Two years ago I purchased an inflatable kayak (Sea Eagle 330) and used it to paddle on some lakes during the Summers, but I also desired to get on some rivers. River trips require logistics, which usually works best with multiple people and vehicles. Wanting to go the solo route, it left me with the prospect of hiking my shuttle, the opposite of what I’d paddle. Knowing how heavy and awkward the Sea Eagle was to carry even over short distances, I needed to find a watercraft much lighter and that could compact down. That’s where I learned of packrafts, a different kind of inflatable watercraft. They are designed to be minimalistic in components so they can be as light and compacted as possible to make for transporting ease. After some searching I came across the popular Kokopelli brand of packrafts and made my choice of the Rogue Spraydeck packraft.
Kokopelli Rogue Spraydeck Packraft
In May of 2020 I purchased the 2019 Kokopelli Rogue Spraydeck packraft. I was seeking something that I could transport with ease but also take on rivers with light rapids, so this packraft felt like the perfect choice. It’s not as light and can’t handle as intense of rapids as other versions but those factors run contrary to each other. The Rogue Spraydeck offers a nice in between there, still weighing less than 10 pounds and handling up to class II rapids, while managing to support up to 300 pounds.
Kokopelli Rogue Spraydeck Packraft Specifications
- Recommended waterways- Lakes, Oceans, Flat Water, Calm Rivers – class 2
- Weight- packraft- 7 lb, 8 oz, plus extra 2 lbs of components
- Dimensions- Outer length 90 in, Inner length 57 in, Outer width- 37 in, Inner width- 15.5 in, Tube diameter- 12 in, Height- Front-17 in, Back-18 in
- Packsize- Folded- 12 x 9 x 6 in, Rolled- 16 x 12 in
- Load Capacity- 300 lbs
- Fabric type- 210 denier TPU Nylon (sides and floor)
- Floor material- DuPontTM Kevlar Aramid-Nylon blend
- Air chambers- 1 in rear (main pontoon)
- D-rings- 6 (4 front, 2 back)
For more specifications and information go to https://kokopellipackraft.com/product/rogue/
Initial Thoughts of the Rogue Spraydeck Packraft
Once I received my Rogue Spraydeck, I was immediately impressed. The package was small and light, while containing the packraft and all other components. The set up was easy to follow and the exact process I’d take for all future outings, with deflating and packing it of the same nature.
- Rogue (7 lb, 8 oz)
- Backband (6 oz)
- Inflatable seat (8 oz)
- Combining ring tube & Alpine Series: Ultralight Sprayskirt (11 oz)
- Inflation bag (3 oz)
- Inflation tube (2 oz)
- Compression straps- set of 2 (2 oz)
- Emergency repair kit (not in picture below)
Inflation comes first and is most of the process. The packraft and seat cushion need to be inflated and can be done interchangeably. An inflation bag is used for the packraft, which can be a bit of an arm workout as you are compressing trapped air by repeatedly rolling the bag until the air is gone (into the packraft). After a few outings though I got the hang of it and it would take me about 10 repetitions of trapping and compressing the air. Topping the packraft off then takes about another 10 deep breaths, with the seat cushion fewer breaths yet.
The rest of the process consists of attaching the seat cushion, backband, and sprayskirt. The seat cushion is one quick attachment, while the backband has four similar attachments. The sprayskirt is where it gets complicated or becomes a frustrating struggle. The combing tube is a pain to get completely covered by the packraft material on all sides without other sides popping out. The same goes then for the sprayskirt, trying to attach it by folding it under the combining tube. But the set up struggle leads to greater assurances that it will stay in place (thanks to how tightly spread it is) throughout your paddling.
I also found that I could eliminate some of this set up process based on the type of water I’d be paddling on.* If it was calm flat water, then I had no use for the sprayskirt (saving much time, energy, and frustration). And I even stopped using the backband on those outings, as I was just as comfortable (if not more) with sitting back up against the back side of the inner packraft. But when the time came that I’d be paddling some serious whitewater (class II+), I didn’t hesitate to come back to the full set up of the additional backband and combining tube-sprayskirt.
The steps below give a preview of the specific steps you’d take to set up your Rogue Spraydeck, which comes with detailed visual directions as well.
Inflate packraft (10-15 min)
- Lay and spread the packraft out
- Unscrew the valve cap, push down the valve and turn so it’s letting out air (locking in this position)
- Screw the end of the inflation bag onto the valve
- Trap air with the inflation bag and roll or compress it down into the packraft
- Continue to do this until it doesn’t allow you to
- Unscrew the inflation bag and immediately push down on the valve and turn it back to lock in a sealed position
- Use the inflation tube to finish off inflating the packraft (connecting to the valve and blowing air into it)
Inflate seat cushion (1-2 min)
- Unscrew the valve part to the inflatable seat so it’s open and letting out air
- Attach the inflation tube to the valve and blow into it until the seat is fully pumped up
- Turn the valve back to the closed sealed position and detach the valve tube
- Place the seat cushion into the packraft and attach it
*Attach backband (1-2 min)
- Place the backband inside the packraft at the end of the seat cushion
- Attach the backband straps on both sides (up by where your knees would be)
- Adjust the length of the straps to your intended seated position
- Attach the compression straps in the back to hold the backband in place (front & back on both sides now)
*Attach sprayskirt (5+ min)
- Disconnect the combing ring tube, reposition it to form one big loop, and reconnect it.
- Place it on the packraft and attach it at the four velcro straps (front, back, both sides)
- Fold the top inner packraft material over the combining tube until it is all completely covered and tightly forming an oval (this is a pain)
- Place the sprayskirt on top with the red loop in front
- Fold the edge of the sprayskirt under the combing tube until it is all completely covered (also a pain but less than the combining tube)
- When you are ready to paddle, sit inside the packraft and pull the sprayskirt straps over your shoulders
- Tighten the straps so the sprayskirt forms an angle to repel any water from entering or sitting on top
The first time I took my Rogue Spraydeck out was hours after getting it and running through the process of setting it up. I remember breezing through the set up until I got to the combining tube-sprayskirt part. I struggled to even get it started so I postponed learning how to actually set up the sprayskirt, being on a time crunch to get on a section of the Pike river in northeastern Wisconsin.
So this river trip left me with several initial impressions of the packraft. For starters, it was so light and compacted and made for such an easy hike of a shuttle from my takeout to put in. And then setting it up (for the second time then) went smooth and without issue (not attempting the sprayskirt this time). Once I was on the water then, I never felt like I was in jeopardy of tipping as the packraft is wide, flat, and stable. And it was just spacious enough to remain comfortable. I also noticed how effortlessly and efficiently it moved. It’s not the fastest in the open water but is ideal for possible quick maneuvering for rapids. And it runs rapids well, with no problem hitting ones (up to class IIs) head on and remaining stable for the occasional wave that awkwardly hits. But that’s where the sprayskirt would have come in handy, as the last stretch of rapids started getting me and inside the packraft more. It got to the point where I had to stop on separate occasions to repeatedly fill an empty bottle with the water of my packraft’s interior. Lesson learned there. I also got a sense of it’s durability as I had moments of scraping up against rocks/boulders and branches/logs. It held up very well here, but that would also be more of a test of time.
Overall, I was impressed with how the packraft handled it’s first test of the mix of calm and rapids stretches to this section of the Pike river. If anything, it showed what I need to personally improve on in my preparation and paddling performance to properly take advantage of the possible paddling adventures with the Rogue Spraydeck.
Packing Up and Storing
This last step is also the easiest. After detaching everything, deflating is just a matter of unscrewing and opening up the valve. It quickly deflates and then requires two folds before rolling the whole thing up (getting that last air out). And then the compression straps go around it and hold it in place. That’s the extent of it. Its light and compacted design also makes for storage just about anywhere (especially compared to a hardshell) and ease in transporting for future use.
Paddling Experiences with the Rogue Spraydeck Packraft
There are aspects to paddling with something like the Rogue Spraydeck that take time to get a sense of. The ones that stick out to me here are how it does with flat water compared to rapids and how it handles scraping, along with it’s general comfort.
I’ve taken this packraft out on flat water of small lakes and calm rivers since having it. It definitely isn’t designed for flat water paddling speed and efficiency. There is some swaying while paddling that you would see much less of with a kayak or canoe. And it doesn’t have the ideal shape for that nor how it positions on the water (wide, flat, and on top). But it still does well enough, especially with a solid river current and is easy to paddle from.
- Manuevering- This packraft is ideal for quick movements thanks to it’s light design that sits atop the water. I’ve had many last second adjustments in rapids that I couldn’t have pulled off in just about anything else.
- Stability- This packraft is about as stable as they come for something of its size. I’ve ran class II rapids and drops head on without a concern. Even the unpredictable angled or side waves (up to class IIs) that have hit me weren’t a match for it’s stable base.
- Staying Dry- This is just a matter of preparation. If you take the time to properly set up the sprayskirt, you’ll stay dry on the inside (aside from extreme rapids- class III+ that aren’t recommended with this packraft anyways). But I can attest to doing it the right way having made the mistakes of not before.
- Rocks and boulders- While larger rocks generate more concern in rapids, I find it the opposite for scraping. The boulders are what I’d prefer to scoot over if I had the choice. They are usually smoothed compared to beds of little rocks. Regardless, this packraft has held up well to both, showing no sign of wear and tear.
- Branches and logs- I’ve had countless encounters with downed trees in river trips with this packraft. It continues to hold up well to brushing against branches and having to scoot over logs. The main concern would be a stick poking into it, which I haven’t experienced, but think it would take a lot of force going into it to do damage.
- Posture- The backband doesn’t offer the greatest back support as it is naturally lowly positioned. If I don’t use it, I find that the back of the packraft’s interior offers enough support for a desired posture. It helps that my legs seem to be the perfect length to brace off the front of the packraft’s interior.
- Spacing- As I just mentioned, my legs are a perfect length to fit inside the packraft, so the real question is what it offers in it’s width and height. For me, I have just enough space to not feel crammed yet comfortable. I also switch it up at times and put my legs up on top of the packraft to get much more space.
Rogue Spraydeck Packraft After Repeated Use
After months of outings on lakes, calm rivers, and those with serious rapids, I have a better sense of how my Rogue Spraydeck packraft functions. Key things to me here are it’s usage and durability, but also the transitions and transporting.
After purchasing the Kokopelli Rogue Spraydeck packraft in May of 2020, I paddled over 300 miles on about 30 different rivers that year, plus a handful of lake outings. So this packraft has had a lot of usage already, speaking to how it has held up thus far.
As I talked about with scraping already, this packraft has experienced it’s fair share of branches and logs, rock and boulders, not to mention over a hundred hours on the water. So it shouldn’t look as good as it does. It’s resilient which I’m sure is in large part thanks to it’s design and makeup of materials. It’s definitely not your typical cheap and vulnerable inflatable.
With over 30 outings comes just as many of the repeated transitioning process of this packraft: packing, bringing to my vehicle, setting up, deflating, packing away, and taking out of my vehicle. So I should be greatly sick of this, but I’m not because the whole process is a breeze with how light, compacted, and easy to use the Rogue Spraydeck truly is.
The light and compacted design of this packraft makes for easy hikes for my river shuttles. I’m sure it would be great for biking with as well. The packraft and it’s components come to less than ten pounds and fit well in my backpack, with room for camping gear for possible multi-day river trips. I took one of these, an overnight on the Root river in Southeastern Minnesota, hiking 19 miles and paddling 26.4 miles. That wouldn’t have been possible without this packraft.
Would I recommend the Kokopelli Rogue Spraydeck Packraft?
If you’re seeking what I was, then I’d definitely recommend the Rogue Spraydeck. I got more than what I was hoping for, taking it on abundantly more river trips than I expected. That in large part was thanks to it’s ease in hiking with and taking out on the water. Hikes felt like walks with how light and compacted it was and I had comfort in it’s performance and durability on a range of waters. But if you’re more specifically about paddling flat water like lakes, then this may not be the best fit for you. The same goes for those seeking more extreme whitewater paddling experiences. Luckily though, there are other packrafts designed for those very purposes, which Kokopelli well represents.
Other Kokopelli Packrafts
Kokopelli has packraft models from 2020 and 2019 (speaking to how recent this packrafts thing is), but nonetheless have a collection of options. They break them down into three different categories or series, progressing from the Lake to the Adventure to the Whitewater series. The names alone create a picture of the different uses, but there are more specific differences to note. Check out their website for more information: https://kokopellipackraft.com/product-category/packrafts/
The Lake series is, as its advertised, meant for lakes or in general flat water paddling. They have five 2020 versions to choose from in this series, while most are close variations to typical inflatable kayaks. These are designed more for paddling efficiency than maximizing transporting capabilities and have heavier weights. Still, compared to other inflatable kayaks or hardshells they offer more travel ease, as is the nature of a packraft.
The Adventure series had exactly what I desired in a packraft. The ‘Great for these Activities’ section of the Kokopelli packrafts website sums it up (hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, hunting, and travel). The emphasis is more on the possibilities of adventure based on the extra lightweight and compacted nature of their design and less on the specific efficiency of flat water or whitewater paddling. Kokopelli has three 2020 versions in this series, one being the Rogue Spraydeck, which I purchased (the 2019 version).
The Whitewater series is, like the Lake series, intended for paddling efficiency, which happens to be very different with whitewater paddling. The three 2020 versions to this series are designed to handle intense (up to class III or IV) whitewater rapids. So as a result these packrafts come with added weight (compared to the Adventure series), differences in design, and aspects like self-bailing that you wouldn’t see elsewhere. They’re definitely worth the higher cost too if you’re seeking extreme whitewater paddling experiences, while still getting more backcountry transporting capabilities that a hardshell couldn’t offer.