Custom ultra light float tube

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Rory McMahon, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Rory McMahon Active Member

    Posts: 1,615
    lynnwood
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    That's not being an a**hole, that's a legitimate question. Currently I have a base pack weight of around 12lbs for a week long trip (having issues getting under 10). Thats without a float tube. With all my float tube gear it about doubles it, then I have to add another 5lbs or so for a bigger backpack. A lightweight float tube would make a huge difference. It would basically allow me to carry it into the back country. Right now I only take it to a few lakes and most of the time I just go lightweight and fish from shore. It's just too big and bulky to take everywhere.

    As far as the weight question, I'm 6'0 and 148lbs. I'm trying to get up to 155-160 and maintain that, but it's not easy for me. Losing weight to shave off 5lbs wouldn't be a good idea.

    If/When I build a sub 3lb float tube, I'm sure it would only have a weight capacity of 175 or so. Depending on how the project goes and how successful the product is on the water, maybe I could make a few larger ones that were sub 4lbs (still under half the weight of most float tubes). That could offset some cost if I decide to get a real heat sealer.
  2. jessejames Flyslinger

    Posts: 1,855
    Show Low, Arizona
    Ratings: +345 / 3
    Could you start with an existing float tube or just a bladder and beging modifying it for a research tool. Take just the bladder out and cut it down and re-glue and seal the seams. see if it will float you. You can probably make the diameter of the tube smaller and the length of the U tube legs a little shorter and still hold your 175#.
    If you can make that work then the cover would be easy. Or maybe just a abrasion resistant cover for the bottom of the bladder.
    jesse, just living dangerously.
  3. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,151
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +963 / 1
    The Curtis raft is what I used for years. The total package for it was 27 ounces counting the paddles. Why reinvent the wheel? Just make a Curtis belly boat or v-boat, then you only need to figure the seat section out.

    I had no problem selling my raft when I stopped backpacking as it was in great demand.

    As far as what weight these would carry. I was a dainty 210 back when I backpacked. Also Walt, Brian and their trip mates would travel down rivers/creeks in their rafts with the backpacks. Don't know what the total weight of that would be. Walt and Brian weren't huge but one of their tripmates (Sandy) was my size. So it would handle him and his backpack.
  4. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    with an alpaca you don't need waders... shave off a ton of weight there
  5. Couleeflyfisher Member

    Posts: 398
    .
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    Trout Trap made an ultra lite U-Boat several years ago, fit in a case approx. 16"x16"X3". Inflatable by mouth or pump, sold new for approx. $300. Urethane bladder, total wt. 3-4# or so. I have one, brand new, perfect condition. This one has never been inflated, however we have used this model and it's reg. full size like the original U-Boat, ideal for backpacking. If you're looking for one I'll sell reasonable, drop me a line.
  6. Tim Allen Tim the Toolman

    Posts: 50
    Maple Valley, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Here is an alternate material you might look into, it's called polyfiber and made for covering airplanes: http://www.polyfiber.com/. I used it to cover my 1926 Old Town canoe, much easier to cover, won't rot or mildew like canvas and was heat/shrinkable, unlike the stretching nightmare of canvas covering. They also have glues and tapes. I got a remnant enough to cover my whole canoe for $25. You could probably get samples for free to experiment with (Spencer Aircraft, Puyallup). Just a thought....... Tim
  7. Blue Active Member

    Posts: 1,144
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Ratings: +104 / 0
  8. fly-by Active Member

    Posts: 160
    Tangled in the Pines
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Bill Aubrey likes this.
  9. Rory McMahon Active Member

    Posts: 1,615
    lynnwood
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    hmmm, those mylar alpacka bags look very similar in shape to a pontoon..

    wish they were a little thicker though, id probably have to stack them in order to meet a weight capacity.
  10. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Lex Story and Bill Aubrey like this.
  11. Blue Active Member

    Posts: 1,144
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Ratings: +104 / 0
    OR, NFO has a new line. They have the 6' Predator, and an 8 foot one plus the Assault. Made out of Heart Valve material so strong and very light. The Predator is around 6 lbs and the Assault around 9.
    [IMG]

    Good reading you again SHig
  12. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Those UL NFO boats are way cool! My boat should come in at around 2 pounds and fold up much smaller than those, but those are worthy of a look. I do like the looks of the Assault boat.

    Yeah, it has been a while, hasn't it? Had a lot of stuff go down in my life the last couple of years...

    _SHig
  13. Blue Active Member

    Posts: 1,144
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Ratings: +104 / 0
    Hope 13 is a better year for you friend. Look forward to your reports. About the NFO, they are at least 6 feet long and 5 feet wide, so pretty impressive for the size. I have an order for the Predator that I can't wait to give a review on.
  14. Stewart Skunk Happens

    Posts: 950
    Spokane
    Ratings: +48 / 0
    [IMG]
    Kind of kidding, and kind of not... This has crossed my mind. One regular diameter noodle would be too little for most of us though. I think this floats me at 165lbs, somewhere about armpit height.
  15. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Lol on the noodle. Not comfortable for flyfishing in glacial tarns though! The volume of that noodle is more than the deflated and packed tube that I'm working on as well - though it could come in at a pound less... ;)

    _SHig
  16. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 881
    TriCities, WA
    Ratings: +152 / 0
    SHigSpeed, what a a great job on the tube! Much better than what I could come up with. I'd have to SWAG everything and would probably end up in the middle of a lake with nothing but the top of my rod visible. Can't wait to hear about your maiden voyage. Couldn't christen it with a bottle of wine.... water balloon maybe?
  17. Blue Active Member

    Posts: 1,144
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Ratings: +104 / 0
    Have to bring it out here SHig. Our Mirror Lake is beautiful and 11,000 feet.
  18. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
  19. Bill Aubrey Active Member

    Posts: 939
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +165 / 0
    I can't wait to see how this comes out.
  20. David Loy Senior Moment

    Posts: 2,406
    Wolf Bay
    Ratings: +319 / 2
    I recently came across this "reborn Curtis Raft":
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi...ums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=58156
    Nearly identical to Brians I think. A price I saw in the link was $300 but not sure it's current.

    Here's a current link I just found, through the above.
    http://flyweightdesigns.com/?wpsc-product=flytepacker-packraft-2
    35 ounces instead of 24. Not bad for what you get, freedom on the alpine lakes.
    Oops, just saw "sold out". You might contact if interested though. Maybe $300 didn't pencil.