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Hi Folks,

I am looking at buying my first boat and need some advice.

I have run the westwater a few times with the boys and am looking to buy for this season!

I have decided that a I need a cat as my roomates have vetoed the idea of having another trailer in the driveway.

Looking at a 14 foot cat, is this boat too small?

I want to do 1-4 day trips with up to three people if possible, is a 14 footer too small for this?

There is a guy selling NRS tubes nearby me for pretty cheap and another fellow selling a downriver 'gunnison' frame for $850.

Will older NRS tubes perform well, or should I just go ahead and purchase new Hyside 14 tubes?

Am I correct in understanding that some types of tubes cannot be deflated to be stored while Hypalon material can be safely defalted?

Main reason, again, that I am deciding on a cat is that it can break down and I can mount the frame on top of my tacomas topper.

Sorry for all the questions but I am pretty much a river virgin at this point.

Cheers!
 

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Way too small. Even a 14' raft is too small if your multi days are one boat affairs. You need to think about a 16' raft. Cats aren't that awesome for riders on multi days. I know they work and people will defend them but rafts are way better for passengers on long day multi trips. Also much better at hauling gear. A Hypalon boat will roll pretty small. Frame for a raft should be easier to carry than a cat frame. Plus you always have the paddle boat option.


Jim
 

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Raft, raft, raft! A raft frame is almost always considerably easier to store and move than a cat frame whether broken down or intact. A rolled raft is no bigger than a set of rolled tubes. A 14 foot raft will haul twice the gear and people as a 14 foot cat. It will be far easier for you to load properly, will be far more comfortable for passengers and you. It will also perform more predictably for a new rower. A 14 foot raft will easily carry you and two people for four days as long as you don't bring a bunch of really stupid stuff.

Yes, hypalon boats will roll tighter and store better than PVC or urethane. No boat requires a trailer. I have multiple rafts and IKs and a trailer but I NEVER end up trailering my inflated raft so don't think you have to. I, like you, have limited space to store my fleet so rolled up and disassembled is the way for me. This brings me to another point, cats take twice as long to get on the water as rafts when starting out dissassembled which is part of the reason why, around here at least, it is the Catboaters who roll around with trailers everywhere.
 

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Sembob is spot on. The 1st boat I picked up getting into rafting was a 14' cat. I still have it and row it when I'm the only one on the boat, such as MFS trips. We've also used it on day trips with one passenger (no gear) down the Ark for a few years and it's ok at that. I have also used it on a few Lodore trips with me and the wife, but it's gets loaded quickly and a pig.

Ended up getting a 14' raft for the multi day trips we take, but as our group grows a 15' raft would be nicer.


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I would vote for a raft as well, it is much more versatile. You can set it up as a paddle raft or drop a frame on and use it as an oar rig. If you pack a reasonable amount of camping gear, you should have plenty of space in a 14ft for a captain and two passengers for a 1-4 day trip. If you are not a kitchen sink type of camper you will may want a 16ft. The only advantage I see with a cat is the ability to break it down into lighter pieces for easy moving. It will take longer to setup and break down than a raft though. It seems like more friends with cats keep them inflated on trailers for this reason.
 

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Are you saying 3 people including the driver or three passengers? I'm one of the guys that will stick up for the cats although 14 is too small for three if you want any gear. You will have to frame it correctly (which is easy to do and modify if you go with that DRE frame) and rig for the people and gear, but a 16 NRS boat would handle that need nicely. Especially a Kodiak. The others make good points though. A 16' raft will carry more gear and be more compfortable.

It's not that the other materials don't fold but Hypalon folds the best and repeatedly and yes tubes will stow easier than a raft. Watch craigslist and here on the swap. You will see good deals on 16' NRS cats frequently. Good luck.
 

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I have a very similar thread about 4 years deep. I ended up with an Aire 156D. Couldn't be happier there are other boats that would work equally well not saying mine is the best out there. It does however check all the right boxes. I can run as long of multi days as I've got time for and does well for day trips. I've got three kids. Don't forget that you will end up with more people than 3 at times. I'd say 14 foot raft minimum for multiday with 3 but give the 15 some thought.

Raft in my opinion is easier for a beginner less fussy with weight, easier to load, less straps, less likely to loose stuff...

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Cat boats are socially one step up from a kayak, only because you can carry your own beer.

Cat pros: high water, light weight, sporty handling, look cooler.
Cons: can't carry as much, loner mobiles, must always be rowing due to lack of tracking, need a dry suit, don't drop the pipe.

This relates to more to 14' cats.

Love my cat in the spring, enjoy a raft more in the summer.
 

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I think the horse is sufficiently beaten down. Interestingly you have 3 or 4 folks here that spend a bit of time on cats, suggesting raft. I couldn't agree more. Cat's have their place, but simplicity of setup, storage and transport are not at the forefront. Heed to their advice and go round, you'll be way happier. If you're pretty settled on staying in the sport, skip the upsizing step and go bigger than you think.... if you're thinking 13, go 14. 14=15, you get the idea. Or screw your buddies and go mini, that seems to be really popular these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks for the input moities.

looks like round boat is the way to go, i myself was wondering where the sude babes would fit!

do i really need to spend the money on a hyside?

It seems the AIRE boats are much cheaper and a guy is selling a complete package on the forums for a little bit over 5.000.

My best mate is pushing me to go for the hyside but the AIRE 10 year warranty sounds like a great bargain
 

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thanks for the input moities.

looks like round boat is the way to go, i myself was wondering where the sude babes would fit!

do i really need to spend the money on a hyside?

It seems the AIRE boats are much cheaper and a guy is selling a complete package on the forums for a little bit over 5.000.

My best mate is pushing me to go for the hyside but the AIRE 10 year warranty sounds like a great bargain
That is a great deal on that AIRE. They are awsome rafts. You will be pleased with it. And I also would suggest a raft over a cat for multi day multi person trips. I take my wife and daughter out on fishing runs and end up taking 16' cat. Not that a 14' would not float that much it just comes down to space.
 

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I own a 9' raft, 14' cat and a 15' raft. Get a 14 or 15' hypalon raft for your current needs. The frame is simpler, lighter, easier to rig and will ride just fine on top of your taco. Hypalon rolls tighter- so you'll take up less room in the bed of your truck and leave more space for beer. Buy a 12V pump and a hand pump- you can be on the river much faster than rigging a cat boat. You'll handle the load better as well. Buy a cat for solo whitewater once you're fully addicted.

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I lurked for a few years and after reading countless threads, I drank the koolaid peddled by the 2 or 3 people who said a 14 was big enough for everything from multi-day to day trips. My family is my wife and 4 kids. I bought a used14' Maravia Diablo. After rowing it around for 2 years, my advice is to listen to the majority and get a 15' or 16'. I got tired of being cramped and rowing a loaded down pig. I just bought a 16'. I could have saved a pile of money if I'd listened.


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My family of 4 does pretty well with a 14' round boat. Yes, you have to be careful how to pack. Mostly when I camp with the wife and kids it is in a large group and in summer, so less clothes, shelters, firewood, than in the colder months. I raft with my Dad a lot and the last trip we did with the kids he took his raft and kitchen setup and we brought enough food to feed us and him so we cooked for him. That saved him having to bring meals for himself and we had the cooler space and the stellar cook to pull it off. We also had two other round boats on that trip so we did fine.
I do a trip in May where I am typically a support boat for a few kayakers on a 4-5 day trip. I can stack a pretty good amount of gear into my round boat, especially since I don't have any passengers in the bow.
My raft is versatile. In a typical season I paddle it with 2-6 paddlers, row it on day trips solo, row it with a few people, get at least two overnight trips in per season, and so far it does everything I want it to. I really have my heart set on a 10 foot raft as my next ride, and chances are my 14 will get paddled a lot less in the summer time if I get one.
Frame is a drop bag under the front seat, a 150 QT cooler, and a dry box under the rower's seat. The frame you choose can affect how much gear you can store. With that frame, I could store most of my stuff in there and have one roll top dry bag for my sleeping bag and one roll top duffel for my clothes. My tent and chair fits in the drop bag and my food fits in the cooler and dry box. The only stuff beyond that I might bring is a fire pan, ash bucket, and groover to meet regulations.
 

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14' is more versatile than 16'. A primary consideration is where are you doing MOST of your boating. If you're primarily running Westwater 6-10 times a season, go with the 16'. I live on the Ark and spend 90% of my miles here, so I go with a 14'. It is more than adequate to take me everywhere I want to go outside the valley. I'm happy to rent an 18' boat when I'm lucky enough to get a GC trip the once every 2-5 years it comes up.
 

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Cat boats are socially one step up from a kayak, only because you can carry your own beer.

Cat pros: high water, light weight, sporty handling, look cooler.
Cons: can't carry as much, loner mobiles, must always be rowing due to lack of tracking, need a dry suit, don't drop the pipe.

This relates to more to 14' cats.

Love my cat in the spring, enjoy a raft more in the summer.
If a cat has lack of tracking it is usually due to the fact the frame isn't built correctly, my cat tracks awesome. So much I even asked the builder about it because other people would be weaving back and forth down the river while I glide in a straight line. Don't buy a cat frame and expect performance out of a bolt together or one welded on sawhorses in someones garage. I learned what really goes into a good frame to make the boat perform.Interesting how much is really involved, I can race anyone down the river like a water skipper.
 

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If a cat has lack of tracking it is usually due to the fact the frame isn't built correctly, my cat tracks awesome. So much I even asked the builder about it because other people would be weaving back and forth down the river while I glide in a straight line. Don't buy a cat frame and expect performance out of a bolt together or one welded on sawhorses in someones garage. I learned what really goes into a good frame to make the boat perform.Interesting how much is really involved, I can race anyone down the river like a water skipper.
And if you flip it's because you didn't buy a PRO frame and if you puncture your boat it's because you didn't buy a PRO frame and if your girlfriend breaks up with you it's because you didn't buy a PRO frame... You get the idea right??
 

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If a cat has lack of tracking it is usually due to the fact the frame isn't built correctly, my cat tracks awesome. So much I even asked the builder about it because other people would be weaving back and forth down the river while I glide in a straight line. Don't buy a cat frame and expect performance out of a bolt together or one welded on sawhorses in someones garage. I learned what really goes into a good frame to make the boat perform.Interesting how much is really involved, I can race anyone down the river like a water skipper.

Well, granted...you are a better boater than most who isn't scared to make a decision or put faith in a professional to set you up properly.

So it's not fair to compare your superior skills and equipment to the rest of the noobs on the water with erector set frames. :roll:
 

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They're putting KEELS on their frames?! HOLY SHIT! Now that's innovation!

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