First Impressions

My Packlite hybrid raft/kayak has now arrived, so I thought that I would do a post on my first impressions of this new piece of exploring equipment that I’ve added to my collection.

First of all, anyone who reads this blog already knows that I’m well acquainted with Advanced Elements inflatable kayaks, as I’ve had my AdvancedFrame model for a few years now. So, I already knew that Advanced Elements makes a quality product. Although the Packlite is a completely new offering, it does share some resemblance to the single Firefly/Lagoon models.

It could be that Advanced Elements manufacturing can use some of the same equipment, and tooling, to build the Packlites, which would make it less expensive to bring this new product to market, rather than having to come up with new manufacturing equipment and processes. However, even though the shape of the Packlite in some ways mirrors that of the single Firefly/Lagoon kayaks, it’s quite a different animal, with a different purpose.

So, join me as I take a first look at this ultra-light addition to the Advanced Elements lineup.

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When I opened the plain cardboard shipping box, I found this box inside.

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I opened that box, and found this one item inside. So, everything that comes with the Packlite is inside this one bag.

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Here’s the other side of that bag. I should point out here also, that I was somewhat surprised at the size of the bag. For some reason, I had a picture in my mind of a somewhat smaller size. Not that it’s huge by any means, I’m just sayin’ (To be fair, since I made this post, I did check out the packed sizes of both the Alpackas, and the Flytepackers, and they both pack larger than the Packlite)

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I opened this bag up, and pulled out the contents. Here you can see the folded kayak, a small black bag, and some literature.

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Inside the black bag was a small plastic bag containing the repair kit, and a pump adapter for inflating the Packlite.

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I then unfolded the kayak on the floor. They only come in this one colour, but I’m okay with that. I usually prefer more earthy colours, like greens and browns, but I understand the need for visibility with these small boats out on the water.

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I was already familiar with the inflation process, and I used the pump that I have for my AdvancedFrame model to inflate the Packlite. The provided adapter, which was in with the repair kit, fits right onto the end of the pump hose, just like all the other adapters I use for my AdvancedFrame kayak. However, I will not be using this pump to inflate the Packlite when I start packing it in to remote lakes. This pump is too large, and cumbersome, so I already have a smaller pump specifically for the Packlite. There will be more information on that farther into this post.

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The underside of the Packlite has a thicker clear coating on it, as do the insides of the main tubes of the kayak. I have a feeling that I will be putting the durability of this coating to the test at some point, but this is not a review, it’s just a first look, and what my thoughts are based on what I see.

My reason for purchasing the Packlite was to be able to backpack it over longer distances, and into remote lakes, where I could not get my heavier AdvancedFrame model into. The AdvancedFrame is only 36lbs, but when you add all the other necessary gear, plus a couple of bottles of water, and some food, it all adds up, and pretty soon you find that you have over 60lbs to carry. That kind of weight can really wear on you over a number of kilometers, through rugged terrain.

Even with the Packlite, I will need that other gear also, so having the kayak weigh only 4lbs is a definite bonus. I suspect, all loaded up, I will be carrying more like 15 to 20lbs, which is certainly more doable.

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This is one of the main inflation valves, there are two of these located on the rear deck. At first I was a bit miffed at the fact that Advanced Elements had changed the valves from the threaded type that are on the other kayaks, including my AdvancedFrame. I mean, why change the valves, and in turn, require a new adapter for the new valves? However, I’m a bit more on board with the new valves, now that I’ve actually used them. It’s much easier to attach the adapter to the valve, with just a short push and twist, rather than trying to screw the more finely threaded adapter used for the other kayaks onto the valves. I always struggled a bit with getting the adapter attached to the inside valve on my AdvancedFrame.

By the way, that white button, in the middle of the valve, has two positions. The down position is for deflation of the kayak, and you cannot inflate the kayak while the white button is in the down position. The air will just come out, as fast as you put it in, when you remove the adapter. You need to push on that button to bring it to the up position, so that air will only go in, and not come out, in order to inflate the kayak.

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There aren’t that many reviews on this new Advanced Elements kayak, but the place where I bought mine, http://tinyurl.com/ktqwy5h, did have a review done by the business owner Holly Harris who, by the way, is one of the best people I’ve ever dealt with in any business. She mentioned in her review that, if any water does get into the Packlite, maybe from your feet, or something, it will run to the lowest point in the kayak, which, unfortunately for you, is right under your ass. She didn’t use those exact words, of course, but you get the idea.

Therefore I was already prepared, before the Packlite even arrived, with a minimal seat, which is made out of piece of foam exercise mat, that’s hinged in the middle, so that I can fold it up to a small size, covered in red towel material, which can be used for wiping down the kayak before I deflate it and put it back in the bag. I know, long sentence, but I had to complete my chain of thought.:-)

You can see that minimal seat in the above picture. This will give me more support, while keeping my caboose nice and dry.

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A closer look at the basic seat. I can use the rear deck for back support.

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The bag that the Packlite comes in, transforms into a deck bag that straps onto some D rings on the front and sides of the kayak. I can keep my pump in this bag, and maybe some other smaller stuff. My backpack will have to go on top of my outstretched legs. This is fine with me because I’ll need to get into my backpack while I’m out on the water. I will be keeping things like my camera equipment, my GPS and maps, and, as I mentioned before, my food and water in there.

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A closer look at the deck bag, on the front of the kayak.

There are a number of other modifications that I will be making on the Packlite before it hits the water, but I will do another post, specifically for those modifications. For now, I just wanted to give an overview of the ultra-lite Packlite, and some of my thoughts on it.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I won’t be using the big yellow pump that I use for my AdvancedFrame kayak, for the Packlite. I never take that big yellow pump with me, when I’m out in my AdvancedFrame, but I will have to take the pump with me when I backpack into remote lakes, so I don’t want it to be a large, cumbersome pump.

After a lot of searching, I finally decided on a smaller Intex pump, but it has a smaller diameter hose on it, and it doesn’t have the same fitting on the end of the pump that would allow me to directly attach the adapter that came with the Packlite. So, I had to come up with a fix for that situation, if I wanted to use the Intex pump on the Packlite.

What I did was, I cut the pump side end off the adapter provided with the Packlite like this;

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Then I cut a 1″ piece of ordinary garden hose;

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And glued it inside the longer piece of the adapter, which is the end that fits onto the main inflation valves of the Packlite.

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Like so. In this picture it’s just loosely fitted, not glued in yet. When I glued it in, I pushed it into the black tube almost even with the end.

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And here is the complete pump showing the Packlite adapter on the end of the hose. That adapter now just pushes on, and pulls off the end of the hose, and when it is off, the fitting on the Intex pump fits onto the single twist valve that the Packlite has for the floor of the kayak, allowing that to be pumped up with the Intex pump as well. What can I say? It works!

Anyway, my overall first impression is quite positive. The Packlite seems to be everything that they claim it to be. However, I’m not going to give it my seal of approval just yet. I do understand that my AdvancedFrame kayak and the Packlite are two different animals, apples and oranges, so to speak. And, I will not expect the Packlite to take on everything that my AdvancedFrame can, and continues to, take on. This is a specific purpose inflatable boat, and compromises had to be made in order to keep it as light as it is, while retaining enough durability to perform adequately in the conditions that it was designed for.

As I said, it’s not over yet, and it won’t be until I take this baby out for a ride. As usual, I won’t be treating it like a baby, but I will try to stay within reasonable bounds of it’s intended purpose. 🙂

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Packlite Owner on February 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

    That pump fitting might fit directly to the grey valve fitting without the intermediate adapter. Mine does.

    Reply

    • Yep, that’s quite possible. There are usually a number of ways to solve a problem. However, it’s all water under the kayak for me now, since I no longer have the Packlite. I’d be interested to hear how things are going with your Packlite though, and how you are using it.

      Reply

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