Iceland, despite its name, seemed to be "hot" this year. We received numerous reports and requests for trips across the otherworldly island. Classic routes from south to north over glacier and volcanic dessert had been attempted.
|(Motor-) Bikerafting, weight is not that crucial, but space!|
This is a report by Jim from the UK, who contacted us to be kit out for a trip to Iceland by mountain and motorbike! The boat would spend a lot of time on the back of his motorbike, so it needed to be compact, but quickly ready when needed.
Jim is originally a hardshell kayaker, but Iceland has a lot of remote water ways, which means that driving heavy kayaks to lakes and rivers is difficult, instead you needed something lightweight that could be carried.
Naturally a packraft quickly came into consideration. He ended up choosing our basic package containing the Nortik Trekraft, Hiko backpack, Anfibio Basic 4p and a Secumar life jacket as an entry to the sport (similar available as a kit)
This is my first packraft and I was a bit apprehensive over how it would stand up to heavy use in comparison to a full-size kayak. I needn’t have worried, the packraft spent 3 weeks being carried over 1000 miles on the back of a motorbike. During that time, it carried me, a steel framed mountainbike and my camping kit down a mile of river in the Faroe Islands before scraping over glacier ice in the pools surrounding Eyjafjallajokull.
The boat is big enough to hold a 6ft adult and strap a mountainbike to the front, but remains small and light enough to be carried in a large backpack or pannier bag. I managed to get the inflation time down to around 5 minutes using the huge inflation bag and could unpack/repack the whole setup in under 15 minustes.
Surprisingly the hull design is quite speedy for an inflatable. The limited bow upturn provides a long water line for addtional hull speed. So especially the open Trekraft (without spraydeck) makes a reasonable flat water application.
Overall, the ability to carry a mountaibike across rivers and lakes is a huge bonus and gives you freedom to travel much further without finding bridges/crossings, the weight penalty is no more than a small tent but it adds a whole new dimension to a cycle tour.
Accessories (Paddle, PFD, Backpack)
As for the rest of the kit, the Hiko bag travelled everywhere with me, it remained completely water-tight in heavy rain and never tore or split – I've used it as a motorbike dry-bag several times since returning to England. The Moll Playa paddle, while noticeably a budget paddle, packed down small enough to fit in a backpack, did it's job and I even used it for the much tougher river sections in the full size kayak. As for the life jacket ... well, luckily I did not "need" it, fortunately there was no capsizeing in the icy water, but at 250g and 22€ it was no penalty either and last but not least made a comfy pillow!
Pimp your Trekraft (Tipps and Tricks)
In very icey water, you do feel the cold more than a traditional kayak, but I used a silver-foil blanket to insulate the inside of the raft and the supplied cushion makes it pretty comfy.
The interior space of the Trekraft is quite large (133cm), and it is only available in one size. For better body fit I used some baggage low in the front as foot brace.
The thing I was really missing on the Nortik Trekraft is proper backrest as well as some additional tie downs, especially on the stern of the boat to be carried. The Trekraft does not contain them originally. It works without, but really to be recommended to be added, which can be done DIY.
My outfit also missed a string to secure the main valve cap, so I had to drill a small hole in the cap and tie it down, but to my knowledge this has been sorted out with later productions. Otherwise it is easy to do. Better than being in the field without :)
However, I will 100% be planning more bikepacking/bikerafting trips with the kit in the future. And Iceland, well, sure to return soon.