Buying a used raft? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-27-2008   #1
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 509
Buying a used raft?

I'm in the market for a used 12-14' raft and am wondering what are some things to look for, as far as wear, etc. I found a rafting company that is selling some of their fleet. They have several Avon and Hyside rafts from 8-15 years old and are asking $1200-$1600 for them. They look pretty worn out to me but I don't know how much you can really tell from pictures, and I don't know anything about rafts to begin with. Do those prices sound reasonable? Any other places to check for used rafts? Thanks.

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Old 02-27-2008   #2
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,832
The price sounds about right for a used 14' Avon. The handles and D rings are bound to be warn so plan on replacing a few of them. The main thing I'd look for are the patches and how well thay were done. Did some guide do them in his spare time or were they put on by a real repair shop. If a guide did them it's usually pretty obvious. The fewer the patches the better, same as the size of the patch. The other biggie is the floor I beams. If they are torn, they will show on the inside of the boat. We have more than one Avon in our fleet with a blown I beam or two. It doesn't effect tracking, but it is a nuscence. (We run soft floors on our Avons anyways as they slide off rocks better in low water....and to save the I beams). I beams are really hard to fix too. Very costly, so I'd really pay attention to them.
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Old 02-27-2008   #3
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,165
Here are a few other things I would consider:

Check the baffles - inflate opposite corners of the main tube - the rest of the boat should stay flat. Try to do an overnight leak test ie, inflate the boat fully and leave it overnight to see how much it leaks. After 15 years the boat may be half flat in 24 hours. Okay but annoying for day long paddle trips, but a real pain for multi-days.

Look for areas where the boat is thread bare - ie the hypalon coating on the nylon is worn off. As previously mentioned figure out how many d-rings and handles need to be replaced - it may be most or all of them. That is a real cost and time sink.

I got lucky and found a year 2000 hyside 14'3" commercial series for $800. So far I have replaced 4 d-rings (3 popped simultaneously trying to unwrap the boat - the UV kills the fabric that holds the d-rings, the rest should probably be replaced as well), replaced one of the big d-ring/handles on the front, re-did a poor patch, replaced the floor pressure release valve, fixed a few grommets and partially re-laced the floor (it could easily use 10 more hours of grommet and re-lacing work), and fixed/replaced two foot cups. This boat had three years of commercial use. 8-15 years means that there is probably a rather large backlog of work that needs to be done.

It is fairly common to see Hysides that are about 3-5 years old being sold by outfitters for about $1800-$2000. 15 years is a lot of commercial service from a boat - check out how much UV damage has been done. $1600 for a boat that has 15 years of actual commercial use sounds really steep unless the boat is relatively pristine (not faded, few well done patches, holds air well, solid d-rings, foot cups and handles all in good shape).

It is also worth noting that the newer hysides, after '02 I think, are significantly lighter. My boat weighs about 150 lbs, the new model weighs about 123. The also have the floors glued in so you don't have to re-lace or deal with grommets anymore.

NRS runs a part of their site called gearswap. Boatertalk has a gear section. Of course mountainbuzz has a gear section. I think cascade outfitter also has a used boat section. there are a few boats on ebay. Craigslist is also a source, although it can be a pain to look at multiple locations, but craigslist is where i found my boat. Good Luck.
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Old 03-02-2008   #4
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,466
Buying a raft

There are a couple things to consider when buying a raft not mentioned above. First of all, you (and the posters below you) are talking a lot about Hyside and Avon. I prefer hypalon boats too, but there are other options. Aire and Sotar make great boats too. They are usually priced about the same as the used boats you are looking at. Also NRS rafts are hypalon and can be a little cheaper.

Depending on what you are using the raft for, consider the Rio Bravo line by Hyside (or the Tributary line by Aire.) These are less expensive than rafts made for outfitters. The primary difference is the fabric or "rubber" used. For example, Hyside outfitter boats are between 1650 and 2500 denier hypalon. Rio Bravo rafts are 1100. They do have urethane chaffers on the bottom. For a raft that you will use 10-20 times a year, one of these would probably last at least 10 years in great condition. Of course this depends on what you are running, but if you aren't trashing your boat, you should be OK. A brand new Rio Bravo 12 footer is about $2,000 and they will start building it for a 50% deposit.

I know everyone isn't wild about the Rio Bravo boats or Tributary boats, as many of us have been working on Outfitter Pros, NRS Expeditions, or Sotar Elites for years, but I think you should at least take a look at the specs. I would much rather have a brand new 1100d hypalon boat than a used, and leaky thicker skinned boat. Especially for a little boat. I would also rather have an 1100d hypalon boat than a new PVC boat, but that's just my preference. I just ordered a brand new Rio Bravo Mini-Me (9') and it was $500 less than the Outfitter series. Why would I need Outfitter durability for a little play raft? I don't know, but I'm spending that money on whiskey and rope for the Grand Canyon.
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