Packrafts are all about compromise. Being able to have a boat that is light enough and small enough to carry in your rucksack all day means that something in the design has got to allow for this. That something is the material it’s made of.
Packrafts are made from lightweight material and this means they are prone to being punctured.
Don’t take this the wrong way. Our material is tough and durable, but at the end of the day, it’s still an inflatable.
This is true throughout the industry and spending £800+ on a top brand name packraft will not change this fact.
That said, packrafts tend to bounce off things rather than puncture instantly. This is because the air inside is at a pretty low pressure. This means that the fabric is able to give, absorbing a lot of impacts, rather than simply failing.
Should a puncture happen, it’s unlikely that you’ll sink immediately.
Remember trying to get the air out of your inflatable lilo when you were a kid at the beach? It would take quite some time to get all that air to pass through the small valve.
The same is true with packrafts, unless you have a huge rupture in your tubes, it’s going to take some time for all that air to escape. And usually you’ll have enough time to get safely to shore. However, you should always be prepared for the possibility that you may have to swim.
Should you need to repair a puncture or a leak, then it is not big a problem. Repairs should be be feared.
Temporary Field Repairs
If you are out and about and find yourself needing a quick instant fix, DuPont’s Tyvek Tape is perfect for the job.
You can purchase it from a load of places in the UK as it’s commonly used in the building trade.
It is extremely sticky and you will want to remove it as soon as you get home (unless you plan on leaving it as a permanent patch) and carry out the following steps.
Long Term Repairs at Home
Ensure the area around the puncture is clean and dry. Cut some of our heat sealable fabric large enough to cover your puncture with about a 1cm overlap around the edges. Make sure your new patch has nice curved corners so it doesn’t snag on anything. Place the patch over the puncture, place some baking paper over the patch and heat seal the patch to the tube with your sealing iron.