KENAI - For those with a passion for paddling, few things are more rewarding than kayaking deep into an obscure cove, following the twists and turns of a remote river, or exploring some other out-of-the-way location. Unfortunately, the streamline design of kayaks can make carrying enough gear to do more than a day's worth of traveling somewhat difficult.
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Typically, packing enough gear for a long expedition means stowing supplies in every available nook and cranny, but this has many drawbacks. Not everything can fit into a kayak and items on the deck can raise the boat's center of gravity, making the kayak less stable. Gear stored outside the vessel also may be washed overboard or catch the wind, making it more difficult to steer and paddle.
However, Robert Krogstad, a kayaking enthusiast from Kasilof, believes he may have invented the perfect solution to this packing problem.
"The 'Paddle Pack' is what I'm calling it," he said, referring to his pack raft towing system.
Much like a pulk used by skiers to haul gear in winter, his system includes a waist belt, worn by a kayaker, that has two poles leading back to an inflatable pack raft that can be disassembled and put into a bag when not being used to haul gear.
"The belt has a quick-release buckle, so you can undo it in seconds if you were to roll, and rather than if it were directly hooked to the kayak, you can take the belt off and do what you want," he said.
As to how much gear can be carried, Krogstad said his prototype pack raft is roughly 3 feet by 4 feet in size and can carry 150 pounds of weight.
"I'm working on large models though, and possibly one with wheels for rescue purposes that could be used to get to where larger boats can't go," he said.
Krogstad said anyone who wants to go on long expeditions or bring large items camping would benefit from his pack raft towing system.
"Hunters may want to use it because they could transport gear to a hunting site, or they could keep it broken down in a bag on the kayak, then after they've shot something, they could assemble it to haul out the meat," he said.
"Campers may also want to use it to carry coolers, tents, guitars, all sorts of things," he added.
As to how the Paddle Pack came to be, Krogstad said like many inventions, his was born out of a personal need.
"I did this because I wanted to take my dog for a ride and there was no way to do that with a kayak," he said.
Krogstad said while he enjoys spending his leisure time with his Australian shepherd named Darma, when he would decide to paddle Tustumena Lake, or any one of numerous other locations he likes to wet an oar annually, Darma would get left out due to lack of room.
"She goes where I go, but when I would go kayaking, she had to sit in the car, and that's no fun," he said.
So, roughly three years ago, Krogstad decided to develop a method for bringing his canine companion with him on kayak trips. He said he spent one year just brainstorming and working out the design, and the last two year pursuing the patent process.
"The patent should be done in less than month," he said.
After the patent process is complete, Krogstad said he will develop a Web-business to market his Paddle Pack.
"I'm hoping to have these out for production next spring," he said.
Krogstad said while he is looking forward to sharing his invention with others who enjoy water travel, he is a little surprised no one else had the same idea.
"Kayaks and pulks have been around a long time, so it's weird no one else has put them together. I was lucky no one had it patented," he said.
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