About this project
"What's on that little island?"
"What's on the other side of that lazy river?"
"Are there any fish in that hole?"
"Do I have an emergency boat for floods?"
With Backpack Barge, you'll know the answer to these questions.
Inflatable boats are fun, but they can take a long time to blow full of air, and the affordable, lighter ones sometimes leak and tear, and they are difficult to repair. The expensive, lightweight inflatables are rugged and very light, but they usually don't have room for anything inside other than your legs and you'll have to paddle with your gear on your lap. Folding boats are good, but they are often expensive, complicated to assemble and usually 20 lbs to 50 lbs., too heavy to carry into the backcountry.
Backpack Barge is a U.S. Patent Pending, lightweight pack box-boat that is small enough to bring with you, even under your seat on a plane or public transportation. For your next backpacking trip, or water trail trip, bring along one of the lightest most durable folding boats. Unlike inflatables, it's as tough as you, built to last, and can be repaired easily and indefinitely, with a U.S. Patent Pending double hull system. You'll soon explore lakes and calm rivers in the backcountry that you could have never paddled before.
Opened Size: 4.5 feet lenth x 24 inches wide (beam)
about 5 inches draft x about 5 inches freeboard
Folded Size: 28 inches x 16 inches x 8 inches
Weight: about 8 lbs.
Maximum Carrying Capacity: About 275 lbs. / 125 kg
Use Backpack Barge it move yourself and your gear across calm water like lakes and wide rivers, to small islands, and cross water without having to hunt miles for portages. If you have a bigger boat like a pontoon or fishing boat, then Backpack Barge doubles as a water wagon so you can bring your bulky gear with you, or use it as a tender to get to shore when you're anchored out and having a good time.
Backpack Barge has been invented, designed, and developed in Golden, Colorado. Our manufacturing is in Colorado too, because boats need high quality control and supervision of supply chains and component quality, we can't get that by making them cheap overseas. And we went top-shelf on hardware and fittings; the components are lightweight, but they are strong, they are stainless steel and UV-stabilized plastics.
Some folding boats claim fast assembly that is only possible by the people who make the boats, know every component like the back of their hand, and do it in a climate controlled showroom. But we show a 2 minute setup and a 90-second take-down for the Backpack Barge, and we mean it, rain, sun, dark or shine.
Backpack Barge comes with a set of lightweight hand paddles that are a lot of fun to paddle around in the boat and good for short jumps across rivers and to islands. If you want regular oars like shown in the video, most any set will work, but you can get a fairly lightweight set, because the boat is light. (The hand paddles might be the right choice if you want to pack ultralight, the inventor of the Backpack Barge has used the hand paddles extensively and prefers them to the oars when the water isn't too cold.)
We'll offer continued support and a one-year parts warranty for your new Backpack Barge. We've paddled our test boats hard and haven't been able to break anything, but we include a small field repair set with your box-boat, just in case.
Some things are a necessity with any boat, depending on your State's rules, for instance a whistle, personal flotation device and signal. Others will just make your experience more comfortable. Going with the "Open Source" ethos, we know that some components are going to be a lot better quality at a lower price than we could hope to offer. Since it's the Backers of this Kickstarter that take priority over the marketing, we'll try to guide you to the best open source solutions for your new Backpack Barge.
If you want to paddle rougher water, you'll need a spray skirt, which you can either make, or which we should have in the Spring. We started developing it, but our first snow came early this year in Colorado, so we have to finish it in the Spring. A spray skirt keeps water out of your boat if you paddle in rougher water, but you won't need it for calm lakes and rivers.
From the beginning, we knew that even a boat as light as the the Backpack Barge should earn its weight by offering Adventurers like you additional capabilities. We're comfortable in this space, because we've made collapsible water treatment and desalination systems for years. We have successfully solar heated water in a Backpack Barge covered with a thin clear plastic, and turned ice cold water into something warm enough to take a hot bath at the end of a long expedition, keep water handy for cleaning stuff around the camp, or clean gear or dogs before hauling them back home in our vehicles. We want Backpack Barge to be your all-season camp and adventure buddy, even when you don't need it as a boat!
Some backpackers are more interested to use it to travel on water trails or moving their gear across water. Load it up, and pull it along from the side or while wading. Others just want to use a lightweight boat for fishing or a live well. We even opened up the Backpack Barge combined with a ground tarp as a bivy tent. It makes a terrific sunshade for the beach and catching an afternoon nap.
Additional Notes and Videos:
If you want to cross open ocean and lakes with a lot of wakes from speedboats, then it probably isn't the right choice unless you rig up a spray skirt for the top. (We'll cover some of these modifications in the user's forum.) Also, if you plan to paddle through very cold waters and through Spring melt, or high altitude lakes, please strongly consider using a shorty wetsuit to stay warm in case you fall in and bring along a bailing cup or small pump just in case. Safety is important, and even the biggest boats present the danger of getting dunked in the water.The hulls of the boat will need regular spray of UV-protectant, available from Amazon or most auto parts stores, to prevent damage from harsh sun rays. There is some UV-protection built into the plastic, but to really protect your boat, treat it the way you would your skin, and apply "sunscreen" with the UV protection spray.If you ever remove the buckles to add flotation sponsons or use it as a bivy tent or sunshade, you'll need to readjust the buckle lengths, and that will add a couple minutes to the assembly time.
Shipping U.S.A. and International
We would love if we could ship this boat for free, or for a low cost like Amazon does. But they get those super-low shipping prices because they have have huge shipping agreements in place with vendors and carriers. The reality is that we would just have to build the shipping cost into the cost of your incentive. We do recognize that it's expensive to ship internationally, we wish it wasn't, but we have no choice, it's the U.S. Postal Service. We have looked into all kinds of options including other carriers, but those shipping prices are the best we can manage. If this Kickstarter is a sufficient success, then we hope to get some International partners, and ship the components to them, for final assembly in their countries and which we hope will significantly lower the cost of shipping and value added taxes.
What's next for Backpack Barge?
If this Kickstarter is successful, we plan to expand the capabilities of your new Backpack Barge, with a sailing rig and hull, a spray skit so you can take rougher waters, different hull configurations, and motor mounts. If this Kickstarter lights the same fire of imagination and excitement in the backers that it ignited in us, then we have many more variations of this basic, affordable design to bring to the water!
Risks and challenges
Few risks with this project, we've already done initial manufacturing to make sure these boats can be manufactured as planned. Biggest risk is if the U.S. Postal Service jacks up their rates again, but we're going to work quickly to get them out before the next rate increase.
All boats to be manufactured in Golden, Colorado, with U.S. made components, so supply chain should not be much of an issue.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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