Cataraft vs. Raft set-up for family - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-18-2013   #1
 
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Delta, Colorado
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Cataraft vs. Raft set-up for family

My official first post w/ the support from friends on this site - thank you! I'm fairly new to the boating world with really only a hand full of trips under my belt. I currently live in Western Colorado where most of my time on water has been on such stretches from the Gunnison to the Grand. I have recently sold off the motos and I'm looking to get my family into this amazing community. I'm starting with nothing and always alert to those all inclusive deals on the buzz - boat, dry gear, trailer etc.. Which leads me to my question: With a family of 5 (my wife and I and three kiddos ages 3, 5, 7) I've been looking at 14ft rafts but recently I've had my eye on Catarafts - around the 16ft mark. I'm looking for a rig that can grow with my family (more flat water for now) but I'm getting mixed reviews on Catarafts vs. rafts and thought I'd open the discussion here amongst other family boaters. I'm looking for family guys/gals that can help me with this direction as well as those that have opinions on my current situation regarding which boat I should be leaning more towards.. Any and all thoughts, suggestions and hand-holding are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 04-18-2013   #2
 
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Poundtown, Wokastan
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I'm thinking 16' SB raft all the way! 14' raft is going to be a bit on the small side IMHO.
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Old 04-18-2013   #3
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Love these topics!

I am a family boater (wife and a son). I went for a 16' round raft for a few reasons:

1. Can carry more weight without overloading the boat
2. The tubes act as bumpers for the kido not to fall off
3. Wife has the whole bow to herself

I have been family boating for the last 6 years (my boy started at 4) and I am loving my setup.

I also boat with a cataraft buddy with his 4 kids. He has an 18 foot cataraft and can fit just as much stuff as I can.

When it comes down to it, it's really what your preference is. Cats are more stable in bigger water, rafts seem safer with little kidos.

The main thing to happy family rafting is to spoil your family rotten. Get all the awesome camping gear first.

1. Tent: Make sure wife can fully stand up in the tent, have a good vestibule for all the kids toys
2. Pee bucket for the lady and the kids in the tent
3. Paco pads are a must (don't settle for cheapo pads)
4. Plenty of changing clothes for the kids
5. Comfy camp chairs and plenty of head lamps
6. Camp games (bocce, ladder ball, horse shoes)
7. Get a bimini top for your large raft/cat. Nothing worse than little kids baking in the sun on a long stretch of flat water
8. Good life jackets and splash gear and wet suits. Kids cold = no fun for captain
9. Captain boxes! Very expensive investment, but soooo many times I come up to a big rapid and I hear "I am cold!" "I need a snack!" ... kids work on their own schedule, a quick access to dry area will keep your wife and kids very happy.

90% of my last 6 years have been family rafting through out Utah and Colorado, PM me if you want to chat more on what works or doesn't. Everyone has their way of making things work. Main thing is to think on how every purchase will benefit your family and you will find your little heaven on the river

Alex

PS: With listed people in your family, do not go anything smaller than 16'. Stick to big rivers for family floats, so a large boat will take on everything in our region. Once kids grow up, then take them to smaller rivers in smaller boats.
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Old 04-18-2013   #4
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Another vote for a 16' round boat or 18' cat if your a cat boater at hart.

Kazak put it out there real nice! 100% agree.
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Old 04-18-2013   #5
 
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Delta, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtbagkayaker View Post
I'm thinking 16' SB raft all the way! 14' raft is going to be a bit on the small side IMHO.
Thanks! I appreciate your opinion on size..
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Old 04-18-2013   #6
 
San Francisco, California
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It is possible to do it with 14', but if your main goal is family boating, I wouldn't get anything shorter than 16'. I have 4 kids (just add a 10 year old to yours), and went with 15'7" Aire. Even then, it seems a bit tight but I think I can manage it by packing judiciously.

Cat is cool but given the age your your children, I would go with a cat. I have never owned a cat, but cannot imagine my 3 year old moving around in the open bay without any some sort of tube around her. I've been a long time boater/fisherman with a smaller raft doing solos and duos, but am looking forward to doing it now with my growing children. I think it's the most awesome & economical way(once you have the gear) to vacation as a family. Our kids have been watching all the youtube clips of people running the Grand, mentally preparing for our first family expedition this summer.

It will be great if you can pick up a turnkey package, especially for your first boat. It gets expensive when you try to do it by piece.
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Old 04-18-2013   #7
 
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Delta, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazak4x4 View Post
Love these topics!

I am a family boater (wife and a son). I went for a 16' round raft for a few reasons:

1. Can carry more weight without overloading the boat
2. The tubes act as bumpers for the kido not to fall off
3. Wife has the whole bow to herself

I have been family boating for the last 6 years (my boy started at 4) and I am loving my setup.

I also boat with a cataraft body with his 4 kids. He has an 18 foot cataraft and can fit just as much stuff as I can.

When it comes down to it, it's really what your preference is. Cats are more stable in bigger water, rafts seem safer with little kidos.

The main thing to happy family rafting is to spoil your family rotten. Get all the awesome camping gear first.

1. Tent: Make sure wife can fully stand up in the tent, have a good vestibule for all the kids toys
2. Pee bucket for the lady and the kids in the tent
3. Paco pads are a must (don't settle for cheapo pads)
4. Plenty of changing clothes for the kids
5. Comfy camp chairs and plenty of head lamps
6. Camp games (bocce, ladder ball, horse shoes)
7. Get a bimini top for your large raft/cat. Nothing worse than little kids baking in the sun on a long stretch of flat water
8. Good life jackets and splash gear and wet suits. Kids cold = no fun for captain

90% of my last 6 years have been family rafting through out Utah and Colorado, PM me if you want to chat more on what works or doesn't. Everyone has their way of making things work. Main thin is to think on how every purchase will benefit your family and you will find your little heaven on the river

Alex

PS: With listed people in your family, do not go anything smaller than 16'. Stick to big rivers for family floats, so a large boat will take on everything in our region. Once kids grow up, then take them to smaller rivers in smaller boats.
WOW! Alex, thanks so much for taking the time - a huge welcome to the community, no doubt. All your points are sinking in and now more that ever, I can't wait to dial things in. The open door means the world and I will certainly reach out. As you point out, I'm truly trying to make smart choices for my family and as outdoor of a family we are, this new venture will only blossom over time. Thanks again buddy!
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Old 04-18-2013   #8
 
Missoula, Montana
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My family of 5 grew up on a 14 foot round boat. Plenty of room for day trips but I would have liked a bigger boat for multi-day trips. My preference would be a 15-15.5 foot boat. I don't think I would go any bigger because of the difficulty in loading and unloading.

With kids a round boat is by far better than a cat.
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Old 04-18-2013   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mesaliving View Post
Thanks! I appreciate your opinion on size..

14' boats are great boats. If you like the idea of a shorter boat for your family. Get one with a larger tube diameter. Say no less than 20". 21" would be even better. The same goes for cats. except no less than 24" tubes. Also before you buy. Consider how you are going to store your boat in the winter. If you need to roll the boat for winter, then make sure the boat rolls easy and tight. Not all boats do.
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Old 04-18-2013   #10
 
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Delta, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verendus View Post
It is possible to do it with 14', but if your main goal is family boating, I wouldn't get anything shorter than 16'. I have 4 kids (just add a 10 year old to yours), and went with 15'7" Aire. Even then, it seems a bit tight but I think I can manage it by packing judiciously.

Cat is cool but given the age your your children, I would go with a cat. I have never owned a cat, but cannot imagine my 3 year old moving around in the open bay without any some sort of tube around her. I've been a long time boater/fisherman with a smaller raft doing solos and duos, but am looking forward to doing it now with my growing children. I think it's the most awesome & economical way(once you have the gear) to vacation as a family. Our kids have been watching all the youtube clips of people running the Grand, mentally preparing for our first family expedition this summer.

It will be great if you can pick up a turnkey package, especially for your first boat. It gets expensive when you try to do it by piece.
Thanks! Great points! It'll all come together and AGREED on the "most awesome and economical way to vacation". Pretty awesome that your kids are checking out YouTube for vids on the grand - I did the same thing Floated Grand last summer (Lee's to Crystal) - certainly the trip that solidified my direction with boating.
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