Where to put your weight on a raft - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-19-2017   #1
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Where to put your weight on a raft

I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on the following questions (my own thoughts are below):

1. All other things being equal, is a heavier raft less likely to flip when it smashes into a large, tall wave or hole?

2. What is the best way to distribute weight in the raft to give you the most stability when hitting big water?


I first had personal experience with this when I was with a group of friends in a non-bailing 14-foot paddle raft in Westwater at around 4,000 cfs. We were having a blast and running everything really aggressively. By the time we got to Skull, our boat was nearly full of water, which is a huge amount of weight combined with the 8 paddlers. We decided to run the hole. Our boat was so heavy that it hardly even tilted--we literally just went right through the hole, submerged, and came up on the other end. Obviously that was just one run with probably some good luck involved, but it made me realize that more weight probably helps you smash through big water without getting pushed around as much. The less weight you have, it would seem the more the wave will be able push you back, sideways, or upside-down.

It seems logical to me that for max stability you would want to follow two rules: put as much of your weight in front as possible, and put the weight as low down in the boat as possible.

Would love to hear any experience or thoughts you have on the matter.

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Old 02-19-2017   #2
no tengo
 
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I would rather have maneuverability than stability. less weight = easier to get where you want to be.

Also I tend to center the weight - I like to put myself just behind center with a bit of extra weight forward such as a cooler or passenger. This makes turning easier and allows gives you equal hole punching weather you are pointing forwards or backwards for maximum flexibility.
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Old 02-19-2017   #3
 
cedar city, Utah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mania View Post
I would rather have maneuverability than stability. less weight = easier to get where you want to be.

Also I tend to center the weight - I like to put myself just behind center with a bit of extra weight forward such as a cooler or passenger. This makes turning easier and allows gives you equal hole punching weather you are pointing forwards or backwards for maximum flexibility.
I find this to be the best general approach for rigging a raft for whitewater. In most situations I do this because of what Mania described. If I need something a little extra I just go paddle assist with two passengers in the front bay.

The only time I deviate is solo for hitting big features at medium to high water. Then I rig alot of weight in the front bay knowing it might reduce how fast I can maneuver. I did this in my solo rig in the Grand after dropping my passenger at Phantom. Seems to help me with pushy water in this particular context.

Just too many variables for me to get more strategic.
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Old 02-19-2017   #4
 
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When you say "weight" do you mean mother in law, gear, or either?
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Old 02-19-2017   #5
 
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Sandy, Utah
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My answers to your questions....
1. Maybe, but not necessarily. More weight in the raft will make it less maneuverable. If you are on the right line, that extra weight may be helpful. If you're not on the right line, it will be more difficult to get yourself sorted out with that extra weight. If you are on a more technical river where you need to make moves, being more maneuverable is better. There's a fine line where the weight is helpful vs not helpful. That fine line will differ based on the length, width, and design of your raft, and the type of river you are on.

2. Yes, low & a little forward is desirable for gear weight distribution. I row solo most of the time, so my set-up is kind of backwards that most oar rigs. My fat butt sits on my larger dry box to row. The larger dry box holds heavier stuff like food, fire pan, dutch ovens. In front of me I have my cooler, smaller dry box with medium-heavy stuff, and gear load up front under the net. This gives me a good balance with a touch more weight up front. It still keeps me pretty well centered for the reasons Mania pointed out.
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Old 02-19-2017   #6
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Originally Posted by SpeyCatr View Post
When you say "weight" do you mean mother in law, gear, or either?

LOL, depends on the mother in law. I meant either.

Totally agree that the trade-off of weight vs. maneuverability has to be considered based on the nature of what you're running. Due to some circumstances with the other boats on the trip, I once had to row 9 adults plus a ton of gear through Cataract, and we pretty much went where the river wanted us to go. Had to start like 300 feet upstream if you wanted to make a move.
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Old 02-19-2017   #7
 
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Originally Posted by themadbluebird View Post
I once had to row 9 adults plus a ton of gear through Cataract, and we pretty much went where the river wanted us to go. Had to start like 300 feet upstream if you wanted to make a move.
This describes the downside to a heavy raft. Going where the rivers takes you is usually not a great idea.
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Old 02-19-2017   #8
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I think the water you are running has a lot to do with the answer to your question. I like a boat as light as it can be in most cases, but I like weight in the bow when I know I am hitting big waves and holes in big open whitewater.
On day trips I've seen paddle rafts with lots of meat spread out in the boat make it through steep waves that were stalling rafts with light day frames and only a rower in the boat. I like to run forward in the bow if I paddle with 2 people in my 14' Sotar raft. My Dad has a 12'8" Riken raft and we tend to paddle from the center when it's just the two of us.
If I row my raft solo in bigger whitewater My raft wants to turn climbing up the steeper wave faces, and I've been dump trucked out of it in that situation. I've observed the same thing from similar setups.
On the Rogue river last November I had a pretty good load and one passenger and felt like I could smash through everything, and I did smash through Black bar pretty well where some kayakers and a cataraft got surfed.
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Old 02-20-2017   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cataraftgirl View Post
My answers to your questions....
1. Maybe, but not necessarily. More weight in the raft will make it less maneuverable. If you are on the right line, that extra weight may be helpful. If you're not on the right line, it will be more difficult to get yourself sorted out with that extra weight. If you are on a more technical river where you need to make moves, being more maneuverable is better. There's a fine line where the weight is helpful vs not helpful. That fine line will differ based on the length, width, and design of your raft, and the type of river you are on.

2. Yes, low & a little forward is desirable for gear weight distribution. I row solo most of the time, so my set-up is kind of backwards that most oar rigs. My fat butt sits on my larger dry box to row. The larger dry box holds heavier stuff like food, fire pan, dutch ovens. In front of me I have my cooler, smaller dry box with medium-heavy stuff, and gear load up front under the net. This gives me a good balance with a touch more weight up front. It still keeps me pretty well centered for the reasons Mania pointed out.
What size is this raft?
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Old 02-20-2017   #10
 
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Grand Junction, Colorado via Oregon
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Too many great answers! I believe that the key is maneuverability(which has been previously stated), which includes evenly distributed weight along the entire length of the raft as much as practical, but if that is not possible trying to keep more weight center to forward. The other thing that I have learned over the years is to pack heavy gear towards the floor and lighter towards the top of the gear stack.....again, when possible. Low center of gravity and even distribution works the best at keeping the bottom side down. However, water really doesn't care how you pack and there are times that shit will just happen.

Hope this helps!
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