Explorer 42



Our lightest and most compact multi-person packraft!  The Explorer 42 can comfortably be paddled by pairs looking to save weight and bulk on long traverses and adventure races. Its also the easiest multi-person packraft to be paddled solo, which makes it ideal for families, pets, and sportsmen and women.  Add a Cargo Fly for maximum gear carrying capacity.


Backband Upgrade

Add a Backband for the front passenger


The Explorer 42 (For Two!) is our lightest and most compact multi-person packraft.  It’s about half the weight of carrying two single packrafts, which makes it a great choice for pairs doing long traverses that involve shorter days on the water or adventure races that require you to carry your boats. It’s also just right sized for one person to comfortably paddle, which makes it our best boat for bringing kids and pets on adventures. Solo fishermen and hunters will also find the extra space ideal for stowing day gear and packing out medium sized big game animals.  For 2017, we’ve completely revised the Explorer 42 with our new patent-pending high volume hull design which improved floatation and handling, a new one-way valve which allows for high pressure inflation and easy deflation with a quick twist of the valve core, a new seating system based on our self bailer and Whitewater Series seats which increases floor rigidity, and lightweight stainless D-rings which accept a backband for the front paddler.


  • Handmade in Mancos, Colorado
  • New patent-pending high volume stern design, which improves floatation and handling
  • New one-way valve that provides high pressure inflation and easy deflation with a quick twist of the valve core
  • New 3/4 length seat which improves floor rigidity
  • Available in 210d High Count Nylon, 100/200d Vectran®, or 400d Vectran® Tubes
  • 840d Nylon Floor
  • 4 bow grab loops, 2 stern grab loops, and 2 D-rings which accept a backband for the front seat
  • Cargo Fly with Ultralight Dry Bags Optional (Standard Dry Bags available on request)
  • Includes: Inflation bag, stuff sack, and repair kit.

Build Configuration

Cargo Fly Upgrade
The Cargo Fly is the ultimate packraft gear storage solution. The three-piece system utilizes an airtight and watertight zipper installed in the stern of the boat together with two gear storage dry bags which are clipped in place along the inside of the raft tubes. The system provides drier and more secure gear storage, improved paddling performance due to a lower center of gravity, quicker transitions from packrafting to hiking, and the internal dry bags act as additional balanced air chambers for increased safety (even over a two-chamber packraft) in the event of a puncture. The Cargo Fly is perfect for expeditions, whitewater performance, and keeping your gear dry in any conditions.  All Explorer 42 models with a Cargo Fly come standard with our Ultralight Internal Dry Bags (you can substitute our Standard Internal Dry Bags by including a note on your order at checkout).

Fabric Options

Standard Nylon High Count Fabrics:

210-denier High Count Nylon – Our standard packraft tube fabric is a USA woven 210-denier High Count Nylon, which is coated on one side with a highly UV resistant heavy polyurethane film custom developed by our USA supplier for our packrafts. We only coat one side because it provides significantly higher tear strength than a double coated fabric. Made in the USA fabrics and coatings are more expensive than similar materials sourced overseas, but they provide significantly better urethane adhesion, fabric durability, and overall quality. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Multi-Color Orders – Factory Choice means that we will choose a multi-color color combination for you based on what is in stock (at no extra cost).  Custom Multi Color means that you pick the colors of your choice, subject to fabric availability and a minimum 4-week lead time. If you place a custom multi color order, please read and follow these Multi-Color Ordering instructions.  A custom order costs an additional $75.

Vectran® Fabrics

Overview – Vectran® is a high-performance multifilament yarn spun from liquid crystal polymer (LCP), which is five times stronger than steel and ten times stronger than aluminum. In a packraft, Vectran® fabrics provide exceptional tear strength and rigidity (due to its lower stretch) than comparable Nylon deniers, which results in a stiffer higher performance hull. While a Vectran® hull is much more resistant to tears than Nylon, it has a lower urethane bond strength and its higher rigidity makes it slightly more prone to punctures. Vectran® is extremely challenging to work with and we have spent years developing techniques to incorporate this advanced fabric into packraft manufacturing. We offer Vectran® in the following weights:

400-denier Vectran® – Our 400-denier Vectran® is the burliest tube fabric in our packraft lineup, but it’s also significantly heavier and bulkier than our other fabrics. It is a great option if you are looking for the toughest boat possible where weight and bulk are not significant considerations.

200-denier and 100-denier Vectran® – For 2017, we have finally been able to source a reliable supply of 200-denier and 100-denier Vectran®.  These deniers are our highest performance fabrics and provide almost the same rigidity as the 400-denier, but at a much lighter weight and bulk.  The 200-denier version is roughly the same weight and bulk as our 210-denier Nylon, while the 100-denier is approximately 4 to 8 ounces lighter and is our most compact tube fabric. Unfortunately, these fabrics are very expensive (over double the cost of the 400-denier Vectran® and six times the cost of our Nylons) due to their very limited supply.  We are working hard to reduce the price and will pass the savings on to you as soon as we can.

Custom Ordering – All custom Vectran® orders are subject to fabric availability and a minimum 4-week lead time. Please contact us prior to your order to determine current Vectran® availability.

Design Story

We released the original Explorer 42 in 2011 based on customer requests for a packraft that could carry a second person for crossing rivers and lakes and short downriver trips but that wouldn’t be much heavier or bulkier than a single person packraft. The original model was designed utilizing a stern similar to our Alpacka Series combined with longer sides and a short bow to keep the weight and bulk to a minimum. The rear paddler was given a two level seat to more easily see over the front person and the front person was given a simple square cushion towards the bow.

Despite gradually lengthening the stern on the Alpacka Series from 2011 to 2014, we left the Explorer 42 largely unchanged from its original design.  However, three things happened in 2016 that gave us some great ideas for improving the Explorer 42. First, we noticed that our 3/4 length self bailer seats added some stiffness to the floor that we thought could benefit a larger boat like the Explorer 42 especially with a second person.  Second, when we developed our new high volume hull design in the Gnarwhal we realized that the extra volume and floatation would also benefit the Explorer 42.  Finally, our new custom foam backband for the whitewater boats was light enough that it would be a great option for the front paddler in the Explorer 42. We combined those three concepts together with our new one way valve and out came the new Explorer 42. More comfortable, stiffer, and better performance at the same weight and bulk as the original.


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