Go further, have more fun ...
There are two kinds of water-lovers; those who live near the ocean, and those who don't. For those of us who don't, we make our beaches where we find them. Sometimes it's the shores of a lake with a little island and warm water. Sometimes it's a lazy river that meanders through beautiful scenery, sometimes it's a creek capped with whitewater. Where ever your beach, Backpack Barge 2.0 is about to become as trusted to you as your old cooler and your best beach buddies. Your outdoor adventures get a little more fun with Backpack Barge, when you aren't tied down to a heavy boat, or have inner tubes that pop in the sticker bushes, or inflatables that always seem to leak at the wrong time. Wouldn't it be fun to bring your cooler, your chairs, your hammock, your camping gear or maybe even a folding bike with you down that lazy river or onto that island?
And then when you get there, Backpack Barge isn't done working its butt off for you, boss! It wants to keep going ... fill it halfway with water and use it as a wash basin for your bike or your dog. Or use the optional Backpack Barge SEA Panel kit to solar warm water, solar disinfect, or even desalinate ocean water into super-pure drinking water! Unstrap it and prop it into a little sun shade, or flip it upside down and keep your dirty grill or other gear out of the rain and out of your tent. Use it as a wet-well for the fish you catch or for your live bait. Even fill it with ice cold brews for an astonishing 33 gallon open cooler so your guests don't have to dig deep for their can.
The perfection of a lightweight folding boat ...
There is an old saying with boats; the two best days are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.
Why? Because boats are usually big, they're expensive to repair, expensive to store, and if you don't use them enough, they can be a lot of work. But Backpack Barge 2.0 tucks away into the back of your closet, it fits under your airplane seat, quickly repair damage with the included Field Repair Kit. If you have a big boat, you can even stash it inside your boat's locker and grab it when you need an extra cargo carrier for your tender or if you want to bring back a lot of water or groceries to a mooring. That's the beauty of a lightweight folding boat, it goes where you go ... head into town on that rafting trip, or fold it up and toss your tiny tender over your shoulder when you dock at a new port and don't know if your regular tender will be safe. Backpack Barge 2.0 will stay in your life longer than other boats because it's so darned polite ... it doesn't take up storage space, and it doesn't need expensive maintenance. Ride it hard, put it away wet, and it will be waiting for you with a smile the next time you want a little fun.
Vegetate or Shreditate?
Some of us like to float down a lazy river; after work we want to let the river take us where it may. The river is like a jacuzzi on a conveyer belt, we float, relax, have a drink or a puff, and watch the world go by with our friends.
But some of use see that wild stretch of the same river, and all we want to do is shred that water like a Barracuda. We see that lake and we think of paddling it hard to build muscle. If you workout, you know how ripped you can get with real water resistance because water presents a nonlinear resistance curve ... your muscles can always push the water a little harder, but your joints take a lot less of the abuse. The Backpack Barge 2.0 can get you jacked because it's a symmetrical rower, and when you have lots of interesting things to see while you row, you'll work your muscles harder and longer without realizing it. Just add a pair of inexpensive French oars to your Backpack Barge 2.0 and use the built-in oar locks to row hard, burn fat and build muscle. Go bigger on the oars to present more resistance. Or grab the hand-paddles and use your arms to row. Surfers rip their upper bodies and cores because they have to paddle out to the waves if they want to have their fun. They have to work for the wave. Sp when you go Steamship Willie on your Backpack Barge, your upper body and your core will ache like you never imagined, but recovery is fast because your joints aren't abused.
Built like a Rhino ...
Sometimes its seems like the people who make inflatable boats, tubes and pack rafts don't take them out of the test pools. In real life, your favorite stream is often infested with sharp rocks or sticker bushes on the banks. Your favorite lake will often have a few pieces of broken glass mixed in with the shore gravel, and the sand on your favorite beach can wear through even a high-quality inflatable. But Backpack Barge 2.0 isn't an inflatable. It's a folder; it gets rigidity from the structure, not from air pressure, the skin is never under tension like with an inflatable. It's also made from incredibly durable two-wall plastic, and it has a unique double hull system, where the outer hull protects the inner hull from rocks, sharp edges and abrasion. There are no seams below the waterline in Backpack Barge 2.0, only reinforced folds so we have eliminated the main source of leaks from inferior designs. The hardware and fittings on Backpack Barge 2.0 have been designed to last, we use Stainless Steel Marine rivets, grommets and ties, we use UV-stabilized polycarbonate for buckles and pivots, and we use super-strong stretch-free straps for tensioning and carrying. (How rugged are these boats? I still sometimes paddle Hull #1, the very first production Backpack Barge 1.0 from years ago. I've forgotten that boat in the blazing heat in the back of my truck, I've left it buried in the snow over a few weeks last winter because I forgot to bring it inside. But that boat has never held it against me. It's dirty, with the scars of true adventure, but it's still a navigable, reliable folding boat.)
Backpack Barge Expedition, for when the water runs rougher
Backpack Barge Expedition is what happened when our resident Thrill Scientist tried out his Backpack Barge 2.0 and then found out we left the R&D lab unlocked overnight. I think I saw him gargle with Red Bull once, but he denies it.
Here's what happened ... we had Backpack Barge ready for Kickstarter Launch earlier this year, when our lab's thrill junkie took out one of the 1.0 models and managed to trash it on rocks within a day of its life. He decided to rejigger the gunnel system for the 2.0 modification to make it stronger. He was still in the lab when we closed up for the night, but the fridge was stocked full of Bing Cherry Energy Drinks. He went through a good number of those, and by morning he had worked up key changes in the manufacturing of the boat. That wasn't great for the bottom line, because we had to change tooling, but it was the best thing possible for our overall thrill index, because he designed the Backpack Barge Expedition, which adds a tethering reinforcement floor, flotation anchoring points, and a spray skirt with integrated skirt attachment. If the Backpack Barge 2.0 is for floating or rowing down a lazy river, or working your muscles, then Backpack Barge Expedition is the caffeine-fueled version of that, and it will let you take on Class II rapids without needing to organize pick-up and drop-offs, since you can just catch a ride, a bus, or a rideshare back to your headwaters. When you take a Backpack Barge Expedition into Class I and Class II waters, you'll need to add optional flotation. But you can also take out the floor reinforcement and spray skirt and enjoy your Expedition in regular 2.0 mode whenever you want a slightly lighter boat. If you back a 2.0 now, you can also upgrade by adding the Expedition Kit later on.
Backpack Barge Expedition is made for water up to Class II, or for fairly gentle ocean swells and inland rowing. It can handle rougher ocean water if you upgrade the flotation to the DIY foam blocks, which are about $25 in parts. The 40-liter dry-bag flotation also works well if you need more portability.
When the fun and games are over ...
Backpack Barge 2.0 is a folding boat designed for fun and adventure, but it has a serious side too. This folding boat is designed as a life-saving technology for disaster events in Developing Nations. It was designed from the water-up to fit the needs of people in emergency situations, for when they need to Get Out of Dodge or just get downriver. Backpack Barge can float an adult and a child to safety in post-event flatwater, but it was also designed to work with SEA Panel brand solar desalination technology, to turn ocean water or contaminated flood water into super-pure drinking water. It was designed to catch rain, store water, and solar-heat water for emergencies. We build these in Colorado because we need tight quality control of our manufacturing since you may need to rely on Backpack Barge 2.0 in an emergency. We use mostly American-made components so that we can source them fast and reliable, and we don't cheap out with poorly-sourced crap. Our plastics are designed to shrug off UV-damage, all key metal components are marine stainless and all folds are reinforced. Even if you stash it in a closet for months or longer, you'll know that it's ready to go for you when you need it.
The technology behind the Backpack Barge 2.0
I've been paddling folding kayaks for about 30 years. I grew up in Colorado, not too far from where we make Backpack Barge boats. I moved to NYC after high school. While my friends were hitting the nightclubs and the bars there, all I wanted to do was get in the East River, or the Hudson, or New York Harbor, paddle around and explore the waterfront. I can't explain it, but paddling and rowing small boats is in my blood. And NYC has some of the best waterfronts and forgotten islands. They were things that I never saw in Colorado, and I couldn't get enough of them. Once I got my first folding kayak, a canvas and aluminum model from Folbot, I was hooked. I paddled with friends, we went for miles. When we didn't time the tides well enough, we found ourselves rafted against forgotten bulkheads in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, we sat for hours until the tide changed and we had a chance to paddle to our take-out and get home. Those nights, those days, paddling through schools of fish with their fish bodies boiling against the bottom of the rubberized canvas hull, I couldn't have been happier.
But as portable as those folding boats were, I wanted them to be lighter, pack smaller. I spent about ten years exploring folding boat designs. I had always known the rough design envelope, but it took me a while to disconnect from existing methods. I wanted them to be at least a thousand dollars less expensive than folding boats are now. They had to be twice as light, and durable, and I had suffered with broken boats for too long ... my boats had to be so simple that they could be quickly repaired with a roll of duct tape and a field repair kit. I had to reject inflatable boats because I've yet to be able to rely on an inflatable for more than a season or two or hard paddling. I wanted to make boats that lasted years, maybe even a decade or two like my Folbots, which I still have. But I also wanted some flexibility in that ultra-lightweight package ... the ability to run some Class II rapids, to do some symmetrical rowing to bulk up chest and arms and core, but then track in kayak mode at least as well as a playboat. And I wanted my folding boat to pack small enough and light enough that I could take it anywhere. It didn't have to be a strong ocean-capable boat, because most of us tend to take the ocean in sit-on-top kayaks or sailboats, or self-bailing boats.
I tested a lot of boat designs at the local reservoir, I collapsed a lot of boat designs. But I'm a trained physicist, I got my Ph.D. in applied physics from the University of Alabama back in 2010. Nothing is more exciting to a physicist than failure, because it's a chance to possibly solve a problem, and we tend to live for that kind of thing. So I used those failures as a launching point to apply physics to build an awesome boat. I applied Navier-Stokes, fluid dynamics, linear wave systems, and regular old Archimedes law for buoyancy. The mathematics gradually convinced me that I was going about it wrong. Rather than working to make a beautiful small folding boat that would fit my criteria, the right boat would have to be utilitarian, because the ratio of enclosed volume to exposed water surface area, is critical to making a strong hull. Because of the short waterline, the stubby bow and stern didn't appreciably slow down the boat in the water compared to a more streamlined design of similar length. These new boats kept getting stronger, like tiny folding barges. And with time, their utilitarian simplicity grew on me, I gradually found them to be attractive in that barge-like way, attractive like a stevedore in a crowd of debutantes. The Backpack Barge was born, and it came to do a job.
- Backpack Barge 2.0/Expedition, Length at waterline - 56 inches / 142 cm
- Backpack Barge 2.0/Expedition, Beam - 26 inches / 66 cm
- Backpack Barge 2.0/Expedition, Moulded Depth - 10.5 inches / 26.7 cm
- Backpack Barge 2.0, Total weight - 8.2 lbs / 3.8 kg
- Backpack Barge Expedition, Total weight - 11.4 lbs / 5.2 kg
- Folded size - 30 inches x 14 inches x 7 inches / 76 cm x 36 cm x 18 cm
- Maximum Capacity where Freeboard = Moulded Draft - 250 lbs / 113 kg
- Maximum Capacity with sponsons & Expedition floor - 300 lbs / 136 kg
$30,000 - Upgraded Field Repair Kit - We had a Backpack Barge user report to us that he was able to use the Field Repair Kit for his boat, to fix his tent when it was carried away in a gust. He patched the broken pole and taped up a rip in the floor. We realize that a field repair kit isn't just for your Backpack Barge, it's for a lot of outdoor gear. So with this Stretch Incentive, we'll beef up our Field Repair Kit so you can fix more things. We're suckers for ultralight field repair, so we'll give ALL INCENTIVES LEVELS add a good bit of extra stuff in here without adding too much weight ... better blades, better ways to repair ties, better ways to secure.
$40,000 - Color Matched Hand Paddles - Our standard hand paddles are white, but why not yellow to make them more visible, or blue or even translucent so that the fish can't see you as well when you quietly paddle up to them? Or perhaps black to complete that Fortnight vibe you have with your gear? Green because your new girlfriend loves trees? Orange, because your new boyfriend is a Denver Broncos and an Auburn Tigers fan? With this Stretch, we'll give ALL INCENTIVES LEVELS your choice of color for your hand paddles.
$60,000 - Upgraded Graphics package - At this funding level, we plan to do some fancy manufacturing to upgrade all the boats on ALL INCENTIVES LEVELS. We'll use a digital or flexographic with adhesive method to improve the graphics on all the boats, both open and folded.
$100,000 - Disaster Preparedness Kit - At this funding level, ALL BACKERS will have their Field Repair Kit upgraded to the Disaster Preparedness Kit, which will add capability, like short-time useSEA Desalination kit which you can add to your boat and use the sun to convert ocean water to drinking water, more repair gear, better tools, more capabilities.
These folding boats ship through the USPS, which is the cheapest way for us to get them to you. Yes, they're pretty light and small, so U.S. shipping insane, but it's about twice and three times as much to ship these to Canada and the rest of the world, because postal shipping has become kind of expensive in the Post-Amazon.com world ... they get the good rates, most everyone else has to pay more. But if you have a U.S. address or a freight-forwarder, it might work out for you.
Risks and challenges
This is version 2.0 of our original Backpack Barge, we spent a year in research and development to make these boats stronger and better. So we are moving right to manufacturing with this Kickstarter. We're set up now to make a certain number of boats per month, so our plan to satisfy incentives is to send out boats to the early backers first. Our supply channels for all the components are pretty solid, and we have some backups, but it's possible that some colors may be delayed, hopefully not though! Production delays are always a reality, but our goal is to get these boats off the production floor and into shipping as soon as possible with each boat. Other risks? They're undoubtedly out there, they always are, but we've been building and shipping stuff for a long time, we'll handle it. We're not outsourcing any of this to Asia, we build all these boats in Golden, Colorado, with almost all American-made components, so our supply chain should be solid.
We have done several Kickstarters, and have delivered them all as promised ... we love the thrill of production, and we don't have anyone else do that work for us, we build what we sell, so you can back with confidence.
Our current production capacity is about 100 boats per month, but we can add capacity with our existing facility to 200 boats per month in the first month, and 400 boats per month in the second month, which should be more than sufficient for this Kickstarter to help avoid delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)