Bruce C., a frequent contributor to the DIY Packraft forum and host of the popular DIY Packraft-making classes at the Folk School in Fairbanks, Alaska, has just finished this beautiful Voyageur 2-person DIY Packraft, and I just had to share these pictures he sent of its maiden voyage! Notice the snow in the background – Bruce had to clear a path through the shore ice before launching!
Bruce built this one from the Voyageur plans, and he used 210D fabric for the tubes and 1000D for the floor – total weight is just 8 1/4 pounds, or about 3.75 kg. It looks great with the airtight zipper and lots of attachment points installed (check out Bruce’s post in the Forum about his improved tie-down design).
Here’s Bruce’s report, with minor editing by me:
The tandem is a very stable, wide craft. I was most comfortable sitting on about 10″ of seat cushions. I can understand why so many packrafters seek higher seats to improve their paddle stroke. Sitting deeper in the raft requires reaching out and over the tubes for each stroke, which is a lot more work! The raft is so light it is hard to compare to any other craft. There is no inertia, no delay in a paddle correction or turn, it is extremely responsive.
The raft felt stiff, but the cold water made it difficult to keep the raft fully inflated. In the second photo one can see the flex in the raft tube when I slide forward onto my knees and lean into the front of the raft.
I added a foam saddle to paddle it like a canoe. I could see adding a stiff plastic sheet under the seat (like an old Dagger solo canoe seat) to protect my knees before I considered paddling whitewater and risk hitting my knees on a rock. Otherwise it paddles like a short 9′ solo canoe. (I would put the zipper on the stern if I thought I was ever going to canoe the craft, as it is too easy to bump during a cross stroke.
Construction time: I spent more than two weeks building outfitting parts and attaching them to the panels. Assembling the raft only took about 5 days. I would modify the location of some of the outfitting if I build a second raft – it was really hard to estimate where the attachment points would be before it was inflated.
The heavy duty floor has the feel of the black hypalon NRS uses on the bottoms of their rafts except it is slicker, less grabby on rocks, (a good thing). The tandem is 11 feet long and 3′ wide, with an inside length of 6′. It weighs in at 8 1/4 lbs. on my old postal scale. The sides are parallel and the ends are symmetric.
To do: I will add an inflatable floor to further stiffen the raft, plus inflatable seats, both of which will tie into tabs I fashioned along the floor. Depending on how the floor works out, I will consider making it into a self bailing raft.
Thanks for sending that, Bruce!
Voyageur 2-Person DIY Packraft kits are available for pre-order now, and I plan to start shipping them in November.