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Old 04-02-2007   #41
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
Originally Posted by grammicci14 View Post
Az boater here, names Joey and I'm shopping for my first raft.
What boats are people running out there?

I'm looking at the NRS Otter,Aire R, and Vanguards. all 14'.

Any advice is always welcome, and as soon as I get a boat I'll be looking for some action!
I own a 12' Vanguard and absolutely love it. It's one of the rare hypolon models. As far as 14', if your going for a gear boat, I'd go for an NRS expedition series or an old Avon. I love my Avon. IMO, the 14' Avon is the best all around boat out there. Everyone else is trying to copy them. Vanguard is basically a copy off of Avon. If I had to choose between NRS and Vanguard, it would be aa tough choice. Stay away from the cheaper NRS's. Go with an expedition series if you choose that brand.

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Old 04-02-2007   #42
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,906
It really depends on what rivers you plan to spend most of your time on and what kind of boating you'll be doing (headwaters paddle boating or desert multi-day trips?). I've got a 14' Vanguard (see photo). I love it and feel like a 14' boat is optimum for a single-boat owner in Colorado. Its small enough for the headwaters rivers and big enough to run the Grand with, and was a great deal when I picked it up a few years ago. Others will tell you a 12' is best.

Do the research and good luck!


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
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Old 04-02-2007   #43
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 127
Own a 14' Hyside. I agree with Andy that a 14' is a great size for only having one boat.
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Old 04-03-2007   #44
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
I'd edit my above post but I don't see a way with this new software........Anyways........I'd pick a Vanguard over an Otter series. The Vanguard has thicker material and has more chafe pads in the right spots.

As far as Aire's go........never owned one and never driven one, but have seen someone try and fix one once. It wasn't pretty...... had to completely derig to get to the bladder......then spent several hours trying to get the thing to zip back together. Would have been soooooo much easier to throw a patch on the outside. It's the one downfall of having a bladder system.
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Old 04-03-2007   #45
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
I row an NRS E140 (14') and agree that a 14'er is the way to go if you're only going to have one boat. You can boat everything from Upper Rustic on the Poudre to Browns Canyon to Westwater to the Gates of Lodore.
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Old 04-03-2007   #46
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Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 961
I agree that a 14'er is the best all around size. I row an Aire 143R that's been good to me, although I've never had to do a river repair or any repair for that matter, but I do try and keep the zipper in good working order.
My Cat is also an Aire.
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Old 04-03-2007   #47
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I'm looking at the NRS Otter,Aire R, and Vanguards. all 14'.

Before buying a boat, take a close look at the warranty- I personally think that's a big selling point. I'm buying an Aire 156 this spring, and the 10 year warranty is a big part of that decision. I also had a Aire cat for 7-8 years & was happy with the quality. Never had a blowout, although I saw my buddy John blow out the outer seam of his Aire Super Puma in its 9th year. He was able to keep the inner bladder in its place (which had expanded but not burst) with a strap-wrap system, and finish the run (the Numbers). When he got home he sent it to Aire and they fixed it & sent it back for only the shipping cost.

  • Durability (IMO from owning an Aire boat for most of its warranty life)
  • Cost- A little cheaper than the NRS expedition and Avons
  • Supposed quick fixes are debatable; although I know personally that you can service or replace a valve very easily yourself
  • You can replace the bladders easily and relatively cheaply
  • Weight (bladder adds more)
  • Cost compared to Vanguards
  • You have to take care of your zippers or they will be tough to open when you need to & they scare some folks as a weak point
  • Hypalon vs PVC debate, if that's a concern to you (it isn't to me b/c my boat isn't in the sun all summer long)
I stuck with the Aire's because of the warranty, that they can be serviced stateside, cost, and I'm brand loyal after owning one. I almost bought the 15' Pro DRE - those are really nice as well and you have the manufacturer right here in CO. Plus they're great guys that make great frames & accessories too. But, they're Hypalon and cost more, and the warranty is only 5 years. Same with NRS Otters; only the E-series have a 10 year warranty. Couldn't find anything about warranties on the Vanguard boats.

Good luck!
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Old 04-03-2007   #48
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
I have a hypolon Hyside that I think was made in about 1993 or so. It has seen some pretty serious commercial miles, and looks like hell. The thing is, that sumbitch can do a 2 day trip without having to be topped off after the putin. The floor usually needs a couple of puffs in the morning due to the pressure release valve, but other than that it is bomber, and is maybe 14 years old? The outfitter I work for uses Hyside almost exclusively and they are ~almost~ indestructable. If you can manage having a little bit softer boat, these are great, and they fold up pretty small. We can even get them pretty damn tight for class IV-V trips, especially the new ones.
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Old 04-03-2007   #49
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128

I have a 14' Hyside as well - it is an older commercial model with the military valves, it was used commercially before it came to me. It is fairly bombproof and it's a great all around boat for CO. Despite the commercial use and abuse it still holds air well and has done good for me on Gore, Clear Creek, Pine Creek, Pineview Falls, Slaughterhouse and everywhere else I have taken it. The newer Hyside outfitter models are even better - lighter and faster in the water but still very durable. The newer style valves (Leafield) are also a big improvement.

Personally I don't like PVC as much but I have friends who love and swear by their AIRE's. I have also heard generally good things about the NRS boats.
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Old 04-03-2007   #50
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
While I love my NRS Expedition, if I had to do it over again i'd definitely give the Hysides a good look in addition to NRS. I've been on lots of trips with folks who have Hysides and they're well built and well designed.

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