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Discussion Starter #1
Finally got my Grand Canyon trip, next November for 23 days and it's time to start looking more seriously at the official purchase of a big inflatable boat.

I'm torn between getting a cat (AIRE Lion 14) or a raft (none in mind at this point). When I do bite the bullet here on this I'm going to use if for everything from multi-day adventures to fun half day excursions to Browns or the Animas. What are your thoughts out there folks? Who has cats and who has rafts. Thoughts of one versus the other?
 

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I've owned a 14' lion, great boat for 1 person on 1 week or less type trips. Also fun on 1-2 person day trips. I currently row a 14' Sotar raft because it fits my needs currently and the price was right. This boat too, is great for 1 week trips with 2-3 persons and day trips with or without frame (paddle crew).

Neither of these boats would be ideal for a GC trip, especially with passengers and personal/community gear. For me, renting gear and buying a food pack makes more sense on the GC. Buying a boat that's suitable for the primary rivers that you plan on running might make more sense. Seems like a 16' raft would work well for the GC but might be less than ideal for the Ark or the Animas at normal levels.

As to which is better--rafts or cats, it all depends...on many things. Rafts work better for me because of where I use them and how many folks I typically have on it. One plus to a raft: you can paddle raft with a crew on day stretches without buying//desiging a paddle cat frame. After 24 years of owning only cats, I really like my first raft.
 

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I run a 15' raft. It is only 7' wide, the same as most smaller round boats. Good for the Ark etc but still more than capable of running the GC (which it has). I looked at getting a cat recently to replace my raft, but after looking at the ability to carry similar weight I'd need at least a 16' cat with HUGE tubes that would effectively rule out a lot of the narrower rivers here in Colorado.
 

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you are so lucky. You didn't mention the trip duration however also how many boats in the group and whether you have to support one or more passengers kayakers,etc. Group gear distribution can add a lot of bulk to your boat. You definately don't want to overload.

If you want to get your own boat you might consider the following. Owning a boat specifically for this trip would probably be a bad idea. That is of course if you never plan on using it on local rivers. I do have a leopard and took it on the Rogue as well as Deschutes this summer and didn't have any problems navigating it (even in shallows) with 3 or 4 passengers on the boat including the gear for a 3 day float for those people.

Back to the grand and the tradeoffs --- if you own your own gear you have to haul your own gear which won't be cheap unless you live close and/or have carpool rideshare setup. So if you are driving your rig down by yourself it could be up to $800 in gas to drive it down there and back, vs airfare etc it might be a wash if you have several passengers in your rig.

On the other side its going to probably cost close to $1000 to rent a boat. This goes a long way towards the depreciation of a good used boat. (meaning you could buy used, use for the trip, and resell used if necessary for a lot less loss than $1000).

I personally have a gear cat (18' leopard) that is grand capable but I don't have a permit :< I also have several smaller tubes which in theory I could share the same frame parts except I prefer to have a playcat frame and a gear setup.

If you set up your frame as a two piecer, you could do what I do and have smaller tubes for local rivers and the larger tubes/frame extension just for the grand type trip (or any multiday trip). So something like an Ocelot for short / daytrips and Leopard for longer trips or bigger water.

I would not recommend whatever you buy to be small as its too easy to overload your boat. A 14' lion really doesn't hold much more gear than a 13' raft because the s/b floor adds a lot of floatation. So if looking for a Cat I'd go with either a Jag, 16' lion, or 18' leopard. You can probably find a good deal on a leopard out there I think I saw somone selling his 2011 with a frame for $3K?

I love my leopard and it handles great --- really takes a lot of worries out of your trip if you don't have to worry about flipping your boat in every large hole a river throws at you ...

have fun let me know if you want me to join you on your grand trip next fall!!!
 

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One more thing. Aires spring sale is a good opportunity to pick up a new 10 year (old model year) leopard for less than a jag

As a matter of fact i got both my ocelot and leopard for about $4k with multiboat discount at andy/bax
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll be on the river no more than 23 days, we are just sitting down this week to hash out particulars with the trip leader. There are only 12 folks going on this particular trip so I'm not too worried about the limitations of the Lion 14. And with all honesty, whatever I end ip buying is going to spend more time on big multi-day trips than on the short single day trips (thats why I kayak, haha)
 

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You can never go wrong w/a Jacks Plastic Daddy Cat. Purchased mine in 1990. It protected my sorry rear through more bad moves than you could imagine (surfed Tappan Falls sideways my first time down the MF Salmon and sculled my way out). It’s the perfect big rig boat for the Grand. Can handle loads of gear. What I really like about Cats is their portability. Tubes are only 70 lbs or so making them easy on portages etc. Jacks stand behind their products. While ordering do not forget to include a Paco Pad. Best sleeping pad around.

Have a great trip!
 

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Grand = rent

buy something you like to run the smaller stuff in
Bump! We had a guy on our GC 21 dayer rent a 18' Maravia from Moenkopi Riverworks

Here is the boat...

It came with the high-end in dry boxes, frame, cooler, and oars. It was a sweet set-up and they delivered it to us at Lee's Ferry the day before our launch all for something seemingly very reasonable? $1400.00? Be the hauler and get folks to chip-in some money to offset costs?

Save your big bucks purchase for a 14' or 15' Sotar Legend with a powder coated frame.

$0.02 deposited...
 

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Go with an Outfitter

I live in Alaska and have run the GC twice - both outfitted by PRO in Flag - but there are others just as good. We used 18 foot Sotars - they were just right. First trip we had 5 boats 12 people, second trip we had 4 boats and 7 people. Because of where we live we couldn't bring our own boats. I have a 16 foot Aire Cat and 14 foot E series NRS self bailer.

Call the outfitters in Flag - lots of ways to knock down the cost of outfitting - you can get good discounts if you book early, put down a deposit and join the GCPBA - just some ideas. Additionally the outfitters will give you a good idea of volume and weight for the kind of trip you want. I've rafted the Tatshenshini/Alsec, the full length of the Copper River and the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean - all trips about 12 days - 23 days in the GC is a different animal

I agree with most that a 14 foot cat is probably not a good boat for the GC. I'd love to run the GC in my 16 foot cat - but I would go really light and take advantage of the strengths of the boat. Those big Sotars are nice in big water - lot to be said for the laws of physics.

Have a great trip - its a great place.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Gang, I've got the situation covered now. Thanks for all the input, I have some things to chew on over the winter now on buying my own raft... As for the Canyon, I got hooked up from a friend with Jack's Plastic 18ft El Tigre to row myself and my lady down the river.
 

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You will love the Jacks boat. Mine is a 16' which is perfect for just about any river. The 18er is a big boat and will punch through a lot of stuff. Be careful to not overload it though. Have a great trip.
 

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Good decision. With twelve people, you'll probably have more weight per boat than a 16 person trip, as there are less boats to divide necessary group gear among. We are poor and decided to stretch our budget with an 18 foot rental last March and we agreed it's the only way we'll do it from now on. The size is comforting, and actually will handle better than an over-loaded 14 foot boat. Plus you won't have to play Tetris every morning to try to get everything to fit in your little boat. Don't worry, it's not too big, it's really the perfect size. I would encourage others in your group to do the same so you're not the gear pig for a bunch of little boats.
 
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