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I'm a new to catarafts. I just bought a 16' Rocky mountain rafts tubes. I have 66" x 108" NRS universal frame. Any pictures or ideas on setup would be helpful. Even if you don't have the frame or different sized boats, I'd like to see your rigs. Thinks in advance JB
 

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Here is a 15' cat with universal frame

From front to back:
Bay 1: dropbag with wood cover/seat/rigging board
Bay 2: empty this trip, sometimes a drybox or cooler
bay 3: captain bay w 2 captain boxes (love engel coolers for this) SNS slings for rigging
bay 4: drybox (sometimes a cooler)
bay 5: drybox

also: spreader bar and mesh floor

Keys to happy universal frame use: remember the drop bars limit how you can move 2 of the bars. assemble and place these first, move everything else around that.
Cats HAVE to have decent balance. remain flexible. it is tough to have passengers jump on and off throughout a trip.

I alter my frame for almost every trip on a cat. I like balance and find myself sliding bars 90% of the time to accommodate a passenger or different boxes or whatever junk i need to take.
 

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i have run the same 5 bay frame for 14 seasons. from multiday to class V day trips.

front bay empty, second bay is a drop bag, third bay is rower's foot area, fourth bay is drybox, fifth bay is cooler.

i run bow LIGHT in class IV and V. In BIG water i want a little more weight on the nose. my cat is 14' and i think it handles best with it a little stern heavy, when it is nose heavy it seams to be a real pig. the only problem with bow light is in BIG water where with some wind the cat wants to go over backwards. never done it, but have been close a time or two.
 

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My 16' RMR cat with AAA 5 bay frame. I run drop bag up front under a board with foot bar, then cooler, then rowing, and I sit on top of my dry box with a dry bag in the back. Tuesday when we launch on the Grand I'll have 4 30mm rocketboxes across the back 5th bay instead of a bag.



I throw a PACO Pad across the front for passengers.
 

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So many ways to rig a cat, many are 'works in progress' as gear or trip needs change. My only advice...

1. There is no such thing as too many straps, cats need an amazing number of them. Get good ones so they last, get many. I like the ones that are color coded by length.

2. The best boat upgrade I ever made, mesh 'saddle bags' or 'everything bags. Shaped to fit your boat and how you rig it, either drop style in a bay or saddle bag style to ride on the tubes. These are large mesh bags with draw string or cam strap tops. Chairs, stoves, propane, dry bags, DO's and all the loose stuff gets thrown inside and tied down quickly by just closing the top.
AND you can get at almost anything during the day, just by undoing the same 3 straps. Cut my rigging time down by 2/3 or more.

3. Some cats, like my Aire Panther, are very sensitive to trim. Much more so than rafts. Keep track of were you put heavy things. Water jugs start out full and end the trip empty, toilet vaults are the opposite.
 

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Here is my set up. my frame has a full length web floor. Plenty of space for 3 people, single boat, 7 day trip with all the amenities. 16' tubes
 

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Like others have said, you have a adjustable frame so you'll probably end up adjusting it every trip at least a little. Every trip I do has different needs for me so flexibility is good--I just grab goods from my gear pile and put it where it seems appropriate most times.

At least one dropbag will be necessary. Having a table that can cover it should be top priority too. Everything needs a spot in a cat so a mesh "mini-skirt" or easily accessible mesh captain's bags will pay huge dividends. An extra drop bag behind the rower can take dunnage and provide a nice backrest. Also, tables can be lashed across the tubes without frame under them to stretch your capacity and accept said dunnage.

Just remember, cats will turn into pigs suddenly and with no warning when you add that extra pound. Also, there's a real risk of being ejected out the back if you hit a wall backwards without a backrest or dunnage pile behind you. Don't be that guy--it sucks!
 

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All good suggestions above. When my wife and I got into rafting 9 years ago, like many folks we bought used gear. She found a 4 year old Sotar 16' cat/frame that had been used one time by the original owners. Sotar frames are not adjustable, but we've used the layout on our used 18' Loepard/NRS/speedrail frame and just recently on our new Sotar tubes and Eddyline Welding frame. This layout has worked work out great for us and we couldn't come with any reason to change it. Even with a custom frame that we could have configured any way we wanted.

Since Sotar tubes have a decent amount of rise(kick) on the ends, there is about 8' of flat area for a frame to rest on. We have a "cowcatcher" front passenger "footwell" that a water jug or small cooler can be strapped to;

Next is a kitchen drybox that removes easily;

Cooler;

Oarsman footwell with two saddle dryboxes. They also remove easily;

Drybox that oarsman sits on;

Cargo area for a Tuff-River-Stuff drop everything bag that holds a ton of gear. As mentioned above, no matter who you get it from, this is one of the best items we've added to our cats that makes loading gear much quicker. Since the Sotar frame has a "beavertail" on the back, using a dozen straps to hold stuff on was a pain. I had a trailer frame made that the DEB hung from and we used it for many years.
 

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You want your rowing bay further forward on a cat then you would on a raft.
Here are some pictures of my dads and I setups. The gray kodiak is my dads, its a six bay set up.
The green tubes are mine. The frame with the black side boards is my old frame which was a five bay. The one with the diamond plate is the new six bay. On the new six bay I up sized the cooler and down sized the rear dry box . Added a bay between the two for a passenger to sit on the dry box and have a place for there legs.




 

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Depends on where you live also, I have never seen any cats rigged like those in the pics in my area. In 20 years I have never had a drop bag on a boat only dry boxes. No need to change a frame around if it is built right. You re arrange the load to balance a cat not move bars. There is a forum more local then this Colorado one I am on there alsoPacific Northwest Rafters
 

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Depends on where you live also, I have never seen any cats rigged like those in the pics in my area. In 20 years I have never had a drop bag on a boat only dry boxes. No need to change a frame around if it is built right. You re arrange the load to balance a cat not move bars. There is a forum more local then this Colorado one I am on there alsoPacific Northwest Rafters
I think it matters less where your from than what you do. No one frame is perfect for everything, period, but if all you do is the same thing over and over again then a single frame layout probably works well. When you change from fishing, to WW, to overnighters to week long trips, it is invaluable to be able add/remove/move components. In my opinion it is best to move frame parts around to accommodate changing gear and changing needs. Finally, if your frame is not built right it'll be way harder to re-arrange your way out of it if everything is welded. Moving bars is a great way to re-balance, whether you've seen it before or not. Perhaps you should remove the blinders - a quick google search ("southern Oregon rafting") shows more images of fitting frames than of fully welded frames.

Welcome to the Buzz James.
 

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I ran a 14 foot cataract for 16 years. My original frame was a welded steel modular frame. Row module, large cargo module, small cargo module. I used that frame for a couple years with a small cooler and a York box. I did day runs, weekenders, and some multi-day trips with that set-up. The modules allowed me to add & subtract, and move stuff around as needed. Once I started doing MFS fly-in trips I needed a frame that would break down for the small airplanes. I went with an NRS frame and was happy from then on. My cooler size increased and I acquired dry boxes over time. The NRS frame allowed me to change my configuration as I added new stuff. I used drop bags for awhile, but ditched them in favor of the dry boxes. In the end I had a 105 Qt. cooler and two dry boxes. If I had gone with a custom welded frame early on, I would have been very unhappy.

I have boated all over the western US in the past 18 or so years, and the one constant I have observed with cataract rigging is that there is no constant. No one right way to rig them. I've seen folks row from a forward position, center position, and even a more rearward position a few times. I've seen just about every type of frame over the years. Some people like to rig low & clean, some don't care if their cat looks like the Beverly Hillbillies with crap all over the place. The funny thing is, they all made it down the river just fine with a big smile on their faces. Mostly, rigging cats is about balance & not overloading. Other than that, it's personal preference.

The one, unwavering truth about rigging a cataraft ......straps. Lots of straps.
 

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Here are a couple pics of the final iteration of my cat, before I switched to the dark side and got a raft. Cooler up front, then the rower foot bay with a small skid guard floor, AAA flip seat bracket over the larger dry box, then a cargo area with a skid guard floor, then the smaller dry box in the back. I preferred a more centered row position and liked rowing from a seat.

In the multi-boat pic you can see my teal cat, and my friend's green cat. She rows from a forward position. She sits on the front dry box to row, with a cargo area in between her front and back dry boxes.
 
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