STAR rafts: opinions/reviews requested.. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-12-2013   #1
Manhattan Beach, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 30
STAR rafts: opinions/reviews requested..

Shopping for used 14'-ish raft, which I would put a frame on for various western rivers, including GC. Would value opinions about STAR rafts...hard to get much from their website.

Any comments appreciated, including how you would compare to other brands you know about.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 07-12-2013   #2
Southeast, On the river...
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 28
I know several guides that use the Star Wonderbug every day in their guide business, many have had their rafts over 10-years now and no problems at all. Of course, a welded "name brand" raft might be better... if you can afford it. Have a nice day...
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Old 07-12-2013   #3
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Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 350
I've had my Star, Eastern Star for 10 yrs bought new. I am fairly rough on my gear and tend to forget to 303 and clean thoroughly at the end of each season. That being said, I have had no problems with my Star. People will say it stands for "Swim To Another Raft" and make fun of your non welded raft seams. Screw 'em. It was the right price at the right time and it gets the job done!
"We're gonna need a bigger boat"
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Old 07-12-2013   #4
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,158
My buddy bought a brand new Montana river craft (star with more d rings and sold under a misleading name) and it has pin hole leaks in the tubes after 5 years. It was 3800 new. Another friend has a MRC that is like the wonderbug and he likes it a lot but it's super heavy, mostly due to the large amount of extra wear guards that MRC glued all over it. Don't plan on rolling it. We call the pin hole boat the "blue bathtub" due to the ankle deep water it holds in the floor when loaded.

I do all the yearly up keep, 303 and repairs on the bathtub and it rarely sees class 3 or rocks.
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Old 07-13-2013   #5
Creswell, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 116
I've got two star rafts and two star I.K.s. They are going on ten years old. They have been great. Because of their recessed floors, they seem to track better and are faster than most rafts.I've carried enough gear that loaded down my 3/4 ton Supper Duty pick em up truck without any problems and had dry feet. Star makes several models of rafts, so I can't vouch for all of them. I have the ultra sport and the ultra champ. The I.K.s are super. They have thwarts that work great instead of those flimsy seats that really don't' give you any support when you need it.They have even pulled off a 24 foot waterfall drop without any hitches.
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Old 07-13-2013   #6
L Knapp
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 27
I used to guide Stars for a commercial outfitter. They served us well, but damn they were heavy! Their durability seemed fine, but I do remember some stitching blowing out along the zipper once, and that was a bit of a wild ride... We probably abused it, but the raft didn't seem to be that old. It's probably not a raft I would buy, but maybe they have changed their designs and no longer use bladders.
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Old 07-13-2013   #7
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,466
After having a couple in a rental fleet and seeing blown seams inside 5 years I would not buy a Star. Plenty of threads on the 'buzz about glued PVC and it's cost vs. longevity. Having run nearly a dozen different inflatable brands I would not chose Star unless the price is outrageous.
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Old 07-29-2013   #8
New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 31
I've had a star superbug bucket(15.5') for 9 years and have beat on it pretty good including 50+ float fishing trips a year for the 6 years I guided. Pros: very durable, easy to repair if you do manage to put a hole in it, large tubes, yes its heavy but since it rides more like a cat than a raft, doesn't row as heavy as it is, tunnel hull design is very forgiving if your not paying attention, can easily put hard floors in it, you can load the hell out of it for multi day floats, very easy to add custom mods, very luxurious with lots of room. Cons: yes very heavy (I use an electric winch to load it), the smaller version has really big tubes which diminish the interior room, made in asia, the big version is starting to feel too big with less water in the rivers each year, glued seams (but I have yet to have a seam issue), feels really heavy/sluggish when inflated to <3 PSI (I chronically overinflate this boat-see posts in raft talk re: how much is too much to inflate). I get a lot of flak over the size of the boat from other guides I know but as far as a stable and very safe fishing platform that has withstood all the abuse I've thrown at it over the years, It has been a great boat. I've got hard floors throughout and a custom trailer that makes it really easy to deal with. It is a big bastard though and I doubt I'll row this boat into my 50's. Might add a motor and retire it to the lake scene.
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Old 07-29-2013   #9
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 268
I have a STAR super-bug as well. I have liked it very much and had no problems, but I will be replacing it with and AIRE 156 this off-season for the following reasons.

It is extremely heavy for a 15' boat, and has no side carry handles, which makes it rough on my family to load/unload.

The tubes are 26" on the sides, diminishing to 18" in front and back. At 7'2" wide total, this only leaves 34" between the tubes inside...which makes for very limited space.

Because it has a suspended (14" up from the bottom of the tubes) membrane floor (it is self-bailing, but only when the floor is up off the water) it rows like a cat when the load is light, but it rows like a pig if the floor touches the water. Not to mention that heavily loaded it is drafting 12'-14" deep...not great going through rock gardens.

Because the floor is a membrane, not an inflated floor, I have to run it with one thwart in (plus a cooler and drybox) to maintain integrity.

All that being said, it is bomber, has tons of chafe strips/rubber armor on the bottom, and is awesome to fish from...If I wasn't doing multi-day trips with my family I would keep running it for many more years.
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Old 07-29-2013   #10
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 351
Star used some 'sub-par' glue for a few years... way back when. Cant quote the time frame on this, mid 90's maybe? Anyway those rafts had issues with the seams leaking, which is a nightmare basically. Also affected the 'i-beams' that hold the floors shape. My only experience was trying to fix one of these. I talked to the repair guy at downriver in denver about star and this being an issue, bad glue. But this was over 10 years ago
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