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Old 11-19-2012   #1
Huntington Beach, California
Paddling Since: 1965
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 6
What size boat is best for out west?

I have pushed rubber for a living for over 25 years back east running rivers from Maine to Georgia and made many pilgrimages to the GC, but that is the extent of my running rivers west of the Mississippi. Now retired and living in Southern California. My wife and I and our whitewater loving Rottweiler are planning a multi-day rig to run on western rivers; thinking Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, etc. I am approaching 60 years and so I'm thinking trips like Rogue, Salmon, Salt, Snake, Green etc. Could use some advice on the size boat to consider.

Thinking 14SB or a 15SB NRS Otter. Cost and boat weight are not a concern. Tube size (20) and width (7ft) are equal. Boat will be heavy with gear, so do I need the extra capacity or will the added length make maneuvering more difficult? Will I float higher for the same weight and is that a good thing? Please share your wisdom.

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Old 11-19-2012   #2
Pinecliffe, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 447
If thinking 14 or 15 go 15. That said I was thinking 15 or 16 and always glad I went 16. On multiday runs most people I run with have a 14 or 15 and wish they had 16 in hindsight. More comfortable more room. Only thing is its heavy but if you roll it for the winter a dolly makes it easier to move around. Some people say "I can load my 14 and haul as much as a 16," but its not very comfortable. Have fun those are some sweet runs you listed.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. KARL MARX
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Old 11-19-2012   #3
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 535
16fter no doubt for that list until you start looking at tighter, technical, lighter load, multiday runs then a 14fter. and you may be surprised what you can get a 16fter down on technical runs after you get a feel for it too.

if hypalon is your top choice and $$$ is not a big concern then get the thicker beefier expedition/pro lines offered by hyside or nrs. or a avon. money well spent over the long haul, especially in remote locations.
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Old 11-19-2012   #4
jrice345's Avatar
Springfield, Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 75
Based on the rivers and passengers you listed, I'd go either 15 or 16 ft. They will perform better than a 14 ft will given the same load. Unless you like to row a very loaded boat (some people do), then go with a 14.

Just remember, nature abhors a vacuum so if you get a bigger boat, you'll just be tempted to take more $hit to fill it.
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Old 11-19-2012   #5
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
15 or 16 foot model your choice of manufacturer

15 ok 16 better my opinion

Salt might be tight below 1000 cfs

lots of 14 owners do all the rivers listed and run them well

a 16 tho would give you a extra margin of safety and make load carrying much easier. The more weight you can keep below the tube top the better.
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Old 11-19-2012   #6
colorado_steve's Avatar
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Oh! I don't take it lightly! I've always got to know
There's an old lion a roarin' n the river down below
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Old 11-19-2012   #7
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,363
15' enough room for two plus dog... resist the urge to be the barge hauling rig w/ the 16'
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Old 11-19-2012   #8
La Grande, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 77
go 15.

Go with the 15. 16 you will put in unnecessary gear and it gets hard for us old folks to control.
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Old 11-19-2012   #9
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Have you considered a cat?
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Old 11-19-2012   #10
Huntington Beach, California
Paddling Since: 1965
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 6
Not comfortable with the open concept of the cat in combination with our dog. He is large and not a happy swimmer, but he loves the whitewater; he wags his tail at the sound of the rapids and lunges at the waves trying to bite them. I fear I would spend half the trip chasing the dog in the water. Building a doggie playpen for the cat doesn't sound practical. There is also the fact that my wife is from SoCal and she doesn't do cold and wet well. Keeping the dog in the boat and my wife as dry as possible are highly desired

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