The German company Anfibio Packrafting brings a new line of ultralight boats to market. We put the Alpha XC to the test.
70 miles into Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, we drop the bikes on the shores of the San Juan River in Mexican Hat. Dave, my partner on this funhog adventure, reaches between the drop bars of his bike, unclips a bag and unfurls a bright yellow raft. Bike lashed to the bow 30 minutes later, Dave pushes off the shore and is swallowed up by the massive canyon walls.
Packrafts have earned the ranks as legitimate wilderness tools, with Alpacka Raft clearly guiding the way. Other companies are taking note, however, bringing new alternatives to market.
This year German company Anfibio Packrafting introduced two new options: the Delta MX (a single plus raft) and the Alpha XC (an ultralight single). GearJunkie tested the Alpha XC on a bikerafting trip on Utah’s San Juan river.
The German-based company, Anfibio Packrafting Store, sells multiple packraft brands, including Kokopelli, Supai, and Nortik (Klepper folding kayaks). The Packrafting Store also develops its own line of packrafts, sold under the name MRS and Anfibio.
The company caters to a primarily European market, but interested in the light materials, we got our hands on the Alpha XC prototype.
Anfibio Alpha XC
- Weight: 3 lbs.
- Materials: 210den Urethan-nylon walls; 420den Urethan-nylon floor
- Seat: 210D Nylon (removable)
- Outside length: 210 cm (83 inches)
- Outside width: 84 cm (33 inches)
- Cockpit length:120 cm (47 inches)
- Cockpit width: 34 cm (13 inches)
- Tube diameter: 25 cm (9.8 inches)
- Color: Sunflower yellow
- Tie downs: 3 on the bow; 2 on the stern
- Packed size: 20cm x 30cm (8 x 12 inches)
- Included: Inflation bag, repair kit, stuff sack, seat, strap
- Made in: China
- More Info/Buy now: $447
Anfibio Alpha XC Review
The Alpha XC shipped with the boat, stuff sack, removable seat, and inflation bag. The lightweight materials used on the boat were immediately noticeable. Unlike my nine-year-old Alpacka Yak, the 210den / 420den materials were light and supple. It rolled into a minimal package.
Packraft Inflation And Deflation
The boat uses a multifunctional, one-way valve for both inflation and deflation. You see these everywhere nowadays, most often with inflatable pads. An integrated rubber valve leaf prevents air from slipping back out.
You can fine-tune the boat’s air pressure by simply blowing through the valve into the boat’s hull. To inflate the boat, simply couple the inflation sack to the inflation valve, shake the sack open and roll air into the boat. It takes two to three minutes to fully inflate the boat. To deflate the boat, the entire valve twists off, releasing the air. The valve was easy to use and functioned flawlessly.
Packraft Tie Downs
The boat comes racked with five tie downs: three on the bow and two on the stern. This is a judicious number of tie downs for such a lightweight boat. That said, they are grouped tight to lash small objects (packs and such). I promptly added two more to lash down the bike. To learn how to add your own tie downs, surf over to NRS for instructions.
Anfibio made a special point to mention I would be using an early sample run and the welding wasn’t up to quality standards. Sure enough, some welds to the floor were not completely glued down to the side wall. It was minimal and they assured me this would be addressed in the final run. This didn’t affect our paddle.
On the Water
Dave, our test paddler, is no small guy. Farm fed on Iowa steaks and midwest grain, Dave runs at 6’2″, 210lb. All cylinders firing, he’s strong as an ox.
The Alpha XC has a minimal cockpit: 13 inches wide by 47 inches long. The boat’s width fit Dave like a rubber glove. Hips pressed to the side, this actually gave the boat a secure feeling … a connectivity to the boat and the water. The length is longer than most boats in this class, which also provided generous room for longer legs.
With a bike on the bow and pack on the stern, neither the boat’s buoyancy or maneuverability were compromised. We paddled class I and some mild class II water and the boat buoyed cleanly above the riffles and its tear-dropped shape maneuvered quickly around the debris.
Vs. The Competition
At Anfibio Packrafting, one brand missing from the lineup is Alpacka. And the Anfibio Alpha XC is clearly positioned as a competitor to Alpacka’s satchel boat, the Scout.
At the time of our hands-on review, the Alpha XC was sleeker than the Scout in every way: lighter materials, more tie downs, better valve. But Alpacka just released the new 2017 Scout, including lighter materials (210den wall / 400den floor), and a similar new valve, dropping the weight from one pound to 2lb 8oz.
The Alpha XC’s cockpit is narrower (13 inches vs. Alpackas 16 inches) but longer (47 inches vs. Alpacka’s 41 inches), and offers more tie downs (5 vs 2). The floor in the Alpha is also slightly more robust at 420den (vs. Alpacka’s 400den).
With Alpacka’s in-house manufacturing and taking shipping into account, it makes the choice easier for stateside buyers.
But for paddlers in Europe looking to buy a lightweight raft or those who simply want more length in a lightweight package, the Alpha XC is a reliable and enjoyable boat suitable for wilderness paddling.