John ‘Climber’, one of Fat-bike,com’s friends decided it would be a great idea to get people who are packraft curious together in North Wales, UK.
Luckily for me the venue was just a 1 hour drive away which was on the shores of Bala lake. However the attraction of trying out packrafts attracted people from all over the UK and from different outdoor interests. From bikepackers to walkers and canoeists they came from far and wide.
John’s hard work attracted packrafts from around Europe and all of them were available to try out during the weekend.
A fine selection of Alpacka packrafts were on show thanks to Andy Toop from Backcountry.scot https://backcountry.scot/?fbclid=IwAR0P1_Q0ndhPqKN_mCVmIGJRmc-tLvjNWzN4lOg28k3Xj9cxDcPg0V63l6c who travelled to Wales from Aviemore in Scotland. Andy offers guiding trips and courses in the wild parts of Scotland.
Tim Shore from Longshore International https://www.longshoreinternational.com/ also had a selection of packrafts available.
Jason Taylor from Tirio https://www.tirio.co.uk/ who are based in North Wales and offer tuition and trips had their fleet of Kokpelli packrafts for demoing. Jason and his team also offered some specific tuition during the weekend.
Sven Schellin and ThomasButzmann from Packrafting.de https://www.packrafting.de/ travelled from Germany with their MRS and Anfibio packrafts. They also offered some fine packrafting advice and also how to fix any unwanted problems.
You can’t go tubeless with a packraft!
I’d never been on a packraft before so I was interested to give it a go, however I’m not the most confident of people when it comes to being on the water. After an indecisive morning I was given some positive vibes from Andy Toop that the packrafts are stable boats compared to a canoe I’d been in in the past. So I had to partake in the activities.
So it was time for newbies and enthusiasts to inflate and head onto the water.
Some went straight on the water and others with bikes headed out for a short ride to a place where we could head onto the water.
I have to admit that at first i was a little nervous but those nerves were soon put to one side as the facts what people said to me were spot on, packrafts are so stable even with a fat bike strapped to the front.
The water was fairly calm though with just a little swell with the side winds blowing across the lake. Everyone who was on a packraft for the first time were just like me, suprised at how stable they were and we were all smiling!
There was plenty going on with people coming and going with different packrafts to try out. The weather was kind despite the wind as we had some fine sunshine and warmer than usual temperatures.
After a fine day of trying out the different vessels it was time to relax with the evenings entertainment. We had Gavin Stovin from Tirio give the crowd a fine display of bread making over a fire pit with plenty of samples to try out. He then gave us a fine tuition on the art of beer and how they are brewed with plenty of samples on offer.
Following the beer taste was Stuart Wright from BearBonesBikePacking https://bearbonesbikepacking.co.uk/ showing the crowd some fine skills when it come to rigging a tarp and offering some experience for the weight conscious packrafter.
With the beers flowing the weekend was going great, very socialable with new friends made.
The evening was then taken up from Dave Barter who had just completed the Tour Divide with a fine finishing time giving us a slideshow and entertaining talk about his experiences. Why not check out his extended film from this years divide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKLnQgHtJQE&feature=youtu.be
We then finished the evening with Sven from Packrafting.de show us his film from packrafting in Montenegro. They concluded the evening with a raffle with plenty of prizes being handed out to the winning tickets, nice work!
And just one last photo thanks to Simeon Rackmam of one of the packrafts on the second day doing some hardcore white water, stable eh?
Thanks again to John, you’ve got me thinking now….