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Discussion Starter #1
So here's the skinny: me and my Aire 156R just got done doing the MF last week. A little bony to say the least. Lots of tight turns and weaving.

Does anyone have experience with a regular AIRE floor (water ballast pocket) verses a sealed pocket floor? (water-tight) Mine is the one with the water ballast pocket. It seems like I wasn't able to maneuver as quickly as I did at the beginning of the trip.

Aire states that the ballast floor is supposed to track better. Problem is, I think it also tracks in rapids and takes 3 times the oar strokes to maneuver and dodge them holes or eddying out. Thinking about upgrading to a sealed pocket floor. Wondering though...is there any way around this by keeping the standard floor and making it water tight?
 

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I have the sealed floor on my 156D. I am not sure if you are going to gain any significant maneuverability that is worth the cost. Sealed floor is great for unsticking a rock or light portaging. I also like not having to worry about cleaning out sands and small rocks, but for maneuverability, you may have a better result by how you balance your gear load. My boat is pretty quick to turn, much faster than any other boats I've rowed including Sotar, but, 16' raft are not really for speed. When I am on the water, I am always lagging behind 14' or cats with little gear. I actually enjoy rowing a larger gear boat. It takes a lot more planning to move the boat especially in narrow rocky places.

See if AIRE has any used sealed floor. I bought mine with the sealed floor and have no regrets.
 

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Keep the floor at max air pressure, you can't overinflate them. this will allow less water in. I replaced my leaky air cell and it handles way better! Love the Aire warrenty!
 

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Skibum66
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I run two 14'Aire R models. One has a leaky floor air cell, sluggish slow turning if it is low. The other has no leaks and turns as fast as other boats this size. I've also found being a little heavier in the front helps with the tracking.
 

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You CAN over inflate the floor pocket. There are threads on here and bladders in my shop showing the blown i beams and such. The pressure release valve may not let out air fast enough to avoid a blown i beam or seam. Also, once you let the pressure release valve blow off it is likely it will leak. Then you are topping off and dealing with a heavier boat as the day goes on until you pump and you are repeating that everyday until you clean and reseat the PRV.

The new floor bladders (to replace blown ones) come with a warning sticker on the valve advising you not to over inflate. AIRE does have a great warranty but thats no excuse to abuse it. REI recently changed their policy and AIRE will likely do the same if they see more and more abuse.

To answer the original question....There is no real way to make the floor water tight. You could patch over the holes on the bottom, but water can still get in through the zipper on the top and then has no way out. The boat would get heavier as the trip went on. You would have to get rid of the zipper and add a waterproof one to make it watertight. You would have more in labor and materials than just getting one from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you...

Really appreciate everyone's input. What a great site for finding out answers to difficult rafting questions.

A sealed floor pocket runs over $2000! I don't know if I'm that desperate yet. I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that a big gear boat will not be the most nimble on the water regardless of ballast floor or not.

Anymore thoughts....fire away.
 

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Is a sealed floor a dropstitch floor? This allows stiff and no space in the aire armor for water to be retained? Im assuming a baffle design has channels where water can pool

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