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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I'm now to boating and am looking for help deciding on tubes. I boat in and around Gunnison primarily, which include the Taylor and Gunnison river. One or two longer trips a year, Desolation this year San Juan last year. Passanger are myself and girlfried and rarely a small dog or two. I can get a great deal on a set of down river 14x24 inch tubes:

http://www.downriverequip.com/asp/product.asp?product=428

And a good deal on Aire 14x22 inch tubes:

http://www.downriverequip.com/asp/product.asp?product=60

I have a Aire Lynx II currently and like the ability to role up Hypalon over leaving the tubes partially inflated for storage. The Larger DRE tubes would mean more gear for longer trips but would that be very limiting with maneuverability especially on small rivers like the Taylor. The price difference is around $300 with the DRE being cheaper. The warranty is 5 years for DRE and 10 years on Aire but with care should I worry about the DRE boat holding up?

Any additional pros/cons you can provide will be appreciated. Or if you think my assumptions are wrong. Thanks for any advice you can share since I'm green behind the ears when it comes boating.

Thank you,
Mark
 

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Hello,

I'm now to boating and am looking for help deciding on tubes. I boat in and around Gunnison primarily, which include the Taylor and Gunnison river. One or two longer trips a year, Desolation this year San Juan last year. Passanger are myself and girlfried and rarely a small dog or two. I can get a great deal on a set of down river 14x24 inch tubes:

Down River Equipment

And a good deal on Aire 14x22 inch tubes:

Down River Equipment

I have a Aire Lynx II currently and like the ability to role up Hypalon over leaving the tubes partially inflated for storage. The Larger DRE tubes would mean more gear for longer trips but would that be very limiting with maneuverability especially on small rivers like the Taylor. The price difference is around $300 with the DRE being cheaper. The warranty is 5 years for DRE and 10 years on Aire but with care should I worry about the DRE boat holding up?

Any additional pros/cons you can provide will be appreciated. Or if you think my assumptions are wrong. Thanks for any advice you can share since I'm green behind the ears when it comes boating.

Thank you,
Mark
Buy the DRE cause it's less expensive and a better boat. Take the $300 you save, invest it and make a bizillion on the return. Send me 10% of that bizillion for giving you this wonderful advice. Better yet, ask Mike to give you another $300 off for a 1 year warrantee. Money is power;keep it.
 

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I have been researching essentially the same size, and smaller, cats recently. The newer Aire design, along with sotar's legend series, seem to be a huge improvement in design. The additional "kick" on the ends of the tubes sounds like it improves performance dramatically, hitting holes, preventing flips. The DRE looks quite flat. I'd go with the Aire, a more proven manufacturer of boats, and a warranty that can't be beat in the industry. Personally, I'm going to go Sotar legend, slightly bigger tubes than Aire, and they seem to be the boat of choice on the rivers I am looking at (ID, MT, WA), but more $$$.

Oh, and I've heard some bad reviews from catters about those 24" tubes, essentially just too darn big, to squirrely of a boat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies, I appreciate your time. I am leaning heavily towards the Aire the more I read about the new design.
 

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I want to echo lhowemt's comments about Sotar cats. I have owned multiple cats from different companies but am now a Sotar convert. I own 2 SP Elite cats (these are equivalent to the ST Elite cats but tan in color). These cats are exceptionally responsive, well made durable boats. Buying these in tan rather than other colors saves a few hundred dollars and tan looks good. The Sotar Sales Hotsheet lists a SP Elite 14' (probably 23" diameter) set of new tubes for $1840, which is less than the other options you are considering.

Of course the appropriate boat depends on your desired usage. The flat-bottom cats track better and will carry more weight but the continuous-curve cats are much more maneuverable and will still carry ample gear or people.

Keep in mind that for cats the frame design ranks in importance with the tube design and these need to be considered in combo to give you a well-designed craft. The rowing position, gear and people configurations deserve significant thought before a frame purchase. Talk to as many people as you can about this and check out the numerous Buzz threads to help you decide what will work best for you. Just make sure you considering fishing in your configuration since you will be on the Taylor and Gunnison rivers.

Good luck.
 

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Ever Cat has a great point about tube design. You have to decide whether you want the extra load capicity (flat bottom tubes) or maneuverability (more rocker).

Ironically, I was talking about materials last night with a raft vendor who sells both plastic and hypalon (I won't reveal their name to protect the innocent). Stiffness and weight are a couple of differences between plastic and hypalon, but the biggest (for me) is durability.

Plastic's pristine life is about 20 years. After 10 they'll start to have dozens of pin leaks and will need to be topped off every couple of days or so. The best way around this is to sell them off and replace them on a ten year cycle.

Hypalon's pristine life is 30 years or more (check with old Avon folks). I'm lazy and hate to have to buy and sell, so this is the route I went.

One more consideration is field repairs...hypalon is pretty easy in a variety of environments...plastics can be more temperature sensative.
 

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I want to echo lhowemt's comments about Sotar cats. I have owned multiple cats from different companies but am now a Sotar convert. I own 2 SP Elite cats (these are equivalent to the ST Elite cats but tan in color). These cats are exceptionally responsive, well made durable boats. Buying these in tan rather than other colors saves a few hundred dollars and tan looks good. The Sotar Sales Hotsheet lists a SP Elite 14' (probably 23" diameter) set of new tubes for $1840, which is less than the other options you are considering.

Of course the appropriate boat depends on your desired usage. The flat-bottom cats track better and will carry more weight but the continuous-curve cats are much more maneuverable and will still carry ample gear or people.

Keep in mind that for cats the frame design ranks in importance with the tube design and these need to be considered in combo to give you a well-designed craft. The rowing position, gear and people configurations deserve significant thought before a frame purchase. Talk to as many people as you can about this and check out the numerous Buzz threads to help you decide what will work best for you. Just make sure you considering fishing in your configuration since you will be on the Taylor and Gunnison rivers.

Good luck.
I hate to hijack the thread, but I'm curious about what you have to say about cat frame design. I'm seriously, but not imminently looking at a 12.5' Sotar Legend. Same tube shape as the ST, but a 3 piece design like the SL, but larger tubes than ST, maybe a touch more rocker. This would be specifiically for solo'ing Class IV. I'm looking at madcatr's frames, nice footbrace, nice lip on the lower inside of tubes for crawling back in and scouting, and nice scout bar practically under the seat. Plus, fold down oar towers. One bay behind seat. Could add another cargo bay, but I'm not looking to carry a person on this boat. With a cargo bay for a multi day, it would put me in the "forward" position. Reasonable price, and not to far away from me so it would be easy to get without shipping. Won't break down. Thoughts? Advice?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the info on Sotar. They appear to be great from the reviews I've found but I'm having trouble finding specifics like weight tube diameter etc.. Anyone have a link I can use to get more complete information on there offereings. Am I correct in assuming Lexatron fabric is another plasic like PVC and rolling and storing is not good for the Sotar Tubes. I'm more concerned about manuverability since we only do one or two longer trips a year and can pack smaller for a more enjoyable ride around home. Thanks again for your input.
 

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lhowemt, I understand the hijack. I was going to get into the frame deal on my initial post but since frame design is (at least to me) such a matter of personal preference that I decided to stick to comments on the tubes. FYI my Sotar cats are 14x23 and 18x27 and I am in the process of acquiring a used Sotar 10x20 that I will use for fishing and whatever solo-operator whitewater ventures I feel I can get away with in this mini boat. First, buy the 12.5 Sotar Legend. You won't go wrong with it. This was a little too close to my 14 or I would have gone this route for my creeking/fishing cat.

I have looked at the Madcatr frames in the past and these look like great frames with custom attention to detail and fit (critical). Their Wind River frame is right on track with your goals for the 12.5 boat and the single bay behind the rower's compartment is perfect in my opinion. I prefer the forward rowing position in those big-water class IV situations in smaller cats and the scout bars/open cockpit are a must. I also like the small-diameter tubing and the flip-down oar stands for boat stacking.

My frames were built by Payette River Equipment (PRE) based in Eagle, ID although they are actually built by a guy in Ontario, OR. PRE is a Sotar vendor and their contact info can be found on the Sotar web site. In general they are similar to the Madcatr frame. One of the reasons I went with PRE (and I didn't know about Madcatr at the time) was that they totally built the frames to my specs since I had some designs that I wanted implemented (Madcatr would surely do the same). The frame for my 14 has two rear compartments that either hold cooler & box or a couple of seats for passengers so I row this from the front in all conditions, whether solo day tripping or on multi-day outings.

If you want to PM me I can send some pictures of the PRE frames and maybe get into a little more detail on my thoughts about this but to summarize I like to row from the front in a light, tough frame with scout bars and no cockpit floor and only enough compartment space to adequately serve your needs.
 

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PRE - I think that's Ted and his business partner. His partner does the frames, Ted actually designed the Legend series and he sells boats. I've been talking to him a lot, it's his fault I'm trying to figure out what stuff I can sell to get the cash to get those darned tubes! He sent me some photos of the frame, and I wasn't as excited about that frame compared to Dave's (madcatr), but I can't remember why now and I don't have the pictures. But, the price was very desirable! I did not need to hear "get the boat"!!! Just bought the 14' Sotar raft last July, I really should wait a year or so. Maybe with the bad economy someone will need to sell theirs, but those small legends don't seem to be tubes anyone parts with, once they own it.

I agree with the no floor, why else to row a cat except you get rid of the river's ability to push on that big floor? I likely will do a small polymax floor section, for when I use it on non class IV rivers, a nice place to put my feet and/or stand up more comfortably. Must less resistance to water than the usual cat floor stuff. I'll PM you, I'd love to get photos of your frame.

Yeah, great website, huh! It is best to call them directly. Good thing they build great boats, I suppose they don't "need" a good website, but it sure would be nice, wouldn't it! They do have weights on their rafts, a fair spec table, not sure why they don't on the cats.
 

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ihowent,

Boated with both Ted and Dave (madcatr) in September on the Class V North Fork of the Payette. Both of these guys are EXCELLENT boaters and have put a lot of thought into their frame designs. It is great to see boating gear designed by people that are pushing the limits of cat boating.

Most the people on the river that weekend were running some version of the Sotar cat tubes that Ted has designed. You can not go wrong with either of their frame designs. But please, do not put any type of floor in your cat! If you want a floor, get a raft (oh wait, you already have a raft!).
 

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ihowent,

Boated with both Ted and Dave (madcatr) in September on the Class V North Fork of the Payette. Both of these guys are EXCELLENT boaters and have put a lot of thought into their frame designs. It is great to see boating gear designed by people that are pushing the limits of cat boating.

Most the people on the river that weekend were running some version of the Sotar cat tubes that Ted has designed. You can not go wrong with either of their frame designs. But please, do not put any type of floor in your cat! If you want a floor, get a raft (oh wait, you already have a raft!).
Great to hear so many votes of approval for those guys, and their designs. But if I, or my husband, is going to take the cat on a Class III river, a small floor-like platform might be nice, for comfort. At that class river, the reasons to absolutely NOT have a floor seem to fade away, and a relaxing afternoon on the river with friends brings about different needs for a cat. Check out other threads about this polymax stuff, pretty cool, very different than any typical cat floors. I'm thinking about a 2' deep place to set feet to stand, especially for "other" people's comfort (read - vested interested in household mate's interest in getting a cat 8 months after a brand new raft and comfort matters to people who aren't boating Class IV and they would like to boat more if they learned to row Class III which would eventually lead to rowing Class IV). Whew, this is almost like a pins & clips vs oarlocks debate! There would certainly be no floor on the cat on anything above CIII when I am rowing. I wouldn't even call it a floor, because I visualize something so much different than a typical cat floor. Call it a shelf, a foot shelf.

I'll likely need to suffer through this season on my raft (at least I can't really miss what I don't know), coming up with that chunk of change on such short notice is pretty difficult for a lowly public employee!
 

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One of my favorite things about my cat is it's versitility. I can set it up to fish, I can set it up for multi-days, I can set it up for passengers or I can set it up for solo trips.
That said, don't let nay-sayers talk you out of having a floor option. They are talking about a very specific usage and are putting on blinders to all the other uses.
The weight of crossbars and drop bags plus the bottom surface area of all the gear (coolers, dryboxes, etc.) negate any reason to not have a floor for situations where you have alot of gear.
They may point out that it is easier to get into a cat with no floor. It is. However, in order to need to get into a boat you have to have fallen out of a boat. Frequently this has happened through the hole under your feet.
Oh yea...I forgot the bragging part.
I've been rowing 18 years (4 commercially)
Class I to Class V
Rafts, Catarafts, dories, canoes, kayaks, logs
100 cfs to 50,000 cfs
 

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[QUOTE said:
caseybailey;130815]One of my favorite things about my cat is it's versitility
.

Very True! Class V @ 300cfs or Class IV @ 50,000cfs
Solo carrying just a throw rope and 6 pack or fully loaded for the Grand Canyon

That said, don't let nay-sayers talk you out of having a floor option. They are talking about a very specific usage
Very True Again. lhowemt described solo Class IV


drop bags plus the bottom surface area of all the gear (coolers, dryboxes, etc.) negate any reason to not have a floor for situations where you have alot of gear.
Yeah, both my cats will have floors for this September Grand Trip.


They may point out that it is easier to get into a cat with no floor. It is. However, in order to need to get into a boat you have to have fallen out of a boat. Frequently this has happened through the hole under your feet.
Again Very True. I've gone out the hole under my feet, out both the right and left sides, over the front and over the back and was always glad how easy it was to get back in without floor.

Floors are great for: comfort, passengers, multi-day loads, dogs, Class 3 floats,
but for surfing and pushing the limits of Class IV/V, no thanks!
 

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Again Very True. I've gone out the hole under my feet, out both the right and left sides, over the front and over the back and was always glad how easy it was to get back in without floor.

Floors are great for: comfort, passengers, multi-day loads, dogs, Class 3 floats,
but for surfing and pushing the limits of Class IV/V, no thanks!
This is exactly why a small floor or "shelf" would be nice if a beginner is learning to row on it in Class III. The last thing I want is for someone to be turned off by rowing because they weren't used to not having a place to step, like in a raft, and fell in when they really shouldn't! Lean forward into the stroke, and OOPS, down the hatch!
 

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This is exactly why a small floor or "shelf" would be nice if a beginner is learning to row on it in Class III. The last thing I want is for someone to be turned off by rowing because they weren't used to not having a place to step, like in a raft, and fell in when they really shouldn't! Lean forward into the stroke, and OOPS, down the hatch!
Laura, you would let a beginner row your sports car???

Just promise, no full floor in Class IV+ or V. OK?

And what is with this rumor on the internets that Missoula should be part of Idaho?
 

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Laura, you would let a beginner row your sports car???

Just promise, no full floor in Class IV+ or V. OK?

And what is with this rumor on the internets that Missoula should be part of Idaho?
Hey, no cross-internet-list talking!! I merely said it was "supposed" to have been part of Idaho, and relevant only if Idahoans cede from the Union and don't want to "share" their river permits.:grin: Heck, Idaho is half of my recreating options, geographically speaking.

And yes, I'd do backflips if the "right" beginner wanted to row it in anything they so desire!

Internets, Bush is out of office, when will we all quit saying that?

Seriously, a floor on a cat in the Lochsa? Really, I may have dump trucked on the Ten Pin rock, but I'm not stupid! 7 weeks and 1 day until I get to kiss her as I go by!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Now for the frame

Hello and thanks for all your help... I'm about ready to order the Sotar 14' SP tubes, they look like the best bang for my buck and usage. Since frames have been discussed what do people thing on the NRS universal and Top Cat or a DRE frame. I've been told but don't know for sure the the NRS frames are easier to adjust the DRE, is this true. Would I give up to much stability with the universal frame? Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks Again,
Mark
 

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Any thoughts appreciated.
so this is my cat. I made the frame from NRS parts (universal drop rails, 72" side rails, 60" cross bars, and a custom sized foot bar connecting the drop rails).

the frame is much lighter than any stock frame. I can carry/drag the boat around myself. depends what you are looking for.

-mania
 

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