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Hello better travelled Buzzards:

I have lived for 6 and boated for 5 years in Colorado, but have just taken a job outside Missoula. In an effort to scale down on moving space, and because I've always wanted a better boat, I am in the market. A buddy is going to buy my 13 ft. bucket boat, and I am looking for some Montana/Idaho advice on what to replace it with.

I will have to stick with a one boat quiver for the time being. I ran my little 13 ft Odessey (korean i think) on the Upper, Poudre, Westy, Green, etc...but really want a nice, American made boat. I was leaning towards a cat, because of cost, handling on big water, and the fact that I can leave it rigged on a trailer in a garage where I'm headed.

I know what I want brand wise: Aire, JPW, or the likes. My question is this:
What would be your size recommendations for a one cat quiver based out of Missoula? I'll be living on the Blackfoot off HWY 200, and looking to be able to boat there for convenience as well as everything else I am hearing I'll have access to up there (Clark Fork/Root/Madison/Missouri/Lochsa/Flat).

That turned into a long question, but wanted to be clear.

PS - Laura: I know you are proud of the success over big oil on the Lochsa route. Congrats.

Headed for Missoula this month,

Paul
 

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Those who know. Sotar Legend!


I apparently dont know cause i run aires, but it was more on cost than anything else

Unfortunately there is no perfect sized cat, a smaller one will be more fun and easier to transport. A big one will be better for camping trips etc. that's why I have three of them

My guess as a compromise a 15' legend. A little big but you can still fit it down smallish rivers. And you can use it for multidays
 

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Sotar, Aire, Maravia. All great boats. Sotar Legend & Aire Wave Destroyer are more sporty, Maravia (what I have and love) is great for multi-days and sporty enough for me. Get a 14 ft. Cat for all around versatility. If you don't see yourself doing many multi-day trips, or you have a group that can spread out the gear, then go smaller.
 

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You're going to hate Missoula. It's FULL of vegans. But there is a thriving local food presence if you are interested. Numerous farmers markets, csa's, and the good food store sources as much local as possible. Even local dairy up the 'root

You need to refine what you want to do. Depending on what your focus is will dictate what you will be happiest with. If your focus is the blackfoot vs the lochsa. Play machine or party barge with friends. My personal favorite is the 12.5' sotar legend and take it on everything around here. Although now I am getting an 11' too. the 12.5' is plenty big for multiday trips.
 

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I started boating during a 9-year stint in Missoula. Ended up with a 16' cat (25" tubes) and a 14' cat (22" tubes). Either one worked fine for the whole boating season on the Blackfoot, Clark Fork, and Bitterroot.

If I did it over again, and didn't have so many kids, I probably would have gone for an Aire Jaguarundi (16', 24" tubes) as a one-quiver rig.
 

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I have a 14 foot legend. Big enough for 2 people and gear on a main or middle fork trip, kills it on the lochsa, small enough for tight rivers like the boulder... seems like a good all around size for a one boat quiver
 

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I have a 14 foot legend. Big enough for 2 people and gear on a main or middle fork trip, kills it on the lochsa, small enough for tight rivers like the boulder... seems like a good all around size for a one boat quiver
easily big enough for two if you are either into backpack style camping or are supported by a larger group. It will be awfully tight but i suppose it can be done.

I've tried to do it --- if you pack up a 8' frame with drybox, cooler, plus additional gear for a weeklong trip there is little room to have your passenger sit anywhere on the boat. (2.5'rower bay, 1.5' for drybox, 1.5' for cooler, 1.5' for passenger feet.

But it becomes real tricky trying to get the weight distribution down as you will likely be "rear heavy" and there is not enough room on the tubes to front load the frame

Then you really have to concern yourself with the weight handling capacity of the tubes.

It becomes much easier if the second person is either a SUP or IK user.
 

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Ya you're right avatard, most the time I am supported by other boats, which makes things easier, but we definitely do not screw around with backpacker style camping. I run a PRE frame (Ron is the shit) with a passenger seat and a trailer frame. Dry box in the trailer frame, cooler under my seat, and a drop bag between the rowing frame and trailer frame.

Balancing the weight is hugely important as you pointed out. My girly is small and I'm a big dude - which helps, and I also rig two 6 gallon water jugs up front - she balances nicely this way.

It can be a tad tight, but still super comfortable. The caveat is I'm really never carrying the heavy kitchen gear, groover, or whatnot. The best part is i can ditch the trailer frame, take the passenger seat off, and bam, sporty rig for hittin the shit.

There really isn't one boat for everything, but It's a good compromise for me.
 

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Ya you're right avatard, most the time I am supported by other boats, which makes things easier, but we definitely do not screw around with backpacker style camping. I run a PRE frame (Ron is the shit) with a passenger seat and a trailer frame. Dry box in the trailer frame, cooler under my seat, and a drop bag between the rowing frame and trailer frame.

Balancing the weight is hugely important as you pointed out. My girly is small and I'm a big dude - which helps, and I also rig two 6 gallon water jugs up front - she balances nicely this way.

It can be a tad tight, but still super comfortable. The caveat is I'm really never carrying the heavy kitchen gear, groover, or whatnot. The best part is i can ditch the trailer frame, take the passenger seat off, and bam, sporty rig for hittin the shit.

There really isn't one boat for everything, but It's a good compromise for me.
Agreed. But you'd have to go awfully light with a groover, fire pan, and all the fixings for a four night stay. Hence my suggestion for a 15.5 legend. Curious are your legend tubes 23"?

I get the idea Laura packs her overnight bag and cosmetics purse on her boat and leaves the hauling for those suckers with the rafts :)
 

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Avatard;302809 I get the idea Laura packs her overnight bag and cosmetics purse on her boat and leaves the hauling for those suckers with the rafts :)[/QUOTE said:
Oh Tard..... you are begging for trouble ;););)
 

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Ya you would have a little more room, and i could be wrong, but i think the 23" diameter on the 14' legend has about the same weight capacity as the 15' wave destroyer with 22" diameter.

Anyway, both are top of the line boats that make a good all around craft.
 

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I get the idea Laura packs her overnight bag and cosmetics purse on her boat and leaves the hauling for those suckers with the rafts :)
You don't know shit. Not everyone has to bring the kitchen sink or 128 qt coolers and dryboxes on trips. When everyone has their own cat each person doesn't have too much group hear to carry. As difficult as it may be to grasp for those used to pig-loaded boats, there's a lot of range between that and backpacker style. 8 day trips are easy.
 

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Just pushing your buttons cause, well, that's what I do.

I like to travel in style, eat food, and use the river as the way to play with all my toys. With a 12.5' cat i definately couldn't carry the spit and concrete blocks if i was also responsible for the pig!
 

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And my wife and her girlfriends don't row (not related to the pig on the spit comment)
 

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Laura,

You are scaring the shit out of me. I'm not moving INTO Missoula though, I'll be up on 200 between Potomac and Ovando. I do hope your opinion of the folks in that area are better, cuz you are spot on in your inference that I don't fit in well with vegans.

Else,

Thanks for the info right off the bat. I could certainly have two boats within a year, and understand the reason for it. As I said, I've run Westy at all flows with a gal and a dog and an overnight load in my little sad foreign raft. The whole impedes behind this boat search is that I am going to an area that I hear has bigger water within closer distance, and to a job that will finally allow me to afford the kind of (USA made) boat I want.

I have always been under the impression that a 14-15 ft. cat would be necessary to carry the same load as my 13 ft. raft, but that the cat unloaded might be a much better big/high water rig solo.

If you guys really want to help, and I know a lot of you do because I have been reading the buzz for years, just tell me if I am not being clear enough. I am a newbie in my own opinion, because I have only been rafting for 5 years, only have about 500 hours, and in my mind's eye, it's a life sport. In counterpoint, I am a MRA rope rescue technician and a DRI SW1 Specialist. I know water pretty well, and tech rescue very well, so I am cautiously confident. I DON'T KNOW boats, because I've only ever been in 3 different ones. There are a lot of great boats out there, at legitimately large sums of money in my finance range, and I'm just looking for help choosing one that I won't want to sell within a year of boating in MT/ID.

Thanks as always,

Paul
 

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Well the greater missoula area is extremely diverse. You'll be surprised who you make friends with if you remain open minded even in the face of a different physical appearance or mindset which you typically associate. Hippies and rednecks mingle quite well here. But the core vocal part of Missoula has a lot of technocrat liberals that want to push their ideals on others and turn it into seattle or portland. . Yuk. And I'm a quasi liberal. So you're going to have the blackfoot as your home, nice. It has a short season and you'll have extend that the smaller you go. A ducky is great to really extend the season. The tube hatch gets out of control, the water levels get that low. The only "big" water is heading over into Idaho. I'd say get something for lower water, small cat or ducky and then a bugger boat (jag or smaller) for multidays that you might appreciate the size of in the Lochsa. You are correct, cats carry less weight for a given size so you'll want about a 15' cat to match the gear loading of a 13' raft. One boat is just never enough and expect to be alway looking towards the next one.
 

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One boat is just never enough and expect to be alway looking towards the next one. _

The best advice on this thread!!

For what it is worth I think a person needs 3 rafts, one of them being a super puma which does a ton of things well. Paddle it, row it, row with two paddles - it is (my opinion here) a raft that will get used all the time. Probably a bunch more than it's big brothers and sisters.

I am a big fan of Aire 18 ft Cats and Aire 143 rafts had both of them, but felt a Super Puma would have been really nice to open up more opportunities for paddle rafting and hitting the low water runs in a raft we have most of the time in Arkansas or even CO.
 

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I'd get a 14' raft. You will be fine on the Blackfoot, flathead, bitterroot, Clark fork etc most of the season and you could take it down the clearwater, rock creek, west fork bitterroot early season. It will rock multi-days in idaho w your new friends and be great for fishing and partying. The access on most of the rivers you'll be living near is raft friendly. Once you're all dialed and ready to explore regionally you can specialize w the cat/ raft combo- and sell off your 14 no problem then. I just think a cat would be a boring craft to explore the local rivers on. There isn't any technical water really and on a cat the lounging is subpar imo. I had a 13 Maravia round boat w 18" tubes first, then a nrs 140 e and now a 15' wave destroyer cat and an Aire 156 d round boat. I'm sure my evolution is incorrect in some way but I feel pretty good about advising a similar path.
 

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Well the greater missoula area is extremely diverse. You'll be surprised who you make friends with if you remain open minded even in the face of a different physical appearance or mindset which you typically associate. Hippies and rednecks mingle quite well here.
Amen to that. I lived in Missoula from '97-00. I'm a "redneck environmentalist". :lol: Missoula has a great sense of community and as diverse as it is, you can always find some people you can relate to--and even people you disagree with will often do so in a friendly manner.

I'd get a 14' raft. You will be fine on the Blackfoot, flathead, bitterroot, Clark fork etc most of the season and you could take it down the clearwater, rock creek, west fork bitterroot early season. It will rock multi-days in idaho w your new friends and be great for fishing and partying. The access on most of the rivers you'll be living near is raft friendly. Once you're all dialed and ready to explore regionally you can specialize w the cat/ raft combo- and sell off your 14 no problem then. I just think a cat would be a boring craft to explore the local rivers on. There isn't any technical water really and on a cat the lounging is subpar imo. I had a 13 Maravia round boat w 18" tubes first, then a nrs 140 e and now a 15' wave destroyer cat and an Aire 156 d round boat. I'm sure my evolution is incorrect in some way but I feel pretty good about advising a similar path.
I don't disagree. I started with a 16' Maravia, then a 13' Aire Trib, now an Aire 156R and am cat shopping--probably 14'. A 14' raft will do everything in western Montana from lounging to fishing to big water. Except for the Lochsa, every other western Montana whitewater river has lounging sections. (Yes, the Lochsa is a western Montana river--it is a springtime suburb of Missoula. har har)
 
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