One of the cooler outdoor innovations to really take off into its own sport over the past two decades or so, the packraft opens up new adventure opportunities, packing down to backpack size so it can easily carry to and from the water's edge. Denver's Kokopelli Packraft is one of the specialists in packraft design, and it's currently launching a super-light, compact new raft. The all-new Rogue series raft packs down to paper towel roll size, bikes to the water on your handlebars, and inflates into a functional vessel for navigating lakes and rivers.
Packrafts aren't a new idea, with roots that extend back centuries, but they have quickly exploded in popularity and become more of a recognizable mainstay of outdoor recreation. They can travel farther and easier than other water vessels, allowing users to access waterways that would be difficult, or even impossible, to navigate otherwise. They're also popular in creating all kinds of hybrid adventures, like bikepack-rafting, canyoneer packrafting and ski tour packrafting. Packraft paddlers can string together land and water miles to create multi-discipline trips that might have been unthinkable before.
With the Rogue, Kokopelli is seeking to expand that type of barrier-breaking adventure planning even further. The Denver-based company has been at the packraft game for just over five years now and is attempting to combine lightweight construction and durability like it's never done before. It describes the Rogue series raft as an "ultra-lightweight, one-person inflatable raft that is exceptionally durable, packs small, and opens doors that were once locked by terrain and the limitations of gear," adding, "when your path seems to dead-end into water, the Rogue is the way." The new packraft is designed to take on both calm water and flowing rivers.
At first we zeroed in on the "ultra-lightweight" part of the Rogue series' description, believing it to be Kokopelli's lightest raft. However, the company already has a raft that's every bit as light – the 4.9-lb (2.2-kg) Hornet-lite. Kokopelli explains that while the weight and inflated size are the same for the Hornet-lite and Rogue-lite, the Rogue packs significantly smaller, has enhanced durability, and includes improved features, such as four D-ring attachment points (versus two on the Hornet) and a Leafield D7 inflation valve.
Key to the Rogue's combination of low weight, packability and durability is its Kevlar-reinforced floor. As with applications from bulletproof vests to supercar construction, Kevlar is prized here for its superior strength-to-weight ratio, and Kokopelli also says it makes the floor easier to pack than the 210-denier, double-coated nylon floor on models like the Hornet-lite.
The Rogue's sidewalls are built from 210-denier TPU-coated nylon, and double-tape seam reinforcements add to the vessel's integrity. A single air chamber keeps the raft light and simple, providing for fast fill-ups with the included inflation bag.
The 85 x 37-in (216 x 94-cm) Rogue-lite is the lighter of the two Rogue series packrafts, weighing in at an estimated 4.9 lb (2.2 kg). It rolls down to a 12 x 9 x 6-in (30 x 23 x 15-cm) bundle that's small enough to carry easily in a backpack or strap to a bicycle's handlebars. Four D-ring attachment points help with gear tie-down.
The larger 90 x 37-in (229 x 94-cm) Rogue includes a full seat with kayak-style back band, weighing in at 7.5 lb (3.4 kg). It packs down to the same compact bundle size as the Rogue-lite and includes six D-rings for lashing gear. The Rogue-lite can carry 325 lb (147 kg) worth of paddler and gear, while the larger Rogue ups weight capacity to 400 lb (181 kg).
Kokopelli is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to get the Rogue models off the ground and into the water. The lowest-priced Rogue-lite pledge levels have already been snapped up, but the Lite package with packraft, inflatable seat cushion, inflation bag and repair kit is still available at the US$725 level, $100 off the estimated retail. The standard Rogue package with packraft, inflatable seat, kayak-style back band, inflation bag, repair kit and spraydeck is available at the $900 pledge level, $150 off estimated retail. Deliveries will begin in April, assuming everything moves according to plan – but so far, so good, as the Kickstarter campaign has shot more than 50 percent above its $30,000 goal with 19 days left to go.
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