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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I'm a total newbie - I've had a canoe for years, but new to rafts.. Last summer we took over our old family cabin in the Southern San Juans. It's about 100 yards up from the local river that local guide trips float multiple times/day - both group trips and fishing trips. Mostly Class 1 and 2 water.

I found out that said local company sells of rafts at the end of each season. I'm currently first on the list for a 13 ft Rocky Mountain Raft at the end of the season. I have 2 young sons (4 & 6) and my hope is that we could do these floats frequently when we are up at the cabin (only 2-3 hours). Maybe down the line, as the boys grow use it for some fishing as well.

Realistically couldn't do any floats until next season when they are 5 and 7 just because of the timing of the second hand purchase.

However, I'm looking into it and it's so expensive! In addition to the raft, I need a frame, oars, oar rights, a seat, etc, etc.

I hadn't expected thousands in addition to the raft. Please skip all of the "welcome to our world" posts and let me know if there is some discount options I'm not seeing? Or does everybody that rafts just drop at least $4K to get started?
 

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Watch craigslist for used equipment. I just put together a 14 ft. non self bailing rig for $750. Raft, Frame, & Oars. All the stuff is at least 20 years old but should last another 10 easy.
 

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fat guy in a little boat
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if your only planning on doing easy water, you can make your own wood frame.
that alone will save ya $1000
 

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Short answer: yes, rafting gear is expensive! The boat is just the start, and outfitters usually still make money selling used boats. In other words, you can usually find a much better deal on a package from a private seller than buying a boat from an outfitter and trying to piece it together. Especially if you don't need it until next season...
 

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Durable, light, cheap...pick two. If you are just getting into, do the math on how many times you'll realistically use it and calculate cost per use. Renting at first might be cheaper and then you can figure out what you really want so you don't get stuck trying to flip something you bought cheap and taking a hit on it because it doesn't fit your needs even it was cheap. My buddy is selling a turnkey older super puma set up as an oar rig for $2k in Boise. You'd need to buy PFDs (maybe you already have them) and paddles and you'd be on the water.
 

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check out the classified section on buzz. There's plenty of deals...and if you're not planning on running continuous, class III +and IV whitewater, you certainly don't need a self bailer, which will save you lots of money. The rental idea is a good one, as it is an investment to own your own gear. Try it out first...there are as many different kinds of rafts as there are cars...different ways to navigate them, different types of oars, etc.
 

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I see you canoe, I fell out of a canoe at Stanley Reservoir when I was in high school. The only thing I could think about was swimming as hard as I could to make it to shore when a few seconds later I bump in into something and look up to see a little kid standing up, he look at me and said whats the matter mister. My point is don't get to excited at first take your time and look around there are alot of good quality used rigs out there for under 2,000$.
 

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You can definitely get into rafting on the cheap by picking up a used raft and used gear, as others have already noted.

Here are a few more tips:

1. Don't overlook the lower end brands/models (ie. Tributary, RMR, NRS low end, even Saturn, etc). They tend to lose their value a bit quicker than high end brands and have some downsides, but can work great for a starter raft.

2. Look for basic raft frames and/or older models. Most can easily be cut down to fit smaller rafts if/as needed. $100 used frame is a lot easier on the wallet than $1000 for a new one. Example: https://boise.craigslist.org/spo/6120178805.html

3. Prices tend to be lower on used gear during the fall & winter months.

4. Once you have a basic setup to meet your needs you can always upgrade piece by piece as good deals on used gear and sales on new gear pop up over the years. You can always resell used gear unless it's damaged or junk.
 

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It's all relative. Is rafting any more/less expensive than: Golf, MX, Mtn. Biking, Hunting, Skiing, Sailing, Rock Climbing, ect. Cough up 2-5G's or sit on the couch and watch TV (flat screens are really cheep these days).
 

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In my experience, buying a complete package used is the way to go and will save you considerable amount of money. There is always the crazy person who thinks his stuff is worth what he paid for it a decade ago, but overall most of them are pretty reasonable.

You can certainly save money by building some of the stuff yourself if you have the tools and skills (or a friend who does). Not completely unreasonable to make a frame out of wood or electrical conduit and some plywood for floors. You'll still probably have to purchase a few items like oar locks and such.

There is definitely a tendency for things to double in price when you associate it with rafting, but it doesn't mean you have to accept it. There is almost always a cheaper alternative out there if you look hard enough. Just don't expect for it to be cheap if you forget to buy something the week before you trip and have to go into a place like Cascade, 4CRS, DRE, or similar.

There are certainly things out there that seem expensive at first, but you soon realize that its a lifetime purchase and you'll never have to replace it. Most of the stuff Partner Steel makes is this way, and a lot of the drop bag/everything bag stuff from Tuff River Stuff, Stitches and Stuff, Whitewater Designs and many others will last a lifetime but sure hurts when you buy it.
 

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Definite maybe
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I have a rig I can sell you. 16 foot Avon with frame and 3 10 foot gull oars already set up with pins and clips. Wood drybox. Suspended floor. And a Bimini top. Non self bailer from the 80s but hasn't really been run hard since the 90s. $700. Pm me if interested. Ton of extras to go with this too.

My point is there are allot of used rigs hanging out in people's garages all over this state.
 

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Jared
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I got in on a package deal. If you are in to day trips I'd start with a small raft and paddle it. You can by a 10-12 raft and R-1 it or get people to go with you or get the kids to help out. Then you are talking a raft, paddles, personal gear, and not much else. You will slowly acquire the other stuff.
I don't think WW gear is that expensive, and this is why; We get several seasons out of our gear. I don't have to buy a lot of shit to take a few days on the river, I've paid most of my cost once.
For instance, I am taking my 6 year old little girl and 9 year old boy on a two night river trip Friday night. I'm going to buy fuel for a 500 mile round trip, no cost permit, and pay for a $125 shuttle. I won't spend any extra on food, and I haven't filled my propane bottle since last season and still don't need to. So I will be into this trip about $200. Last weekend I took my family to the beach. We ate out 3 times at $50 a pop, took an $80 ship ride into the ocean, paid $200 for a two room Hotel, and brought home a mermaid and stuffed seal pup. That trip with the same Duration cost me $430 and I didn't give it much thought, we had a great time. By the time my rafting gear wears out, I will have paid pennies per trip on it and will be satisfied with my purchases. My raft and one of my kayaks were purchased used with many miles left before them.
I'm a second generation rafter, and my Dad bought a new Riken raft setup in 1997. He paid 3500 for an entire package deal, with some nice gear included. 20 seasons later, we just completed another Owyhee trip on it. That raft has been in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Canada once, and Nevada. That works out to $175 per season of rafting with not a single repair, the original oars, etc.
I know some outfitters keep premium gear around so they rotate through rafts long before they are used up. Others use them until they are almost dead, and sell them before a major failure. I know nothing about the company you are looking to purchase from, but keep that in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Learch,

That's good advice. The local outfitters selling the RMR get new rafts every year and sell them off after each season. So at least their wear has been limited.

I need to think about the true lifespan on some of these things. I'm not scared to pay for quality. It's just a lot up front.

But when I look that we spent 30 nights last summer at the cabin that's on the river we'd run, I imagine it would get lots of use. Multiply x 15 years and it's not that bad at all.

If we wanted to do overnights, I've already got nice camping stuff. It's just the raft setup.

Please keep the comments coming guys/gals! This is helpful.
 

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Everything that I bought cheap I replaced with the more expensive version later. I ended up paying more in the long run, now if I want something for rafting I just buy the premium, however I still shop hard for deals and Im always looking for used stuff. Raft gear is unlike any other outdoor gear out there, its just built tougher. In the raft world, people think gear is crap if they can't pass it on to their grandchildren 50 years from now. So there is a balance between great gear and what you really need, but just know that quality is worth the price.

Another thing to consider is that raft gear holds its value pretty well so if you buy a bunch of good stuff and decide later its not for you, you can still sell it with out taking a huge loss.
 

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Definite maybe
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Dude spend the money, buy an Achilles and never need a boat again. Buy a boat for a lifetime.
 

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I bought my tributary with one year of light use. I pieced together a basic frame and bought new oars. For a handful of years ran it almost daily on the animas and other local rivers. It was a great bachelor boat. Over the last ten years I have slowly built it up, and tried to take good care of it. This season I turned it into the ultimate family truckster. New decks Bimini cooler ect. Loaded up the whole tribe (wife and 21month old girl) and took them down four nights on the San Juan. Now proud papa happy husband and that boat is still river ready.
I guess the point I'm getting to is, used is fine, swing what you can just get out there get the kids out there. It is one of the greatest investments! an amazing way to interact with the outdoors and your family. No matter how you get into it, you will never regret it. This is an awesome sight for used gear just keep checking the ads. Welcome because your already hooked. This group will help talk you into it!
 

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I bought my tributary with one year of light use. I pieced together a basic frame and bought new oars. For a handful of years ran it almost daily on the animas and other local rivers. It was a great bachelor boat. Over the last ten years I have slowly built it up, and tried to take good care of it. This season I turned it into the ultimate family truckster. New decks Bimini cooler ect. Loaded up the whole tribe (wife and 21month old girl) and took them down four nights on the San Juan. Now proud papa happy husband and that boat is still river ready.
I guess the point I'm getting to is, used is fine, swing what you can just get out there get the kids out there. It is one of the greatest investments! an amazing way to interact with the outdoors and your family. No matter how you get into it, you will never regret it. This is an awesome sight for used gear just keep checking the ads. Welcome because your already hooked. This group will help talk you into it!
X2. My first raft was 14' Achilles bucket boat that I paid 500 bucks for. A friend sold me a day frame for 150 bucks and I bought 3 new carlisle oars for 200 bucks. Ran this set up for 7 or 8 years, including multi-day trips . Then I scored a MFS permit..... the way I justified a new boat purchase was simple. It would cost $100 to $150 per day to rent a boat, frame and gear. Let's say hypothetically you drop $7k on all new gear. Your return on your investment is 70 river days. For me I had 70 river days in by the 3rd year. No brainer.

I am not telling you to go out and buy a bunch of new gear. Just telling you my thought process on buying. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Like most raft manufactures, the RMR warranty does not transfer. Something to think about. I'd have to get a hell of a deal on a one year old boat with no warranty.
Good thoughts. The solace for me: The outfitter is an RMR vendor who has access to parts and he has a good reputation locally amongst rafters for being knowledgable and honest. I don't think he's going to sucker me.

In the meantime if something better comes along the classifieds I can jump on it. I have a pretty good fall back plan.

Everyone else, keep the happy stories coming. Last year we spent 30 nights at the cabin (which is 100 yards from the day trip river). It'll get use!
 

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Get on the river and be safe. Once you do you will be ruined for life and doomed to spend money on rafting. I have bought four boats in my life and still have all four (just in case).
 
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