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  • Sarah

When Packrafting Becomes a Reality

I just sealed the deal on a new Kokopelli Rogue Lite packraft - I can hardly contain my excitement as I embark on a whole new genre of outdoor adventure. Packrafting has been blowing up in popularity over the last several years; I'm even seeing a dramatic uptick in packrafting activity on social media over the past year or so. Following more and more people involved in the activity has been the precise reason I'm currently, eagerly awaiting my raft's arrival.


Living in south Texas affords me some excellent options for breaking in this inflatable kayak. The Lite version I chose is rated from flat water up to class I rapids...I have been on whitewater rafting trips before, but I personally have little experience with rapids, so I chose this model to just get me started on swifter water paddlin'.

For me, making decisions is a big deal - I take my sweet time and weigh all of the conceivable pros/cons. I believe I made a great choice with the Rogue Lite, but I was toying with the idea of instead getting the Aire Tributary Tomcat kayak, which is a bulkier, yet very stable and stout, inflatable kayak meant for bigger water and more gear/people/pets. I would love to some day get the Tomcat (Solo or Tandem), but you can't beat the portability of the Rogue Lite. I won't have access to much whitewater in the near future, so Kokopelli's little boat will do the trick!

I had friends in town, and we headed to Town/Lady Bird Lake, where paddlers hit the water in big - I mean huge - numbers. Town Lake is beautiful and accessible. This was my inaugural trip on my Kokopelli Rogue Lite.

What I should've done before getting to the put-in was try out inflating this bad boy. The kayak comes with a nylon bag that attaches to the boat - in quick-ish motions, you fill the bag with air and squeeze it so that it inflates, bit by bit, the boat. Once you can't fill the boat with any more air, you use the included big plastic tube/straw to fill the kayak the rest of the way. There it is!

Next, I inflated the kayak seat, strapped it in, and then tossed the kayak into the water. I hopped in, friends got on their paddle boards, and we were off!

The first thing I noticed about this kayak is how it tracks or how it reacts with every paddle stroke. This boat is incredibly light and compact, so the tracking is poor. Every paddle stroke I took, the boat took a 45-90 degree turn. So while it was amazing to have it on the water, I wasn't able to power-stroke and cover ground quickly like I'm able to do with a paddle board or a heftier kayak.

We had a great time on the water. It was a typical, blazing-hot summer day in Austin, so the cold water was a huge relief. When we decided to head back, Kristen offered to tow me back to the dock so I wouldn't slow them down. I've included a video of the final cruise. The takeaway from this adventure is to be more patient with this craft and to take it on water that has a stronger current!

Since this post, I've taken the kayak to Taos, New Mexico, where we tested her on more swiftly moving water - it was a success! By this point, I ordered the little Feather Pump that Kokopelli offers; it helps a lot with inflation time, and it weighs basically nothing, as its name implies. One note about putting the boat in water (and this applies to all inflatables): inflate fully and then place the boat in the water, let sit for a few minutes, and the inflate a bit more. Cold water will condense the air in your boat, so an extra pump or so will bring it back to life.

Just hanging out at the John Dunn bridge in Taos, NM. This is such a beautiful and fun spot - the water is calm and manageable, hot springs are around the corner, and climbing routes line the canyon walls. Can't beat this place.

I'll be getting this little craft back out on the water before long - there's a trip to San Marcos, Texas planned in a few weeks, so out the Rogue Lite will come! As I practice more and get familiar with this boat, the true adventures will really begin.

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