BayLee 1 & 2 for River
River BayLee now with Self-Bailing Floor option.
This is not your average pack raft. River trips with packrafts have always involved numerous pull-outs along the way. You had to find somewhere to stop that’s not too slippery, get out, dump your boat, and get back at it.
Some of our customers asked us: “Why can’t you make a packraft with a self bailing floor, just like the big rafts?” Well, we did!
Comments from those who have plunged:
“I never had to stop”
“No let up, blasted every hole”
“With all those holes in the floor it seems to self bail instantly”
Why Skirt the Issue?
The BayLee 1 is still offered with the attached spray skirt, and the skirt does slow the water entry down. But for the extra 1 ½ lbs we suspect that most people will go for the freedom to run a whole river without dumping — with the self bailing floor.
Video by Alaska Raft & Kayak
For a time, we made packrafts a different way: with many taped seams, using very light weight cloth. This type of construction was great for glueing heavier rubber materials. However, there were problems. The boats did not hold air for very long and sometimes durability was compromised.
We wanted to make light weight rafts and row boats for “Yachties” as well as for river running. To achieve this, we knew we would have to develop a system with a much higher level of air retention, of up to a week. To do this, we completely redesigned our manufacturing process. We now RF weld the two separate air holding sides. Each side is then taped on the inside and outside and then completely tested for leaks before the two sides are joined. The taping reinforces the seams to such an extent that they are as strong as the cloth that they reinforce. This process is much more time consuming than the old way, but the results are impressive: Great air holding, extreme durability. Just like our kayaks.
The old light weight valves that had been used, degraded over time in UV, causing the PVC threads to become soft and potentially fail. These have been replaced with proven Halkey Roberts boat valves that are completely dependable.
Our BayLee row boats are made of the highest quality, urethane-coated, high-tenacity nylon. This fabric is beefier than other fabrics, with stronger coatings. This is required to enhance air retention and durability. Urethane fabric is far tougher and has greater longevity than vinyl or PVC. Urethane is as robust as the heavy, hypalon inflatables, but is lighter in weight. The nylon fabric base of the lightest weight BayLee is a 210 denier (LW = Light Weight tube fabric). The heavier weight fabric is a 420 denier nylon base (HW = Heavy Weight tube fabric). Each has multiple coats of urethane for air retention and abrasion resistance. The properties of a urethane coated fabric are comparable to a hypalon rubber, but with significant weight savings. Urethane is superior to PVC, as it will not become brittle and degrade over time.
The floor fabric is almost identical to the hull fabric used on our kayaks — an 840 denier urethane coated nylon. Tough and very abrasion resistant. This fabric has been well-proven on our kayaks, and tested in white water rivers and the beaches of the West Coast. The same weight floor fabric is used on both the LW (light weight) and HW (heavy weight) models.
Our river boat is a little longer. This is very important. In the old packrafts, you sit at the very stern of the boat. Bad trim. Packrafters learn to lean as far forward as possible to avoid backflips. But this is an unnecessary struggle. By making the boat just a little bit longer, you move your centre of balance forward. The improvement in performance is dramatic. When you enter a hole, all of your energy can be devoted to going forward. Forget about back flips.
Our boat has been given some shape at the water line: pointed ends. Kayaks and canoes have pointed ends because it works. Better steering. Easier to avoid those rocks up ahead and hit that hole.