New Member asking for seasoned advice on raft purchase. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-13-2012   #1
Paul7's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 861
New Member asking for seasoned advice on raft purchase.

I've joined this site after many Google searches ending in your forums, I seem to find the best info right here, I also like the mostly friendly dialogue I've seen something many forums lack.

I want to buy a raft for the family, which is what my topic is about but first a little about us.

I'm married and have three kids 6, 10, and 13 and also have a springer spaniel. We live in Coeur d'Alene ID and love the rivers. This will be our first boat of our own but were not completely green. We have taken numerous commercial floats over the years and I have around 100 river miles of actual guide time running a 14' Aire on the lower Salmon, Spokane, and Tieton Rivers. Yes I know that's not a lot and invites a lot of negative criticism but I'm feeling like I know enough to get started.

Saftey is very important to us and I'll be taking appropriate training in the spring either through ROW or Pangea.

What we would like to start with is easy floats just to get the skills up, honestly were not in a rush to start hitting white water we just want to get out on the water. As skills develop and we meet other skilled boaters I would like whatever boat we buy to not be a handicap.

Most of my experience on rafts have been the Aire R series they seem to be favored in these parts by the colleges and guide services. It's what I took through the entire lower Salmon and combined with the fact that they are made semi-locally with a 10 year warranty I must say I'm a fan.

Size wise I think we would be wise to get a 15-16', It seem big but to do over-nighters I think that's what it would take. for day trips it would be a must to bring one other person along.

Is that a good size?
What about boat design? Should I stick with a "R" series or take a look at some of the dimensional tube designs?

Aire has a new boat called the Double D which looks like a good boat anyone know how that would compare to a round boat?

Full disclosure I've only once played on the oars so my knowledge of frames and the like are very limited.


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Old 08-14-2012   #2
IdahoGold's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 3
Welcome Paul. I just recently purchased my first boat this spring. I always planned on purchasing a 15' Aire based on my experience running them on the Salmon. I still think they are great, however, I ended up purchasing a NRS Otter 150 and have been really happy with it. I ran the middle fork this summer and it really held up well running over rough granite in the shallow upper section.

I live in Post Falls and so it's convenient to have NRS not far away in Moscow where I can get all my rafting gear in one spot, plus get repairs done if the need arises.

I think you are right on getting a 15' or 16' raft. You can easily maneuver it, and good for hauling gear. The only thing that makes me question your situation is being able to fit all 5 of your family, dog, and gear for a multi-day.
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Old 08-14-2012   #3
welch, Oklahoma
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 207
Stick with the arie series and leave the dog at home .
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Old 08-14-2012   #4
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Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 861
Yeah dog is optional maybe on day trips. I know a multi day is a tall order with one boat but heck were used to canoeing and backpacking we can do without many comforts that rafters usually have.

I just want to get the kids on the water, it's such a fun way to spend family time. We have the best times on the river compared to other activities that require kids to work so hard to keep up.
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Old 08-14-2012   #5
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 61
Hi Paul:

I have an aire boat (the force) and love it for an IK experence. Aire makes great boats, the only downside(s) I have found with the aire line is the bulk when rolled. THere is just no way around it plastic boats roll larger than rubber boats.

So as long as that is not an issue why not buy American made....ok ok not all the aires are made here but a lot of them are.

Also why not check the used section here and where you live a long life if taken care of.

Good luck

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Old 08-14-2012   #6
Pcdc2's Avatar
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 104
Hey Paul,

I have an AIRE 156R (15'9" actual length) and love it. It sounds like it would be perfect for your situation. I was tempted to go a size smaller when I bought it but I regularly bring a couple extra family or friends on trips and figured the extra size would be a good thing. I was right.

I have owned it for two seasons now and run it through its paces with multiple trips on Deso, Yampa, Cataract, more Westwaters than I can count, a couple Middle Fork Salmon trips, a lot of dailies on the Snake, Green, and Colorado. I've only run it as an oar setup, though I have the thwarts for paddling if I were so inclined. With an oar setup you wouldn't need anyone else to help you run it, you can go solo if so inclined. It holds a ton of gear - I regularly get stuck as the main gear boat, loaded down, so that may be an issue - everyone will want to put their leftover shit on your boat.

But for a family boat its a great size. Let me know if you have any other questions, but I'd recommend it. She's great quality, the ballast floor has saved me from flipping a couple times, and its got that badass warranty. j

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Old 08-14-2012   #7
FatmanZ's Avatar
Northern Utah, Utah
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 687
Pick up some Inflatable Kayaks for the kids when you get the raft. Assuming they love being on the water you'll be glad you did. Aire TomCat LV for the younger ones, a regular TomCat for the older one. NRS also has some nice IKs. The great thing about IKs is when they're not being used it's easy to roll them and stuff them in the raft, and just as easy to break them out when the kids get bored sitting on the raft.
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Old 08-14-2012   #8
idaho falls, Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 48
I rowed a dd down Hell's this spring. It handled great and you would have no problem fitting your family on it. The only thing I didn't like was how wet the front passengers get. The diminishing tubes allow more water over the bow, even the small rapids can get you wet. If they gave it more kick at the bow and stern it would be a sweet boat.

I prefer maravia so if i were you I'd buy a willie 1.5 or willie 2. NRS makes great boats and having them close is something to consider.
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Old 08-14-2012   #9
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Post Falls, Idaho
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 861
Great ideas about the IKs I agree!
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Old 08-14-2012   #10
Paul7's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 861
Whee, would you recommend either the double d or the 156R over the other? Am I correct in assuming the double d would have larger interior room? Getting wet is fun, but not so much that It would be a concern with young ones hanging on.

Is the wet ride a huge difference or just noticeably wetter type thing?
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