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Old 09-08-2011   #1
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 32
Best raft size/brand for multiday family trips

My wife is prego with our second child, so I'm going to stop pushing rubber all summer and get a real job. But my wife thinks it's a great idea to buy a raft for personal trips. YES!

I'm looking for a new boat that will fit 4 people (2 adults, 2 small children) and occasionally 1-2 dogs on multiday trips in the desert southwest (Westwater, Cataract, Deso/Greys, Yampa, Grand, etc.)

What size would be best? I'm thinking 16 ft would be perfect. Shorter/longer??

Also, what brand/material would be best? I've paddle-guided PVC/Urethane boats under 14' and love them, but also paddled/rowed bigger Hypalon boats and like them too. I'm leaning towards a NRS E-160 because I can get a great deal on a new one, but am open to other brands too. I really like Aires, but am concerned about the silt factor. Thoughts?

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Old 09-08-2011   #2
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
Go for it!


You just opened up a can of worms with this one, so I will be short and sweet.

You could/can/has been done/will be further raged argument for hypalon vs. goes on all day!

The point is, there is no perfect answer.

Whatever works for you, works for you. I have a 14 ft Otter, am an NRS guy myself and would tell you to go for that 16 foot E series if you can get a great deal on it.

That being said, a 16 foot AIRE, or Maravia or Sotar or Hyside would all rock and do the job awesome.

This can co back and forth forever. Whatever you get, I bet you'll love.


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Old 09-08-2011   #3
Lawson, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 27
See thread on the Aire Trib 14' which has been fine for us. That said, if you can get a deal on another boat...

Silt: only once have I had a lot of silt...Deso 2010 run. Got home and cleaned the boat, opened the floor, and pulled about 20lbs out. That said, I never noticed any problems at all while on the river. Keep in mind you are talking 20lbs in the floor of a loaded 1000lb+ boat. Other than that I've only had minor amounts: usually I only clean the floor end of season, but after a week on Deso I figured a full clean would be good.

2 adults, 2 kids I think 1 week would be fine. Longer...maybe 16'. We like the 14' since you can put in the thwarts and run smaller stuff like CC.
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Old 09-08-2011   #4
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 32

Yeah, I definitely am not interested in starting a flame war here. All of the above boats are good quality and I'll be happy with any of them. Of course everybody has strong feelings about what they own.
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Old 09-08-2011   #5
Pcdc2's Avatar
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 102
Originally Posted by WindInTheWillows View Post
I really like Aires, but am concerned about the silt factor. Thoughts?
I have an AIRE 156R and live in Utah, so mostly get out on the Colorado and Green in S. Utah. So far I have had no issues with silt in the boat. I opened it up to check the bladder after a few trips and there was basically nothing in there dirt/silt-wise.

I debated long and hard between the 14 and 16 ft versions. I finally chose the 16 because I always seem to have a random friend want to hop on last minute. The extra room has proved to be a good choice so far. That said, a 14 would probably be a more fun ride through a lot of rapids, but I have had a great time with the 156R so far.

I have also rowed NRS and Maravias, which I liked very much as well. I was going to buy a Maravia originally but ended up getting the AIRE simply because I found a killer deal. Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with any of those brands.
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Old 09-08-2011   #6
oarframe's Avatar
Gardnerville, Nevada
Paddling Since: 00
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 447
seems like the 16' would be the size to do multiday with the family and friends and dogs. my E140 sometimes feels kinda small with 3 people and gear on it. my buddy's 14' aire seems even smaller but he does fine with 4 people and 2 dogs. personally i'd feel clausterphobic.
more snow = more water
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Old 09-08-2011   #7
Colo Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 597
My 14' Hyside likes living in Colo Springs and taking wifey and me downriver. A friend with two grown kids got an NRS 16er. That suits him better.
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Old 09-08-2011   #8
Osprey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
If I were starting over on a family boat I would go to a 16' sotar or maravia diminishing tube boat in a second. 2 adults and 2 kids can get tight on a 14 and more room for gear is always good. Fortunately, we mainly do multi boat trips where the gear can get spread out and people boat hop or IK a lot.
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Old 09-08-2011   #9
ngeoym's Avatar
Bayfield, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 109
This is it!

16ft Avon Professional w/ $1250 in Clavey Store Credit
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Old 09-08-2011   #10
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C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
NRS E series are mighty nice boats. I'd personally recommend a 14' Avon from the late 90's or newer. I like storing my boats rolled so it's Hypalon for me. A older 16' Hyside or Avon would be cool too. But if you have a good deal on an won't be sorry.

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