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There is a major difference in capacity between a 12 ft boat and a 16 ft boat. We have a 16 ft boat and if you are looking for family multi day floats a 16 ft boat is a good all around boat especially with a couple of kids. A 16 ft boat wouldn’t be an ideal R2 boat.
A 12 ft boat doesn’t hold much gear for overnight they are also a bit more adventurous in bigger water. Especially if too heavy. It R2’s well though.

It sounds like you have a decision to make and only you and your wife will be able to make this decision.
key word is wife.
 

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Sounds like N+1 syndrome. All people in all outdoor sports have it. Skis for all conditions. Bikes for road, mountain, and gravel. Climbing shoes for bouldering and sport.

I've got a 14' raft and recently just bought a phatcat. That second purchase only took 6 months. But, having the right tool for the job gets you out on the water a lot more I've found.
 

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You didn't make the wrong decision. But it sounds like you made the decision to get a 16 footer earlier than you were ready for. As many have said, boats are not an either/or decision, but rather a both/and decision.
 

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I was in a similar position as I was much more comfortable in a kayak or duckie than on the oars. I rowed a bit on a Deso trip and after missing a camp and an eddy I gave up and paddled the duckies the rest of the trip. I ended up buying a 14 (because it was the only way to bring my wife along at the time) and it's great but I will end up selling it in a year or two and replacing it with a 10' and a 16'. Don't give up and practice you will get better.
 

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I felt that similar feeling after a few trips on my 13 footer, thinking I wanted a smaller boat for more play type boating. This spring, I’ve run my friends 9 footer as r2 more than my own boat. But when the time comes to go for sunset fishing runs, overnights and party beer floats, the 13 footer is perfect. Now, it’s definitely not fit to outfit multiple people on overnights, but I don’t really do much of that, at least, not yet.

In the future I see myself owning a 16 foot overnight hog and 10’ play boat. Or maybe it was a dream. Time will tell.
I really do have a good enough quiver of inflatables to cover 98% of my needs.
I've had a 15.5' boat and a 13' boat for nearly ever, and scratched the tiny boat itch with a 10' dory.
Actually sold my cat tubes last week because I never used them.

You can R2 a 13' boat..but 14' really wants to be R3-R4'ed.
 

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A 14' boat can do it all, but the real answer here has already been discussed, its buying more boats. Your going to want that 16 for a lot of situations and 16-18' boats get easy with a little practice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Thanks to those of you that provided thoughtful responses. I just ordered a Mini Max for the wife and I. ;)

When the kids get older and start paddling, hell I’ll probably add a Max 12 or a super puma to the quiver as well. Life is short.
 

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It sounds to me like the discussion should turn more towards how to set the boat up to row better. For a new guy on the sticks, with nobody mentoring him, it’s a steep learning curve. I’m pretty new to bigger boats, and haven’t forgotten the flailing around of my first days.
OP, how much rowing have you done? How is the boat set up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I made another thread about that. Will probably go into more details on that other thread when I pull the boat out and get it set up to tweak the system.
 

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FWIW, I got used to rowing (vs. paddling) by starting with 10.5; then a 12; then a 14.
I can see that starting with a 16 would be challenging.
Congrats on the minimax!
(You could throw a frame on that minimax for yet another kind of fun.)
 

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Thanks to those of you that provided thoughtful responses. I just ordered a Mini Max for the wife and I. ;)

When the kids get older and start paddling, hell I’ll probably add a Max 12 or a super puma to the quiver as well. Life is short.
I also like the idea of multiple boats rather than huge boats. 3 years ago I bought a 14 foot Aire for our family of 5 (3 small kids at the time). Then a year later I saw an unbeatable deal on a used Super Puma (for $1000 - great shape) so I got that since my wife, who used to kayak wanted to oar. This spring we splurged and got her a 14' Aire WD cataraft, so now we have 3 boats. But to me it makes sense - the 14 footer is big enough to haul lots of gear, especially if some gear can be spread between a few boats anyway. The cataraft should be just for shear fun for my wife. The Super Puma is a just a ton of fun as a paddle boat, but awesome with an oar setup too, and ready for my son who is 12 and will soon be taking that one by himself (he already rows most of the the class II when he's in the boat with me). I forgot to mention we have a Trib inflatable kayak for my daughter who always uses this, but just bought her own ww kayak to make a transition.

In the end it sounds like a ton of boats, but like some others have already mentioned, it gives such a spread of options, stable vs sporty boats, gear haulers vs fun, oar vs paddleboat, that now I cannot think of going back or selling one!
 

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Keep the 16'. It'll be nice to have it when you need it for that 2-3day Ruby trip where you have a couple of friends that don't have a boat. You can comfortably fit 4 people + a dog + gear for everyone on a 16'.

Also, keep at the rowing! You'll get the hang of it eventually :)
 

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Try to find some folks that are good at rowing and boat with them whenever you can. Watch and copy is how we all learned to walk.
 

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Thanks to those of you that provided thoughtful responses. I just ordered a Mini Max for the wife and I. ;)

When the kids get older and start paddling, hell I’ll probably add a Max 12 or a super puma to the quiver as well. Life is short.
Before you know it, all the kids will have their own boats! A happy outcome indeed....
 

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Rowing a big boat will come pretty quick. I wouldn’t be to fast on getting rid of that size of boat.

But with that said I do have two boats. A 16 footer and a 13 foot boat. My 13 footer is a tributary and love it for two person oar trips, paddle raft with 5 people, and it’s my big water r2 boat. It’s some money on having two boats but it’s worth it if you want to do everything.
 

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IMNSHO if you're a couple with no kids, you can run a 14' boat for multidays and a 16' can be too big for most situations.
A family of 4-5 is going to find a lot more use for a 16' boat.
Especially if you also have an IK, packraft or kayak to keep the load in the 14-footer lighter, and the other spouse entertained.

One of the biggest problems I see with 16’ is that you’ll tend to wildly overpack (but it’s hard—though not impossible—to fit a comfy standard river camp in less than 14’).

Plus, while 16’ is big enough for really big water runs, it’s a bit too big for smaller western rivers that are easier to get access to.

But the best boat is the one you have! If it feels too big, that means your water-reading skills are lacking and you need to start planning your moves sooner. In no way is that making you a lesser boater...in fact, quite the opposite.
 

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More boats! No one has one hammer or one wrench or one pair of skiis or one bicycle.....don't forget a little tiny boat too!! Of course your wife will say things that hurt your feelings but she'll also say ," this boat works so much better in this river ". My wife said this weekend," wow we.really need a small round boat for.this river " I was so proud of her and shell be so unhappy when I give her a mini-max for her birthday. I wonder if cool kids have boats just for individual rivers?
100 percent! Always buy your wife something when buying equipment. An extra pair of chacos here, a dry top there... it goes a long way. Ive never given her a boat! Your a genius or a glutten for punishment. My wife might be getting a paddle cat for our anniversary.
 
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