Try before you buy? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-13-2015   #1
SpeyCatr's Avatar
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 446
Try before you buy?

How many of you who bought your rafts or catarafts (or creature crafts) or IK's, tried your boat before you bought it? Or had enough experience that you roughly knew what it would be like? Have you ever bought a boat without doing this, and been surprised at the performance (or lack thereof?)? I know manufacturers will offer commercial rafting outfits demo boats to try as but do they offer the individual boater a chance to try a demo boat? The only reason I ask is there is a thread recently about a person who is not happy with the performance of his Scadden boat and it got me to thinking if the industry (or some in the industry) does indeed offer this option,considering the thousands of dollars you have to fork out at times...

15' AIRE Wave Destroyer - MadCatr Frame - Sawyer MXS oars w/Duramax blades
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Old 09-13-2015   #2
k2andcannoli's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 855
I've been offered demos by Mike with Star at Cheatfest. I emailed him beforehand and told him I'd be there and would like to try some boats. He told me what he'd be bringing and said I was welcome to take anything he had, even offered up his custom one off slice.

I imagine the manufacturers in the pnw would offer demos at the fests out that way.

I also have a bunch of guide friends and will often borrow a raft on slow days in ohiopyle. The outfitters there offer no guide in boat rentals on the lower yough (as long as it's not high), so even if you don't know anyone you can still try out airtight, dib, Avon, custom inflatables, nrs, and aire rafts on class 3 water. I don't know of anywhere else that offers unguided rentals on class 3 water.
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Old 09-14-2015   #3
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 609
We were able to rent a 15' oar rig (think it was maybe a Hyside or a Vanguard or possibly an Aire... I really can't remember....) and we were really felt like it was just way too big and a pain in the ass to haul around. Then we were able to borrow an Aire Sabertooth, which we looooved and it was so much fun and easy to carry around, but just a bit small in the seating area for two adults and three kids, and also kinda pricey. So then we were able to rent an RMR Storm, which was like Cinderella's glass slipper. We bought it. Now the problem lies in the decision of whether to take the hardshells or the raft. So many varying factors... how much gear... how much beer... how many miles... how many rapids... kids or no kids... but that's a different thread...
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 09-14-2015   #4
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,176
There are four places nearby that rent boats - not saying they rent what you're looking for but calling around to boating shops would be a good bet. In our case one rents NRS and Aire, the other stars (or rebadged versions there of) The fourth is a little farther but they rent a variety of brands. None, however are cats, all rent round boats; I'm not aware of cat demo's. With that said, Sotar advertises demo boats for sale for instance, so they must demo boats in some matter. I'm sure if you were in the area they'd hook you up, as would Aire, NRS and Maravia I'd guess. All you'd have to do is ask (and leave a deposit, I'm sure).

In my case, I had a pretty good idea what I wanted - at least I knew exactly what I didn't want and I asked a lot of questions here and ultimately made a $5500 educated guess. It worked out splendidly for me.

I think as long as you know what you don't want, and know what causes the undesired feature/attribute/whatnot then you won't end up unhappy with your purchase. Unless that is, you buy a Scadden. Real boats are tried, true, tested and vetted by other users.

The last thing I'd warn of is to not waste too much time over thinking it. Certainly don't waste a season wishing and washing because what you will regret, is the time lost on your new craft, whatever it ends up being.
"If you dont do it this year, you will be one year older when you do"
-Warren Miller
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