Originally Posted by John the welder
You should go to the takeouts at Bridgeport and whitewater before you get a raft. They are not very good and decide what you and your wife can carry.
this is a good argument for a 13'-14' raft.
I started with a big 16' Maravia which was awesome for a bunch of drunken friends who could help carry it. It wasn't so awesome for my wife and I and our then 4 and 6 year old girls if we had to hand-carry it more than 20'. Definitely agree with John the Welder on that one.
Got a 13.0 Trib used for $1,700 about 8-9 years ago and it probably still sees 2x more days every year than my big boat. It's been out 7x so far this year and the big boat is still rolled up.
So while I took that big Maravia (and the 156R that replaced it) everywhere I've taken the smaller boat, I tend to take the smaller boat for solo days with a small frame and oars, R2, R3, R5, and even R8 on the Lochsa at low flow with a bunch of preteens. The big boat goes on multidays and that's where it shines.
If you can load to and from a trailer at all your regular putins/takeouts, then go for a bigger boat. For a "quiver of one" single boat, 14' is pretty hard to beat for daytrips, small family, several adults on big whitewater, multidays, etc.
I can't argue with the bucket boat, either. Great way to get started, and probably just as good for toddlers to play in. It won't be your last boat, but it will get you started and have a lot of fun on the water.