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?
Awards: Gear Junkie: Best of Show 2013
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:
- Round designs evenly distribute pressure, yet pressure is focused on the center of the paddler.
- This leads to a sag point by the user, and buoyancy point away from the user, resulting in backflips in hydraulics.
- Paddling position is low and awkward. It is difficult to use your favorite Kayak paddle.
- In most rafts you can’t sit upright, you lay back and it leads to increased back fatigue.
- The inner shapes are not ergonomic, and can be uncomfortable.
- Water tracking is non-existent in oval rafts.
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.
Color: Sea blue/ Fire orange
Fabric: 210 D ripstop polyester top and bottom
External Dimensions: 76 in x 45 in
Internal Dimensions: 41 in x 18 in.
Capacity: 350 lbs
Packed Size: 4.5 in x 9 in
Includes: Inflation Stuff Sack, Custom Patch Kit
Rating: Class 2: We recommend the LWD for conditions from mild flat water to very wavy water with easy avoidable obstacles.
- Converted to the LWD Review by Steve
When I originally saw the LWD, to be honest, I dismissed it. At 35oz, its svelte profile looked more reminiscent of an inflatable from the local float scene than a wilderness heavyweight. When the size 11 shoebox came in the mail, I thought it was incomplete--that I'd only received an inflatable mattress. I rolled its flat profile out onto the living room floor and inflated it. Like flies to a picnic, the kids immediately gravitated to its 'bouncy house' appearance. Unlike the competition, its material is supple and pliable. Also unlike the competition, the LWD weighs in nearly 4 pounds less than its river ready counterparts, which is what originally piqued my interest in the boat. I wasn't running rivers; I was bikepacking the Oregon Coast and using the boat to floating streams, flat water and estuaries. So I was less concerned with staying dry than popping a sidewall or flipping it under an obtuse load.
Several test runs in my house and at the local reservoir slowly gained my confidence that it could support the load. In fact, the boat was more stable with the fatbike than with me just me in it.
The boat has some ingenious and thoughtful design going for it. It comes with an inflation bag that doubles as a dry bag. At the bottom of the bag is a tooth-lipped valve that tightly connects to the unidirectional valve in the boat. The boat inflates quickly and the valve prevents air from backwashing out. The sidewall inflates to about 10 inches with the floor about 1/4 of the way off the bottom. It has six tie points: two in the front, two in the middle and two in the back. And the boat has a robust backside, providing compensating buoyancy for the weight of the paddler. Even loaded with the bike and kit, it felt surprisingly stable.
As an 'in case of emergency' Plan B, I threw Klymit's Inertia X-Lite Recon over head and strapped it around my torso as a make-shift PFD (it doubled as my pad at night). The pad fit like it was developed with this use case in mind.
In the end, we paddled a gamut of water: swiftly flowing streams dumping into the ocean, a six-mile estuary from its muddy backwater source to its broad mouth at Coos Bay, and the busy Umpqua river, ladened hyperactive fishermen in their 30' ocean going vessels.
I'm an absolute convert. For non-technical water where weight is a premium, the LWD provides a dependable option. I'm looking forward to pushing the limits of what it can do in more technical terrain.
(Posted on 12/2/-1)
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