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I know this question has been beat to death on the buzz. But I wanted to ask the question for someone without kids or pets who is just looking for more livable space to stretch out with the wife for long 9+ day trips.


We currently are in a 13' and pack kinda backpacker style as we have to for long permit compliant multi-days. We're cool with backpacker meals, warm beer, and no paco pads.



We're beginning to think about a larger boat. Really like the NRS e-160 but the weight/size has us a little hesitant for lugging it around at the put-in/take-out.


A 15' looks seems like it might be a little more "manageable" but I wonder if we'd enjoy the space for long trips on the 16.' I also have read on the buzz over and over that the 15 rows so close to a 16 why not get the extra space



One other thing is we do not trailer our gear but have plenty of space in the truck.
 

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I had an Aire 143 self bailer. That was for me a really good western river multi day raft. Very happy on Main, Middle Fork, Deso etc etc

I would say that 14 er would give two people plenty of room for gear. On any river most of us do except for the Grand Canyon. Then most of us would be happier in a 15 or 16 footer.

Plus a 14'er being a bit easier to deal with off the river and a bit cheaper to buy.

a 15 er would (my opinion) be for two people room for every thing including the kitchen sink.

A 16 er (my opinion) would be just too much boat to deal with unless you were doing Grand Canyon trips every year. Any thing else probably over kill.

I went from a 18 ft Aire Cat boat to a Aire 143 and am now in a RMR 12 footer. The smaller rafts are a hoot to row on most rivers here in the US.

On the other hand, one person's big boat is another persons small boat.

Main thing is having fun and running rivers.
 

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I row a 12 foot rmr with a 103 canyon, full kitchen with 4 burner stove, groover, small table, three 2.5 gal water jugs, Bimini,fire pan gear, bags for two, seating for two, power shower, enough food and Ice for 7 days. My secret is no beer or soda, just Jack D. on the rocks. I do not go backpacker style at all. If you can not get by in a 15 footer, holy cow.
 

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So I have had this conversation several times with folks and most don’t look at the numbers. Strictly speaking for nrs rafts the 15 arguably has more room then a 16. The big difference is in tube size, you go from a 20 to 22. So a 16 has 47 inches between the tubes a 15 has 45. The straight tube on a 16 is 88 inches and on a 15 is 94 inches. You won’t float as high but you do have roughly the same packable boat space.
That said I have had 3 e150 one was 45 interior width the other two were 42.5. Doesn’t sound like a big deal but kinda sucks when buying your next raft thinking everything will fit just fine and........... no man wants to loose a couple of inches hahahaha.
 

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I got to thinking that my last post was not very helpful. So I'll try to do better with this one. Before buying a new boat I would inflate set up your 13 footer in your living room or garage. Pack and repack it a couple of times to figure out what works best. Are you doing two 55 qt coolers instead of a nice 103-110? Can you down size your fire pan? Groover (you do not need a 50 use one, just 25 or so). When you are sure you have done you best to minimize the size of all you want to carry, and have packing down to a science, then decide how big a boat you really need. Maybe you will get lucky a find 13 works. Before buying also look at the interior size more than length. An 12 foot RMR is 2 inches wider on the inside than a 13 foot rmr is . Makes it easier to pack a bigger cooler. It is more important to have interior space than length most times. A 14 or 15 footer will both fit a 4 bay frame well and a 16 footer a 5 bay if your going to pack the house. You need to do your own homework, because no one knows how much crap or over sized gear or maybe how well organized you really are already. Good luck on your search for the perfect boat.
 

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My last GC trip in 2017 had mostly 14' boats. One was an E-142, so a half foot narrower than the E-140. We had two Maravia 14' round boats, a 16' Maxxon cat, and my E-150. Aside from the cat, my E-150 was the largest boat. We all had large loads for a 23-day trip.

The only things I'd kind of like to change on my boat is to have one bay that could hold rockets and maybe the cooler bay. It's an old galvanized frame; the cooler bay fits my WAY 90, and I think it would fit a Yeti 110; the Canyon wouldn't quite fit. The other bays are only 13" but the boat could sure support more. I run two dry boxes, but sometimes think a front drop bag and hatch cover might be useful. My kitchen only supports groups of 8-12, but that's plenty of people. When I'm not carrying the kitchen, I have plenty of room.

If I had to do it all over again, I think I'd still go with a 15' boat. I sure would like something smaller for day trips, though.
 

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I have a skinny 13' Spider. I also have a 15' Zephyr. I used to have a skinny 14' Diablo. If I could only have one boat, it would be a Diablo or Willy 1. I have done a few MFS 8 day trips in the Spider. When I get in the Zephyr, I have so much room. It seems silly but also nice to bring whatever I want and have plenty of space. I've never said I wished I have a 16' boat. The 14' was plenty for anything I've wanted to do and still rowed like a small boat. The Zephyr is nimble for it's size but does require looking downriver further.

Long story why I have two boats but it's always good to have options.
 

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I will always choose the larger boat, always. I have an AIRE 156R and wouldn't trade it for anything except maybe an 18'. But I just like running lots of gear and bringing everything I want. I've also found that it really doesn't make a difference lugging a boat around is always going to be a bit of a hassle no matter if it's a 14' or 16' or 18'.
 

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Never enough free time
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I normally am the guy who runs with kids, dogs, kids friends, and kitchen, groover, etc. I did a trip last year where it was just me running gear boat and I LOVED having so much space. Everything rigged nice and flat and I wasn't running the 3 foot high stack. Can't imagine needing 16 for just me and the wife ever. I ran a 16'8" boat one summer and it seems like I was always taking other peoples gear so I didn't get any personal advantage out of the bigger boat.

You could also consider a diminishing tube boat. A 15' is real close to a 16' regular tube for internal space.
 

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Gary F
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16 footer! the 15 is a "tweener", in between a smaller and a bigger boat, not that there is anything wrong with that. It just depends on what you want. Years ago I had a campways 15 river ryder bucket boat. Awesome boat. We sure piled the gear high! Did most of the western rivers from Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, California, in high water and low. Never took that boat on the Grand however.

For extended day trips bigger is better. It is easier to get a flatter load. I usually load so I have a drybag behind me for a backrest. Otherwise, everything else is pretty level which makes lounging and moving around on the boat easy therefore, safer in rough water. Nice fishing platform.

In big water trips bigger is better. Gives the passengers a drier ride. Having said that, I would love an 18 but it is too much for me OFF the river. I can hardly manage moving my 16. It's a NRS. On the water though, usually, we are doing bigger water trips like the salmon, so an 18 would be nice.
Usually, it is only my wife and I on our boat but, a lot of times other people come too so the space is nice. It's nice and fun to turn non boaters into boaters. The way we do that is to invite them along.

If you can't decide go for the bigger boat then get a smaller one(s) later. haha. That's what we did. We (now) have 12, 14 and 16 and IK's. The reason is that the bigger boat costs the most AND, depending on where you live it is a really a useable size. The 15 and 14 footers are great for a 1 boat family unless you are doing little creeks.

For us, our favorite is long trips, 6 days or more. We love that sandy beach camping. For those long trips, you need space for coolers. On our last salmon trip we made a 10 day trip out of a 5 day. I had 2 120 qt 1 100 qt and 1 65 qt cooler on my boat in addition to kitchen for 10, which includes a dish wash kit, fire pan, big first aid kit, repair kit, flip kit, 3 tables, plus personal stuff, 5 fishing rods, fly gear and spinning. Oh...and chairs! When you are a 20 something skimpy to no gear is OK but now, I want the kitchen sink too.

1 of the coolers had warm beer in it that we transferred to the water then to the coolers. The 2 big coolers had LOTS of ice. And, we froze everything we could just like if we were doing the grand. 1 cooler started off with fresh veggies and the first 2 days of food.
Space gets taken up real fast on a long trip.
 

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I’ll put in my two cents as a wife. My husband and I both row. We traded in our 14 ft boat after flipping 3 times on a low Water Grand Canyon trip (grapevine, granite, lava ). While our boat was always right side up by the time we got to it, we voted to get a bigger boat for the next go round and ended up with a 15ft nrs(along with some amazing wood oars that puts those plastic ones to shame!).

It holds more, and didn’t flip on our next grand trip However it was a little out of control on the middle fork last year, especially on the first day. As a smaller person it’s more difficult to row than a smaller boat, not to mention heavier when we lift it into the truck. We also had to set the oar locks so that they are not to wide for me and not so narrow you pinch your thumbs(or other things.

Plus smaller boats are so much more fun. I spent about 10 min on an 18ft boat in the gc, and you are surrounded by boat-you can barely see the river(this was on the 14 ft trip, so I am kidding but kind of not!) So my vote is for 15 ft!....or a bigger cat, although I don’t like the splishy splashy thing with the floor, in spite of the advantage of not having to pull to shore if I have to pee. (tmi?)
 

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I have a 13 footer and sont need to pack backpacker style for 2 people with lots of beer... but the boat is definitely loaded up.

To me 15 or 16 is kind of a wash if you'll always have 2 people to lug it around... it's moving a boat by yourself that's the real hassle.

If you're keeping the 13 I might lean towards a 16 so you have a big boat and a small boat. If you need to sell the 13 to buy the new boat I might lean towards the 15... there are places a big boat is kind of a struggle.
 
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