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Discussion Starter #1
I just noticed on the AIRE website that they have worked with their fabric suppliers to make their tubes & rafts a bit lighter for 2017 models. Here is more information on what they did to achieve this: 2017 Materials Update

As an example - a set of 15' Wave Destroyer tubes used to weigh 78 pounds and now weigh 70 pounds which is a pretty significant weight savings. I personally have no doubts that they will retain the durability and quality they are known for.

Maybe Sheena from AIRE can go into greater detail but the basics are in the link above.
 

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Wow, I saw this subject last week and I'm surprised that it didn't get more attention. After seeing it I've been trying to find more information but news on this seems to be scarce other than their own site.

So when I went to my previous catalogs from Aire, in 2014 they state that the fabric is 37/42 which is something I've always liked about Aire were the thicker floors and chafes, but in my 2015 it just says 37 (oz) How long ago did this happen? It may explain some things about one of my newer boats.

I'm not sure how I feel about this but I know that I'll never even notice the 7 pound loss. How much did I save on a 160DD?
 

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I'm also surprised this isn't getting more conversations going. I'm buying a 156R for this season. Based on Aire's website the 156R now weighs 132 lbs down from 169 lbs, thats a 22% decrease in weight! At 132 lbs thats lighter than all the other NW manufacturers of similar size.

I've talked to Aire and have been told new material has been well tested.

Anyway, its going to be a big water year so looking forward to a new boat!

jp
 

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I need help with this. IMO Far too much is made of the weight factor. At 132lbs you still need at least two people to lift it and most likely 2 people on each side which is exactly the same as when it was 169lbs and still loads and handles exactly the same especially if you add a frame and gear. So what has been gained? On my 14WD I only save about 6lbs which doesn't do anything for me. The only one it helps is the guy that is packing his boat on his back or bike in which case he is going to try to find an old coolcat or go with a very small single chambered Sotar.

By pushing for lighter weight Mfrs seek to change the materials and my fear is that we lose durability. I'm an Aire fan and I have a hard time believing that they would make any change that would be problematic so I guess I need to be more open minded about this. I guess one advantage is that they are pushing the industry forward. Everything has to change I just hope it changes without losing the most important factor.
 

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Wieght isnt a factor for me. I've been eyeing a 156R for quite some time (I already have a 143D and a couple Lynx 2)...and now that I'm ready I just noticed the material changes and a lot of weight was shaved. All I want is the same positive experience with this new boat (new material) as I've always had with the other three boats.
 

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AIRE exclusively using 37oz material is NOT NEW for 2017. In fact, the 43oz material was quietly redacted from their 2015 catalog and unless you paid attention to the fine print of the specs matric, it had switched from the previous “35/43” to just “37”.

I personally believe this is just a marketing spin to deflect why they switched to a thinner floor material and thinner bladder material (15 mil urethane to a 12 mil), and the likely sole determination was to reduce cost and increase margins.

I understand the demand for lighter backpacking equipment and pack-rafts and that there is a compromise to durability for weight savings. However, rafts are just heavy to begin with and saving a little weight at the cost of durability as a sole reason doesn’t make sense to me.

Note: I’m a proud and happy owner of a Clavey Aire 156R Special Edition, which is made exclusively of the gray 43oz material. It’s not fancy and lime green, just plain gray, but it’s bomber tough.

In all honesty, if I were now in the market for a new raft, I would be less inclined to pull the trigger on a lighter weight AIRE. Durability is one of my key considerations I WEIGH heavily when purchasing a raft.

Let’s call a spade a spade, Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Perhaps margins may have something to do with it but to quell your fears you also need to look at boats with the thinner 24/27 oz Ferrari fabric which I'm guessing also have 12 mm urethane in the Outcast line up (Outcast PAC series pontoon boats). These boats are plenty tough and there are many fine examples of them standing up to years of abuse much like their AIRE counterparts with thicker material. As you already know much of a boats abuse comes from out of water handling - trailering, loading, stacking, dragging, dropping, strips, abrasion points, etc. Also ask yourself another question: what are the chances or odds of you hitting something on the river hard enough that it causes catastrophic air loss to a chamber with 37 oz (12 mm) but with 43 oz (15 mm) it does not? Another thought - AIRE says with the extra layer of laquer it increases durability of the 37 oz material - I know they have some test they did (maybe in a lab) that compared their PVC material abrasion resistance to their new (at the time) Urethane material and they said it was about 10 times more abrasion resistant. How does the new 37 oz PVC material compare? Also consider that there are some guys running custom coloured AIRE wave destroyers with all 37 oz material due to the different than the grey 43 oz bottom material. Im guessing they aren't feeling lacking in any areas from a durability stand point.


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AIRE exclusively using 37oz material is NOT NEW for 2017. In fact, the 43oz material was quietly redacted from their 2015 catalog and unless you paid attention to the fine print of the specs matric, it had switched from the previous “35/43” to just “37”.

I personally believe this is just a marketing spin to deflect why they switched to a thinner floor material and thinner bladder material (15 mil urethane to a 12 mil), and the likely sole determination was to reduce cost and increase margins.

I understand the demand for lighter backpacking equipment and pack-rafts and that there is a compromise to durability for weight savings. However, rafts are just heavy to begin with and saving a little weight at the cost of durability as a sole reason doesn’t make sense to me.

Note: I’m a proud and happy owner of a Clavey Aire 156R Special Edition, which is made exclusively of the gray 43oz material. It’s not fancy and lime green, just plain gray, but it’s bomber tough.

In all honesty, if I were now in the market for a new raft, I would be less inclined to pull the trigger on a lighter weight AIRE. Durability is one of my key considerations I WEIGH heavily when purchasing a raft.

Let’s call a spade a spade, Cheers!

Just an FYI, I just talked with Clavey about getting their "special edition" 43oz 156R and Aire informed them they will no longer be able to make that for them.
 

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Just an FYI, I just talked with Clavey about getting their "special edition" 43oz 156R and Aire informed them they will no longer be able to make that for them.
Unfortunately as I get older, it feels like Too Many Good Things (Come To An End)! I'll now place the "special edition" in that coffin.

I wish you the best of luck with your raft acquisition. Cheers!
 

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In all honesty, if I were now in the market for a new raft, I would be less inclined to pull the trigger on a lighter weight AIRE. Durability is one of my key considerations I WEIGH heavily when purchasing a raft.

Let’s call a spade a spade, Cheers!
The best audio amplifiers are bought by the pound. Mass is a vital part of the Force / Acceleration thing.
 

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73 lb puma!

I think it is an awesome move by aire. I understand that in larger sizes, the weight difference may not seem like a big deal, but it should directly translate to increased load capacity. Being able to add another 5 gallons of water or few 30 packs without drafting any lower than the old boats is a good thing in my book.

I call b.s. on the comment that the move was driven exclusively by the bottom line. If that was the case, why would they have increased the weight of the fabric used in the tributary line, while dropping the price a few seasons ago?

Also, the new puma is listed at 73lbs! The new tributary 9.5 is 78lbs and the old version of the puma was in the 90lb+ range I believe. That translates to a boat that can be packed in by one person without it being too miserable, vs 90+ where it is a bit less fun. This may not matter to most people, but if you regularly run the gunny, Rockwood, or any other runs that require some portaging/hiking it should make a noticeable difference. And the warranty didn't change.

In my opinion, Aire rafts are pretty overbuilt for the private market. I have seen aire rafts used by my former employer with 18+ years of commercial service that were still in fine shape. That is after rookie guides, many laps a day, full loads during low water, and sitting uncovered in the sun season after season, and these were not the heavier clavey boats. The way Aire builds rafts allows them to orient the seam overlaps in the direction that the boat travels, and the fact that there isn't any seam tape on the outside shell gives them an edge in abrasion resistance over other boats. The things that would fail on the older boats were the handles, and the logos. The handles, from lazy guides using them as tie down points and burning thru them with straps, and the logos would eventually crack and fall off. Aire updated the handle design to incorporate some allen screws, and now they are user replaceable with just an allen key! They also updated the logo design and I have not seen any of the oval logos blown out yet.

I know that with this change, a new puma just jumped to the top of my small boat wishlist. Anybody want to by a used 10.5' sotar?
 

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In my opinion, Aire rafts are pretty overbuilt for the private market.
I don't know if this is your point but I've heard this kind of argument as if "private market" equates to less requirements. I may not be able to include myself in this example (I'm working on it) but some of the fellas I follow down the river put their boats through any test that any commercial company can claim. Even more when you consider rivers and levels that commercial wont even go near because the consequences are much higher.

I want to make something very clear that "overbuilt" is why I buy or pay the price for any "high end" brand of boat or equipment. If I wanted less I could pay for a lesser quality boat but IMO this is not a sport where if we get a flat tire we can simply pull over to the side, or wrap some duct tape around my backpack when a seam fails. In this sport when there is a problem I, my friends, or my family find ourselves in the middle of a river, possibly a very hazardous river. We are putting ourselves in harms way far more than most sports and overbuilt is exactly what I want and I am paying for nothing less than the longevity of the rafts you mentioned in your commercial examples.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Doing 2 weeks of whitewater guide training in 2015 on 20 year old AIRE rafts ( circa the mid 90s), we put these things through living hell (combined with many previous years of guide trainees doing the same thing on top of the commercial use these rafts see), and they stood up well. Sure they have the odd patch and have had bladders replaced and/or patched but to see what we put them through coming out unscathed really reinforced my belief in the quality of AIRE products. Shit that makes me shutter as stuff I own would never see such abuse!


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The private market doesn't equate to lower requirements for performance, only for the ability to withstand wear and tear. Abrasion resistance and puncture resistance are different, and for the private boater, the later is generally more important than the former. You may run bigger water than a commercial company, but 3 trips a day 7 days a week during low water with full loads of customers is what wears out boats, not high water runs. That and the transport wear and tear. Lots of companies around here shove boats off the top of a 6 stack into the gravel 3 times a day when unloading trailers. That is 140+ lbs of boat hitting dry gravel from 10+ feet in the air over and over. I don't know any private boaters who treat boats as badly as commercial outfits.

Think of it like this: Kenworth and Mack do not build vehicles for the average person. This is because the average person does not need a vehicle that will run for a million plus miles, or one that can tow a huge trailer. Just because an 18 wheeler is heavier duty than a corvette it does not make it higher performance, or better for the average person. This applies to rafts as well, with the difference in performance being much smaller.

Another factor is that the fabric weight does not tell the whole story. I found rockey mountain rafts to be significantly less durable than my aire, having owned both. The rmr pvc was much softer, and very easy to scratch. I ended up putting a small hole in my rmr on an upper animas trip, despite the heavy weight of the fabric. The rock that damaged the rmr wasn't that sharp. The aire on the other hand has seen some more serious action, including running into the very sharp end of a downed tree at full speed on the Piedra, and it has shrugged it all off without any issues. And the tree hit, that I thought would for sure be ending with a patch was taken above the water line, on the 37oz fabric. In my experience the 37oz was plenty tough, and it sounds like with a thicker lacquer coating it should be even tougher now.

Also, with an aire, you can actually pull over and fix them on the side of the river with tape, and a needle + thread and then have aire weld a patch on the inside of the boat after your trip. They are the easiest to repair of any raft by far.

I don't think that the average person will ever notice any difference in durability with the slight difference in coating thickness, but the weight difference should be more noticeable. Less mass to stop, spin, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Nice post FM


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The private market doesn't equate to lower requirements for performance, only for the ability to withstand wear and tear. Abrasion resistance and puncture resistance are different, and for the private boater, the later is generally more important than the former. You may run bigger water than a commercial company, but 3 trips a day 7 days a week during low water with full loads of customers is what wears out boats, not high water runs. That and the transport wear and tear. Lots of companies around here shove boats off the top of a 6 stack into the gravel 3 times a day when unloading trailers. That is 140+ lbs of boat hitting dry gravel from 10+ feet in the air over and over. I don't know any private boaters who treat boats as badly as commercial outfits.

Think of it like this: Kenworth and Mack do not build vehicles for the average person. This is because the average person does not need a vehicle that will run for a million plus miles, or one that can tow a huge trailer. Just because an 18 wheeler is heavier duty than a corvette it does not make it higher performance, or better for the average person. This applies to rafts as well, with the difference in performance being much smaller.
I understand what your saying and I agree completely. My point, to use your analogy, is that even though many people may not need a Mac they (including myself) are paying for one because they want their vehicle to have all of the capability of a Mac weather or not they need it all of the time.

In this case I'm looking for a boat that will endure all of the examples that you mentioned and I'm willing to pay that price because I know that will increase the chances that I, my friends and my family will survive what ever we encounter on the water.

My fear is that manufacturers (and I'm not talking about Aire or any in particular) will use the same argument that you used to reduce the quality of their boats, "since most people just don't need that".
 

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Another factor is that the fabric weight does not tell the whole story. I found rockey mountain rafts to be significantly less durable than my aire, having owned both. The rmr pvc was much softer, and very easy to scratch. I ended up putting a small hole in my rmr on an upper animas trip, despite the heavy weight of the fabric. The rock that damaged the rmr wasn't that sharp. The aire on the other hand has seen some more serious action, including running into the very sharp end of a downed tree at full speed on the Piedra, and it has shrugged it all off without any issues. And the tree hit, that I thought would for sure be ending with a patch was taken above the water line, on the 37oz fabric. In my experience the 37oz was plenty tough, and it sounds like with a thicker lacquer coating it should be even tougher now.

Also, with an aire, you can actually pull over and fix them on the side of the river with tape, and a needle + thread and then have aire weld a patch on the inside of the boat after your trip. They are the easiest to repair of any raft by far.

I don't think that the average person will ever notice any difference in durability with the slight difference in coating thickness, but the weight difference should be more noticeable. Less mass to stop, spin, etc.

Again I agree with you. I'm not saying that the change will decrease durability. In fact I doubt Aire would make that kind of change. If you look through my post history you will see me making these same points about Aire and that is why float them. There are others on this site that will tell you that I've made these points ad nauseam.

My points and the fears that I mention are to support my claim that too much is made of the weight factor and I'm worried that the industry will digress as a result.
 

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I know that with this change, a new puma just jumped to the top of my small boat wishlist. Anybody want to by a used 10.5' sotar?
Damnit man, have you even paddled it yet? LOL, in the same boat. Now that they are sub 100lbs, almost makes me want a super duper puma over the hyside I ordered.


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As I re-read my replies I wanted to reiterate that my discussion points are concerns for trends in the industry as a whole. Much of my concern comes as a result of a prototype boat that I saw last summer. I wont say who the Manufacturer was but it was a BIG one. They were testing a new material and in my unprofessional opinion it was awful. It was porous, too flexible to the point of being squishy so I didn't have much confidence in it's durability or shape, and it certainly was a huge step backward from their current material, but as the rep pointed out, "it was a lot lighter"!

My hope is that 1. End users (especially in this sport) always insist that any change or improvement never comes at the cost of durability and reliability. 2. that Manufacturers never reduce those factors because they decide that "most" private owners don't need that level of quality.

A while back I went to Aire with questions about this material change and first I have to say that Aire was GREAT about taking the time to reply to a nobody like me. From their reply I got two important facts. They told me that 1 this new material has tested even more durable (especially in abrasion resistance), and 2 the new material actually costs Aire a little more than the old material. Those two factors changed everything for me and I'm excited to put it to the test.

Hope that helps.
 

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I don't think that the average person will ever notice any difference in durability with the slight difference in coating thickness, but the weight difference should be more noticeable. Less mass to stop, spin, etc.
That says it all. If the new material was just as good or better everyone would notice that it got better but instead the average person wont even notice.
 
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