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Hey everyone, I'm considering buying an old raft (20+). It has been well maintained, but how old is too old for a raft? If a raft is stored properly what is its lifespan?
 

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Half your age plus 7.
Unless it's an Avon, then it's twice your age plus the square of pi.

But seriously, the answer to the original question depends on lots of things. Just like different types of cars may last longer than others, the same's true of rafts. The materials and the maker have a lot to do with how long a boat will last.

What's the material? What's it look like? Are the seams starting to come unglued? What brand of boat is it? Is the material faded and starting to get rough?

Among the different brands, there are some I'd at the right price I'd jump in the car for a 3-hour drive to go check out and others I wouldn't even bother looking at.

-AH
 

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To provide som
Unless it's an Avon, then it's twice your age plus the square of pi.

But seriously, the answer to the original question depends on lots of things. Just like different types of cars may last longer than others, the same's true of rafts. The materials and the maker have a lot to do with how long a boat will last.

What's the material? What's it look like? Are the seams starting to come unglued? What brand of boat is it? Is the material faded and starting to get rough?

Among the different brands, there are some I'd at the right price I'd jump in the car for a 3-hour drive to go check out and others I wouldn't even bother looking at.

-AH
To provide some context, it is a Hyside raft with a few patches. It has been stored in a garage out of the UV deflated and rolled up. I inflated it and it did hold air and the seams looked okay (although I don't really know what I am looking at). I hope this helps.
 

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Depends on how old you are, if you are young buy new and hope it outlasts you. If you are old buy used and hope you outlast it.
You need the boat inflated for a couple of days to know if it holds air. If that is not possible than using soapy water to help you spot pin holes or seam leaks is my best advice. That is not fool proof but it is better than nothing.
 

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My Campaways is from 1979 and my Down River is from 2003. The Campaways has tons of pinhole patches, but it still holds air only needing a topping off in the mornings. The Down River is patch free and holds air all day, although it has developed a bubble in the floor. I think the secret is that they are both hypalon and I'm pretty liberal with the 303. If it looks good and holds air, go for it. Hypalon can last a really long time. I know that one day I'll buy a newer boat, but hopefully not this season.
 

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Hypalon can last forever as long as it's 303'd and doesn't get too much UV. PVC will off gas and eventually be compromised, but some high quality PVC boats last 25+ years. Basically if it is a quality boat and well maintained 20 years is fine and could easily last another 10 or 20. Warning signs are lots of pinhole leaks, delamination of the material, threads showing in the base material, seams separating, discoloration, and blown baffles.

That being said there are some sellers that think a 20 year old boat is worth like 2/3 MSRP and are absolutely crazy. You should never pay more than 1/2 of MSRP on something that is older than 10 years, as that is basically the wholesale or dealer price. Think about it kind of like a truck. A 20 year old Tacoma (Hyside) will still retain value, and probably be worth almost the same as a 30 year old Toyota Pickup, but shouldn't be almost the cost of a new truck.
 

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I have a 1996 hysides. Second owner as i purchased it from a rental company. Store it rolled, in the shop. Still going strong. The bump line around the outside is starting to pull lose but that is due to being rolled and it being stiff I did have to replace all of the air valves, as the rubber inside had stiffened and you really had to torque them down to stop them from leaking but new ones fixed it and i may have been able to revive the old ones if I had oiled the rubber. Good solid boats
 

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I have a 19 year-old hyside that has been stored well and is in better shape than some 5 year-old boats I've seen. I purchased it used - it was helpful to have a friend (who also owns a hypalon boat) to tag along on the shopping trip to help evaluated it. I also did the spray bottle of soapy water trick. So it can be a solid boat, but it helps to know what you're looking at/for.
 

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The Avon I stumbled upon last fall is a 95, looks great and holds air like a champ. I rebuilt a few of the valves but other then that a good scrubbing had her looking like a new boat. It's mostly about use, abuse and storage. The history is gonna hold the details you need to make an informed decision.
 

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I own a early 80s 18ft Rogue that already has a retro fit NRS floor in it that Inflatable Tech is doing some work on. Relocating the valves not because they are bad but because they are in a terrible spot.Adding more D rings and some urethane. It made more since to do some upgrades then buy a new boat.
Also own a 86 14ft Avon bucket boat.
Also building a 92 18ft Achilles bucket boat for a friend.
I'd rather run a 30 year old hyp boat then a new chinese PVC self bailer of the same size. I had a 16ft Rogue bucket in 2011 that I took down Westwater 3 times and North Gate at 4800cfs just to shut people up that you can't run rivers with a bucket boat anymore.
 

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All of my aires are over 20 years old now, and are doing just fine, at the takeout, I do pine for the lighter weight super puma, but I do love the lot of them. Prior to the aires I did get a leaky older hypalon boat that did not hold pressure while I was looking at it. It came witth a frame, 3 oars, a pump and other stuff for only 450 so I decided why not? Well. I should have gone with not, I attempted to recoat and seal it with a tolulene bath, and new hypalon paint, and that was a big fail. And even with a respirator and outside I had a headache for a few days, but my kids turned out normal, for the most part. If the material is supple, not cracked, and it holds air, and it is a good enough deal, I think it could be fun. Most of my river days are day trips, so if a boat stays hard for 2+ hours I can work with that. If it is multi days and it needs to be topped every hour, that will get old fast.
One big thing to look for is blown baffles. close all the valves and start inflating an outer section, and watch the other sections of the boat. If you can inflate 2 chambers from one valve there is a blown baffle. That is not the end of the world, but they are pretty impossible to repair, and if either chamber is compromised both are gone. If it is more than one blown baffle, I would walk. having a single chamber 16 foot raft will be great until it isnt, and then it will suck on a level of kidney stones and jack fruit. (which really sucks. )
 

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A couple years back during the great 2019 water year in Colorado, I met a guy rocking what he said was a 1950s military issue raft. He had been given it for free and every couple of years had to re-coat in some sort of silicon roofing material stuff. Despite this he ran it through the Animas Whitewater Park through the meat of everything including a wave that was flipping 75% of rafts that were hitting it (7,000cfs). Moral of the story is we are all weak for using rafts less than 50 years old.
 

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Hey everyone, I'm considering buying an old raft (20+). It has been well maintained, but how old is too old for a raft? If a raft is stored properly what is its lifespan?
I have a 14 foot Achilles vintage 1981. No holes/patches, holds air and running strong! I am the second owner and store it inflated in the barn. Only replaced floor lacing - that's it!
 

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I have a 23 year old Hyside. Have kept it inside, rolled, in a tarp and 303’ed each year. First two years it got daily commercial use. Since then maybe 10 days a year. And it’s still great. Like SalmonJammer said my outer bump strip is starting to come loose but I’ll glue that and she’ll be good.
 

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You should also consider how much and often you raft. My poor old Avon is nearing the end of her life. Can probably run her 30 more trips which would be one summer for me, five years for someone else.
 

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My inherited 1984 Riken Miwok looks mint. Never had a patch other than the floor. no peeling glue.

I’ve also 5 year old PVC boats on death’s door.

It not the years or even the miles so much as it’s the maintenance.
 

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I have a 1987 Campways (Riken) Mountaineer bucket boat. The rubber still shines, no patches other than floor, replaced the valves. Been a few years since I was last on a river, and I won't be anytime soon. I'm willing sell it cheap! (In Glendale, AZ)
 

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Hey everyone, I'm considering buying an old raft (20+). It has been well maintained, but how old is too old for a raft? If a raft is stored properly what is its lifespan?
Go for it! You’ll love it. I have an old hyside with the old school valves and proved itself worthy every time !!
 
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