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Discussion Starter #1
I thought my mind was made up and I was going to be getting some 16' NRS River Cat tubes. That deal fell through, and now I am leaning towards some Aire Jaguarundis (16'). When I was able to get the NRS for roughly the same price as the Aire, I was wanting the NRS because of:

Hypalon vs. Welded PVC
6 chambers vs. 4 chambers
25" vs 24" tubes
No zippers vs zippers

Are the zippers really that much of a pain, as it does seem like Aire has the best warranty going, and the weight/dernier of their material is better.

I want this cat for two different activities. One is for river running with a small frame, and the second is for gear carrying on overnight trips with a big frame. For overnight trips, I would like to be able to carry 400 pounds of passengers and 600 pounds of gear along with my 80 pound frame and 85 pounds of tubes and 20 pounds of oars. That is 1185 pounds which is still more than 300 pounds less than what Aire lists as the load limit of the tubes.

Please help convince me that this will be good.
 

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AIRE tubes generally have a more performance oriented shape to them whereas NRS cat tubes tend to be 'flatter' for lack of a better word and better suited to gear hauling.

I love my AIRE cat tubes. You don't need the zippers unless you are doing a repair on the bladder. How often do you rip your tubes anyways? 3 chambers vs 2 is a non-issue IMO.
 

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I thought my mind was made up and I was going to be getting some 16' NRS River Cat tubes. That deal fell through, and now I am leaning towards some Aire Jaguarundis (16'). When I was able to get the NRS for roughly the same price as the Aire, I was wanting the NRS because of:

Hypalon vs. Welded PVC
6 chambers vs. 4 chambers
25" vs 24" tubes
No zippers vs zippers

Are the zippers really that much of a pain, as it does seem like Aire has the best warranty going, and the weight/dernier of their material is better.

I want this cat for two different activities. One is for river running with a small frame, and the second is for gear carrying on overnight trips with a big frame. For overnight trips, I would like to be able to carry 400 pounds of passengers and 600 pounds of gear along with my 80 pound frame and 85 pounds of tubes and 20 pounds of oars. That is 1185 pounds which is still more than 300 pounds less than what Aire lists as the load limit of the tubes.

Please help convince me that this will be good.
Good choice with the Jag! But if you were looking at the NRS boat, why not the more comparable Aire Lion? Regardless, I still think the Jag is a good choice. I've never rowed a Jag, but people LOVE their Jags, they are gear hauling machines and have always had a huge range of boatability. I think you will be about 1000% happier with the Jag. I don't want to dis NRS tubes, but look at the two designs. If you want to have fun on day trips too, compare those two to the play boat designs that are out now - use the Aire Wave Destroyer as an example. Aire is far more aggressive in design and mods than NRS, whose goal is much different.

Oar weight, is that low? Don't forget your locks, and spare oar/blade (or two for the grand). You also don't need to account for the tube weight, the spec means what can the boat carry in addition to itself. If I were you I'd be talking to Aire also to see if your loading is OK.

Everybody's always worried about the Aire zippers, myself included. People that have Aire's love them, and buy them over and over. I've not seen anyone ever mess with a zipper.
 

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Are the zippers really that much of a pain?
I have had three Aire boats (two IKs and a puma) for nearly 20 years. The zippers have never given me any trouble and actually made fixing the couple of slices the kayaks got much easier to repair.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
OK, sounds like I should have been looking at the Aire tubes from the beginning, thanks for the knowledge. One more question, do you generally have seats on your frame like the NRS high or low back seats, or just pads on top of coolers, dry boxes, etc?
 

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well. high back seats are comfy but heavy. sitting on your cooler is more efficient use of space and if you have beer in it this will help center the mass so you aren't too back/front heavy - and provide easy access to said beer. the other possible advantage is if you are using the NRS frame they now have an adjustable height cooler mount so you can sit up higher than with a seat if you like.

you'll get lots of opinions on this question but if you start with using cooler as a seat you will save a little $ by not buying a seat. you can always add one later.
 

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you'll get lots of opinions on this question but if you start with using cooler as a seat you will save a little $ by not buying a seat. you can always add one later.
Yes, it sucks buying multiple things to figure out what you like. I don't like san-seat because I feel I can't brace. I use a low-back, used to use a high-back. If you have access to someone/company that would loan you a seat for a day, you could cut/drill a piece of plywood (with shims on bottom so bolts don't garf what it sits on) and attach the seat to that to test-drive the seat. One hole on either side of the seat, and 4 straps hold it on. It's got to be about 2 feet wider than the seat (at least), so it's got some lateral stability.

There are a couple more seat options out there than just the gray ones on NRS's site. I don't like those, too much padding, I can't brace down into it like the old style tractors that are typically white.
 

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Unfortunately, I've had to repair a few AIRE tubes. Every repair would've sliced any boat mind you (hitting metal sticking out or something). The zippers, for all repairs I've done but one, make it so VERY easy to and quick to fix. I can't say enough for them.

I did have one fix that was in exactly the worst place given the zipper placement. Still wasn't terrible, but certainly took some more work to get that fully patched. Since Aire's have the separate bladder, one has many different options of patching tubes. One can do a quick easy duct tape patch (will hold like 2 psi?), a repair tape patch (comes with the raft, 3 - 4 psi patch?), and then the full repair job (which is equivalent in time and energy to doing a patch on any other type of raft).

Only advice about the zippers, if you do get it in that terrible spot I mentioned, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE SLIDER ON! I accidentally slid one off the zipper teeth. Getting it back on proved to be the worst part of the repair.
 
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