On-the-Raft Shelter & Sleeping Ideas? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-21-2017   #1
Livenswell's Avatar
Edgewood..., Not New...Not Mexico
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On-the-Raft Shelter & Sleeping Ideas?

I've been contemplating ideas to facilitate sleeping on the raft and I'm wondering here if anyone else has any similar ideas or pointers for setting something up on the raft and that provides a little cover/wind break/shade. Not looking to create a tent like scenario as I have a tent for that if the situation calls for a tent on shore.

A few ideas I am cogitating upon now include using some cotton shower curtains and attaching these to the inner frame of the bimini top such that the shower curtains can be hooked in at the top using small clips or mini biners to secure them to the bimini frame and then also secure the curtains at the bottoms to the raft frame to keep the curtains taught from flapping in the breeze and create an enclosed space that wouldn't necessarily be intended for weather-proof/tent like situation but to just give a little wind break and privacy and also to be able to dunk these curtains in the river and then hang them up wet to allow for a evaporative cooling environment that might make warm nights much more cooler for sleeping. I plan on sleeping on a paco pad stretched out across a table over the front bay.

Another idea is not use the bimini and instead figuring out a way to set up a 2-person floor-less tarp shelter on the boat over the raft frame, such as a Black Diamond Beta Light shelter that uses 2 trekking poles as uprights. This sounds like a more intense tent setup that is a bit more involved and more enclosed than I was interested in doing but I have the tent already and thought it could be done. I've seen something like this with a tarp-tent setup over the deck of a huge snout boat, but it looked like this might be a challenge fitting something like that over a typical 16' oar rig.

Anyone else having any input for ideas or photos to show of their own creations for sleeping on the raft would be greatly appreciated and I thank you in advance.


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Old 11-21-2017   #2
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
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A lot of the raft guides I know sleep on their boats every night, and they all use Black Diamond Megamids...

The Megamid seems to work great on 18' boats but isn't perfect for smaller boats but still works.

If you have a Bimini already, its fairly easy to rig up a tarp like you said. Even if you just toss it over the top of the bimini and tie it down on each side. I bought my 16' raft from Ray at TuffRiverStuff and the bimini top was pretty shot so I had him make me a custom one to fit the bimini frame the boat came with. On his original he had a part that would roll out and create a tent and it worked well for shade and minor wind and rain. He also made me tarp with a bunch of grommets and ties that I can tie onto the side. Here is the only picture I can find of it all setup...

I eventually figured out system that raised it up a bit and that worked well. I used my cot on my boat too, and normally didn't need much more then a sheet on that August Grand trip. There was only one camp that I would classify as having bad bugs and I to combat those I actually setup my tent and put it on top of my cot on my boat. It was kind of awkward but it worked to keep the bugs at bay.

Another guy I know had a bimini with zip on sides that would fully enclose the cockpit of his boat. Seemed to work pretty well but it was kind of bulky too. Not much worse then bringing a tent though. Might get hot on a summer trip since it was made of the same stuff as the Bimini plus clear vinyl windows.
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Old 11-21-2017   #3
Fort Collins, Colorado
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I got a bimini for my 16 footer right before my recent Grand trip and came up with a tarp/bug net system like you describe. Then my sister (dirtbag ex-guide) gave me her Mega Mid the day before we left. There is a reason all guides use them. If you have a beta light don't even consider anything else. The dimensions are almost the same and should fit a 16 footer perfect. The bimini system ends up being a nuisance to set up just right and is not as wind proof. I have color coded carabiners on the four corners, loops for the middle two tie outs to attach to the oar locks, and bungee cords for the front and rear doors (I think the beta light only has one door). My girlfriend and I can put it up in less than a minute and it is monsoon proof; it takes longer to get my bimini set up "just right" and it is not as dry or windproof. The poles don't have to be dead center to keep it taught as you can see in the photo. When it is zipped shut there is standing room to change, the ventilation is great, and there is DRY access to all you gear when it is RAINING. As long as you can figure out where to put the poles there is really no reason not to use the beta light if you already have it. Even if you're "not looking to create a tent like scenario" you will be converted, it doesn't feel enclosed when the door is open, and everyone else will be jealous.
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Old 11-21-2017   #4
Walterville, Oregon
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Bimini + tent fly
I'm not happy about being over the hill, but I am grateful there wasn't a cliff at the summit! - Frank and Ernest
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Old 11-21-2017   #5
Cortez, Colorado
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Megamids are great - a lot of my friends use them. And I have discovered a couple of other things that work pretty well, too.

Shelter #1 - If you have a bimini and a Kelty Noah 16 (or other similar 16' four point tarp), you can pull the tarp over the top of the bimini (in a diamond orientation to the bimini) and tie 2 opposite corners at the bow and stern, then the other opposite corners at the oar towers or frame (near the midpoint), and there's your shelter. To make the sides tight, you'll have to run the tarp corners under the frame and back up, tying them off to the bimini frame. If it's really windy, you might have to clip the diagonal corners together with spring clips, but I've never had to do that, cuz I'm in the middle of the raft on my cot.

Shelter #2 - If you have a dome tent that's big enough to span the width of your raft, you can just use the poles and rain fly, tying the pole ends to your frame. A 2 pole tent is simplest, but a 3 pole will work too, just gotta tie the ends to something, and place the zipper door for your convenience. If you've got a tent fly that's a good fit, this can actually have a slight advantage over the megamid, cuz there's no center pole to work around.

Good luck!
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Old 11-22-2017   #6
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Fort Fun, Colorado
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I don't have any photos but I used a megamid pre kids. I carried a small piece of wood to cover the footwell space and ran two poles - one each out to the oar locks.
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Old 11-22-2017   #7
Salida, Colorado
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Best rig I've seen to date was a rainfly from a VE-25 attached to d-rings with carabiners and then simply popping up an umbrella underneath to spread it out. This was on an 18' boat, the d-rings on both rainfly and raft happened to line up perfectly. The entire boat was covered with the zippered fly entry providing very convenient access and privacy. Set-up time was 3-4 minutes. I regret not taking a photo. VE 24 fly might work on a 16' boat?

I've seen frame extensions with thumb screws (or similar) to make the pyramids work on smaller boats, seemed like a good idea and it worked but not sure how worth it fabricating and toting the extra parts and set up time are.
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Old 11-22-2017   #8
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Lakewood, Colorado
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This is all making me want to figure out how to use some old polls and a rainfly from an old tent to make a setup.

I've always liked the Megamid, but having the pole in the middle seems to ruin it for cots. Since I pretty much rely on a cot for a good nights sleep, whatever I sleep under has to work with that.

This leads me to want to use tent poles and a rain fly.. Seems to me you could actually use the frame itself to mount the poles into with small strategically placed holes drilled in it. If you could line it up with the spots where joints are I don't think it would be too detrimental to the structure of the frame. I'm gonna have to see how it all works out dimensions wise.
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Old 11-22-2017   #9
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Tabernash, Colorado
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The umbrella under a tent fly sounds brilliant DOSTEP!

Mayhem, how about some type of a socket into the side boards?
The wheels are turning now! Thanks for a good thread and posts, keep em coming!
We can't always agree, but we can still be civil to each other.
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Old 11-23-2017   #10
Salida, Colorado
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Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
This is all making me want to figure out how to use some old polls and a rainfly from an old tent to make a setup.
My old friend Bob Morse from Silt had a dory where he took some surplus tent poles to a seamstress and had a canopy sewed up that fit his boat perfectly.

I do not recommend anyone start drilling holes in their frames!
How about nylon webbing loops with grommets you could just slip around the frame?
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