Best way of packing the AF for an expedition

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Stefan
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:32 am
Location: Netherlands

Best way of packing the AF for an expedition

Post by Stefan » Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:38 am

Hey people, I'm Stefa, 29 years old and live in the south of The Netherlands. I've recently become very interested in adventure travel when I was riding my motorbike towards the North Cape. I love Scandinavia, especially above Oslo. The nature is breathtaking and you're really on your own.

Next year, Will travel solo with my AF kayak from Narvik, Norway towards Oulu. I became interested in this journey through this video: http://vimeo.com/36356414
Now, just for the sake of it. I don't want to follow in their footsteps, but they pretty much found the perfect route to kayak across Scandinavia. You can do it a bit more North, along the border of Norway/Sweden and Finland, but it looks a lot more boring.

I also want to film my complete journey and I have pretty much everything planned. I know this sounds crazy, but I call it adventure.

Why this post? I love the AF allready, and currently test it with the dropstitched floor. As I understand it, a combination of the DS floor and the BB is not recommended. I haven't tried it yet, but on the river, the DS give great handling and comfort, but it feels slow. Even when really trying to push. Waves by big barges are no problem at all. I feel very confident in it, so it's perfect.

Now, the biggest problem I have is for this journey is the weight distribution. I don't want to pack a lot on the front, I don't want to block my seight. So that leaves the back. Apart from myself (65kg) and the kayak, I intend to bring along a maximum of 20kg of stuff. Backpack, sleeping bag, tent, food, cloths, etc. There is barely any room behind the seat on the bottom of the floor, so the most will be at the back on top of te kayak. I will try this anyway in a safe environment, but if I can get any tips beforehand, it will be greatly appreciated.

In short, is there an ideal weight ratio considering stability and safety as a priority and speed second?

Thanks in advance!

NaturalPath
Posts: 152
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:39 am

Post by NaturalPath » Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:37 am

Hello Stefan; I haven't watched all that video yet, but the terrain seems quite similar to here in Canada. Looks like quite an undertaking, but quite an adventure too.

I've done expeditions into the wilderness up here in Northern Ontario, Canada, so I have some ideas that might be helpful to you. First of all, the set up of the kayak. It is my opinion that the DS floor is not required in this kayak. In fact, it is also my opinion that the harder you make the floor, the more likely you are to create the possibility of damage to the thin skin of the hull. This also goes for the backbone. They do have their advantages, but you have to weigh those advantages against the disadvantages and decide what's best for you.

As far as weight distribution goes. You need to keep the heavier stuff inside the kayak. In my case, I got one of those soft-sided cooler bags, with a hard plastic insert, to carry most of my food and I put it behind the seat. It fits in there real snug and also supports any weight I choose to put on top of the back deck.

On the back deck, I put my backpack, with the sleeping bag facing my back, so that I could use it as a backrest, and it worked perfectly for that purpose. Of course, you will have to use some type of waterproof cover for the backpack.

I don't know how tall you are, but in my case I'm about 5'6'' and there is room in front of my feet inside the kayak. Here I put my supply of clean drinking water. I also boil water to use along the way, but that takes time and effort, so I do carry a certain amount of bottled water with me. I was also able to shove my sleeping pad in there too. You have to use every available pocket of space in this kayak to do a longer trip.

On the front deck, like you say, you don't want any high items blocking your view. I put my small tent up there and some other smaller, but longer items that wouldn't fit inside the kayak.

On the floor, in between my legs, I have a small backpack, which contains all my electronic gear, including my camera equipment. All these items in this back pack are waterproofed in some way, most of the time double waterproofed. I will also keep a bottle of water in this position too, so that it's handy for taking a drink whenever I want. Also, by shoving this small backpack underneath the front deck, it lifts the deck somewhat, allowing any water that lands on the deck to roll off to the sides, and provides some support for any items you might have on the front deck.

I'm guessing that you will be fully deflating your kayak at certain times in this trip, so you will probably need to bring a pump capable of this task. I don't usually carry a full size pump on my trips. I use a very compact bicycle pump that fits in the mesh pocket on the back of my seat. This pump would not be ideal for fully inflating the kayak. I use it just to top up the main tubes, should I need to let some air out because of heat expansion.

Once loaded, I've found the kayak to be quite stable. You can feel the extra weight just a bit, but it causes no other problems. If you want, I can provide you with some pictures to further explain what my setup looks like.

Stefan
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:32 am
Location: Netherlands

Post by Stefan » Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:49 pm

NaturalPath wrote:Hello Stefan; I haven't watched all that video yet, but the terrain seems quite similar to here in Canada. Looks like quite an undertaking, but quite an adventure too.

I've done expeditions into the wilderness up here in Northern Ontario, Canada, so I have some ideas that might be helpful to you. First of all, the set up of the kayak. It is my opinion that the DS floor is not required in this kayak. In fact, it is also my opinion that the harder you make the floor, the more likely you are to create the possibility of damage to the thin skin of the hull. This also goes for the backbone. They do have their advantages, but you have to weigh those advantages against the disadvantages and decide what's best for you.
Thanks for your reply NP. I appreciate it.

I agree with your points. I like the DS floor because it also gives me a lot more confidence with this inflatable. I haven't tried the backbone, but it's very bulky in my opinion. I have to catch a plane with a large backpack and also the huge duffle bag. I'm thinking of making a bigger bag with backpack straps somehow.
As far as weight distribution goes. You need to keep the heavier stuff inside the kayak. In my case, I got one of those soft-sided cooler bags, with a hard plastic insert, to carry most of my food and I put it behind the seat. It fits in there real snug and also supports any weight I choose to put on top of the back deck.
I know, the lower the point of gravity, the more stable. I wish there could fit just a little more behind the seat. If i put my shoes, the pump and the duffle bag there, i really need to push in order to squeeze something more in. But again, I just need to get organized better at this point.
On the back deck, I put my backpack, with the sleeping bag facing my back, so that I could use it as a backrest, and it worked perfectly for that purpose. Of course, you will have to use some type of waterproof cover for the backpack.

I don't know how tall you are, but in my case I'm about 5'6'' and there is room in front of my feet inside the kayak. Here I put my supply of clean drinking water. I also boil water to use along the way, but that takes time and effort, so I do carry a certain amount of bottled water with me. I was also able to shove my sleeping pad in there too. You have to use every available pocket of space in this kayak to do a longer trip.
I'm about 175 cm's (5'9") and my toes touch the tube in the front. I'hope i can get some space by sitting more upright, or i can try to put something under my legs to create a little more room.
On the front deck, like you say, you don't want any high items blocking your view. I put my small tent up there and some other smaller, but longer items that wouldn't fit inside the kayak.

On the floor, in between my legs, I have a small backpack, which contains all my electronic gear, including my camera equipment. All these items in this back pack are waterproofed in some way, most of the time double waterproofed. I will also keep a bottle of water in this position too, so that it's handy for taking a drink whenever I want. Also, by shoving this small backpack underneath the front deck, it lifts the deck somewhat, allowing any water that lands on the deck to roll off to the sides, and provides some support for any items you might have on the front deck.
Good tips, especially that the water can't get in.
I'm guessing that you will be fully deflating your kayak at certain times in this trip, so you will probably need to bring a pump capable of this task. I don't usually carry a full size pump on my trips. I use a very compact bicycle pump that fits in the mesh pocket on the back of my seat. This pump would not be ideal for fully inflating the kayak. I use it just to top up the main tubes, should I need to let some air out because of heat expansion.
Yes, when i do the mountain pass, i will deflate it and carry it as a backpack somehow. Lifting 17kg of kayak ánd a backpack in a windy place is a little bit too much fun ;)
I have a relative small handpump, but it's still bulky. But i need a good pump so i have to experiment a little bit.
Once loaded, I've found the kayak to be quite stable. You can feel the extra weight just a bit, but it causes no other problems. If you want, I can provide you with some pictures to further explain what my setup looks like.
I would like to see those pictures :) Especially a fully packed kayak. How safely (fast) can you still exit the kayak?

Well, thanks for your tips. It really got me thinking about at least the BB. The DS floor is handy anyway, doesn't take up much space and i don't have to fully inflate it. The main reason why i probably won't end up with the BB is that it is simply too bulky. And it isn't very light either. Maybe i can come up with a better backbone.

But thanks for the packing tips, I really need to test that extensively. It will probably force me to really cut the things I can take with me.

What actually irritates me a lot is that the keg is made from plastic. I have the kayak somewhat inflated on the floor, and it bends the skeg. It's also very annoying when putting the kayak back into the kayak. A simple screwsystem with an aluminium keg would have been way better.

I'll try to work a few hours on the kayak saturday and hopefully post some pictures.

NaturalPath
Posts: 152
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:39 am

Post by NaturalPath » Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:22 am

"I agree with your points. I like the DS floor because it also gives me a lot more confidence with this inflatable. I haven't tried the backbone, but it's very bulky in my opinion. I have to catch a plane with a large backpack and also the huge duffle bag. I'm thinking of making a bigger bag with backpack straps somehow."

I'd like to know what it is about the DS floor that gives you more confidence? It is possible that you are less likely to over-inflate a DS floor because they can withstand much more pressure than the regular floor. Is there anything else that you feel makes the DS floor a better choice?

"I know, the lower the point of gravity, the more stable. I wish there could fit just a little more behind the seat. If i put my shoes, the pump and the duffle bag there, i really need to push in order to squeeze something more in. But again, I just need to get organized better at this point."

Yep, there is limited space behind the seat, you just have to try and get the best use from that space. I'll send you a picture of the bag I use for that space.

"I'm about 175 cm's (5'9") and my toes touch the tube in the front. I'hope i can get some space by sitting more upright, or i can try to put something under my legs to create a little more room."

Sometimes there doesn't seem to be all that many advantages to being short, but this is certainly one of them. Still, if you could find some space up in that area to get something with a little weight to it in there, I'm sure that it might even help to level out the weight in the kayak lengthwise. You don't want all of the weight from the middle to the back.


"Good tips, especially that the water can't get in."

If you're going to be paddling in really rough waters, the spray skirt might be a good investment. I never use one but I don't paddle in huge bodies of water that get exceptionally rough.

"Yes, when i do the mountain pass, i will deflate it and carry it as a backpack somehow. Lifting 17kg of kayak ánd a backpack in a windy place is a little bit too much fun Wink
I have a relative small handpump, but it's still bulky. But i need a good pump so i have to experiment a little bit."

This part is going to be a real challenge. What you really need is an easier method of transporting this gear over the portages. I did eventually watch that whole video and some of those portages are very long. Ideally, some kind of fold up cart, or set of wheels would be nice to have, but it would also be pretty handy if you could fashion something along the way to use. A couple of longer wooden poles lashed together, so that you could drag your gear behind you might be better than trying to carry that load.


"I would like to see those pictures Smile Especially a fully packed kayak. How safely (fast) can you still exit the kayak?"

Pictures of my fully packed kayak can be seen on my blog. I will send you the exact page, just in case you get lost because my blog is quite large. Exiting the kayak in an emergency situation might be a bit difficult while fully loaded. The kayak is very stable in the water but you do have to be prepared for anything. I can't say that I've ever even tested this possibility, I just don't paddle in conditions that might cause this to happen. I'm retired, so I'm not on any timetable and I can wait out rough conditions. However, the way that I had my kayak loaded, I'm confident that I could get out should the need arise. You will need to determine this for yourself.

"The DS floor is handy anyway, doesn't take up much space and i don't have to fully inflate it."

This is actually a good point, and I never even considered that you don't have to fully inflate a DS floor. The only reason I wouldn't add one to my kayak is the extra cost.

"It will probably force me to really cut the things I can take with me."

On a longer trip, food is always an important factor. I noticed in the video that those guys stopped along the way to resupply. Is this your intention?

"What actually irritates me a lot is that the keg is made from plastic."

Yep, I hear what you're saying here Stefan. I also had some problems with the plastic skeg in colder weather. If the weather is warm, the skeg will straighten out pretty fast but, in colder weather, the skeg might stay off center for quite some time, which causes the kayak to pull to one side. Some inflatables do have a removable skeg, and I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to both types.

NaturalPath
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Post by NaturalPath » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:16 am

Stefan;

Here is a picture of the bag I use underneath the rear deck, behind the seat. It's a real snug fit, so you have to lift the edge of the rear deck and shove the bag in there. It's dimensions are 13" long, 8" wide, and just under 10" deep. Once in there, there is room left on either side for some smaller stuff, maybe even a clamshell pump.

There is an upper compartment, which is smaller and has easy access from the top, and there is a larger lower compartment.

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PJohanson
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Post by PJohanson » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:52 pm

I found the Expedition size a good kayak for packing for a river trip. It's heavier than the AdvancedFrame, but I strap the folded kayak to a luggage roller rather than carrying it. I liked not having anything on the deck except my throw bag of rope! All my gear fit inside it.
I seriously recommend loading the kayak as if for your trip, then tipping over in safe conditions to see how it feels to get out. Maybe have a friend standing by in case you need help. You'd hate to have an emergency and then find yourself tangled in gear... Safety is something we can practise!

himmelsyna
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Post by himmelsyna » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:40 am

As for drinking water, that's no big problem. You can drink the water as it is most places out in the wilderness. I only bring bottled water when I padle lakes surrounded by farms.

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PJohanson
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drinking water

Post by PJohanson » Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:54 pm

Maybe in isolated parts of Norway you can drink water in most places in the wilderness, himmelsyna! :) But in most of North America, it's smart to boil water from streams and lakes before you drink it. A Katadyn filter is another alternative. Filters and boiling take care of germs from humans and animals in the water.
During my recent trip on the Red Deer River, I had to carry water. There are cattle grazing along much of the river shore, so water from the river and streams would need to be boiled -- but the water here is full of mineral salts, so it's not drinkable anyway. Filters wouldn't help.

himmelsyna
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Post by himmelsyna » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:39 am

Yeah, we're privileged up here in our remote corner of the world. In the forests, in the hills, or in the mountains - if there's water, you can drink it. I've been doing this for the last 40+ years, and have never had any problems.

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PJohanson
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Post by PJohanson » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:39 am

You lucky Norwegian! You get to drink snowmelt running off a mountaintop or a glacier. There aren't even a lot of beavers and bears roaming around.
Meanwhile, it's been two generations since my grandfather left Sweden for western Canada. Here we are lucky, too! When my friends and family go hiking and kayaking and camping, we get to see pine martens and raccoons, otters and badgers, squirrels and bears. (Check out my paddle group's website at kayakyak.blogspot.ca to see photos!)
Even when there are no humans and cattle around to put germs in the water, there are likely to be muskrats in the river and marmots above the treeline. So we boil even the freshest-looking water, and carry water.

himmelsyna
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Post by himmelsyna » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:32 pm

Canada is "the big dream" for many of us - the nature, the wildlife, and the lakes and rivers. I wasn't old when I first read "The Land of Feast and Famine" by Helge Ingstad. It's a book about his 4 years as a trapper in Canada about 90 years back. I would really recommend it! You can find it on Amazon. Since then Canada has been my Utopia :)

Beavers we have plenty of. In the hills of southern Norway were my family's cottage is, there are beavers everywhere there is water, and the same is the situation here where I live. A number of times I've had the joy of swimming with a beaver in the summer night - they're curious and keep swimming along with you. It's magic.

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PJohanson
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Post by PJohanson » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:49 pm

Swimming with beavers? Um, are beavers in Scandinavia that different from beavers in North America? Forty-pound rats?
Here in western Canada beavers team up and kill dogs. One beaver (Castor canadensis) will tease a dog into following it into a river or lake, and the other will come up from underneath to drag the dog underwater by its tail.
My kayaking group paddles with a few harbour seals coming up near our boats, and that's magic too! but we don't swim with them.

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