First Raft - what size? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-11-2013   #1
denali1322's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 260
First Raft - what size?

I have been renting rafts for a few years on various trips (Lodore, Ruby Horsethief) and own 3 duckies. I have finally gotten my wife to sign-off on buying a raft so long as I don't spend "too much". Any overnight trips would typically be no more than 2 nights but most of the time, would probably just take the boat down the Ark on day trips. Trips would typically be 2 adults, 2 kids, and possible our dog.

A friend is moving away from CO and looking to dispose of his 14' Hyside Outfitter (about 2 or 3 years old) for a really great deal. From other posts, it looks like most people are saying 16' for any overnight trips (even short ones). However, I'd like to be able to use the raft on Ark day trips and the flows the last couple of years have been such that when I've been in my IK, I've often thought "sure glad I'm not trying to guide some 16' raft through here".

Am I fooling myself to think a 14' is remotely appropriate for periodic overnights? I'd love to get both 14 and 16, but no way the wife will go that.

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Old 09-11-2013   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 418
14'er would be perfect. Hell I've got a 13'er and I think that is perfect too, even for week long over night trips.
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Old 09-11-2013   #3
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,775
If you'll have one boat in Colorado, I recommend a 14'. Small enough for headwaters rivers (Ark, Eagle, etc.), big enough for the Grand.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 09-11-2013   #4
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David Miller's Avatar
Gypsum, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 458
A 14er is much lighter to pick up and more fun in a rock garden than a bigger boat. If you get on a Grand Trip you can always rent a nice big boat. A 14er will also fit on a snowmobile trailer.
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Old 09-11-2013   #5
Jackson County, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 60
+1 for the 14'

I'm in a similar situation as you with a wife and two kids. I have a 14' raft and it holds all of our gear on multi-day trips without a problem. My kids are still relatively small, so the front drybox works well enough as seating for 3 for now. We too, have an IK that my wife jumps in when the water is calm enough for the kids to hang out without someone holding on to them. Best of luck on your purchase, whatever you decide.
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Old 09-11-2013   #6
JustKip's Avatar
Fresno, California
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 184
If the 14' Hyside really is "a really great deal", GET IT! If, after trying it out for an overnighter, it turns out to be too small you can always sell it and get back all of what you paid.
I just did the Rogue in OR in 3 days (2 nights) in my 13.5 ft NRS. There are always more 14 foot rafts and even cats than all other sizes combined.
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Old 09-11-2013   #7
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 618
14! You can paddle raft all the good stuff at high water, ark, poudre, colorado, and oar rig it for everything else. Did a middle fork of the salmon (6 days) and a lodore trip (5 days) this summer in mine. Hyside is awesome too, easy to work with, bomber boats! 16-18 is too big for around here in my opinion, but would be nice on overnights. 14 works easily though, I wouldnt change, even want to take the 14 on the grand. Also almost eveyone in our groups on both those trips had a 14, except one 13 which did great, and an 18 that got stuck a lot...
P the K
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Old 09-11-2013   #8
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 935
Yup, 14' is the most versatile. I've paddle boated the #'s and rowed it down the Grand in the same season. Good for both high and low water down to 300 cfs or so on the Ark.
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Old 09-11-2013   #9
mtrafter's Avatar
bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 168
14' is plenty of boat,hell ive done 7 days many times on a 12' cataraft even with 2 people!,idk who told you you need a 16' for an overnighter lol...14' is perfect especially there's a deal involved lol
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Old 09-11-2013   #10
Stiff N' Wett's Avatar
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 457
Find a good deal on on something between 12' and 14' and you'll be good.
Pool and a pond... Pond be good for you.
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