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I'm looking for some advice on buying a raft. I live in the southeast and I'm looking for a 14-15 ft. raft that I will be able to use here in the east as well as on some big river trips out west. I am looking to spend somewhere in the $3,000 - $3,500 range.

I was hoping some of ya'll western boaters could give me some good advice on several aspects of this purchase: first, what are your favorite brands and why? I have expereince with Sotar rafts and I really like them and I'm currently leaning in this direction. I know NRS makes good boates, but they are also pretty pricey. Any other recommendations?

Second: to buy new or used? I would like to buy something new, but that is awful expensive. Sotar has a good hotsheet on their website with some good deals, but I was wondering if I would be better off looking around on Craigslist, or on here. I have looked, but havent found anything that works for me yet.

Any other suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

thanks
Andreas'
 

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Aire makes a nice boat and I am a big fan of Avon. I like the Hypalon boats, but thats just a preference. Basically, you get what you pay for. We have been using our River Rouge for almost 30 years.
 

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S(wim) O(ver) T(o) A(nother) R(aft)

I'll echo Riverghost - my 30 year old Avon still holds air indefinitely, as does my 20 year old Aire. Older Hysides are also nice boats.

I would go used - a good quality used boat will last many years, and if you're patient you can usually find a completely rigged used boat for what you would pay for brand new rubber.
 

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I second the notion of looking for a used rig if this is your first raft. That will allow you to try what you think you want, at a lower price. Get a quality boat so if you stay with it, it will last you a long time. That will also help if you decide you want something else, a quality boat will resell easier, and hold it's value better.

Gear swaps are on NRS's website, there is a River trader Yahoo group, and here on the Buzz. If you are looking for a long distance purchase, make sure to have someone look it over for you if you can't do so (or before you take a big road trip). Many people will be willing to do that if you post on various boating forums. There are enough unscrupulous sellers that you want someone to lay eyes on it and make sure it is what they claim they have.
 

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We have bought all of our boats from companies; they use them for 3-4 years and put them up for sale. There is nowhere to get a good boat, or gear for that matter, up here, so we get the majority of our gear from NRS or Clavey or somewhere like that. Because of that, we spend the time to maintain our gear, wear patch here and there added, paint job, glue down a loose edge, etc. Bottom line, get good gear and look after it, it will pay off.
It would be interesting to know what you find, we have an old Rikken that had a small leak by the main stern D-ring. Good boat to spend a few hundred on for new rings and such. Its a 16' bucket boat( we replaced it with a 16' SB, hyside). I will see if my buddy will let it go.
 
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