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Old 09-03-2015   #1
Carbondale, big rock candy mountains
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 12
Dumb kayaker wants a raft

I'm looking to get a small raft, but don't know what to be looking for. does anyone out there have an opinion?

Brand? Inspection points on used boats? other things to look for? rubber type? go for it!

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Old 09-03-2015   #2
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 78
What is your budget and intended uses? Brand/material is dependent on how much you want to spend, and size is dependent on uses. If you're just going to be doing creek runs in the Carbondale area and R2ing go for a 10.5 footer, especially if you want to raft lines more like a kayak run and will mostly paddle. The 12-13 footer is a great in between size for Colorado and slightly bigger water, more comfort for passengers and beer. But if you are getting it for both multi day big river trips and playing in the Rockies a 14 footer is the way to go for sure.
If you're not sure you're going to seriously get into it and plan to get a new boat go for a less expensive (much heavier) PVC raft like the RMR rafts. Tributary's are nice entry cost boats. If you want a new boat to last forever go for a hypalon Hyside or an Aire (expensive). In terms of used boats look for the obvious like tons of patches, and abused d-rings. Lots of discoloring on the rubber would be an indication it was less well cared for. If you're getting an older boat you'd be a lot safer getting something hypalon, but as used boats go they do retain their higher price.

"Ski bums need something to do in the summer, and river rats need something to do in the winter." -Old Colorado mountain bum adage
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Old 09-03-2015   #3
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Hyside Mini-Max or Outfitter 12 would be good choices if you are looking to stay small. If you want an all around size then I agree with a 14 footer. Family multi-day moves you more towards a 15-16 footer. Hyside, NRS, RMR, Vanguard, JPW, Aire, Maravia, Sotar ,are all good brands in a wide price range. Take an experienced rafter friend with you to look at used rafts. Ask questions about how the raft was used, how it was stored, are they the original owner, repair history, any extras included (frame, oars, paddles, PFDs, etc.). Make sure you inflate the raft and check it over good.
"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love....and then we return home."
Australian Aboriginal Proverb
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Old 09-03-2015   #4
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
We're definitely stoked on our new 10.5' Storm from RMR... super fun and maneuverable. Great for 2 people, comfortable with 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 kids. Also really light (maybe 80lbs), and packs up nicely into the case they provide (which comes with awesome straps for carrying), and it fits in the back of the car. All for a thousand bucks less than a Mini-max.
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 09-03-2015   #5
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
If money's no object... I'd get a Sabertooth from Aire.
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 09-03-2015   #6
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,407
As a lifelong kayaker who moved to rowing rafts some time ago, I think you are a smart boater.

Rowing a raft to me makes us kayakers a lot better at reading water, setting up and following the proper lines in White Water and in general paying attention to what the water is doing. IE kayaks can easily get into and out of most eddies, but if you slack off and put a big gear raft in a recirculating eddy - be ready to work those oars.

Not to mention all the comforts of home when rafting. I did a lot of kayak self support and while it was awesome to travel light and fast, having a comfy chair, cushy cot and paco pad, dutch oven goodies to eat and plenty of spare clothing in case of rain or cold - I am a convert to rafting trips.

While kayaks can generally find several lines in a rapid or can re-position their craft heading into a rapid, heavy rafts generally have to make a decision early on and stick to it, sometimes the line hits monster holes as well no matter what.

I think rafts are like kayaks in that what ever craft you start out with, chances are you will obtain others soon as you gain experience.

Congrats for moving on to carrying the beer as opposed to begging for a beer. One of the reasons I tried rowing rafts was the constant stream of B/S about carrying my beer from my rafting buds (they always said in fun, but I still enjoyed rowing with beer to share from my raft cooler!!)
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Old 09-03-2015   #7
InflatableSteve's Avatar
Cave Creek, Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 671
If you want an R2 size boat, I suggest getting an Aire. The Puma, Super Puma and E series all seem to be awesome R2 boats. I was lucky enough to paddle a Sabertooth the other day on the Ark. I put 0 effort into my strokes and it would go right where I wanted it to. The thing turns on a dime too!

If you want to try something new and interesting, consider Custom Inflatables. You can come up with your own design for a specific use.

That being said, any top quality raft brand is a safe bet for a fun and quality boat.
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Old 09-03-2015   #8
mattman's Avatar
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,038
Been stoked on my jpw culebra, i have self supported 3-4 day trips out of it, and spent some quality time surfing the gore play wave today!

"Like a bunch of monkey's, trying to fuck a football."
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