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Old 03-30-2016   #31
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by Tyrrache View Post
Hey Ran,

Could you elaborate a little more into why they use the Saturns?

Better Tracking?

Better Turning?

etc... etc...
I believe what you have read here is sarcasm. Check out this thread:

Saturn Rafts

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Old 03-30-2016   #32
Tyrrache's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
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Originally Posted by lmyers View Post
I believe what you have read here is sarcasm. Check out this thread:

Saturn Rafts
Ha! Fair enough.

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Old 03-30-2016   #33
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Originally Posted by lmyers View Post
I believe what you have read here is sarcasm. Check out this thread:

Saturn Rafts
Actually your wrong I have looked at their website and they use boats from all different factories depending on what country they are in. They do use the same saturn looking boats from China. They have used RMR also. Sotar just built some but that is because they are racing in their hometown this weekend. They don't get to keep the boats
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Old 03-30-2016   #34
WW Family's Avatar
Longview, Washington
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Oct 2012
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I just bought my first raft, which is a 143D last May. Our son has been paddling with the Oregon Rafting Team going on four years now. They use Aire, but with a sealed floor. I researched many brands including Sotar, Hyside, etc and even after having mine for almost a year, I would go with Aire again. Solid boats, solid people. The ten year guarantee is a no brainer.
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Old 03-30-2016   #35
Tyrrache's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Oct 2014
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Originally Posted by Dan McCain View Post
Yes you do make a very good point as we are sponsored by Aire. On the other hand though what I said was an honest statement and not a sales pitch. We have had some great moments and seen some amazing places rafting so I think its important to make a good recommendation to anyone else who is getting into the sport. Aire boats have been the best performing boat we have had the opportunity to paddle plain and simple. A lot of runs we get on have high consequences and I would definitely not do them without the best boat and paddles as in the end everyone coming home safe is the matter with the highest importance. Pushing performance aside though if I personally were going to buy a boat to do normal class 4/5 runs I would still go with the Aire due to the warranty as no matter what material you get there is still a good chance that it will get a tear over time and I would like the idea of knowing that I have a ten year warranty.

Of anyone on this post you have provided more in terms of a statement about the performance of a particular raft vs the competition. Regardless of whom you work for.

Getting past the Warranty, which is amazing but doesn't do you any good on the water, what are some other specs that you have noticed about different boat styles and their performance with PADDLERs in the Gnar?

I say we also open up the discussion to Oar rigs as well as Paddle Rafts. Big Water vs Technical Water. Will a 13' Super Puma with a paddle crew handle Satan's Gut on Cataract better than a 13' Hyside with Oars and a Frame?
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Old 03-30-2016   #36
I'm wrong 50% of the time
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RFV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
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As subjective as this post is, it really depends on what section is in your backyard and what you like to run. Are you running Bailey in a paddle raft, then your looking at narrow 11 to 13ft boats. If you are running Gore, then your looking for a 13 to 14ft raft. Want to run Forks of the Kern, then your looking for a light weight boat that you can pack in. I'll stand by my recommendation of Aire, but the best boat is the one that you can afford today that gets you out on the water tomorrow. If you have limited funds, a budget boat will get you on the river. Would I trust it on Gore or Bailey? Maybe, but I'd trust an Aire, Maravia, Sotar, Hyside more. Are you going to be adding thwarts for foot placement or will you be gluing in foot cups? (Another benefit of Aire is the lace in floor and the ability to move thwarts to any position in the boat). Diminishing tubes, overt rocker, tube diameter, overall boat length and width all play a part in what a boat does on the water. Many people have a number of boats for paddle rafting, oar rigs, overnights, day trips, solo or crew. Are you limiting yourself by buying a paddle specific boat and then wanting to run Cataract? Many questions that only the OP must answer.
Claimer: Someone that makes a claim that they have been there and done that, can do anything you can do better than you. I hate "claimers"
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Old 03-30-2016   #37
Great Falls, Montana
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AIRE 130D, frame and Gear - Mountain Buzz Gear Swap
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Old 03-30-2016   #38
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Sotar and Maravia have 10 year warranties as well

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Old 03-30-2016   #39
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 3
Hello Marcus!

You asked very important questions. They are worthy of many discussions, but let me summarize what I know of rafts, their materials and features - in a brief summary.

First of all, all US manufacturers use excellent materials and put a lot of efforts into design. Aire, Hyside, Maravia, Sotar, Star, NRS and our company, ZelGear - we all make high-quality boats. You cannot go wrong with either one. It is true that Aire uses superb PVC materials that allow company to offer 10 years warranty (and it is very rarely used). But if you buy NRS raft, you are still not very likely to make any significant repairs in the next 10 years.
State-of-the-art materials may give the boat even more life, but they usually cost more - so you need to leverage how much you use your boat vs price you pay.
If you plan to put on your raft 50 river days a year - do not look at the price tag, just go for the best. But if you plan to get 10-15 days a year, maybe it is wise to
look for a bargain.

PVC vs PU-coated materials. Our tests show that PU materials are 3-6 times stronger and 2-3 times lighter than comparable PVC materials. But they are a lot more expensive, and also more prone to dry damage ( do not drug PVC boat over shore rocks). Their UV resistance greatly depends on a pigment film coating used. Some of PU coated materials without proper UV protection can degrade faster than PVC. 303 protectant is less efficient with PU boats, so UV coating is a must. If you buy a boat for US manufacturer, this is generally not a consideration, but it is for many Asia-made clones.
Since PU is more expensive, question if you want it depends a lot on how much you need your boat to be light-weight. If you do, PU is worth the extra expense.

More Rocker vs Less Rocker.
Common sense says you need at least some rocker - question is how much.
Rocker helps your boat to go over some small and medium holes, climb over big waves. It makes surfing easier. It helps turn the boat with less effort.
On the down side, rocker reduces your boat's speed and its ability to punch through really big holes ( something you find only on class 4 and 5 rapids.)
Lesser rocker means higher speed. To take an advantage of higher boat's speed and better punch-through ability, your crew needs to be well-trained. Otherwise, less rocker will only amount to less comfortable and wetter ride.
Probably, it is a matter of taste more than anything. You will certainly get very different opinions on the subject. I prefer very moderate (no more than average) rocker, especially in class 5. But that's very subjective.

Tube size.
Generally, larger tubes let you run through larger rapids and carry higher loads, but your boat weight (and price) goes up. Also with larger tubes ( 24" +)
it gets slightly less comfortable to paddle, because you seat very high above the water, and sometimes the ride gets more bumpy too.

Raft length.
Since you have 4 or 5 paddlers, you need a smaller raft, likely 12-13' long.

Standard Floor vs Inflatable Floor. A lot of people will tell you about the advantages of self-bailing rafts with the inflatable floor.
But inflatable floor makes the raft a lot more expensive, they also often fail sooner than the main tube. And standard floor does not have to be a "bucket" type, it may be self-bailing too. A good example is a Star's hanging floor that is self-bailing, but not inflatable. It is certainly a valid option if you look to spend less on a good white-water capable raft.

Double Layer vs Single Layer. Basically, this option means Aire vs. the Rest Of The World. Aire is the only major manufacturer that utilizes the internal bladder system ( they called it AireCells). The outer layer is tough but not air- or water-tight and internal bladder is thin and airtight. Total weight of the boat is slightly higher. Most of the boaters I know regard the double layer system as inferior (and cheaper - technologically it is much easier to make non-airtight outer layer), but no one calls Aire boats "inferior" because Aire offsets this " signature feature" with superb materials and excellent, proven designs. Their Puma / SuperPuma raft should certainly be on your short list. Personally though, I do not want extra weight, more maintenance ( drying) and high price tag that come with Aire boats. This is very subjective, of course.

Welded vs Glued. This is a complex subject and may produce a heated discussion. Today most manufacturers (and we are among them) believe that hot air welding is the best option, at least for the main seams. But some others claim that modern glues are very reliable and very strong too. They also point to the fact that glued seams are less prone to form ripples - and ripples create wear spots and decrease boat's speed. This is true, yet most ripples form at seams higher curvature - nose and stern - e.g. above the water line. Only very emphasized rocker can make this an issue worth talking about.
What I know, however, is that all glues used on old rafts fail sooner or later
( except black rubber glue used by Shredder). I had more than one raft and cataraft set of tubes disposed of - because glued seams started to separate completely.
Maybe current glues are better. But we will know that in 10-15 years from now.
Until that, I strongly prefer welded boats, especially if wear-prone parts are protected by extra layers of material.

Small Raft Alternatives - Paddle cats / Frameless catarafts.
There are a few companies - Shredder ( Airtight Inflatables), JPW ( Jack's Plastic Welding), Aire and us, ZelGear -
that offer you a very interesting raft alternative: a frameless cataraft, suitable for 4 ( or 4+ ) boaters.

Aire makes SaberTooth that is designed as R2, but can be used (barely) by 4 people.
JPW makes Grand Culebra. It is a great boat, but rather expensive. Can accommodate 5-th person ( as a passenger).
Shredder is an infamous, original paddle cat. It has many advantages, for example, great durability and very light weight. Shredders are beloved and treasured by their owners. Only limited number of custom-made Shredders are made for 4 paddlers. You cannot go wrong with this boat. But no room for 5-th person.
Finally, our company, ZelGear - offers you a very different design called OtteR-4. It gives 4 paddlers the option to use kneeling seats similar to ones found in whitewater canoes. 5-th person can be carried as a passenger. You can read more on our site:

Len Fromzel @ZelGear
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Old 03-30-2016   #40
Great Falls, Montana
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