RAFT Recommendations - Page 4 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-01-2016   #31
Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 550
So, hearing so many people saying flat out that 18' boat is way too big for a family of 6 in Colorado has made me wonder: What multi-day trips are you guys considering that would be appropriate for 4 kids under age 5? I can only think of a few in Colorado and surrounding states that I'd take my almost 2 year old: Upper C, Ruby/Horsethief, San Juan, Labyrinth/Stillwater, maybe something on the Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon on the Ark. With the exception of the Ark, all those are plenty big enough for an 18' boat. And even then, I'd be plenty happy with my boat on the Ark at anything above about 800-900 cfs.

Keep in mind: bigger boats draw less water for a given load. That means that as water drops, big boats remain more runnable than a smaller boat given the same gear, until the point that you have a narrow pinch-point.

To be clear, there are plenty of smaller streams that won't handle an 18' boat well, however to say that an 18' boat isn't appropriate for anything except the Grand Canyon is a gross exaggeration.

This discussion has also made me wonder how many of those who are recommending a small boat to the OP have kids and wives. I know that but for the equipment "needs" of a wife and toddler, I could take care of myself for 3+ weeks on a 13' boat. That space budget goes right out the window once my wife starts loading the car.

Lots of good advice here, though, and hopefully a good demonstration that there are so many factors that drive what boat or boats are best for people.

Last point I'll emphasize, that was made once on this thread, is that thanks to folks claiming that 18' boats are unrunnable, the prices on used 18' boats can be pretty low compared to similarly abused 14'-16' boats.

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Old 12-01-2016   #32
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 117
I have a feeling most of the people saying 18 ft is too big have never rowed one. Most of the classic SW trips are high volume and not steep/tight/techy.

A 16 foot raft is big too, another 2 feet of length and a foot of width are simply not going to make that much of a difference in terms of "fitting through the channel". However it makes all the difference in terms of comfortably fitting more gear / people.

One of the major downsides would definitely be the resale value since so many people believe it is too large. Don't buy a new rig unless you're sure you will keep it and use it for decades.
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Old 12-01-2016   #33
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 121
Good points, I guess it depends on what you want to do. Many of those trips named are permitted multiday trips. I know that I have a 14' raft now but I have plans to sell it for a 13' and a 16'. I love to do desert floats with tons of toys and beer but I would use a smaller boat for most of my rafting (Ark sections, Blue, Gunni, Eagle, ext.). Most of the rivers that an 18' raft can easily go on require a permit, Upper C is the only exception I can think of. I think of boats 16'-18' being used mostly on longer Utah type trips where cargo capacity is king. I also just dont think an 18 foot boat would be very fun to learn on either.
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Old 12-02-2016   #34
CaptBiggler's Avatar
Arvada, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 37
I agree with Treswright. An 18' boat would be great for the high volume desert rivers and multiple days, but definitely not if you are doing day trips on the Arkansas, Blue, Eagle, Gunny, Poudre, Animas, etc. So I guess it depends on what you are doing. My 14' boat has been great with 3 adults on long multiday trips, 7 adults (as a paddle boat) and 2 adults/2 kids (as an oar boat) on the rivers I mentioned above.

Another thing to consider with PVC vs Hypalon is the weight and roll-ability. If you don't have a trailer, loading/unloading/rolling a PVC boat will be a pain and will shorten the life of it.
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Old 01-10-2017   #35
Frisco, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 46
I think you should learn how to row a raft through whitewater first. Then, renting is probably a better bet. If you are going to go often enough that you will want your own boat, then you will want to learn everything you can about rafting before buying your own boat. But, seriously... Don't take your family rafting in whitewater when you are new to rafting.

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Old 01-15-2017   #36
Willimina, Willimina, OR
Paddling Since: 68
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 342
22 ft cat with 30 in hulls

A 22 ft cat with 30" diameter tubes would handle that clan mighty fine. JPW Aztec NM. Choose a frame that make the overall width trailerable...102" on the outside maximum.
Gary Foam gary@rowframe.com
Self Proclaimed Lobbyist for .........Whitewater
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