Feathercraft BayLee 1
The Feathercraft Baylee is a true whitewater-worthy…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $1200
The Feathercraft Baylee is a true whitewater-worthy packraft that is crafted of super high quality urethan that has been electronically welded. This boat will give you many many years of service. For anyone who wants to paddle rivers, lakes, the ocean, this is a fantastic boat that you can take anywhere in the world.
- Strong coated urethane fabric, good design, self-bailing option
- Excellent inflatable seat, comfortable
- Sprayskirt has shoulder straps
- Heavier than other brands because the fabric is so beefy and durable
- One size fits all may not work for small or very tall people
- Doesn't pack down super small
Feathercraft is well known in the paddling world for their uber designed and constructed folding sea kayaks. They are the best in the world. Feathercraft ventured into the inflatable world some years ago when they were asked to construct packrafts for Alpacka. The joint venture did not last, but Feathercraft came up with their own design for small inflatables, creating the Baylee 1, 2 and 3.
Each can be used as a sailboat tender. But the Baylee 1 comes into its own as a whitewater packraft. Feathercraft uses a durable urethane coated fabric that they employ in their sea kayaks. The seams are electronically welded, so they do not leak or separate. They essentially become one fabric. The Baylee's design is such that it has two air chambers. No worries if you ever spring a leak; you'll have half the boat still inflated to hang onto.
The Baylee uses a Halkey-Roberts valve for inflation. This is far superior to an inflation tube. The small pump that comes with the boat already has the valve, so the boat inflates in less than a minute. If you want to travel light, you can use the inflation bag to 'catch' air and milk it into the boat.
I've taken my boat on a number of day trips and one multi-day camping trip. It's not a superlight or super-compact boat, so backpacking with it feels like you're carrying an extra tent. Stripped down and rolled up, it weighs about 7 pounds. Add another couple pounds with the addition of a 215 to 220 cm paddle and you're still at less than 10 lb.
There are plenty of tie-on loops on both bow and stern.
The sprayskirt is made of coated cordura. It works fairly well, especially with the shoulder straps, but some people say it's dangerous, e.g., you could get your foot caught in the case of a capsize. Still, I like the straps, and they are optional, so no worries if you don't want to use them.
The Baylee 1 has a self-bailing option, and wow! Can you imagine not needing a sprayskirt and not needing to bail? If I could buy all over again, I would buy the self-bailing version. Weight is higher, though, so maybe I'll stick with my non-self bailing model.