Joe loaned me a 12' SB to take on Westwater a couple of weeks ago. I had a buddy of mine row it through the rapids since I had a friend's wife on my boat and absolutely did not want her to swim. Here are my thoughts on the new Rocky Mountain Raft line:
For an inexpensive boat, its pretty beefy. I was glad Joe helped me hoist it into the bow of my trailered boat for the trip out. I once had a little 12' SOTAR that was seemed light enough to carry it under my arm - that ain't the case with this boat.
When we unrolled it and aired it up, the first thing I noticed was that its got an underside like elephant hide and has a chafer pad all the way around the top of the tubes - good reinforcement everywhere you'd want it. Just like my Vanguard except the topside of the RM floor seems like a thicker material than the VG. The RM base fabric for the tubes is 1100 denier. And I love the Leafield valves. The thwarts were also a cinch to pull out with the bat and batten-type attachment system - no lacing, or hard plastic knuckles and pin to deal with.
We carried it down to the water to rig and the handles are really sweet - like the ones on an NRS, I think - with rubber grips. The other rafters I met up with at the ranger station were impressed with the heft of the boat, especially when I told them its a $2K self-bailer - these are a couple of guys who have been running rivers since the 70s.
When I rowed it, the boat tracked well and was really maneuverable. Then again, after rowing a loaded 14' boat, any lightly loaded 12' would be like a sports car, but it still seemed really sweet. About the only downside is that the floor seemed a little soft when the PRV maxed out and started to bleed. Joe says this production run came with 2 psi PRVs and they're going to put in a higher-rated PRV in the next shipment (2.75?). With the welded I-beams it probably won't have any problem holding 2.5 or 3 psi. The floor's old school laced in instead of glued. I like this because if you ever need to replace a glued in floor it seems like you've got a lot of work for your glue sniffer to do instead of just ordering a new one and stitching it in with webbing.
There seems like a lot of room in the raft with a fair bit of freeboard below the top of the tubes for stowing gear. There are also lots of D-rings though the ones where the kick starts on each end could be angled instead of straight up to better secure a frame with front to back tension. The kick's good but not too high - it'll punch through waves rather than get stalled as easily. I don't know all the specs but it seems like a really well-designed boat.
Years ago when when I had a (really) old PVC Maravia I heard that most holes in PVC boats come from abrasion wear during transport - a carry cover comes standard with the boat which is a nice bonus.
Below is a shot of my buddy Eric on Bowling Alley in the Rocky Mountain boat. He did really well for a kayaker whose sprayskirt might have finally shrunk too much for him. Nailed the meat on Sock it to Me as well and came through everything with the blue side up. Eric said when he hit the wave at SITM the boat completely filled with water but then drained really quick.
Joe was saying they wanted to build an inexpensive boat that was well constructed. From everything I've seen and know about the boats, I think they've done that. He said they've almost sold out of their first run and I don't think it'll take long to move the next shipment.