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Old 06-02-2010   #1
Missoula, Missoula, MT
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 23
Questions about whitewater rafts

Hi I'm new here and was hoping i could get some answers on a couple things. I'm looking to buy a 12 or 13 ft raft pretty soon, I was looking at the Aire rafts earlier, they are very nice but quite expensive.

My questions are: 1: What are other popular rafts out there that are durable yet somewhat affordable? I don't think I'm ready to drop 4 grand on a raft right now.

2. How do people typically haul these bigger rafts around? Do they roll them up and put them in a pickup and blow them up at their destination? Or is it better to keep them inflated and use a flatbed trailer to haul them around?

I have a cheapo 10 ft Intex seahawk2 right now, its small enough to deflate and blow up at the river, but I have my doubts about doing that with these bigger more versatile rafts. Thanks for any input.

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Old 06-02-2010   #2
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
I went through this last year. I ended up with a 14 NRS Otter series, but I also looked at Aire, Hyside and Tributary, among others. I ended up spending a bit more than I originally planned, but that sucker is going to be my kids' raft when they bury me... lol

Get it to the river any way you can. Buy an inflator that hooks to your car battery and save your back. Last year, we hauled the new raft in a minvan with the frame on top (it comes apart and could have gone inside even) and we bought a fold up utility trailer from Harbor Freight to tow it behind a Mustang convertible. Yes, I had the coolest ride at the takeout in the Mustang... LOL

My 14' raft would fit in a lot of trunks even when deflated and rolled up. It's all the other gear that's the issue - PFD's, coolers, oars, frame, etc.

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Old 06-03-2010   #3
Jacksonville, Florida
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 35
What kind of car do you have? Do you have a truck with a hitch? I would also say it depends on how far you are traveling to the river. If you're going 200 miles on I-80 at 75 mph you might not want to trail an 13 ft inflated raft.

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Old 06-03-2010   #4
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 32
NRS, Aire, Hyside, Avon - all good boats - I have a 30 yr. old Avon and two old Aire cats that never need topping off - even on 7-day trips - when you buy quality, they last. I would recommend shopping around on the swap sites and finding a good used one that comes with most of the gear you're going to need. I would also recommend getting at least a 14 footer if you're thinking multi-day - small boats are fun, but they get overloaded in a hurry.

I agree with Boilermaker - get it to the river however you can - the age old argument of half-inflated vs. rolled up will live forever - I store and haul mine rolled, just because I'm usually bringing three boats. We did haul a 16 footer fully inflated on a flatbed from Salt Lake to the Salmon last year -worked fine.
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Old 06-03-2010   #5
Missoula, Missoula, MT
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 23
Thanks for the info everyone. My car is a 99 Subaru Impreza Sport Outback. I have a hitch on it already that I installed for my bike rack, so getting a trailer isn't a problem, and I checked out the utility trailers on harbor freight as mentioned, they are incredibly affordable!

As of now, my drive with the raft would be about 170 miles, averaging 65 mph. I'm sure I could roll it up in my car, but fitting all my other camping gear and what not would become an issue.

Jamwin, do you have any suggestions of these swap sites you speak of? I did see the for sale section on this website and their is a pretty good selection on there. Any others you recommend?
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Old 06-03-2010   #6
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 32
This site, Craigslist, NRS Gear swap, Cascade has a used boat section, RiverBoat Works used to (not sure if they still handle used gear). Patience is the key, and you will have to be willing to travel a bit. Good luck.
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Old 06-03-2010   #7
Owner: Class 5 Carvings
Paul the Kayaker's Avatar
The Fort, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 498
I can roll up a 14 foot hyside that is 7 feet wide, pretty much the same dimensions at the newer NRS 140's , and fit it in my passat wagon, with all the gear I need for 5 and the paddles strapped to the roof rack, and still have the rear seat up and drive with 5 people in the car. Trailers have sharp edges and bolts and screws so be careful with the cheap harbor freight trailers, make sure you puncture proof it. Also be aware of leaving your inflated raft on the trailer in the summer or while going over mountain passes. As it gets hotter or higher in altitude air molecules expand and the raft will inflate a bit, so always burb the valves a bit if you have it super pumped up as you drive or it may blow a seam or valve. I think rolling is a simple way to go, the raft is easy to carry, store and put into just about any vehicle, and store it out of the sun as well so you limit the boats exposure to uv rays which over time will degrade the raft. As for pumping it up, just buy a 5 inch bison pump and a 14 hyside with 20 inch tubes can be pumped up in about 10 minutes with two people. I have pumped up a ton of boats and the electric pumps are nice but you still need a top off pump, so why not save the money and just buy a hand pump that does both. People need something to do as gear is organized or shuttles are run anyway, why not pump, plus its a killer work out! Good luck!
P the K
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Old 06-03-2010   #8
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
If you do get one pump, get a good one. Don't get the cheap $30 Wonder Pump for anything other than topping it off. I made due with that for a year for topping off, but I also bought an inflator for the majority of the work. I did inflate the boat once with the Wonder pump, and that made the investment in the new 5" barrel pump all that more appealing... LOL

As for the trailers, you do need to make some modifications to haul inflated, depending on raft size. I've seen some people take off the fenders so the boat clears on the sides. I opted to put risers across (2x4's) and a carpeted deck on top of that. So now it clears the wheels and it's a nice snag-free surface. A roller or two would be good, but the carpeted deck is nice enough for now.

I think the need for a trailer will depend on what kind of trips you are planning and how you plan to use the raft. If it's day trips and paddle trips, then you may not even need it, even with the car you mention. I couldn't get anything but the raft in a Mustang, so I had no other option. LOL You could probably tie oars to the top of your Subaru, so unless oyu have a huge cooler and other large gear, you mght be surprised how much of the raft and it's gear you can get into the back and still have room for your passengers. I guess if I were you, I'd worry aboutnthat once you have the boat. You can get the trailer in a week if you end up going that route.

You do need to watch the boat when trailering. I usually have to stop so the familly can pee, so I always check pressure before I go over the passes, and often have to let a little out. Trailering it deflated buys you more passenger room, but if you don't need that, then why bother as far as I am concerned (for day trips especially). I do it so I can be faster at the put-in, since everyone is anxious to get on the water. When it's just my family, we take two cars, and it gets deflated on the take out, and I then transfer it back onto the trailer when we pick up the trailer at the put in. It makes for a better ride for the trailer on the ride home over towing the empty trailer.

For a multi-day where yu might drive along way and camp the night before putting in or something like that, I can see towing it deflated, inflating it the night before at a camp somewhere, and then trailering it to the put in. There are lots of options with trailers, so they are a nice thing to have.

But first things first... Get the boat! LOL
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Old 06-03-2010   #9
Missoula, Missoula, MT
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 23
Noted! I'll buy a better hand pump. Another question, what are most of the higher end rafts made of? I see some of those rafts that look like the Aire and NRS rafts but they are considerably cheaper. The Saturn, and Aquamarine rafts look like nice rafts but I question why they are so much cheaper then others?
Like this Saturn below, it says its made of PVC, are the other high end rafts made of something other then PVC???
Saturn RD-1400 - 14' Self-Bailing Raft
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Old 06-03-2010   #10
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Frisco, Colorado
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 36
I have had my Saturn for three seasons and I LOVE it! Otherwise I would still be saving up for one of the other ones. If you get on the river you will see a ton of Saturns out there. If I have to go and buy a new one after 10 years I am completely fine with that - it costs 1400 freaking dollars!!! I have taken my 14 ft raft thru class four rapids and under - I have wrapped it on rocks, dragged it on rocks, I throw it on the roof rack ever time I go rafting so I don't have to fully deflate and inflate, it has been dragged and pulled across gravel at the storage unit - It is seriously tuff!

I was extremely skeptical when I bought it, but I figured I would either learn a lesson and return it, or be super happy. I am super happy; ever time we cross paths on the river with another Saturn owner it is the same damn comments, 'what an awesome raft for super cheap.' They are a great product that is constantly knocked on this fourm and I really have no idea why. I have lots of great stories and tons of cool memories thanks to Saturn, otherwise I would still be bumming river rides from others.

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