NRS Otter vs. Hyside Outfitter - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-24-2017   #1
Blue River, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 85
NRS Otter vs. Hyside Outfitter

Looking at past threads, I see comparison of the E series to the Outfitter, and discussion about the Otters. But no direct comparison of the Otter vs. Outfitter. Let's not bring in opinion about other materials or older versions of Avon's.

Quick look at the obvious:
  • Otter handles are terrible, but not a functional deal breaker.
  • Hyside has taped seams inside and out.
  • Hyside has nylon fabric which has more flex, but can fail if subjected to moisture (not likely since fabric is coated inside and out with CSM (hypalon).
  • Otter has polyester fabric - stiffer (more performance?)
  • Otter looks factory made like a robot assembled it. The lines / seams are straight and clean vs Hyside which looks a bit "country".
  • Both brands are well respected.
  • Hyside denier is higher. Not sure it's fair to say 1680/1100 = 1.527 x thicker as I don't completely understand denier.
  • Hyside appears to be an extra layer of internal material covering the base fabric (double denier?)
  • Otter has only (3) main chambers

Repair folks say that Hyside is the better product. I'm curious what owners of these boats have to say. I have the mini max and love it. I will need a second / bigger boat when the kids get bigger. Since it seems that the E series would be a more direct competitor(denier wise), I wonder why NRS feels that the Otter should be priced the same as the Outfitter? I can;t justify the Pro or E series although I will watch the classified's for a good used deal in the off season. But when looking at the Otter versus Outfitter, can these two be directly compared to each other?


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Old 06-26-2017   #2
Blue River, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 85
C'mon - not everyone has the dough for the Pro or E series. Has everyone with out the max budget converted to PVC?
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Old 06-26-2017   #3
Montrose, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 200
I don't have any experience with the Otter.
It looks like you have done your research, and based on your experience with the Mini-Max you know what you are getting into with Hyside.
The thing that continues to surprise me with Hyside is how durable they really are. I have a mini-max, Outfitter 12, Pro 14, and can use an older Pro 16 whenever I need it. They all have taken varying amounts abuse and show no signs at all from it. The Pro spent the night upside down in a small eddy fully loaded after it had self navigated some Class IV water upside down, and came out essentially unscathed. While I baby my boats during storage and transport, the river has its own plans, and my boats are no exception. I chose my first Hyside after looking at the large number of 20-30 year old boats people still use and have no reason to change.

Looking at the comparisons you put forth, it would seem mostly about personal preference, but the Hyside features would seem to be a bit better of price is the same.
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Old 06-26-2017   #4
Blue River, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 85
Wow. That's impressive in the durability dept. I think "real" rafts can handle more than expected. I was amazed how well my 1st boat (RMR) stood up to my running it into rocks. Never anything but superficial scuffs. I remeber when we got it, my wife was wondering if it would be ok for the dog's claws to be walking around up on it. I just wonder how well the Otter would handle getting run into unintended obstacles? It would be a bummer if the boat ripped, or the untaped seam got rolled / pulled if rubbed hard on a rock. I have more experience than when I started, but still a novice.
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Old 06-26-2017   #5
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 492
I have no experience with Hysides, but after a significant number of hangups and really nasty sounding slides and snags on a recent lower water Smith trip, I fully expected to see some damage to the bottom of my Otter. To my surprise, there is hardly a noticeable scratch on it, nothing warranting a second look, let alone repair. They're tougher than we tend to give them credit for, and in 4 years of owning and rowing mine, the only damage I have is a small abrasion right on the edge of a seam where it rubbed against a sharp rock all night on the Salmon, and even that is barely noticeable and not concerning at all.
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Old 06-26-2017   #6
Front Range, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 103
+1 for Otter

I have a 12 year old Otter. I take care of it in the off season. Holds air just fine.

Performance wise, it tracks well and the rocker + big tubes make it very maneuverable even fully loaded for a multi-night
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Old 06-26-2017   #7
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Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,177
Both are fine boats and you will be happy with either but the hyside is quite a bit more boat for your money. 4 chambers and a full floor chaffer are well worth the few hundred dollars in price difference. I'd go with the hyside just because of the number of air chambers in reality. Plus you can get a color other than blue... I like to stand out a bit from the crowd.
"If you dont do it this year, you will be one year older when you do"
-Warren Miller
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Old 06-26-2017   #8
Blue River, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 85
Thanks all for the responses. I think the Hyside is less cost considering it comes with (3) thwarts and the 3rd is extra for the Otter. Other than 20" tubes, what is the selling feature of the Otter? If price is nearly identical, it seems like urethane bottom and the seams and double denier are better quality. Am I not seeing something correctly?
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Old 06-26-2017   #9
Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 246
I've had my Hyside outfitter for 16 years. Never had a repair. Still looks great. My daughter rowed it down the middle fork of the salmon with us last year at 1.8 on the gauge. I thought it would have shown some damage after that trip and all was good. I don't think you can go wrong with either boat though. The quality of the Hyside has stood the test of time. At least for me.
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