Raft Gear Help Needed - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-23-2019   #1
AU Rafting 25
 
Roderickroberts25's Avatar
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1
Raft Gear Help Needed

Hello Paddlers,

I am in the process of building out my raft for overnight adventures and I am in need of suggestions. I have a 2016 Aire 143D (14 ft diminished tubes) raft with 3 thwarts which has been used predominately on day long paddling trips. I was a paddle guide in the past but have limited experience with rowing, frames, and multi day trips. My plan is to do multi day trips on II-IV whitewater in this upcoming season once I get the raft built out.

Can someone point me in the right direction on what kind of frame, oars, and general gear I will need to get river ready. Any vendor website suggestions or gear list information is much appreciated.

Thanks Folks

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Old 01-23-2019   #2
 
codycleve's Avatar
 
salmon, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,105
Go modular with your frame. there are a bunch of cool welded frames but you have no idea what you want or even have at this point. NRS is an easy way to go and have ajustability. I bought my own pipe and built a frame for cheap with key light fittings. there are youtube videos on how too. Get some nrs 8" oar towers.

Oars and locks are personal preference, and how much you want to spend.

Get a good drybag, I prefer duffel style watershed, but again you can go a lot of different directions.

Quality life vest that fits, so you will always wear it. Throw rope, and know how to use it.

Bow line, your going to want to tie this thing up.

Cooler and a drybox. again you can go real expensive or real cheap on both. I like both my RTIC and Canyon coolers, but an igloo might suite you just fine. Mad cow boxes look awesome, but not in my price range. Look at frontier play boxes to see if they have one that fits your boat.. I think their 37" box would do just fine.. you can do a drop bag with a board over it for your front bay, rather than a second box to make things cheaper.

I use Cascade outfitter and outdoor play for a lot of things. but i'm in the northwest. outdoor play has a 20% off coupon i think its HFX20. this includes most everything even new aire boats... Had to bite my lip when i saw i could get the 146dd for 3800 but I just bought a new boat.
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Old 01-23-2019   #3
 
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 244
You are going to get lots of different opinions, here is Mine. If you aren't into going through lots of research and stuff I would go to a raft shop and have them help you outfit the raft. On your own it will look like this:

1. Get a frame. Tons of good frames out there. I think lots of folks start with an adjustable frame like an NRS or DRE frame, and that is a good idea.
2. Get good oars that are the right length for you and your frame. .
3. Get a good dry box, cooler, and other frame accessories...hope you have a good chunk of $$, cause it is going to get expensive (even if you buy cheap up front it will get expensive, cause you will replace all that crap soon).
4. Get some of the multi-day gear (groover, stove, firepan, shade, mats, etc.), and some rafting friends who have the rest...or spend an insane amount of $$ and get it all yourself right away...your choice.
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Old 01-23-2019   #4
 
Evergreen, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 160
I just put this spreadsheet (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1rM...a6e3X830DzgaJs) together for a friend to price out some options similar to an NRS Bighorn II frame (https://www.nrs.com/product/92003.04...-ii-raft-frame).

The bottom line is there are lots of different options. I run a double rail 5 bay frame on my 14 ft boat using NRS fittings, and a foot bar from AAA Inflatables (who's website is down, but we've got DRE's version here (https://www.downriverequip.com/frame...-pins-pid-2383). There are lots and lots of options.

The key measurements from your inflated raft, ideally on the water are:
Center line to center line from tube to tube (then add 2-3" on each side, this is your cross bar length for a single rail frame)
Front to back flat area, before the tubes start to rise (this is the length of your side rails (+/- an inch or two)
Interior width from tube to tube (the largest drybox or cooler you can fit)
Height from top of tube to the top of the floor (this is the approximate height of how much of a cooler or drybox would sit inside the boat, the rest is above the frame. You don't want a ton of height outside of the boat if you can avoid it).

I'll let others chime in on oars and oar towers and all of that jazz.

Here are a few threads for some ideas:
https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/...igs-40045.html

https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/...mes-21488.html

https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/...mes-13726.html
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Old 01-23-2019   #5
 
Tres Piedras, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1979
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Says you;re in Denver, go on over to Downriver and talk to someone there, you can see lots of options in their showroom and they are super knowledgeable.
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Old 01-23-2019   #6
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newpc View Post
Says you;re in Denver, go on over to Downriver and talk to someone there, you can see lots of options in their showroom and they are super knowledgeable.
...And their frames are bomber and won't fold up when your boat's getting chundered in the Ledge Hole, their customer service is excellent, their equipment is really good, they deliver on time and can build anything you want custom. Did I say their customer service rocks?

-AH
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Old 01-23-2019   #7
 
MT4Runner's Avatar
 
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,404
Welcome, OP!

As a past raft guide, you should have a good general idea of how to read whitewater, and safety procedures, no?


Now it's down to adding a frame, oars, and gear. You should know how a boat moves, but you won't have 6 custies pulling paddles. Your boat will be heavier, but you'll be in 100% control at the sticks. Get out in your boat for day runs without heavy camping gear and get used to how your boat responds to oars, and get used to running oars.


Then gradually add gear and increase the difficulty of the water.


Expense of gear should be directly proportional to how often you plan to camp. I know that Outdoorplay dryboxes aren't the highest quality, but I only do a multiday once a year or every other year. Mine works for me. If you're going to be out 3-4 weeks+ a year, then you can justify higher quality gear. Similar rationale for stoves, fly/tarp, drybags, etc.


I think you could get a lot of use out of a quality Watershed duffle. If you go backpacker-style, you can put ALL your gear in a a single duffle and don't need the drybox.

1. Don't skimp on oars. 2. I am also an oar slut. I don't like aluminum or composite, they hurt my shoulders. I like the flex of wood.
If you buy aluminum (Carlisle) oars, look for used ones. They're not amazing, but they make great spares.

I built my own frame, but I agree with the advice to get an adjustable NRS/DRE type frame to start with. I wouldn't recommend a welded frame unless you know your setup will be dialed...and the adjustable frame allows you to dial in your own preferences.

The 143D will be a wet ride with gear.
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Old 01-23-2019   #8
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 97
rowframe.com is a good place to get frame components that are good quality and lower cost. You can source the pipe locally and only buy the fittings. The owner occasionally sounds off here which may have lost him some sales, but generally speaking, he is smart (if highly opinionated), knowledgeable, price conscious, and will customize to your needs. He will make sure you know what length of oar to get, based on his designs and what height your oar towers should be for good ergonomics. If you know what cooler or dry box you will use, it makes the design of the frame easier, but modular is nice because your gear will likely change if you start doing more multiday trips.
If I were doing it, I would get one of his double rail, 4 bay frames for your raft. at 400 dollars with oar towers and oar locks, it's a steal. I would put decking on the side rails for easy walking. I have a drop bag rather than a dry box and get along just fine. My 30 year old igloo marine cooler handles 4 day trips just fine ( can stretch it to 6 days with moderate cooler management), get something nice if you want to take longer trips. Get good quality dry bags. You can find cheap ones these days and you get what you pay for.
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Old 01-24-2019   #9
 
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
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Originally Posted by altaholics View Post
rowframe.com is a good place to get frame components that are good quality and lower cost. If I were doing it, I would get one of his double rail, 4 bay frames for your raft. at 400 dollars with oar towers and oar locks, it's a steal.
But why wouldn't you buy the same exact thing from Downriver for $1,255.00 ? Or Riverboatworks for $1,460.00


Seriously, give NRS a try, their frames are super configurable and adjustable, as you don't really know what you want initially, this is one way to go that will allow you to add to, subtract from and change as the need changes. They use a high quality aluminum so that when (notice I said when, and not if) you bend it, you can easily order another piece and be back in business as soon as FedEx delivers it, unlike the super spendy offerings cited above. The NRS LoPro fittings, from a strength standpoint, are much stronger in a lateral twisting motion than a Hollander Speedrail fitting, which was designed for handrail applications. I won't go into the castings which the "slap it together and get it on the shelf" companies use for the oarlock...



Once you figure out just what you want, you can have a custom frame builder such as Ron at Payette river equipment, Kurt @ Coloradoraft Frame Supply in Salida or rowframe.com, or Chris at All Metals welding in Grand Junction or another custom builder make you exactly what you want, specific to you, your tastes and your needs. Off the shelf doesn't compare to what you can have built, and usually for a LOT less.



My 2, your mileage may vary.
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Old 01-24-2019   #10
 
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 248
Quote:
Originally Posted by MT4Runner View Post
I think you could get a lot of use out of a quality Watershed duffle. If you go backpacker-style, you can put ALL your gear in a a single duffle and don't need the drybox.

1. Don't skimp on oars. 2. I am also an oar slut. I don't like aluminum or composite, they hurt my shoulders. I like the flex of wood.
If you buy aluminum (Carlisle) oars, look for used ones. They're not amazing, but they make great spares.

I second this, with a clarification. In 38 years of boating I've tried a LOT of things, the watershed duffles are the bees knees of dry bags, the wide rubber zipper opening makes finding that errant sock in the morning a breeze as opposed to a standard dry bag where what you need is ALWAYS at the bottom, even if you packed it on top!


That being said, for items that go in a dry box, the duffles aren't a match for a dry box, and puncture easily with hard metal items inside. Get a quality dry box "dry in theory only" for ANY of those items. You can easily use a Rubbermaid rotomolded type box to get you going, again until you know what you want and either buy off the shelf or have one custom built.



#1 is spot on. If you're tight on money, use a 2x6 wooden frame, but buy good oars the first time, I personally like Sawyer wood or composite shafts with a counterbalance handle and wood blades or handmade wood oars as I'm getting old and like really light at the handle oars.



You can drill the handles in wood oars and insert a corresponding diameter lead slug too. They ain't cheap, but when you figure into the equation all the plusses, and the minuses of aluminum shafts or composite's like cat shafts which cost damn near as much as Sawyer's these days, you'll thank yourself many times over.



Again, my 2, your mileage may vary.
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