T his pint-sized powerhouse came to us in a package the size of a four-slice toaster. Just 10 feet long when inflated and weighing in at 12 pounds, AIRE’s BAKraft Expedition is designed for whitewater backcountry adventures. AIRE also offers the BAKraft Hybrid, a smaller seven-foot, 8.5-pound version.
AIRE BAKraft EXPEDITION
Assembly Time 3-20 minutes
Length 10 ft 2 in
Width 40 in
Material Vectran 400
Price $1,999 USD
The BAKraft series has the distinction of being the first self-bailing packraft—water runs out through holes in the inflated floor like any modern raft or inflatable kayak. This keeps your butt dry and keeps the kayak lighter and more maneuverable on the water, removing the need to bail or add a spare cover.
To keep the pack weight to a minimum, the BAKraft boasts a system minimalists will love. It comes with a seat, storage bag, thigh straps and a repair and inflation bag combo, and that’s it. Fill the bag with air and squeeze it through the hose into the raft. Fill the bag with air, squeeze it into the raft. It’s a cleverly primitive and tedious system. But it works—just give it 15 minutes. Or cheat and use a pump.
With the BAKraft firmly pumped, it’s an extremely capable river running inflatable kayak. Paddling Magazine’s publisher recently put it to the test on a bikepacking whitewater packrafting adventure with the BAKraft strapped on the handle bars and then his fat bike strapped behind the seat.
AIRE has included a daisy chain of lash tabs where the floor joins the collar. The seat and standard-issue thigh straps fasten in this same way. Use the rest of the tabs to lash and trim gear for a balanced ride.
In 2019, AIRE updated the BAKraft’s fabric to incorporate Vectran with a rip-stop weave. What this means is an even tougher fabric with more abrasion resistance.
From our experience, not even scraping along rocks fully loaded left a scratch or a scuff on the original Dyneema fabric—the BAKraft just slides off rocks like wet wax paper.