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Discussion Starter #1
After perusing these forums for awhile I have decided to join and ask the experts to help me find my first raft. To start the sizes I'm looking at are 11-13 foot range. I am looking for something that will be mostly paddled in Western CO/UT, but will also row it in the desert. I plan on mostly doing day trips, but want to be able to do 1 or 2 nighters. I'm ok with going in backpacking style for the time being. This is not the boat of my dreams I will have in ~10 years just something to hold me over until then. I'm very ok with going used (and probably have to) but don't want to end up throwing 2K down the toilet.

I am a poor raft guide/ski instructor so price is THE major factor. I don't have a truck or a trailer and can't afford one anytime soon, just a 99 subaru outback. If I can't strap the boat on top of the car I will have to roll it. I have room in my house/garage to store it indoors and inflated. I have been thoroughly checking Craigslist, KSL, and here to try and find a good used boat with no luck so far. Am I correct to assume early spring more quality used boats will be available?

All these factors point me towards an AIRE Super Puma or a Hyside Outfitter 12. But I haven't seen much used and the retail is a bit steep unless I qualify for pro deal (my boss only has an NRS catalog with NRS/Tributary). RMR looks pretty intriguing as I could afford one new, but I am open to almost any suggestions!

Thanks in advance,
Chris
 

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I would not go any smaller than 12 foot and would steer you more towards 13 or 14 foot. The tube diameter on 12 foot boats is typically fine for paddling, but pretty small for overnight trips. Starting backpacker style is a great plan, but you may find that you quickly accumulate gear and move away from it. that being said, my first boat was a 12 foot NRS Scout with 19" tubes and I easily had it outfitted to hold two people for a 3-4 day trip. New with pro deal may be out of the questions, but your boss should have the B2B login and you can check out the prices on NRS boats.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have heard something about Tributarys being a pain in the ass to clean after doing silty rivers, and most of my runs will be on the Colorado near GJ (Ruby Horsethief, Moab daily and WW). The price point is great though and I can pro-deal new which I prefer to used.

I don't want to get larger than a 13 at this point in time for multiple reasons. I would only be doing overnights with my GF and I know I can fit our gear for 1-2 nights even in an 11 footer. I'm not too worried about accumulating too much gear at this point because I'm broke!
 

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I've owned an AIRE for 8 years and have run Tributarys every season at work, on the Animas, San Juan, Cataract, Westy, etc. If you want to be super anal about it, sure you can tear it all apart and clean it, but in the 8 years I've owned mine, I did it once just to replace the zipper. I have no signs of wear on the bladders or the tubes from silt on the inside. Its really a non-issue that all the Sotards like to complain about even though they have never owned and AIRE/Trib. As long as you keep your zippers in decent working order, the benefits of ease of repair far outweigh the "downfalls" of the AIREcell system.
 

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Car topping a super puma is very feasible, as a raft guide you should be used to pressing rafts overhead...at least that how us east coast guides do it. However it will scratch the shit outa your paint...
 

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I've had problems with Tribs used commercially. They are not Aire quality. I'd look at used hypalon for a Subaru fit. Because you're a raft guide you get a killer deal on Hyside and you probably have access to NRS wholesale pricing. Save a few hundred more and buy a new one at discount and have it for the rest of your life!
 

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If I can put 3 people, all our camping gear, a camping frame, two 10ft single piece oars and a 14 foot urethane boat in a subaru legacy SEDAN (with a cargo carrier)...you'll be fine in an outback, especially if you get a hypalon boat. If it's pvc or urethane just put a trailer hitch and a cargo carrier on the back of that thing and go.

Go for the biggest boat you can....but IMO we are on the downslope of the "good deals on rafts season". We are entering the "I have cabin fever and can't wait to buy a boat for spring season". I usually see the best deals nov to dec....especially right before xmas.
 

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I'm a big fan of my Super Puma. Everything fits (frame, oars, boat, gear) in the back of my 4runner and I've taken it on several multi-day trips including the Grand, Middle fork and main salmon.
 

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I'm with 2kanzam and others on larger size and hypalon. Depending on your budget, if it's $1,500-$2,000 I'd buy a used 14' hypalon self bailer and put the rest of the cash towards other stuff (used frame, oars, drybox, paco, etc). Buy new and you'll be wishing you had some of that by your second float.

Looks like there's a couple good deals on CL in CO, but as others have suggested, warmer weather = higher demand...

Good luck!
 

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there is a used puma in Boise for $2250 (the guy has had it listed for a while, I bet you could talk him down because of some of the abuse it seems to have received)
Aire Puma Raft
 

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my Puma works well for a solo oar rig (fun to fish out of). it's my second raft so I run it on day trips and two night trips on the chama. it's tight with second person over night and another boat takes a river bag. it's a good three person paddle raft. I'm sure it's seen some hairy water (upper Animas) before it came to me. My Cat is my big water family boat. That being said the Super may be a better fit for you. Good luck and hope this was some help.
 

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PRO Deals

In regards to the ops initial post, we just want everyone to know that your employer doesn't have to be a HYSIDE customer for you to get a PRO deal on our boats and gear.

We offer a PRO deal to ANYONE who is employed at an Outfitter. If you wash dishes there and want a boat, call us. If you're a ski instructor in the off-season for a whitewater outfitter and you want a boat, call us.

The process is very easy as well. We just need a copy of a current paystub or an email from your boss vouching for your employment. From there, you get wholesale pricing and shop directly through us. you can email [email protected] or just give us a ring at 800.868.5987.
 

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Brandon, and Folks at Hyside, Ya'll Rock!!! Thank you for everything you do! That's a kick ass offer and I wish more companies shared your attitude , professionalism, and bomb-proof product design! the mini max was probably the best purchase ive ever made!!! May you all be blessed with abundant snowpack and sustained run-off! Cheers!
 

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Wish I had known I would be eligible for a hyside pro deal. Been guiding for CrabApple Whitewater for the past decade. We primarily use hysides. Nice light boats. However in the past few years my boss/owner has not been happy with the quality of Hysides made after 2008. I have lost tips on commercial runs due to a blown out tube, and multiple glue failures on the knuckle-pin thwart set up ( sucks having a swimmer due toe failed glue). CrabApple has be experimenting and switching over to NRS brand boats.

I chose my aire super puma based on dimensions and weight more than cost. Just a great boat for R1, R2 on our low volume runs. And can load it up. Paddled a tributary on the main salmon and other idaho runs. We beat the hell out of it, and portaged it through brush/ rocks. The tributary looks to have similar materials to the aire line, just not " made in USA".

It really is a toss up, all the major brand boats have good/bad.
 
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