new raft advice - sotar or aire - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-18-2016   #1
 
bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 12
new raft advice - sotar or aire

In a position to invest in a long term boat for the family - going to finally put my patched 16' Oregon WhiteWater to rest. 2 kids, getting more into white water, want a boat good for 4 people for up to week long trips - but also for some fishing on MT rivers. I'm used to a 16' even though it was probably overkill 75% of the time.

I want a boat that's going to last and I have the blessing of my wife - of sorts. I've narrowed it down to a Sotar or an Aire. I understand, apples and oranges. Both good boats. I'm entertaining the 14' on both, the 15' ST and the 156D.

When I price everything out (I need a new frame too), I can get into an Aire for about 1500 less. If money wasn't an issue, I'd likely jump on a Sotar. But that extra cash could get me a stern seat, an anchor - better cooler, a canopy, etc.

In anyone's opinion, is it worth me pushing my budget for the Sotar (I want the chafe too, which adds on) - or is it over the top, both are great boats and I should just focus on the extras?

Thanks.

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Old 02-18-2016   #2
 
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Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 861
I've never owned anything but my 156D so I can't help with the comparison. For four people on a week long trip I would highly suggest not going with a 14 foot. With kids you will end up bringing stuff like toys, I K's friends at times, dog....

I was set on a 14 boat but a friend talked me into my 156D. It's the bomb for us and I can't fault it in any way.

Don't just look at gear and weight, look at the personal dynamics issues too with kids. Do they ever fight in the car when shoulder to shoulder? Mine do and a bigger boat really helps in that regard. Diminished tubes seem to help the boat feel a bit smaller and more maneuverable. Only time I wish my boat was smaller is when it's just me or one other on a day run, but soon that won't be an issue when my paddle cat arrives. Hope that helps!

For full disclosure my family is wife and three kids 10, 14, 17 and sometimes the springer spaniel when appropriate.

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Old 02-18-2016   #3
 
bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 12
Paul - thank you for that reply. I've gone to some local shops here in my hometown and they keep trying to convince me that I'm being silly for wanting a 156D - for example. I just had this conversation yesterday, and I was told it was overkill for my family. I told him my wife has a SUP, we bring instruments - etc, he said no worries on a 14' boat. I had a hard time picturing it.

The kids get along good enough, but my boy's a fisherman - so I mainly want a stern seat so he can throw the fly around without getting in everyone's space.

My wife's concern with the Aire is the weight. She's still learning to row, just as my son is getting interested in rowing - they want a lighter boat, which the Sotar has bragging rights to in this case. Any thoughts on rowing the 156D? Does it track good enough that as long as you have a good line - you are set.

I've never rowed an Aire. Thanks for any insight!
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Old 02-18-2016   #4
 
Clancy, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2014
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Iím by no means an expert, but I have borrowed and rented boats for many years. I now own a 16 and would not wish a 14 on anyone that is planning on doing a multiple day river trip.Our last borrowed boat was a 14 Hyside with our family on the Main to include the chocolate Lab.(4 person family) Lucky for us we had a person riding alone so my oldest rode with him the whole trip and we were still tight.I have used Aires and they are a good boast and if I was buying again I would go no smaller than 15.6.
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Old 02-18-2016   #5
swimming
 
Coastal, Oregon
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Here is a length customized 14'6 SL
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Old 02-18-2016   #6
swimming
 
Coastal, Oregon
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Here is a 15' SL
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Old 02-18-2016   #7
 
bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 12
Those are sweet Sotar setups. I'm pretty sure I'm not in the market for those frames, but they are nice. Maybe in a year - but that's my question.

Is it worth paying extra for the Sotar's rubber - and put together the frame/extras over the next year due to the extra cost of the Sotar's rubber? Or get the Aire and get most everything we want now, right out of the gate?
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Old 02-18-2016   #8
swimming
 
Coastal, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 258
You just answered your own question. If you aren't in the market for a full PRO setup then just grab an Aire throw some frame parts on it and go rafting. Sounds like the money and going rafting is more important than the boat you wil do it in which is totally cool as well.
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Old 02-18-2016   #9
 
Invermere, British Columbia
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 42
I must first say I may be a little biased as I have only owned a Sotar 15.
I have rowed the Aire 15.6 D loaded and empty and have found it did not handle quite as nicely as my Sotar. The Aire is also narrower which limits some of the larger coolers and boxes as well as stability concerns and I think my Sotar 15 has a little more interior room. If the difference in cost is enough of a concern the Aire is still a good boat. We can all get a little snobbish when it comes to our boats but what is most important is getting out on the water with Family and Friends and what ever gets you out there is great. On size, with your family I would not consider anything smaller than 15'
Happy Floats
Michael
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Old 02-18-2016   #10
 
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Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
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So here's my thoughts you asked about how the Aire rows, I've never ever rowed a Sotar. I think that size boat weight differences are silly to worry about, are you gonna worry about every item the fam brings? Don't think you would feel the difference between the two weight wise. I'd personally spend less on the Aire and spend some saved coin on oars that weight saved your wife will feel and appreciate.

I don't feel that my boat could track or handle any better (again limited experience of other boats) I've never felt that I was fighting the boat.

The Aire does take on water in the floor I have never had issue with this and do feel that it keeps the boat planted. At take out it takes about 3 minutes to completely drain but it takes me longer to clean out the kids stuff and wash sand...

A big boat is never gonna be ideal for youngers to row buy the boat that fits your lifestyle on the river, you can always set up a light weight mini raft/cat/paddle cat for teaching rowing.

I've used mine for 4 years and wouldn't trade for smaller.

FYI two people I boat with have 15 foot otters and they both commented on my boat. They feel it's lighter not sure if it is but they both stated so.

Also highly recommend an everything bag for the rear makes stowing kid stuff painless.

Don't underestimate the cost of misc gear damn it adds up!

I don't have much to say about Aire vs Sotar but size wise I'd really go 15-16. For week long trips, if only day tripping maybe the 14.

The 143D looks really small compared to my boat don't think it would be safe for my family on multiday.

We did low water grand rhonde I ran with virtually no pressure with overnight gear and it slithered through inches of water lots of fun.



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