Down 'N Dirty: Alpacka Raft Forager Packraft
98%Overall Score
Durability98%
Versatility95%
Comfort100%
Features97%
Value100%

Water and humans have a long-running relationship.

For decades, we have harnessed its energy to power our society. For centuries, we have rerouted the paths water weaves across the landscape to sustain cultures and communities. And, in an era of seeking and rekindling our connection to wild places, we now float upon it, simply for the pure joy of it!

Now, thanks to some innovative design by Alpacka Raft, it is easier than ever to have a one-stop-vessel to float along a variety of types of water. Whether you’re looking for a flatwater boat for afternoon family fishing, or a backcountry whitewater expedition rig, the Forager is versatile and a lot of fun.

Highlighted as Alpacka Raft’s “largest and burliest packraft,” the Forager is a work horse without the bulk (weighing only 13lb 7oz). After paddling it on several outings, I can confirm that this raft is about as versatile as it comes, easily conquering everything from slow-moving water to whitewater rapids — and everything in between. From the local pond to the Alaskan bush, the Forager’s adaptability is amazing. Inflated, it can carry at least two people and plenty of gear for an overnight or extended trip (up to 500lbs). When deflated, it rolls up into an easily packable 23 x 9.5 inches. On the flip side, if you prefer paddling solo, it’s still light and maneuverable enough to pack and paddle on your own.

On the materials side, I appreciate that the raft didn’t sacrifice durability in light of its weight. Since Alpacka rafts are pretty much made-to-order – that’s right, they make all their rafts by hand in their Mancos, Colorado facility – you can choose from two great fabric options for the tube (their most rugged 400-Denier Vectran® or the standard 420-Denier Nylon). Whatever your choice, rigidity, durability and craftmanship are all considered to ensure a solid product that fits your needs.

When it comes to blowing up the Forager, pumps need not apply. Thanks to an ultralight inflation bag, the added weight of a pump is nonexistent. Simply connect the bag to the raft, shake some air in, close, twist, squeeze and repeat until fully inflated. This wasn’t a concept I experienced with things like my SUP or larger full-framed raft (which both require something like a K-pump), but it is one I now appreciate! It’s simple, incredibly light (the bag weighs mere ounces) and keeps the whole system ultra-packable.

Pros: I use everything from 12-foot fishing-frame-rigged rafts to canoes, kayaks and SUPs. Compared to all those rigs, the Forager is ultralight for its size, making it easy to pack down a trail and maneuver on water. We fit two adults and a toddler comfortably in the inflated raft and it allowed me to carry the gear I wanted to bring along for a day of fishing or floating. I also appreciate its adaptability. It’s equally comfortable and capable on the river as it is on flatwater lakes.

And did I mention ultra-packable? While it (not surprisingly) fit into the cargo box and backseat of our vehicle for use on the local lakes, the Forager can also be packed into the backcountry. Even though it is listed as the largest/burliest in Alpacka’s lineup, it can still fit into a larger capacity drybag or traditional backpacking pack – fulfilling you and your paddling partner’s need for a take-you-anywhere raft.

Cons: If you’re new to packrafting like I was, do your research on: 1.0 inflation bag, and 2.) best paddles to use. Watch the demonstration videos on their website and talk to the folks at Alpacka Raft. They can help make sure you get the best length and style paddle for the raft you select and the videos will have you itching to get on the water. Dial in your kit before setting out on a weekend trip and you’ll be much happier!

Where I Took it: I tested out the Forager on multiple high country lakes in southern Colorado and the Rio Grande.