Go Back   Mountain Buzz > Whitewater Boating > Whitewater Rafting

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-03-2007   #1
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 321
Looking to buy! Guidance on raft materials/manufacturers?

Okay - It's definately going to happen

I want to buy a boat at some point within the next 6-12 months. I know for sure that I want a 16 footer, but I'm not sure I know enough about performance or materials to select the brand or line of rafts to buy. The boat is primarily intended for multiday raft support on Utah/Arizona desert runs, as well as the occasional Idaho trip. Other uses will be incidental. I'm a kayaker the other half of my vacation time, so I definately don't need it to get me down Clear Creek or place in the Gore Race (if it's ever organized again). In principle I understand that there are three types of raft material (I think): Urethane, hypalon (denier) and PVC. I'd like to understand the pro's and con's of each material, in terms of durability as well as repairability, and your personal biases for one or the other. Is UV more of a problem for one or the other? Big investment ahead and I'd like it to last me a good long time with many happy years on the river.

Many Thanks!


benpetri is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #2
on your sister, ...
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 137
well, first... 16fter = great size for your purpose. it's surprising what kind of tight and technical stuff you can get it down too with experience.

you could also check out boatertalk's raft zone too and do some more research there by searching. this 101 stuff has been discussed to no end there. might be helpful.

major raft companies still around ...hyside, avon, nrs, maravia,sotar,aire, vanguard and riken (still around?). all good companies with boats that will last a long.long time. you won't go wrong with any. it's just preference.

I have owned all three types of materials for rafts and enjoy hypalon / hyside's outfitter pro the most. My raft is 16 years old and cleans up to look nearly new and still holds holds air perfectly. Hypalon is a highly stable material that if cared for to some degree can give you 20 + years of service easily. Hyside, Avon,NRS,Riken. Go Hyside or Avon if you've got the cash.

PVC is the least durable out them all. I thought the abrasion resistance was rather poor on my Aire. Vanguard is PVC too. PVC never fully cures unlike hypalon so it will crack,ect at some point a ways down the road. Welded PVC is better like Aire than glued PVC even though the glues are better now and don't fall apart as quickly.

Urethane is very bombproof. Toughest by far over PVC and hypalon. Maravia and Sotar make these rafts. It's also a very stiff material and is a real pain in the butt to roll up and make compact. On the river, many people like the stiff material/ feel for a more responsive feel. Personally, prefer a boat to track and stay tracking without needing as much correction/input from me. Stiffness also makes it more prone to a flip where hypalon will give and mold itself to the river. Urathane is sprayed over a PVC base so you still have PVC too. Not really sure about the lifespans of this stuff. Early 90's Maravia's turned to pinhole ridden shit but the new material is far superior.

Again..all good boats...just preference.

Anyway, hope my insomnia induced lecture helped abit.

tuberslickmysweatyballs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #3
Blue River, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 41
^ Great advice there, and I'm sure there will be more to come. I'd talk to the commercial people, and look at the boats you see on the river. Their boats see more use and abuse than most private boats ever will.

My .02 is you won't go wrong with any of the brands mentioned, and while they haven't been around as long as some of the others, I'd put Down River on the list too. Down River is local for you and has some pretty good deals on hypalon boats, plus they carry or can get most of the others, and build fantastic frames.

Right now I have one of their cats, and am very happy with it, but it's only on its second season, so time will tell.

For your purposes I'd consider a cat too, and then would put Jack's Plastic on the top of the list. They are great welded PVC boats. A cat makes a great gear boat too, but they aren't for everyone.

My next boat will be a Jack's Plastic if I get another cat (the only reason I wouldn't would be to run paddle trips on smaller water), or a Maravia if I get a raft.

Robt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #4
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580
I love my SOTAR. Be sure to check out their specs and compare. It is very heavy duty urathane. Also, it is relatively light weight and stiff. I have never flipped it, and if I want it to "mold to the river" I just don't have it fully inflated. Also SOTAR will customize your boat for little or no extra $$. It is only 3 years old, but shows no sign of wear or UV damage, even though I have hit some sharp rocks and sticks.
rivermanryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #5
Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 172
I thought SOTAR stood for "swim over to another raft" Sorry, couldn't help myself. Anyway, I have to put in my vote for Hyside. I have a 14' outfitter. 7 years old now, and still looks new. You cannot go wrong with a hypalon boat. From holding air, to making repairs, rolling up, performance on the river, durability, etc.. The outfitter pro would be your best choice. Just look and see how many Utah river outfitters use the Hyside boat. Just make sure you use 303 protectant for UV protection. I use this product at least twice a year on my boat.

Skyman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #6
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
I've had a SOTAR and now row a Vanguard. Both are PVC and are great boats. PVC boats are generally less expensive than Hypalon so if cost is a factor, you should consider this. As for durability, yes, PVC abrades more easily however unless the boat's in commercial service, it probably doesn't make much difference as long as you take care of a PVC boat.

The factoid that has always stuck with me is that most of the damage to PVC boats is due to wear & tear during transport to and from the river. Just don't drag the boat to the water's edge before you unroll it and if you store & transport the boat rolled, wrap it in a tarp to avoid abrasion. For what you have in mind, you should get plenty of years out of a PVC boat.

One thing I like about PVC boats is that they are stiffer than Hypalon boats which makes them more responsive and often the floor can be inflated to higher pressures, providing a firm footing.

I typically boat from March through November so I keep my boat rigged and covered with a tarp outside year-round. After three years, haven't noticed any damage from the sun or elements. I generally put a good coat of 303 protectant on my boat a couple of times a year, typically at the end of the season (pre-storage) and after the first couple of trips at the start of the season.

All that said, if I won the lottery, I'd probably go out and get a brand-new Maravia....

Good luck shopping - let us know when you find something!

-Andy H.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
Andy H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #7
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
Get the NRS E-160 Self-Bailing Rafts and call it a day. You won't be disappointed.

Don't forget to check out this thread for deals on boats: SICK DEALS!!!

There's also a guy in Steamboat Springs who deals NRS, Aire and Maravia and sells them at great prices: Douglas Wipper <WDgl5@aol.com>
JBL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #8
oarbender's Avatar
ww guide/ frame builder/welder, mobile fabrication gig
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 247
hyside boats rock, I have a 12' cat, that is a 04, that looks brand new.

My big boat is a maravia willawa 2, its 15'9 with 22" tubes, and its the best boat I have ever rowed. I love it, and seems like a lot of other folks do too. Lots of conversations about it riverside.

I think its a perfect size, and for the ripper runs, or day trips, or short overnight trips, I take the little hyside cat.works pretty good.
Expedition Gear Rental
oarbender is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #9
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 94
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 47
my 2 cents... I've pushed a lot of rafts around over the years and I'm a huge fan of 'plastic' boats. A lot of people don't like Sotar, but in my humble opinion it's because they make a much more high performance raft. They are much less forgiving but will drive much better. Kinda like driving a sports car. Don't get me wrong.. I love my beat up subaru wagon. It's very reliable, low maintenance, and gets me where I need to go. I would never buy a fancy sports car, they are difficult and costly to maintain. On the river though I'm just the opposite.

another way of looking at it..

Wing = Lamborghini
Sotar = Ferrari
Hyside = Volvo
NRS = Subaru Outback

There are some other good boats out there, but those are the ones I'm most familiar with. I'd look at your priorities and then go with the best deal you can find. I'm also planning on buying a boat next month, so if anyone knows of a good deal please let me know.
eddie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2007   #10
Coon's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 48
Sotar all the way....

I've gotta agree with eddie, SOTAR is definitely the way to go!!!!
I've got a 13ft Sotar sp elite self-bailer and I love it. If I were to do it again I would still get a Sotar but I would have purchased a 14ft instead of 13footer. But maybe some day I'll be rich and I can afford another raft/cat to add to my collection.

Also, I would call the guys at Sotar because their super helpful, and at the end of the season they usually have some stellar deals. Ask for Glen...he's the man. Also, you can get a reasonably priced boat from them if your down if rocking the tan colored boat (that's what I have) because they have a plethora of this material.

I think it's kinda funny whenever I hear people say SOTAR stands for 'swim over to another raft' because to me that's like saying:: why don't you leave your beautiful dream home with all those acres of land you own so you can be a hobo and live in a box. Okay so maybe that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.


Coon is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
12' Aire Self Bailing Raft at Grand Junction SportsMans Warehouse pcrawford Whitewater Rafting 6 06-26-2007 06:47 PM
What type of raft material? dvanhouten Rafting | Gear Talk 4 01-28-2007 02:56 AM
Westwater RAft support needed for trip on September 23-24th mfrench Whitewater Rafting 3 09-17-2006 10:59 PM
Gunny Gorge - Wrapped raft lmaciag River Access & Safety Alerts! 1 09-05-2006 10:03 PM
How do I choose a raft? leery Rafting | Gear Talk 12 10-01-2005 02:52 PM

» Classified Ads
RMR 13' w/ Drop Stitch...

posted by Riverboat Works

Floor Model RMR 13' SB with Drop Stitch Floor Option and...

2014 Rocky Mountain Storm...

posted by clinks

This package was put together in late 2014, and has been on...

Outcast Commander Demo...

posted by Riverboat Works

Perfect for the solo fisherman. Row thru the tough spots,...

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:37 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.