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Old 02-05-2008   #11
rwhyman's Avatar
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 961
I have an Aire 143D that has worked well for all the CO stuff (Ark, upper C,Yampa, Lodore,Westwater) plus the MF and Main Salmon. I have only used it as a center oar rig. I've had myself plus 3 people on day trips like the Ark, but really wouldn't want more than myself and one other person for multi-day stuff, although you could do it.
I think the commercials run their paddle boats in the 14 ft range, but I have no experience with that. I'm just more comfortable with the oars in my hands.

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Old 02-05-2008   #12
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
Originally Posted by Nickdanger View Post
I have slightly different needs to Jen, but maybe the answer is the same. I'm a kayaker with a young family and I want to start introducing them to river trips. This summer I anticipate doing very low key 1-4 night float trips and gradually working up from there. Is 14 large enough (I have two energetic kids)? Nick
I went through the same considerations (although I currently have just one kid + one large dog), and I decided to go with the Aire 156R. The 14 footers just seemed cramped to me, and I have a couple of friends with 14 foot boats that are now thinking of upgrading to a bigger boat. Now, I don't run my boat as a paddle raft that often, so I'm not that worried about manuverability - you might be. And I wanted to buy the last boat I'll need for 15-20 years, so I took the tradeoff of having cumbersome boat for overnights and daytrips in order to have a big enough boat for multiday Idaho trips with a family of 4 in the future. I'm sure that some folks will argue that a 14'er will perform fine in that regard if packed correctly, but the extra space is sooooo nice. The bigger boat is, however, a beast to roll / unroll solo, so I picked up a trailer & winch that makes launching a snap all season long.

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Old 02-05-2008   #13
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
Nick - 1-4 night trips mean bigger flow rivers in general and makes bigger boats more practical. Oar boats generally top out at 18'. Although there are 20' boats out there, like this stern rig (Thompson River in BC):

14-16 Would be my recommendation for someone doing multi-days living in CO. A decent number of the outfitter on Cataract (the biggest water within a days drive of most of CO) run 15' and 16' boats - although at high water they also use motors, j-rigs, and threesomes (three boats tied side to side for stability with one oarsman at each end).

El Flaco - I did the MF Salmon with 3 passengers and gear for 5 more yakers in my 14' hyside - I was loaded to the max, but the raft was fine. A 16' would have been better for that trip though. But then I am sure that at least 3 more kayakers would have shown up asking me to carry their gear ; )
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Old 02-05-2008   #14
rwhyman's Avatar
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 961
I have to agree with El Flaco. If I were going to take my wife and 2 kids on more than a day trip, I'd get the 156R

By the way, I have a 143R, not D.
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Old 02-05-2008   #15
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
Nick, go bigger, unless paddling is something you really want to do.

I have the Aire 156 and I frequently wish it were bigger. I only have one kid and a dog.

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 02-05-2008   #16
ngeoym's Avatar
Bayfield, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 109
I have an Avon adventurer that is 14'2", A wife and two kids. Anything more than about 4 days it gets a little cramped but seems to work well for a wide range of excursions. A down River four bay frame set up with drop bags and rigged well works great!
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Old 02-06-2008   #17
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 133
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got your boat

Originally Posted by WhiteLightning View Post
Nick, Aire makes a good boat. 16 footers are great for overnighters if you have access to one. They are great for having lots of people or gear. Great for big/open water, not so great on technical water. (You would not have as much fun with a 16 footer on the Numbers or Clear Creek probably.) A 14 footer is pretty versitile though and can sort of meet both needs.

Aire boats are PVC material. There are two or three types of raft material, each with pros and cons. Search here and on BoaterTalk at the Raft Zone for tons of information on that. In a nutshell, PVC is stiffer, which lots of people like in the river, but they don't like to be folded up and tossed in the back of a Subaru, and can crack if you fold them enough (i.e. probably want a trailer for that Aire). Hypalon is softer, but easier to fold, and some argue will last longer. There are some hybrid types like SOTAR that is more of a urathane type coating. They are more expensive, stiff like PVC, but more durable.

If Dana is here listening, he has a fleet of Aire's and uses them a lot and could give you better info. D, you there?
got your nrs expedition 14 foot bailer, fully equiped for anything but the zambezie, trailer and all 4500, montucky freshly polished, want some pics.???
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Old 02-06-2008   #18
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 94
a few examples

I never get tired of this thread. It's a great way to guage what people are boating and what type of gear they use. I bought a 13'6" NRS Otter about 3 years ago and initially thought it was a little small. Now, its the perfect size. Big enough to do day trips on the Arkansas or Poudre with 5 other people (plus gear) as a paddle raft or put a frame on it and support a 2-3 day trip.

The tubes on my Otter are pretty friggin' big so it still sits high even when loaded up. I've been told it would be a great paddle boat for Gore but don't plan on putting it to the test.

Here are a few boat examples:
J-rig: This was the coolest boat ever. Completely made our westwater trip last year. There was room for every bit of gear imaginable with a motor on the back. Not necessarily practical for every day use.

13'6 NRS Otter with DRE frame:
I'm biased on this boat so I wont' comment anymore.

13' DRE:
Good boat, but the smaller diameter tubes make a difference. You can see how it could be overloaded with 6 dudes and some gear. This boat is a hoot on Shoshone and Clear Creek.

Another thing to think about with the smaller boats (14' or less) is that your a bit more mobile and will be forgiving when you change directions frequently. I also like the idea of being able to fold the boat up and hike it to the Gunny Gorge.

I'm ready for boating season now.

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Old 02-06-2008   #19
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 94
last one

I almost forgot this one, the 9' duckie: Perfect for multi-day trips to support a man and his dogs. Try to keep your dogs in the middle of the boat.

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Old 02-06-2008   #20
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 60
Wow, what great advice. Thanks everyone. For the foreseeable future, I'm definitely thinking of this boat primarily for big rivers, <class III- water, multi-day trips with 2 kids, wife, and maybe the dog for passengers. I won't be doing any technical water until my kids are quite a bit older. Given all that, I'm thinking the prevailing wisdom is to go with a 15-16 footer (and a trailer w/winch), although it sounds like a 14' would also work fine.

I've read plenty about the PVC/Hypalon debate. If I go with Aire (PVC), do I really have to keep it inflated and indoors all winter? Jees... what do all of you guys do--move them into your living room and use them as furniture for the winter months . Otherwise you need a whole garage just for your boat. Is it okay to leave it outdoors, but covered up? Or deflated but loosely rolled up?

Thanks again for all the great input. I'm getting psyched about this. If anyone has a 16' for sale, let me know. Cheers, Nick

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