Star vs. Vanguard or Other - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-25-2010   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 3
Star vs. Vanguard or Other

I am a long-time Colorado kayaker with two young kids (7 and 9) and need to switch my river paradigm to rafting. I rowed my family down the San Juan last year in a 16-foot Star and was impressed. The boat was 12-years old, held air great and tracked nicely. It also carried a lot of stuff. I liked that a lot. I am seriously considering ordering one of these ... the 15.5 foot Big Dipper (about $3,300). Can anyone give me some insight or experiences with Star Boats. Are there other similar price point boats that would make sense to consider? I know Vanguard makes 15- and 16-footers that are priced similarly to the Star. How are those Vanguards? ALso, NRS Revolution comes in about the same. I would like this to be a family/gear boat for San Juan, Green, Middle Fork, Westwater and Cataract trips.

Of course I would love to get a $5,000 or $6,000, American made hypalon boat, but those are budget busters for me. I am carrying quite a bit of guilt about buying overseas stuff, but an extra 3 grand is a lot of dough.

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Old 07-25-2010   #2
Durango, CO
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 155
in my opnion buy a used boat of higher quality.

I got a 15 year old Maravia for less than a grand. It holds air beautifully, has only a couple patches on the tubes (the floor is lace-in and has taken some beatings).

In ten years, I'd guess my used old boat will be in better shape than a new-today Star or other Chinese made boat. The PVC/Urethane that Maravia uses is super-bomber.

edit to add:

just posted today, it' hypalon, it's 11 years old, and for the price of a star you get dry boxes, oars, frame, etc.

oh. right. you want something bigger. get the idea .
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Old 07-25-2010   #3
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 351
Be wary of Star. Has a reputation for bad glue. I spent 30 hours working on one a few years ago (rebuilding the inside seam) and never could get the last chamber to hold air. Have heard good things about Vanguard but have no experience with them. Might try pricing Hysides.
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Old 07-27-2010   #4
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Silt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 193
Have had a Vanguard for 5 years now, about 50 days per year and have had no problems at all. Holds air perfectly on my deso trips, needs no topping off at all in 5 days. For the price they seem to be a great boat. Happy shopping!!
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Old 07-27-2010   #5
briandburns's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 184
I've seen bad things happen to Stars used commercially. One brand new one touched the end of a blunt bolt with the top of its tube and had explosive decompression. Two others had the floor seams separate. Some others I've used had the thwarts rip out. Only our rookie guides have to use the remaining Stars in the fleet now.....I'd stay away from them.

I saw a sign the other day alongside the road that read, "When you buy quality, you only wince once."
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Old 07-27-2010   #6
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,595
I've had my Vanguard for about 5 years now also. They worked out some of the bugs in their early production runs and seem to be a quality boat. Do a search on them, Stars, and you'll find a lot of info.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 07-27-2010   #7
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 245
My star wonderbug has been a great boat for me so far. I would buy another one if I could get the same deal. It was $1800 new at the time, I think their asking around $2400 for the same one now. I'm not sure if I would be willing to pay $600 more to get the same raft again though. There does seem to be more viable low cost options on the market then there used to be.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Old 07-27-2010   #8
Vail, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9
I've had a Vanguard for three years now and haven't ever had any problems. Their customer service has been excellent. I have also seen their boats used commercially holding up strong after three yearsof use and abuse. Just my $.02
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Old 07-28-2010   #9
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 3
Thanks for all of the feedback here. I am crossing Star off the list and keeping my eyes open for a used hyside, aire, maravia, etc. I am also considering a new Vanguard. It seems like a solid company from all I have heard. Most helpful insights.
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Old 07-28-2010   #10
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C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,769
I've owned my Vanguard since 02.....the first year they came out. It's a rare 12' hypolon model. I love it and it has held up very well over the years. There was a problem with the thort attachment points when I first got it.....but Eric at IRR fixed her up and never had a problem since. The customer service has been great over the years. I highly recommend a Vanguard.....or an Avon of coarse.
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