an even shorter walk landed me at a lovely little section of the River Ouse. I'd recce'd this spot a couple of weeks beforehand and thought it'd be a suitable place to have a first paddle. It's a nice wide section of the Ouse devoid of any real current with an easy put-in and not far from the car should I end up taking a swim.
|Zimmerbuilt Quickstep pack|
To give a sense of how small the raft packs down the pack in the above photo is approx 28l in volume and easily took the raft, paddle, PFD, inflation bag, jacket and a few other bits and bobs. Taking a little time and folding it neatly it'll squish down pretty small and probably takes up about the same space as a two person tent. On my scales the raft inc seat, backrest and spray deck weighs 2,850g which isn't too bad.
Inflating the raft was simple enough using the supplied nylon bag, it took me around 5 good bag fulls then just needed topping up with the manual inflation valve. I've read online about tempering the packraft (topping up again once the internal air has had a chance to cool down) but this didn't seem to be necessary today.
Once inflated it was time to hit the water! I was slightly nervous about getting in and out having only done so inside at home as practice but didn't have any real trouble. I didn't take the spray deck with me which in hindsight was a bit of an error, it's been a long time since I've done any kayaking and initially I was dripping water in to the raft with every stroke. I soon got the hang of it though and had a great couple of hours messing around on the water, remaining mostly dry.
I won't say much about the packraft until I've used it some more but it seemed pretty comfortable and manoeuvred surprisingly easily, more importantly it was great fun! I've already planned a few routes in both the Lake District and Scotland so hopefully I'll manage to get out later in the month for my first proper backpack with the raft. Good times ahead!