Packlite Mods

As I did with my first Advanced Elements kayak, I’ve made some modifications to the Packlite, to suit my own personal preferences, and also to enhance the durability, since I will be using this inflatable boat to explore some really rugged areas.

Just to be clear, so as not to step, unintentionally, on any toes, I’m not doing this because I feel that the Packlite is not already well designed for its intended purpose. I’m doing it because I expect to be going beyond its intended purpose.

First of all, I knew that I would want some extra hull protection in areas that will constantly be coming in contact with solid objects, such as shoreline, rocks and logs, shallow bottom, etc. So, to that end I added some minimal nylon strapping mostly under the front hull, but also a bit on the back hull too.


Here’s the front under side of the hull. You can see that I’ve added the nylon strapping where the hull will come in contact with the shoreline when I’m landing. I’m not one to jump out in two feet of water to protect my hull. Besides, I’m always wearing my hiking boots, because I know that, as soon as I get out, I will be in some rugged country, so I need them.

I made a similar modification on the rear underside of the hull, but not as much.


So, here’s a shot of the whole underside of the kayak, as it is now;


You’ll also notice that I’ve incorporate a loop on the tip of the bow into the hull protection modification.


This loop will act as a tow point, since I’m intending to tow the Packlite behind my AdvancedFrame kayak to be used as a cargo trailer. I didn’t want to use that D ring, just in front of the handle, because it is not intended to handle the stresses that towing might exert on the smaller pad that it’s mounted to. So, I incorporated the loop so that its pulling forces would be spread over a larger area of the hull.

Will this work? Well, I don’t really know, since I’ve never done anything like this before. I guess I’ll find out 🙂

I also added the same type of loop on the back of my AdvancedFrame kayak, like so;


These two loops will be joined by a removable chain link, so there will be no risk of the Packlite breaking free at the worst possible moment.


I’m trying to keep this connection as tight as possible, so that the whole setup acts like one long 20 foot articulated kayak, and to keep the towing resistance down to a minimum.

The beauty of this setup is that, when we find a camping spot for the night, I can take the Packlite off, and have my much more maneuverable AdvancedFrame to do some exploring. Also, I will have the 4 pound Packlite to explore areas I cannot reach with my AdvancedFrame kayak.

The best of both worlds, is the way I see it. I was actually thinking about getting an Advanced Elements Expedition model, to handle the camping gear that would not fit in my AdvancedFrame, but I like this setup even better because it’s more versatile.

So, there are a couple more mods that I made to the Packlite as well. Like I’ve mentioned already, I do wear my hiking boots in my inflatable boats everywhere I go, so I wanted to make sure that the inflatable floors were protected, in case I should step in with some sharp rocks stuck in the treads of my boots. In my AdvancedFrame, I put a piece of thin indoor/outdoor carpeting over the floor, and I’ve been using that for a couple of years now. It has worked out better than I expected, and I’m completely satisfied with that mod.

However, I don’t want the extra weight and bulk that the carpeting has, so I had to come up with another way to protect the inflatable floor of the Packlite. The floor in my AdvancedFrame is removable, and replaceable, should it get damaged beyond repair, but the Packitle floor is built right into the whole boat, so there’s no replacing the floor. If it can’t be patched, then you are SOL.

What I came up with is a piece of heavy-duty canvas that I was able to salvage from a large BBQ cover that I already had, but didn’t use anymore. This canvas cover is also coated with a waterproof coating on one side. I cut it to size and installed it over the floor in the Packlite.


Now we’re talking! This rugged little beast is really starting to take shape. You can also see the minimal seat that I made in this picture. It’s just a piece of that 1/2″ thick exercise mat type foam. It’s a fairly rigid, and dense foam that gives some support, as well as keeping my posterior dry, should any water get into the boat. I hinged the seat in the middle, so that it can fold up small enough to fit in my backpack, and I covered it with red towel material, which I can use to wipe down the Packlite before putting it back in the bag.

I do understand that the purpose of the Packlite is to keep weight down, as much as possible. But, these mods that I’ve made do not add that much weight, and I feel that the trade-off between the weight added, and the increased durability, comfort, and protection is worth it to me, given the way I will be using this kayak.

One other mod I might play around with at some point, is to add a removable tracking fin. However, this mod is easier said than done. The tracking fin needs a certain amount of sideways stability in order to do it’s job, and it won’t be easy to make something that provides that stability, since the material that the Packlite is made of is very flexible. (Just after I put this post up, I came up with a brilliant idea for a removable tracking fin, so stay tuned)

Anyway, I’m happy so far with the mods that I have made, and the big test will be actually taking the Packlite out for its first adventure into a remote lake. I already know where I’m going to take it, I just need to wait for the ice to clear off the lakes. I will be reviewing both the Packlite, and the mods that I’ve made in another post soon.

Also, I’d like to mention the pump mods that I have made. Since the large yellow pump I have for my AdvancedFrame kayak is too large and cumbersome to carry with me when I’m using just the Packlite on remote lakes, I needed a smaller pump that would fit in my backpack. I did find such a pump made by Intex, but the fitting on the hose of the Intex pump would not allow me to attach the adapter for the Packlite without some modifications.

Here’s what I ended up doing;


I cut the adapter that came with the Packlite like this.


I cut a 1″ long piece of ordinary garden hose.


And I glued it into the end of the adapter hose. Actually, it’s just loose inside the hose in this picture. When I glued it, I pushed it almost all the way inside the black flex hose.


Now the adapter just pushes onto the end of the Intex pump hose. The fitting that comes on the end of the Intex pump hose already works for the twist valve on the Packlite’s floor, The adapter is only for the two larger spring valves, which are located on the rear deck of the Packlite.

Now I had a smaller pump that would work with the Packlite, but I also wanted to be able to use this smaller pump on my AdvancedFrame too, since I never take that large yellow pump with me in the AdvancedFrame but, with the Intex pump being much smaller, I could take it with me, if I could also modify the adapter, which is, again, a different adapter than the Packlite.

So, I did, basically, the same thing with the AdvancedFrame adapter. I cut the 1″ piece of ordinary garden hose, and I cut a piece of that black flex tube, that I had lying around, and voila!, I had myself a small pump that would work on both the AdvancedFrame and the Packlite. Here are both adapters;


And here they are with the pump;


I’ll still be using the big Yellow pump to inflate the AdvancedFrame, because it does the job faster, but I will be taking the smaller Intex pump with me, in case a situation arises where I need to add air, or re-inflate the kayak.

Okay, so I think I’ve had enough modifying for a while. Let’s get some paddling done!


I have discovered a way to make the Intex pumps work much better. If anyone is interested in this mod, shoot me an email through my blog here, and I’ll send you the info.

I have now put those details on my blog. They can be found here;

2 responses to this post.

  1. What is your guess on the Packlite’s usability for a currently 245-lb person? Not long legs, but big caboose. I’ll be starting out with day kayaking in lakes, but look forward to taking it backpacking to high mtn. lakes. I don’t anticipate needing to bring more gear along than sweatshirt, lunch, perhaps a fishing pole. Thanks!


    • Hello Jessica;

      The Packlite is a somewhat limited inflatable boat, which is meant for easy, flat water paddling, and would not be ideal for heavier weights. That’s not say that it wouldn’t work for you, but you would certainly be very limited in both the conditions you could paddle in, and also how much you could take with you. What I mean is, you may easily find yourself in rougher water conditions than the Packlite could handle.

      Compared to the other more robust AE kayak models, the Packlite is a very stripped down boat, mainly to reduce weight, so that it is easy to carry into remote lakes, which are not accessible via vehicle. Even at my 150lbs, I don’t feel as secure in the Packlite as I do in my AdvancedFrame, which is much more like a hard shell kayak. In fact, I prefer to call the Packlite a hybrid kayak/raft, because it fits that description better.

      My brother is a pretty heavy guy, and he won’t even try my kayaks because he doesn’t feel that they would work for him, and I can understand that. However, I know that there are some heavier people that do use these kayaks, but they need to be set up accordingly, like having a backbone for added support, or a drop-stitch floor. These things are not available for the Packlite.

      To be completely honest, I would say that the Packlite could be something you could work towards, if remote lake paddling is what you really want to do but you may have to start with a more substantial model, which is not quite as packable, but would be more useable right now.

      So, my suggestion for you would be to get either an AdvancedFrame, like mine, only with a drop-stitch floor, or an Expedition, with a drop-stitch floor, or a backbone. I would prefer the drop-stitch floor over the backbone. They will be much more useful to you, although they are not easily carried over longer distances.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s