What to Buy - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-07-2017   #1
noneuclidean's Avatar
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 19
What to Buy

I am a bit torn on what to buy.

I have a lot of experience boating, but I'm interested in other perspecives in looking at getting a new setup. My most frequent trips are the San Juan (most years an extended summer trip, and a short autumn trip), but I have run Cat and Westwater pretty frequently, as well as Lodore, Rogue, Taos Box, etc. I have rented boats on prior Grand trips, and intend to do so for future GC trips.

I'm looking to get a new / good used 16' gear boat set up. I have a lot of experience with hypalon, and urethane boats (SOTAR, Hyside, etc.). I also have experience with bladder boats (AIRE and STAR specifically, but it has been 12 years since I've worked with either).

With my budget, I can get a really solid used setup, but I can also get a pretty decent new rig, and get it mostly outfitted (would possibly need to wait on a new cooler, and dry boxes). It looks like the best value for a new 16' boat is the AIRE DD. I would really like a SOTAR SL, but I don't feel like the extra 2k+ has the value for what I'd be using it for (or the extra 1k for a Hyside Pro).

I initially didn't consider AIRE because dealing with the bladder can be maddening (and it was doing a repair to a Puma a number of years ago), but the 10 year no fault warranty is pretty compelling, particularly for that price.

I will still have my 12' hypalon boat (to be upgraded to a 14' something next season), but I would like my new setup to be able to fully support my family without needing to load gear onto the 12', the 14' SOAR, a ducky, or kayak.

I am not opposed to a cat setup, but it's been years since I've rowed one, and have generally preferred rafts. I'd really love a dory, but that's out of my price range, and it doesn't play well at low water.

Thoughts? Opinions? Feedback?

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Old 04-07-2017   #2
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Hyside. You can avoid the sand between the bladders and shells of aire.
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Old 04-07-2017   #3
noneuclidean's Avatar
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Originally Posted by tanderson View Post
Hyside. You can avoid the sand between the bladders and shells of aire.
This is my main hesitation with AIRE (though the 10 year no fault warranty is a good counterweight). I've been a fan of Hyside, but do you think it's worth an extra $1k+?
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Old 04-07-2017   #4
Woodland Park, Colorado
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Here Is a question to put out the cat boaters. Would you be able to run a cat on the Chama or the Taos and then switch up to a gear hauler for the san juan? I know some cat setups have way more flexiblity that a 16 foot raft
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Old 04-07-2017   #5
InflatableSteve's Avatar
Cave Creek, Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 688
As long as you don't have a big tear in your boat, you can just throw some tear aid on a Aire bladder and sew the pvc together. That will make for a lot quicker repair on river. Also the bladders are replaceable, and the the pvc can be re-welded when you get back. Not cheap, if warranty is over, but it will be almost as good as new. You won't have to worry about your patch coming unglued years down the road.

My biggest issue with Aire is the split rings. They can get mangled and poke holes in your boat, or you. Not a common thing. a couple guides I worked with last year got poked in the foot by those things though. I haven't had this issue with my ducky. Also you can avoid this by using zip ties.

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Old 04-07-2017   #6
mattman's Avatar
Tabernash, Colorado
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hmm. Tough decisions.
If you go cat, get something with big tubes, like the Aire Lion, Nrs Kodiak, or JPW Daddy cat. Rafts do tend to be better with passengers. Outside of if you run the Rogue at low water, I would go big with whatever you buy, could even go 18 and always have plenty of room with less draft? Might be a better price, as fewer people are looking for that big a boat.
You'll have your smaller boat for when you don't want to take the gear hauler out, maybe even stay with the 12' if you can pull it off with space for the family??
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Old 04-07-2017   #7
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buckeye, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2014
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Posts: 206
i've had my tributary 16hd for almost 2 years now, if you haven't looked into them i would suggest at least a glance... it has been a great boat and it swallows a huge amount of gear compared to my buddies 15' nrs.. the 16hd is actually 16.5 feet with slightly diminished tubes. and its about $2k less than a DD, and 3 and 4k less than some of the other boats mentioned
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Old 04-08-2017   #8
North Central, New Mexico
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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If you want the boat this summer, I'd start calling around. Hyside has a long wait for boats that aren't in stock. I like the design of the DD boats. I haven't put my hands on one yet, but I like the concept of a boat that handles like a smaller raft but can carry gear like a bigger boat. I've been looking into the 136 DD myself. I think that if the design performs true, the DD would be a better all around option for some of the tighter runs you mentioned. I think there is an Aire rep in Salida. Maybe they have one you could test run?

I've been seeing some pretty good deals on larger used cat set ups.
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