Total beginning rafting question - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-28-2017   #1
 
Stamford, Texas
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Total beginning rafting question

As a granddad of 5, I am considering a raft as a great way to get most of my grandkids on the water. They live in Kansas and the Kansas River is a good easy paddle to get them outside.

I also have a group of kayakers that I kayak with and we are planning a Rio Chama trip if we are lucky enough to win a lottery spot.

Looking at the various brands of rafts and multiple designs in each brand, what key features would you look for in a raft to be used with grandkids on the Kansas river and rafting the Rio Chama?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

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Old 01-28-2017   #2
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Can we get a little more info? How are you planning to set up the raft? With a rowing frame and oars or as a paddle raft, making the munchkins work a little? Day trips or ideas at over-nighters? Other pertinent info?
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Old 01-28-2017   #3
 
Basalt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
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A company in your neighborhood. - Try Midwest rafts ; in Lebanon MO.
They import a hypalon raft , I have owned a couple , and still have a little
10'er , that I love to use for a day tripper here in Colorado. [class 3 -4 water]
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Old 01-28-2017   #4
 
Stamford, Texas
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Little ones are pretty little right now so I am thinking day trips on the Kansas with the potential for one overnight occasionally with son-in-law and older kids. Beginning overnight would be 2 adults and 3 kids under 13 with gear one night, maybe 2.


For the Rio Chama I am thinking a rowing frame. That would be a 3 night trip with kayakers that are mostly self sufficient in kayak camping. We need someone to carry the group gear.


I kayak, but with the grands I think putting 3 or 4 with their mom and/or dad a raft makes more family sense.


I am considering the far flung whitewater rafting school this summer to learn how to paddle a raft, I think they are well respected.


I know this is probably a pretty tall order that why I was looking for some input.
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Old 01-28-2017   #5
 
Stamford, Texas
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I guess I did not really answer that question clearly. For the munchkins I was thinking paddle raft set up and putting a frame on for the Rio Chama.
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Old 01-29-2017   #6
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Tabernash, Colorado
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It almost sounds like what you need is a 13 or 14' boat, for most of what you would like to do, with the overnight trip having a second boat along, or if the kids were ready for it, getting ahold of a couple of ducky's for the overnighter.

Two adults plus 3 small kids would be pretty tight with overnight gear, unless you had something big, like a 16 or 18', and that would be really big on the Chama nearly all of the time( and often not doable at all, plus a lot of boat for the crew to paddle on the day trips ).

Maybe look for something that will handle up to 7 paddlers( 4 kids tops, 2 parents, and you guiding), which puts you into the 13'-14' range, a raft that will still be runnable on the Rio Chama, and can pull off hauling gear for a couple Kayakers, as long as it is not TO low.

What price range are you looking at? I'm guessing you're not going to be beating the living snot out of it, and don't need to spend $6,000 - $7000 on an outfitter grade boat.
Any preference on new or used?

A couple ideas that come to mind, might be the upper size range of the Puma series, a tributary, maybe a 13' or 14' RMR? Not boats that I have personally owned though, since my needs and wants are different. Maybe a tall order, but not one that you can't find a solution to.
Props for trying to get your grand kids outside, and introduce them to something you love!!

Have fun, be safe,
-Matt
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Old 01-29-2017   #7
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Oh, one thing that might help with the transition from Kayaking into rafting, could be getting out in your raft to "R-2" ( sitting across from one other paddler), possibly with some one who has run a raft, or one of your kayaking budy's, it makes for a lighter boat to learn on at first, and seems a little more like kayaking to me. Plus it is a lot of fun! You can do a lot of the same things that kayakers do, with some practice.

There is a lot of similarity between the two methods of boating, having more weight, and having to direct other people, are the two maine differances with guiding a Paddle raft.
Setting up earlier then you have to in your Kayak, is one of the biggest helps when running both paddle rafts and gear boats with a frame.

I'm not that familiar with Far Flung, but I think a guide school is a great idea! You can learn so much, about rafting, and river rescue, it is a great way to gain experience before taking responsibility for kids on a boat. Keep in mind that guide schools involve usually a good bit of swimming in the riv and being cold, so plan appropriately, dry suites are awesome, but you learn so much, it is worth it.
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Old 01-29-2017   #8
 
Stamford, Texas
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Thanks for the input. I think putting the kids in a Ducky is a great idea. The oldest ones are 11 and 9.


I am leaning towards something like Aire Puma 143 or NRS Otter 142. Good used would be OK, but I would rather spend the money for a new one rather than skimping and winding up with a POS. I like that the Aire are made in US, I am fairly sure NRS are imported, but could be wrong on that.


Thanks for the R2 comment as well, that would allow me to get the raft and do day trips with grands and wait a while for the frame. Would you expect a 14 foot raft to carry much gear? I just do not have a good frame of reference for that.


I have been down the Arkansas Royal Gorge 3 times with RiverRunners. I had a great time, but me on class V is a away down the road.
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Old 01-30-2017   #9
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Aire is built up in Idaho, NRS is another Idaho company, but there rafts are manufactured in Mexico.
I have run NRS boats since I started rafting 17 years ago, they are bomber, my E-140 has been around since '95, and I just took it down the Grand Canyon, though I had to top off every day do to a slow leak that just started.

Aire has a good reputation, and a 10 year warranty instead of 5 on NRS boats.

An Aire product would be lighter, as they make there boats out of PVC instead of rubber, the seems are plastic welded instead of glued, PVC can be a little tricky to glue for a patch your first time. Both methods of building a raft are fine, in my opinion.

Between those boats, I would expect the Super Duper Puma to be a little livelier as a paddle raft, though the NRS will track extremely well, with the ribbed floor design, give em a little momentum and they tend to just go in the direction you point them, all things being equal.

A 14' can carry a decent amount of gear, though not really what you would get if that were your main use. I can run up to a two week trip with two people as the only boat on the trip, but I have had plenty of time learning to pack gear down efficiently.

I mostly recomend the 13'-14' range as something that should be able to meet all your current needs, paddle up to 7, be small enough to make it down the Rio Chama at decent water levels, and still be just big enough to pull of an overnight trip with your group, as long as you can put some people in other craft( it will still be tight, but should be doable).

I think both of those boats are quality rafts, and could be something you'd be happy with.
If you end up buying used, there are usually lots of boats that pop up towards spring if people upgrade, some under the classified section on this site, some are good deals, but be careful, there are some good threads on how to check out a used boat before you buy it, just use the search button towards the top of this page, and you should find some info.
A new boat with a warranty is awesome if you can invest the money in it, get something decent, so it holds some value.

Last, many people will say that the Royal Gorge is only class 3-4, back when I guided trips down there, we called it class 5 to, and it used to be, but as boaters and equipment have improved, harder sections are now being run, down grading stretches like the Royal Gorge. And if you're guiding a paddle raft down there at high water, and people don't listen, or go for a swim, it sure FEELS like class 5!!!
Such an awesome stretch of river

Hope I have not given you way too much info!

Cheers!
-Matt

P.S. both those boats will feel kinda big R-2 ing, you still can do it, just will feel like a lot of boat to move for two. Also, the black strip of rubber on the top tube of the otters on the web site, could burn people's butts, maybe ask about a blue ware pad if you go that route.
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Old 01-30-2017   #10
 
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You could take a road trip to Laramie, WY!

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