Looking for a raft - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-04-2008   #1
Land of Lovin, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Looking for a raft

Looking for a raft 13'-14' long, I want to oar and paddle, be able to carry 6-7 paddlers or 2 paddlers and overnight gear.

Is 14' too small for oaring? Do you think 7 people would overload a 14'er?

Any info is appreciated...


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Old 02-04-2008   #2
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2004
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13'-14' is a great size to row in this state! Basically the perfect size for Colorado because there is a lot of technical whitewater to be had, and a larger rig isn't as forgiving. Definately an ideal boat for stuff like the Arkansas, Poudre, Upper Colorado and others. 13'-14' can definately feel a bit small though if you end up on the big western rivers at decent flows (e.g. Cataract, the Grand, etc.). Feels like a rubber duckie a whirlpool.

I don't guide at all, but I think you could easily accomidate 7 passengers + guide in a 14' boat if you have three thwarts to work with. A 13' rig might work as well, but would seem a bit tighter on space with that many people. There's probably some real raft guides on this site that could offer better pointers than I can.

But no, I don't have one to sell you. I'm still trying to save up for a rig of my own . Good luck!
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Old 02-04-2008   #3
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se my ad, on the swap
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Old 02-05-2008   #4
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Boulder, Colorado
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13-14 ft will do everything you need it to do. Most companies run between 12-14 foot boats in Colorado depending on which river and which section they run. 12 footers are more of the sports car, better for a max of six people rather than 8, but you can squeeze them in.

The legal limit on capacity for outfitters is generally divide length by 2, round up if there is a fraction, add one plus the guide. So both 13 and 14 foot boats are okay for 8 plus a guide, 9 total. A 12 footer is good for 7 plus a guide.

12-14 is fine for an oar rig. 14 will get you down the Grand Canyon with one or maybe two passengers. 14 is small at high flows on Cataract, but fine for normal flows there. High flows on Cataract flip 18' boats and even the occasional j-rig - a mix of skill first, and luck second, prevails there regardless of boat size.

I own a 14'3" Hyside Commercial series boat - basically the same as the 14'3" Outfitter Pro, mines just 8 yrs old. For Colorado it is the perfect compromise boat - a bit big for Clear Creek, a bit small for flows above say 15,000 cfs - but you usually have to get out of Colorado to find those.

To answer your question 7 people don't come close to overloading a 14'er unless they are really heavy. Most 14'ers have a capacity of around 1500-1800 lbs, so even 7 200lbers dosen't tip the scales. I have had 11 people in my boat before and it wasn't ideal , but the boat didn't seem to mind much.

If I wasn't going to use the boat for trips like the Middle Fork Salmon and other multiday trips I would go with a 12-13 ft boat. That size can be rowed easily and is fine for a single overnighter - and can support 1 or 2 people for a few days.
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Old 02-05-2008   #5
Boulder, Colorado
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Similar request... slightly different specs

I have slightly different needs to Jen, but maybe the answer is the same. I'm a kayaker with a young family and I want to start introducing them to river trips. This summer I anticipate doing very low key 1-4 night float trips and gradually working up from there. Is 14 large enough (I have two energetic kids)? Also, does anyone have thoughts on what configuration would be best? One rafter friend suggested I look into a set up where one rows from one end of the boat rather than the middle--forget what he called it... maybe stern mount? Thanks for your thoughts. Nick
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Old 02-05-2008   #6
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Eagle County, Colorado
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I have a 13 ft Hyside self bailer. Not sure which model, it is pretty old. It is small enough to semi-awkardly R2 if you want, and big enough for a night or two for my wife and I + the dog sometimes, but pretty cramped and heavy with gear. When paddling, six + guide is really the most that I like to have, but I've crammed more on. (I don't like guiding with someone sitting in the back with me). Four paddlers + guide is probably the best mix of power, weight, and "handling" IMO.

13 or 14 is great, go 13 if you want more handling with less paddlers on smaller rivers, go 14 if you plan to do more overnighters and larger paddle groups. If you don't know which, just find the best deal on either and pick that one! Have fun, and definatley get a self bailer if you can afford one.
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Old 02-05-2008   #7
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Eagle County, Colorado
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I have both a center mount and a stern frame. The center mount is much easier to row, and much more balanced and useful for overnighters. Really, the only use for stern frames is if you like to paddle boat, but want to row at the same time. You can do this with a center frame too, but you usually won't have room for as many paddlers. With a stern frame, I don't have to take out thwarts or anything, just toss it in, fill up the boat with people, and go.

The truth is, unelss everyone is really lazy or drunk or kids or something, I just paddle guide vs. stern frame. The stern frame is nice, though for stuff like Shoshone where everyone wants to paddle in the rapids, but then they just want you to drive once it is beer:30. Besides, if you get good at paddling, you can actually drive the whole thing by yourself anyways. (Commercial guiding with tourists helps you with this skill)
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Old 02-05-2008   #8
Boulder, Colorado
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Thanks Whitelightening. Appreciate the quick response. Sounds like 16' is for the Grand and the like. Might be able to get an Aire 143D which looks like it would suit my needs well. Do you know that boat?
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Old 02-05-2008   #9
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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This topic comes up from time to time. Check out the similar posts - here's one from a couple of years ago:


I personally like a 14' SB if you're only going to have one raft in Colorado. I've R-2'd it on Clear Creek and I've done multi-day oar trips with it too. I once had a 13' and it was lots of fun but just a bit too small, though others like that size. think a lot about what you want to do with it as that's the most important thing.

Good luck choosing,

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 02-05-2008   #10
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Eagle County, Colorado
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Nick, Aire makes a good boat. 16 footers are great for overnighters if you have access to one. They are great for having lots of people or gear. Great for big/open water, not so great on technical water. (You would not have as much fun with a 16 footer on the Numbers or Clear Creek probably.) A 14 footer is pretty versitile though and can sort of meet both needs.

Aire boats are PVC material. There are two or three types of raft material, each with pros and cons. Search here and on BoaterTalk at the Raft Zone for tons of information on that. In a nutshell, PVC is stiffer, which lots of people like in the river, but they don't like to be folded up and tossed in the back of a Subaru, and can crack if you fold them enough (i.e. probably want a trailer for that Aire). Hypalon is softer, but easier to fold, and some argue will last longer. There are some hybrid types like SOTAR that is more of a urathane type coating. They are more expensive, stiff like PVC, but more durable.

If Dana is here listening, he has a fleet of Aire's and uses them a lot and could give you better info. D, you there?
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