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Old 01-26-2008   #1
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
Dreaming of a new boat

I am fantasizing about replacing our 13' NRS otter. We bought it used, and has served us well. I doubt we'll get a new one this year, but hopefully next. NRS seems to have degraded in quality recently, thinner material, smaller reinforced sections.

I have a friend who got a new Maravia this summer, and it seemed to me it was much more rigid and "launchable" in the water. It seemed to me that it was incredibly stiff, and through rapids they got launched way more than we did. What do people think about the behavior of PVC vs hypalon?

What about the environmental issues of PVC vs hypalon? PVC has such a bad name now, but I don't know about hypalon.

Lastly, what about boat mfgrs. Who still makes them in the states and which ones are built to last but not necessarily expedition quality?

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Old 01-27-2008   #2
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
Rafts are history- get a Cat!

Cats are so much better in serious whitewater, and so much simpler to rig.

Get a 16 ft. Jack's Daddy Cat and you'll be set.

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Old 01-27-2008   #3
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
More info: Jack's Plastic Welding, made in the US by a former Grand Canyon guide (Jack Kloepfer) who still runs rivers like a madman. Super quality: I have four sets of Jack's tubes, the oldest from 1985, and have run all sorts of vicious scrabbly creek slot drop horrors and dubious overloaded expeditionary stuff, with no punctures or leaks.

I'm not a commercial flack. Jack's a good mate and makes great cat tubes.

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Old 01-28-2008   #4
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I'm an Aire fan myself- I like the fact that they're made in the US, and I think the durability is pretty great for the price. The huge selling point is the 10 year warranty. Even if you rip a gaping hole in your boat based on your own bad driving, they will do the repair for free (you pay shipping). For Colorado boaters, I'm fairly sure that only means a trip to AAA Inflatable Repair (they perform work for Aire). I had a minor leak issue with a bladder recently- dropped it off on a Friday afternoon, and it was ready Monday. Cost: $0.

Some folks diss the bladder system because of the added weight, but there is no easier on-river repair for inflatables. Even relacing a busted valve is relatively easy to do in the field. I know PVC is known to degrade in heavy UV conditions, but I put a coat of 303 on the boat before it's out for the first spring trip. Maybe if I was leaving my boat in the sun all day all summer long, I'd be more concerned. My last set of Aire cat tubes were still in great shape 8 years after I bought them, and I did not baby those like I probably should have. I wanted to buy the raft that I'll be using for the next 20 years, so I bought the Aire 156. Had I not been an Aire loyalist to begin with, I would also consider a DRE boat- those guys are also local and super helpful....but only a 5 year warranty.

Now- as for performance, I'm probably not the best person to talk to because I haven't guided perfessionally and I haven't been able to try out a bunch of boats to see how each handles. Rafting always largely been a means of getting my beer, my dog, my kayak and my girl down the river.
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Old 01-28-2008   #5
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
I'm a hypalon man and really have been happy with my NRS E-140. If I were to buy a new raft, I'd either get another NRS (expedition series), an Avon (if I had the cash) or a Hyside.

Check out this thread:
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