The Supai Adventure Gear Matkat is an ultralight single chamber packraft designed for flatwater wilderness paddling. Weighing just 26.5 ounces, it rolls up quite compactly making it easy to carry inside a backpack. However, the Matkat is made with lightweight polyester that requires delicate handling. While this makes it lightweight and easy to pack, I’d caution you against taking this boat on rough and tumble backcountry trips where you’re likely to hit underwater obstructions or you have to launch and land the boat on rocky or brush-congested shores. It doesn’t take much to rip up the bottom of a Matkat and you may find that a heavier, more durable boat will be better suited for such conditions.
Specs at a Glance
- 28 ounces (1.75 pounds)
- Internal seating dimensions of 45” X 19.5”
- Outer dimensions inflated of 67″ X 40″
- Tube circumference inflated front 34″ back 42″
- Tube Height inflated front 11″ back 13″
- Weight limit of 325 pounds
- 1 Internal gear attachment point
- Large dump valve for easy deflation
- Small and compact
The Supai Matkat is made using a very lightweight 75 denier polyester ripstop and weighs only 28 ounces. It has a built-in floor, which is uninsulated, and a single internal attachment point, sized for a light cord, for securing gear to the boat. Very simple and streamlined.
The Matkat takes 140 breaths to inflate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with any kind of inflation aid, like the dual dry bag/inflation sacks provided by other packraft makers. Instead, Supai recommends that you bring a battery-powered microburst pump along on your trips, even though this seems at odds with the ultralight roots for the product. That’s not something I’d consider doing, so I blow up the boat myself to keep things simple. Supai says they’re developing an inflation system. While you can live without it, it’s inconvenient, to put it mildly.
You inflate the boat using a plastic tube with a screw-on mouthpiece. The nice thing about this system is that you can top off the boat while it’s on the water, which is useful when you put the boat in cold water and the volume of air inside shrinks. The downside is that the screw-on cap dangles in an untreated “wilderness” water source. I’d caution you to consider the consequences of putting the wet valve in your mouth.
Deflation is easy. Simply remove the hose and roll up the boat to force all of the air out of it.
The Matkat is a bit cramped inside, but it is the larger of the two flatwater packrafts that Supai manufactures. Measuring 45″ x 17″ inches inside, I have to bend my legs and rest them along the sides in the boat (when wearing a foam PFD.) However, the boat gets really cramped when you want to carry any gear with you. The only place to put it is between your legs or on top of them.
There’s also no seat or back pad so I’d recommend bringing a piece of foam to sit on to insulate your bum when paddling on cold water, while the back of a foam PFD makes a good backrest. Supai recommends using the MTI Journey PFD (14.6 ounces in an XL), which works well with this boat, although it’s a bit bulky to backpack with.
There’s one internal attachment point inside the Matkat’s bow, which is sized to hold a simple line rather than webbing straps. It’s not terribly useful for securing a pack across your bow, but best used to tie in a dry bag with your personal belongings.
On the water
The Matkat handles nicely on flat water and mild waves, with very little back and forth yaw when paddling with a two-bladed paddle. It still spins well, which you’d expect of a flat-bottomed boat, and is rated by the manufacturer for carrying up to 325 pounds, which is believable. However, the boat is prone to drifting in wind and it’s not clear how you’d anchor it or attach a drift sock when the only attachment point is on the interior of the boat, close to the floor.
The Supai Matkat Packraft rolls up incredibly small, about the size of a down sleeping bag. It comes with its own draw-string stuff sack (shown above) which helps contain moisture adhering to the boat if you need to pack it up before it can dry. The Matkat’s packability is really a standout feature making it easy to transport in a backpack or for traveling on an airplane.
While the Matkat is incredibly lightweight, I was surprised by the amount of abrasion that the packraft experienced during routine launches and landings along the banks of rivers and ponds. I suppose this is to be expected if you use 75 denier ripstop polyester to make a packraft. [As a point of comparison, the Klymit LiteWater Dinghy is made using 210 denier polyester, while the Kokopelli Hornet-lite is made using a 210 denier nylon.]
For example, the exterior floor of my Matkat test sample is showing significant abrasion after just three backcountry fly fishing and packrafting trips, in what I would consider routine conditions that included bumping into sunken vegetation, launching and landing from gravel beaches, and climbing into the boat along rocky shores with steep underwater drop-offs. This is to be expected with such a lightweight boat, but you probably want to be very diligent in terms of inspecting and patching the boat periodically.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to require that a wilderness packraft designed for flatwater use be able to withstand shore launches and landings without having to be overly coddled. If you do decide to buy a Matkat, I’d keep its durability limitations in mind every time you scout a potential landing from the water. I’d also carry a good repair kit whenever you take the boat out on a trip that’s not within easy walking distance of your car.
The Supai Matkat Flatwater Packraft is an exceptionally lightweight inflatable boat that is compact enough to carry on backcountry backpacking trips for nature viewing, fishing, or transportation. Weighing just 28 ounces, it is made using lightweight fabrics that require careful handling and may not be suitable for many high-risk wilderness settings where a more durable boat would be preferable. Still, given the right conditions (warm water, low wind, and sandy beaches) the Matkat is incredibly fun to paddle and a nice piece of lightweight gear that will enhance your wilderness experience.
Disclosure: Garage Grown Gear donated a packraft for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
Awesome video! Where is that? Looks like a lovely place to fish from the pack raft.
It’s called Unknown Pond and the mountain behind it is called The Horn. They’re both in the northern part of the White Mountain National Forest in NH. I have a trip report about my last hike there coming out later in the week that gives you the route.
There you go, ranting about durability again. Can’t you see that we want STUPIDLIGHT gear. Seriously, I really appreciate you pointing out how fragile this boat is. Agree that a thicker bottom would be preferable and expand the boats range of use.
Supai doesn’t do a terribly good job of explaining the types of conditions that are appropriate for their products and which are inappropriate. I suspect its because they’ve sold very few boats and mostly to Grand canyon outfitters so they’re knowledge of what the northeast US does to gear is virtually nonexistent. One of my goals as a product reviewer is to help fill out those details when they’re not provided by a manufacturer.
Check out Alpacka Packrafts – they have a much wider product selection and are extremely good at explaining which boat to buy depending on your expected use conditions. They also use different fabric thicknesses on different parts of the boat, which I think is a function of more design and manufacturing experience, as well as more customer feedback and experience.
Hard to believe that they don’t include an inflation bag with this boat. You’d figure that that would be a standard feature for any packraft.
I reccomend either the small Schwinn or Bell hand operated Bicycle pump which is very light weight and compact. I carry it in my bike pannier. My friend uses a CO2 Cartridge type set up for his bike which requires an adapter which now come with most bicycle pumps. But I do not see how either could be attached to the valve they supplied.. Not much thinking went into that I think…So two areas of fail as I see it.. The bottom and the Air intake. Both turn me against the idea of buying this product. Appears to be another one of these companies who designs it on paper, CAD’s it, ships it to China who ships back the product and very little real and actual use testing is done before it it’s the Market. They sell a million of them at inflated prices and walk away when they got their money… Is that an old Wright & McGill Pack Rod you using? I own four of them made in the 60’s I inherited via the family and love them….
Eddie – I think they actually make these boats on an ironing board in their garage. The company is owned by a husband and wife team that still work 9-5 jobs to make ends meet. But, I agree with you about the inflation valves lack of design. they could have easily made this boat compatible with any number of existing inflation sacks out there, which use a standard size sleeping pad valve connector.
The rod – a telescoping Tenkara rod. Super small, super portable, with a very delicate presentation (no reel).
Thank you for honest product review Philip. I’ve just barely begun my research into an ultra-light packraft for a future 42-mile rim-to-rim-to-rim, one-day ultra-running adventure via the N & S Bass trails in GC NP. I don’t know if I’ll be able to (or want to) pull this stunt off more than once, but ultrarunners and fast packers *love* ultralight gear, which comes with the obvious trade-off in durability. ??????
I’ll check out the Alpacka packrafts and anything else that can employ a road bike, presta-valve adapter & CO2 cartridge inflation system. Any recommendations on packrafts that can fit this criteria? ?
I’ve used a Supai, and own both a Klymit and Alpacka. For most flatwater use, I prefer the Klymit. It weights a half pound more, but the fabric is significantly more durable, the boat has a much better selection of tie-off points (which will allow you to tie your boat to the bow similar to the classic Alpacka method), and it includes an inflation bag that doubles as a drybag. The main advantage to the supai, beside the lower weight, is that it has bigger tubes and is therefore slightly less likely to tip or get swamped in Class I+/II- rapids. Its a great boat for the very narrow use case it was designed for (Grand Canyon canyoneering exits), but the Klymit is going to be better for a broader range of flatwater use. In addition to being about half the price.