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Friday, October 11, 2013

Klymit LiteWater Dinghy Pack Raft

The LiteWater Dinghy is a gamechanger. It is an advanced pack raft that will beckon adventurers toward new horizons. Designed with input from pro kayakers and packrafters, Klymit’s first entry into the paddle sports market has been made, and made with vigor. Featuring an advanced boat shape that tracks water and an ergonomic seating position that allows comfortable, upright, and well supported paddling position, the LWD paddles well and feels good on the water. Weighing in at 35 oz and packing down to 4x9 inches, you will forget you had it in your pack. Alpine lakes and rivers are now part of your backcountry playground, stay dry canyoneering, go camp on an untouched island….with the LWD…why not?


The Mad Science behind the Klymit LWD

We were talking a little Type 2 and a little PD one day, and Josh from Ruta Locura gave us a challenge. Can we re-create and ultralight pack raft similar to that of the venerated Curtis design model, something that weighs and packs little, but adds a very large slice of adventure for a paddler or fisherman. Needless to say, we were intrigued. The gauntlet had been thrown down, and after a little geometry (Yes, Mrs. Damron we really did use math in our professional life, you were right!) we had an oval boat shape that mimicked traditional designs but could be manufactured in 2D. It was an adequate shape, that gave you good flotation, but the ergonomics, paddling position, and water trackability were not optimal. Now that we knew we could accomplish the classic template, it became time to do what we do, articulate it, use shapes to focus air pressure where we want it to go, and see if we could make it better.

The shape of the LWD is the resultant composite of the careful targeting of problems with classic lightweight pack raft designs: We try to observe problems as challenges, and these are the way we came to the solutions:

Problems:


  1. Round designs evenly distribute pressure, yet pressure is focused on the center of the paddler.

  2. This leads to a sag point by the user, and buoyancy point away from the user, resulting in backflips in hydraulics.

  3. Paddling position is low and awkward. It is difficult to use your favorite Kayak paddle.

  4. In most rafts you can’t sit upright, you lay back and it leads to increased back fatigue.

  5. The inner shapes are not ergonomic, and can be uncomfortable.

  6. Water tracking is non-existent in oval rafts.

Solutions:

A huge, shaped section moves the center of buoyancy directly under the paddler.
The shape pushes directly into your lower lumbar, elevating your paddling position and supporting your lower back for comfortable paddling over long periods of time. The angles of the sides are specific to allowing you a strong paddle stroke with your favorite kayak paddle. There are even notches shaped specific for your J strokes and control strokes, to easily rudder, surf, and stay where you want in the water.
The angles of the LWD are specific to allow you to use your favorite kayak paddle that you know and love, webbed gloves, or stay tuned as we are working on a trekking pole solution.
The paddling position is surprisingly supportive and stable, and very upright. It is perfect for a good, strong stroke….or a nice, long cast.
The last several iterations of this product were built entirely focused on interior ergonomics. We revised the position over and over so that you feel “locked in”.
The pointed shape and centered weight help this pack raft track water surprisingly well. In no way does this track like a kayak, but it does track better than classic oval rafts.

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