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Old 09-20-2012   #1
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,362
Help me choose a raft?

I'm looking for a round oar boat for next season. Shopping the fall sales and trying to sort out just what I'm going to want in this package. I have a 13' Sotar cat- and will probably switch those 13' tubes for 14' instead. I need a little more load carrying capacity from that rig for two-up fishing day trips. The cat will see most of the duty- solo and single passenger fishing day floats on the Ark, Eagle, Colorado

My raft will likely see the following duty- Day trips down Browns, Westwater, Shoshone... usually with one or two passengers and an oar frame. Possibly R 4 or stern rowing frame duty on those rivers at some point. In addition, I'm definitely planning to use this on some multi-day trips like MFS, Cataract, Ruby, Gates of Lodore, and the Smith in Montana. Work constraints make an extended float pretty tough for me- though I dream of a GC trip, no plans to use this boat for anything longer than 5 days on the river at the very most.

Here's what I've got on my radar... In order of preference at this time, based on lots of reading and research:

Sotar SL 14 or custom 14'6" or so...(Concerned about the floor and thwart design- otherwise, this is my top pick)

Maravia Zephyr, Willi 1, or New Wave 3

Aire 143D

Thoughts??? Anybody with one of these models want to step up and defend their choice? Not looking for another Cat- strictly interested in feedback about boat size, design, suitability for the needs I've laid out. Thanks buzzards-

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Old 09-21-2012   #2
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idahofloater's Avatar
In a Van, Down By the River
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 517
looks like your right on track. Your research seems solid and all the boats you mentioned will rock the rivers you listed and meet your needs. I don't know your experience with rafts vs cats but the raft is a bit more to deal with in terms of transport and storage. So, if your going to trailer your boat year round and keep it inflaited then any boat will do. But if you want to roll your boat for strage or travel. Then just maybe move maravia down a notch. They don't like to be rolled up. I have the zeph and a willy1. If you think your going to abouse the crap out of the boat then maybe move the aire up a notch. Its much easier to hind damage on Aire boats. But you can't go wrong with any of the boats you listed. so go with your gut!

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Old 09-21-2012   #3
Idaho, Wyoming
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 147
raft/cat combo

15' Wave Destroyer and a Super Duper Puma works really well for me for similar uses and probably cost a bit less, but maybe money is not an object.
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Old 09-21-2012   #4
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
I would think about moving up to a 15 or 16 since you already have the cat. Multi days with (or without) a fishing frame can fill up a 14 pretty quick unless you are floating with a big crew.
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Old 09-21-2012   #5
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Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 794
Definitely can't go wrong with any of your current selections. Personally...I like Sotar Cats and Maravia rafts.

I think 14' is fine for what you described....if better than 80% of its use is going to be in CO....I wouldn't get a much bigger raft. My Maravia is 14' which was perfect for CO rivers...and It has managed just fine on MFS trips, plenty of Westwater's, Lochsa, Payette's, etc...

As mentioned, Maravia's don't like to be rolled that much and storing them partially inflated is the best route. But IMO they are the most durable, bomb proof rafts out there (I may be a little extra biased because I can see where they're all born out of my office window).

But I'm buying a Sotar Legend this winter....

Can't go wrong with any of your choices...but I think your desired size is spot on for your projected use.
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Old 09-21-2012   #6
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,362
Thanks folks- good stuff. I can get the Maravia style floor in a custom Sotar- but it has to be a 14' or 15' boat. They don't have drop stitch in 1/2 sizes. My fear is that the 15' is just a bit big for my Colorado use (Browns?)- and that's why I'm looking at the shorter boats, with the diminishing tubes to add gear capacity. Anybody got experience with the WIB style Sotar standard floor? I guess what I'm saying is, I'd pick a 14'6 Sotar if I could get the drop stitch floor...but I can't. Where to compromise?.....
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Old 09-21-2012   #7
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In a Van, Down By the River
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I know that people say you can get more gear in a diminishing tube and they might have a point. But its really a small difference. Your going to be more limited by weight than space to put your gear. The biggest difference I see in diminishing tubes is water over the bow and your crew up front will notice the extra room. Makes for a fun paddle boat. I heard that diminishing tubes are nice in the wind, but again if so, its minimal cuz I really haven't noticed a real big difference. I think the drop stitch vs wib is a boating style thing. I mean if you are setting up and running stright lines the wib is nice. But if you like to play with air pressure and eddy hop down rivers with lots of moves in the rapids the drop stitch helps me anyway. So, the compromise is in your personal boating style. If you want to hold lines then WIB. If you want to spin and dodge and eddy hop then drop stitch. One thing I like about maravia floors is that I can up the pressure for techy stuff andlower the pressure for big water and run kinda like a bucket boat. You can also mess with the lacing and get different drain rates. Maravia is kind like an adjustable suspension system.

I totally agree with good times. Maravia rafts and sotar cats! And 14' boats seem to be the most versital.
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Old 09-21-2012   #8
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irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
I have a 14' Sotar ST with a ribbed floor and have no issues with moving it where I want in rapids, and it tracks well as others have mentioned.

My family of three use it primarily for week long trips with plenty of room for our gear and all the standard gear such as 120 qt Yeti, dry box, table, propane, etc. I can do a fully outfitted solo boat trip in it, no problem--but it will be maxed out for storage.

It rolls great for storage, Maravia's fold with some difficulty, the texture in the finish keeps you from slipping, but it will rub your skin off. Also, they're harder to keep clean.
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Old 09-21-2012   #9
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In a Van, Down By the River
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Originally Posted by wildh2onriver View Post
the texture in the finish keeps you from slipping, but it will rub your skin off. Also, they're harder to keep clean.
I hate to say it but, TRUE!
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Old 09-21-2012   #10
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at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
Why get a drop stitch floor in a sotar? Go with their stock raft, it is the best performing raft out there. I can eddy hop the shit out of our boat even loaded. I love our 14' (no interest in sl) but wish we had gotten 15'. Get a 15' raft, more versatile than the 14'. You step up to bigger tubes i think, which i see as a benefit.

Good times- congrats! I'm going to get my second legend this winter, going to add a 11' to the quiver for some more "sport". Ru getting it through ted? He's right in boise. I think the sale is going on now?

I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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