Review of the Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft

Last October I had rotator cuff surgery. Fearing that I would not be able to roll again, I decided to purchase a packraft, and ordered the Kokopelli Nirvana. I also ordered thigh straps and the Delta Whitewater Sprayskirt.

I received an email from Kokopelli that read: We are out of stock on the delta skirts, but we have the alpine lake skirt. I’ve run a ton of class 3 and 4 in the alpine skirt, so it will work, but the delta one is way better.

I figured – okay, I don’t plan to flip in a packraft, so anything that keeps the cold water off me is fine.

When I started putting together the internals of the packraft, a problem popped up. I looked at a video Kokopelli put together on how to attach the backband, and it seemed to me that something was missing. Here is the video:

In that video I saw that the backband has a clip to which you can connect the 1 inch bands with the D ring. I requested a backband of that type rather than the one I received.

Kokopelli responded: We actually updated the backbands and removed the clips. This makes the backband stronger and more secure. Just thread the compression strap all the way through until the metal rings jam into the ladder lock on the backband. Then thread the compression strap through the ladder locks on the packraft. Use the ladder lock on the packraft to adjust tension of the backband.

So, after a lot of struggling and the dropping of a lot of F-bombs, I got the backband on.

Since I had never paddled a packraft before, I took a lesson at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina. It turns out that was not necessary – a packraft is pretty much the same as a hard-shell kayak, just not as quickly maneuverable but a lot more stable.

Anyway, a problem popped up immediately – I could not get the spray skirt on without A LOT of help from the instructor. Even though the instructor was holding it at the back of the boat, it would pop off when I tried to attach it to the front. It was so bad that the instructor said, “There is something wrong with this.”

I sent Kokopelli an email that read: The spray skirt you sent for the Nirvana will not work. It takes two people multiple efforts to get the spray skirt on, and that does not work for whitewater kayaking. If you have a larger size for the delta, please send one. If not, send the spray skirt that is supposed to go with the Nirvana as soon as one is available and I will send the other one back. Used is fine with me as long as it is not damaged.

Kokopelli responded that it should be easy to get the spray skirt on. Then they asked me how I put the sprayskirt on.

Okay. I’m a Level 3 WW instructor so I know how to put a sprayskirt on and told them that. I also said that I got into an Alpaca packraft and getting the sprayskirt on that boat was no big deal. I also pointed to a video that showed how to get the sprayskirt on:

That video had outfitting that was completely different from my packraft, so I sent a WTF email to Kokopelli.

They responded: That video is pretty old and re designed the spray deck/coaming ring to make it a lot faster and easier. Yet another change to the boat that was not captured in the instructions.

They sent me another video on how to put on the sprayskirt. It was actually humorous because the guy in the video had the same problem I did – the sprayskirt popped off the back. I included that video at the end of a video I shot and sent to Kokopelli.

Let me make an already long story short. My wife researched sprayskirts and ordered me one we used to use on our Wilderness systems flat water kayak, the Perception Tru Fit Spray Skirt size 7-12. It was a perfect fit for the packraft. Plus it has a zipper down the middle that lets you adjust thigh straps after you get the skirt on, something you cannot do with the spray skirt Kokopelli sent. Also, it has a zipper compartment at the front for a water bottle, repair kit, etc. Also, the shoulder straps are much better and easier to adjust.

I suggested that Kokopelli provide that sprayskirt instead of the one they sent me. I also asked for a refund of the sprayskirt I bought (waiting for an answer).

Here is my video. It is a bit long but interesting. Stick with it.