Best Beginner Raft? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 05-12-2008   #1
 
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Best Beginner Raft?

I'm looking to buy my first boat, am poor, and am wondering what a good "first" boat is. I'm thinking of using it for multi-day trips and don't see myself doing much more than the occasional IV with it. Any suggestions for an economical, forgiving raft?

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Old 05-12-2008   #2
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It depends how big of a boat you want. There were some 14' Aire rafts on here recently that looked like they were a good price for a first raft.
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Old 05-12-2008   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randaddy View Post
It depends how big of a boat you want.
Yes, looking for a smaller raft. Any specific brand/model recommendations?
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Old 05-12-2008   #4
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I prefer the major manufacturers of Hypalon boats: Hyside, NRS, Avon. I think Hypalon ages well (PVC becomes harder and more brittle with age...) and having hypalon repair skills is an asset should you ever want to guide commercially. I think a used 13-14' Hyside or NRS raft is a great purchase. You can throw a frame on and have a great overnighter rig and they make great paddle boats. I guess I'm assuming you want a self bailing raft, but you didn't say what you will be using it for.

Of course every brand/material has its advantages. Maravia boats track beautifully in my experience...

I would look for used boats and post several links on one thread to get input on the price, condition, and general quality of the boats you are looking at. NRS has a swap on their site. Also try googling "raft craigslist". This will usually bring up a lot of boats for sale in different parts of the country.

I hope this helps. Remember, if this is your first boat you probably don't have much repair experience. I would say it is worth the money to get a used raft in good condition rather than try to save a buck with a big project....
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Old 05-13-2008   #5
 
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I would recommend a self bailer. I prefer Hypalon, but there are some great deals on the lower end PVC boats out there - Saturn comes to mind. I recently saw a Colorado Headwaters raft on craigslist (self bailer) for cheap. Personally I found a good deal on a used Hyside and am very happy with it, and yes Hyside is my first choice in rafts.

Check out crazedlist.org - it is a meta search for craigslist (ie allows you to search multiple craigslist sites at once).

At the end of the day, in a lot of ways, all rafts are the same. Self bailer vs non bailer is a real difference, outside of that though... Yeah there are better and worse boats out there, but the differences, in my opinion, aren't that big.
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Old 05-13-2008   #6
 
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We picked up a used 13ft hyside for 1600. Its in good shape and certainly has a lot of life left. We took it out on eagle and worked great. Check with local guide services, they seem to all have some boats for sale. Even got some used paddles for cheap.
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Old 05-13-2008   #7
 
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Baseed on the steep prices people are asking for used rubber, I would suggest you try Leroy at the Pleasure Park in CO, (970) 872-2525. He had a few NEW Star 13'8" Wonder Bugs for $1775. A good Price for new rubber and I personally like the Cat/raft design a lot. I think He'll ship it for about $150, plus not tax if you're in Maryland sleeping in you old bedroom at your parents house.
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Old 05-13-2008   #8
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Spending $1700+ on a Star is like dropping $17k on a Hyundai when you could have bought the Honda for a little more. It will work the same, but it's just not as nice as the Honda. I doubt it will last as long either. For the $1775 mentioned above you can get a really nice used hypalon boat.

No offense to anyone driving a Hyundai, I'm sure not getting any is punishment enough...
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Old 05-13-2008   #9
 
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Exactly! A brand new Hyundai is a pretty nice car for a first car, I didn't drive anything that nice when I was 16; if you'll allow the analogy.


With a new boat there is the added expense of paddles/oars & frame, rope, cooler... If you do find a good deal used, much of that may be included.
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Old 05-13-2008   #10
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I guess a better analogy would be a Hyundai that is glue together is not near as nice as a Honda that is welded. I believe that Star rafts are made of glued PVC which degrades over time. If you buy a PVC boat (Aire, Jack's, Maravia, et al.) I would suggest welded plastic that is resistant to UV. Hypalon boats don't tend to come apart where they are glued. I think it has something to do with the gas emitted by disintegrating PVC eating away at the glue.

Also, you buy a cheap car for a beginner driver because they are likely to have fender benders. I would say that you want a higher quality raft for the same reason: you will be meeting a lot of rocks in your first years...
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