We recently received news on the new 2018 Kokopelli lineup of inflatable packrafts.
For those unfamiliar with the term, “packrafts” are loosely defined as a an inflatable raft weighing under 10 lbs, that can easily be packed/rolled up, making them a great choice for accessing remote locations. While the sport originated in Alaska, the popularity is rapidly expanding globally.
Last year’s Kokopelli line-up consisted of four whitewater models – the Nirvana and Nirvana XL in self-bailing and spray deck versions – joined by three touring series: the Castaway, Castaway XL and a two-person version named the Twain. The two longer touring series models featured packrafts with removable tracking fins, making them better suited for calm water paddling. Also in 2017, the packrafts were reengineered with upgraded Leafield D7 military valves, replacing the original Boston valves. The D7 valve seal was designed to be self-cleaning, reducing leakage risks due to dirt contamination.
For 2018, Kokopelli adds two new models and continues to streamline, re-organize and upgrade the product line – which also resulted in price increases.
A new bottom hull construction makes the packrafts more rigid. By repositioning where the hull bottom attaches to the side chambers, the paddler sits a bit higher, and doesn’t sag down in the boat. This in turn improves the backband support (it is now positioned lower on the back), as well as making it easier to paddle over the side chambers. Together, the improvements eliminated the need for an inflatable floor, saving on weight.
The packraft sterns were redesigned with 30% more volume, providing greater buoyancy and a slightly lower waterline, eliminating water pooling issues as well as allowing more gear to be stored in the tizip versions.
All backbands and inflatable seats feature a beefed up construction with an easier attachment system.
Last season’s new French Gray color (more of a desaturated Army gray-green for those seeking less visiblity) returns for 2018. The color has been expanded to the Twain series.
The 2018 Whitewater series now consists of two models – the Nirvana Spraydeck and the Nirvana Self Bailer – each with tizip options. While there has been no change to the dimensional specifications or weights, the Nirvana Self Bailer is the only packraft with an inflatable floor (elevating the paddler above any water) which now boasts an integrated seat base and separate backband.
The Nirvana XL self-bailing whitewater series has been eliminated as the longer packrafts tend to wrap on rocks and get caught in holes. Instead, the Nirvana XL deck-version has been moved into the touring series as the Castaway XL with spray deck.
The Touring series – consisting of the Castaway, Castaway XL and Twain 2 – remain virtually unchanged as open models, except for the addition of the Castaway XL with Spray Deck. The two longer models – Castaway XL and Twain – are used predominantly on flatwater and feature removable tracking fins to aid in paddling performance. The shorter Castaway does not come with a fin, as many rafters still use the Castaway in river situations and don’t want the extra weight and bulk of the fin box. All four of these come with a tizip option. (AirKayaks update 2/22/18: Kokopelli will not be offering the open Castaway or Castaway XL in 2018. They will be offering the Castaway XL with Spray Deck -with and without tizip. Please note, we do have a supply of 2017 Castaways available for purchase at reduced pricing.)
Most changes are seen in the Adventure series. The Adventure series consists of the Hornet Lite and two new models – the Rogue and Rogue Light – which evolved from the prior Renegade. The 4.9 lb Hornet Lite weighs the least in the product line, making it very desirable for long distance hiking but with a performance trade off. While similar in size and dimensions to the Nirvana, the new Rogue features a thinner 210 denier hull material with beefed-up Kevlar reinforcement. The thinner denier material packs down smaller and weighs roughly 2 lbs less, making it more desirable for longer distances, while the Kevlar construction makes it nearly as durable as the Nirvana. The Rogue Lite falls in between the Rogue and the Hornet Lite.
Weights range from 4.9 to 13.8 lbs. All models come with an inflation “bag” weighing a mere 4 ounces, though they also can be pumped up using a traditional hand or foot pump with the proper adaptor. Prices are increasing 11% to 20% and now range from $595 to $1275 dependent upon the model and options, up from $525 to $1099.
The 2018 models are expected to be available in late February. Contact us if you want to get on the notification list. Interested in saving some money? A certain amount of 2017 Kokopelli packraft models are still available at pre-2018 pricing. Visit the Kokopelli Product Pages at http://www.AirKayaks.com.