Pack and Roll: The AIRE BAKraft

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The reports are in: The AIRE Hybrid BAKraft has your back when what it comes to getting you out in the boonies — and most importantly, back.

First off, it’s made by AIRE, so you know it’s bomber, with all their whitewater expertise behind it. Secondly, this beefiness comes in at a paltry 8.5 lbs. — less than half of a case of beer (cans, of course). In fact, made with a Vectran fabric shell and a urethane AIREcell, AIRE calls its BAKraft Hybrid the lightest, self-bailing packraft of its kind.

Two highlights stand out: its great air retention, due to its two layers of fabric, and simplified in-field repairs, due to the inner AIREcell bladder.

To AIRE is human: The AIRE BAKraft

Its 7-foot length keeps it nimble, yet with room for gear, while a 39-inch beam offers stability in the big stuff. We also liked its 12.5-inch tube size — a nice blend of beef and backpackability — as well as a bit of rocker (10 inches in both the bow and stern) to deflect waves and help it spin on a single stroke.

We didn’t test it out on anything super gnar; just the Class II-III upper Elk River in Colorado, where it handled heavenly, as well as the canyonlands flats of Ruby-Horsethief Canyon along the Utah border. There, it carried gear well, tracked straight (as well, at least, as any pack raft) and was a hit among everyone from kids to seasoned kayakers.

A section of calm before the cascading storm on the Little Kern.
(Photos courtesy Tom Horn/AIRE)

For its wherewithal on harder whitewater, look no further than Tom Horn’s low-water descent of California’s Little Kern Gorge this summer, which drops 1,200 feet in six miles. On what they believe is the section’s first documented packraft descent, they used it to show that “a fairly committing and serious wilderness endeavor can be fun too!” The trip took two days (they thought it would take one), and while they expected to walk/canyoneer 90% of it they used the BAKraft to actually paddle 90% of it, plopping and dropping waterfall after waterfall. And they even paddled out through 25 miles of more, low-water Class V on the Forks of the Kern afterward. Watch his video here: https://youtu.be/UgoBBkUhwDk

What’s that tell us? We here out in Colorado need to step up our game.

It comes withseat, inflation bag, top-off hand pump, thigh straps, and repair kit for $1,549. Info: www.aire.com

BAKRaft Specs

Length: 7’
Width: 39”
Weight: 8.5 lbs
Tube Diameter: 12.5”
Bow/Stern Rise: 10”

 

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