12' or 15' raft - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-01-2010   #1
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 8
Join Date: May 2010
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12' or 15' raft

I am finally getting ready to purchase my first raft. I am looking at purchasing from a local raft manufacture out of Durango. However, they only offer two lengths of rafts 12' and 15' I have rowed commercially for 8 years. Mostly on 14' boats. I will mainly be on class III rivers. However, it would be nice to do the occasional week long trip on the San Juan or overnight trip on the Upper Animas. (class IV-V). I am not sure what length to go with. Should I just go with the 12' knowing I will mainly be on class III water? and when I want to go on those occasional trips requiring a bigger boat attempt to find someone to go with that has a larger boat? Or should I go ahead and spend the money on the extra 3' (~$1,000 difference) to have its capabilities when I need it? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Also I have looked at the boats in person they seem to be good quality. The brand is zoik.

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Old 05-01-2010   #2
Snowhere's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
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I went for a 14' hyside with the thought process that it is small enough for the Ark, but still big enough to do multi day trips. I can't see a 12' doing more then a overnighter. I am sure you can, but if you plan on having any company, I would go for the larger.

Right now I wish I had a 16' for the week long trips, and a 10-12' footer for the tight rivers. Since I can't have 2 rafts, I have a 14'.
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Old 05-02-2010   #3
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Go with the 15. That design is basically a cataraft. If you overload it it will wallow like a pig. The 15 gives you more capacity for folks and cargo without over loading than the 12.

The other thing to remember about this design is that the oversized tubes take up a lot more room in the raft than your standard design. I think it is only 24-28 inches between the tubes, which means that you will want to get a smaller cooler to fit.

Having said that, I really like the design. It handles like a dream, tracks great and is a pretty dry ride.
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Old 05-03-2010   #4
pbowman's Avatar
Cody, Wyoming
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 247
I have both, so. . .

I own an 11.5' NRS raft with a 48" NRS frame that I primarily use for paddle rafting and fishing with one swivel seat up front. I can rig that frame with a 72qt cooler or polyboard seat up front for day trips or over-nights, but there is not a lot of gear capacity in that boat with either one of those configurations especially if you are trying to take a passenger. I took it on Westwater last summer with my wife up front, and we were packed light with no spare room for just our gear - and on that trip we didn't have any of the typical group gear as it was on the bigger boats. Rivermanryan also rowed this boat/frame configuration on the Salt this spring, and with no passenger up front we were able to get some more gear on it. Even solo rowing with no passenger it will not carry a whole lot of gear.

Given these experiences, I also bought a 15' NRS raft for big water trips and multi-days. I am putting a frame together for it now, but have not had it on the water yet. I can tell from just inflating it on the patio and setting the frame parts I have so far on it that gear hauling will not be as much of an issue.

I have the ability to have two rafts now so the little boat is dedicated to paddle rafting (a blast for R3 and R4) and fishing that probably accounts for 80% of my river time, while the big boat will be for big water gear hauling that will only get used a handful of times each year. If I ever have to scale down to just one raft in the future, I think the comment about the 14' size being the best suited for most uses is right on. If you prioritize doing multi-day trips higher than paddle rafting my experience would point you towards the 15' boat. But if paddle rafting and short over-nights are your thing, I think the 12' size would provide more fun during those outings. If you take the 12' on a weeklong trip, you will just need to go solo in your boat while packing very light, and hope the other big boats on the trip can haul all the group gear and maybe some of your stuff too. My 2c based on owning each, Later.
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Old 05-03-2010   #5
mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
Join Date: Mar 2008
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You might want to double check to see if the boats are actually manufactured in Durango. I think just their headquarters are there, but I don't know for sure. Another thing to think about is the design of the zoik. They're pretty unique, so comparing them to other rafts (or catarafts for that matter) is like apples and oranges.
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Old 05-03-2010   #6
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 580
Yeah, I thought they were made in China. Haven't seen any Zoik factories in town.

Anyway, I own a 12' and a 15'. I think it comes down to Animas, Piedra, Arkansas vs. San Juan, Westwater, Cataract...what to you enjoy more?
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Old 05-03-2010   #7
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
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Originally Posted by BoscoBoater View Post
Go with the 15. That design is basically a cataraft. If you overload it it will wallow like a pig. The 15 gives you more capacity for folks and cargo without over loading than the 12.
I was thinking the same thing. Conversely, the elevated floor on the 12 footer would take even more away from any overnight storage you might have with a 12er with a lower, traditional floor. You're getting half the depth, and loading it up would likely make it top-heavy.

That being said, if I was to get a second boat (I have a Aire156), I like the looks of the 12 footer. I bet it tracks really nice, and it would be fun to take down the Numbers, Gunny Gorge, etc.

Is this design just a re-do of the Star Super Bug?
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Old 05-03-2010   #8
JustKip's Avatar
Fresno, California
Paddling Since: 1979
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Posts: 184
Given your criteria I wouldn't get a Zoik at all. Period.
The design isn't SB raft OR Cat. It's more shredder/paddlecat like. Although it isn't one of those either, it realy looks like it was intended to take a crew of paddlers rather than (as already been stated) room for gear. I WOULD try a 12 footer for R2ing class IV-V, and a 15 for a crew of 4-6.
I'd rather have a traditional 14 foot SB raft for gear hauling, or a raft or cat for fishing.
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Old 05-04-2010   #9
Stiff N' Wett's Avatar
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 457
If your trying not to bust the bank get a 14' Vangaurd I love mine and have never really heard anything bad about them, everyone I talk to that has one is super stoked with it.
Just a thought.
Pool and a pond... Pond be good for you.
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Old 05-04-2010   #10
DurangoSteve's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
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Originally Posted by El Flaco View Post
Is this design just a re-do of the Star Super Bug?
Yep, same boat, different label.
You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you. - Heraclitus of Ephesus
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