Custom ultra light float tube

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

  1. Rory McMahon

    Rory McMahon Active Member

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    I went to seattle fabrics and looked at some materials. I believe I looked at some 200d urethane coated nylon and wondered if it would hold air. If thats what flyweight uses, and I've never heard anyone complain about the material leaking, then it must work. I take it the urethane coating makes fabric 100% waterproof and air tight?

    On zpacks.com I found a material that is nylon coated cuben fiber. It's 2.92 oz per sq yd and is apparently very tough. It's waterproof, but I don't know if it would hold air under pressure. I sent an email to get some more info on it, but I know he isn't an expert on air bladders.

    I think I may have to buy some of the 200d nylon and make a small air bladder and see if it would work. Now the tricky part is figuring out how to seal the seams..
     
  2. deansie

    deansie Active Member

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    Playing devil's advocate here but I'm assuming the rest of your backcountry gear is lightweight as well? Is there a way to drop 3lbs elsewhere and not comprise on the quality of the fishing gear? Bivy sack vs. 2 man tent, a different pair of waders or a lighter weight stove and fuel. I personally will hike with 5-7lbs more on my back to have some creature comforts, which may include an extra beer or 2.

    Last question, and this boarders on being an a**hole but what kind of shape are you in? The reason I ask is I always see cyclists who are 25lbs overwieght trying to shave grams off thier $5k bikes when I think to myself maybe they should maybe skip the cheesecake (again, not trying to be an a** with this comment but I honestly think its worth asking).
     
  3. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know if this applies to anyone else, but I see it applying to me. I'm not a weight weenie, but I've spent time with some that are. Drilling holes in things, ripping out tags, removing logos and such. The first place I need to shave weight off is not the gear I carry or my pack, it is located on my person, just north of my belt. I can make anything easier by dealing with that first. Very good point, and I'm taking it as great reality, not you being an A-hole!
     
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  4. speyflyfisher

    speyflyfisher Member

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    I think there two components to this discussion. For me, on overnighters it no contest--light weight pack raft. I just can't fit my camping materials and a tube/waders/fins in a pack that I'm willing to carry.
    Day trips its a different story. Having the ability to fish and propel at the same time makes a float tube a preferred method. My tube weighs in at 7lb plus waders and fins. So the discision I have to make
    for day trips is more base on the terrain and do I want to go light or heavy. If one could get a tube down to the 3lb range (I assume the lighter material would also reduce bulk) that would start to blur the lines.
     
  5. Tim Lockhart

    Tim Lockhart Active Member

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    Raises a very valid point. The odds of something weighing, say, 3 lbs safely supporting the majority of us are likely slim at best (sorry for the pun). North of 220, where a roundie is no longer an option, the first priority has to be weight capacity. If under 220 I think you'd be hard pressed to outdo the features of a roundie at 5 lbs, not to mention the dirt cheap cost of them anymore. As of today a 3 lb craft with any reasonable degree of safety, durability, performance and cost (I'm still leaving out weight capacity that accomodates most guys) is still a massive pipe dream.

    Rory, we're counting on you to fix this...
     
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  6. Rory McMahon

    Rory McMahon Active Member

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    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.
     
  7. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

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    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.
     
  8. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

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    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.
     
  9. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    with an alpaca you don't need waders... shave off a ton of weight there
     
  10. Couleeflyfisher

    Couleeflyfisher Member

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    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.
     
  11. Tim Allen

    Tim Allen Tim the Toolman

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    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
     
  12. Blue

    Blue Active Member

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  13. fly-by

    fly-by Active Member

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  14. Rory McMahon

    Rory McMahon Active Member

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    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.
     
  15. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

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