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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After years of mistakenly being called a rafter, which was a little insulting given my stellar kayaking skills, I now look forward to the day that I get the question "goin' raftin' ?" to which I will proudly replay, "actually, I am!"

It was on an 18 day trip down the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago that I discovered that rafts were pretty cool too. Being in the southeast, oar rigs are the exception to the rule so I went with a 14' Tributary which I feel like will give me the ability to paddle raft or load her up and disappear for a few days.

I have a few questions for my fellow rafters...

1) What are you using for a frame? I would love to get a decent deal on a pre-made frame but being in the SE I don't have the selection that you lucky bastards out west have. I am sure freight is pretty hefty and therefore I am thinking of building my own but I haven't completely crossed something like the NRS BigHorn II off my list....what do you like?

2) I really want 4 bays but it is sounding like 3 bays are a better fit for my boat? Do you agree?

3) If I have to go 3 bays...Drybox or a dropbag with a table? I really wanted both so that I could make the drybox my kitchen box. I am leaning toward the dropbag and table though...tables are nice.

Any other advice for a nooobie?

raft.jpg
 

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Welcome and glad you've seen the light :)

1) What are you using for a frame? I would love to get a decent deal on a pre-made frame but being in the SE I don't have the selection that you lucky bastards out west have. I am sure freight is pretty hefty and therefore I am thinking of building my own but I haven't completely crossed something like the NRS BigHorn II off my list....what do you like?

A: A lot of the basic frames break down and can be shipped so don't worry that you can't drop in on a shop and get one. Still, you should look around and maybe there won't be one in your backyard but there might be one within striking distance.

As far as what frame is the best or which one someone likes that's a religious discussion. NRS, DRE, Recretec all make great frames. And some of the custom ones i've seen out there can be pretty amazing as well. The amount of tweaking and customization you can do will make your head spin. Take a look at the raft porn thread and check out some of the pictures and posts.

2) I really want 4 bays but it is sounding like 3 bays are a better fit for my boat? Do you agree?

A: It just means your bays will be smaller. I'm sure there's someone running a 4 bay out there on a boat even smaller than yours - it's just a matter of what you want to fit in those bays and how much room you want fore and aft. I would start with a 3 bay and figure out gear you will want to drop in and then go from there.

3) If I have to go 3 bays...Drybox or a dropbag with a table? I really wanted both so that I could make the drybox my kitchen box. I am leaning toward the dropbag and table though...tables are nice.

A: With three bays you basically are reduced down to a drybox and cooler in each of the bays. Unless you want to do something with your footbay. So, my vote would be starting from the bow - bay 1, cooler or drybox, bay 2 - footbay (misc gear), bay 3, seat & drybox or cooler.

Hope that helps. Definitely check out the raft porn thread as well as doing some searches on your boat in the forums.

-Andrew
 

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According to the specs on your raft, you have about 70 inches of flat tube to work with for a frame. Even with 13 inch wide dry boxes, and a medium sized cooler, you might not have enough space. I'd vote for a larger dry box & medium sized cooler, plus maybe some captains boxes in your foot bay? If you go with a welded frame, make sure you get your dimensions right to start with. I prefer an NRS frame so I can move stuff around and make changes.
Welcome to the madness that is rafting.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the quick replies. I get that I can do 3 or 4 bays but I am afraid 4 makes them too small.

I havent bought a cooler or drybox. I am thinking a 75-90L cooler and if I do a drybox, maybe a frontierplay 38" wide.

Sounds like you both prefer the drbox to a dropbag and table?

I did a little measuring and 70" is about right for the straight section but I feel comfortable that I could go 78" and be ok...any more starts to make the front passenger area pretty tiny.

I like the idea of a breakdown frame for versatility but have a 7x16 utility trailer so I could go with a welded frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Cataraftgrl...I really wanted a jaguarundi but ultimately decided on the raft because as you can see from the pic, I have critters to haul and liked a bow compartment for them to fall into. Plus paddle rafting will be nice for day trips in the SE. Will still be jealous of the cats though.
 

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Cataraftgrl...I really wanted a jaguarundi but ultimately decided on the raft because as you can see from the pic, I have critters to haul and liked a bow compartment for them to fall into. Plus paddle rafting will be nice for day trips in the SE. Will still be jealous of the cats though.
I hear ya.....kiddos & pups need a "corral" to keep them contained & in the boat. Cats aren't always child & dog friendly. I'm actually making the cat to raft switch soon myself. 16 years of cat rowing has been fun, but the perks of a raft are nice. I'm a dry box kind of a person. I've never had mad love for rocket boxes in a drop bag, although they are way less money. A 38 X 16 dry box would hold a good amount of stuff and work well as a rowing seat. A 90-100 Qt. cooler will get the job done. Good place to start. Until two years ago I ran with just one 34 X 16 dry box, and I survived just fine.

One thing to remember on frame length. You don't what it to ride up on the tubes where they start to curve up. You want your frame to sit flat. I tried the math with 70 inches & couldn't make two 13 inch dry boxes and a 17-18 wide cooler work, unless your are about 4.5 ft. tall with really short legs and don't need much foot bay space. Remember that you have to add in your cross bars in the equation. I figure about 1.5 - 2 inches per bar when I do the math. One thing you can do, is use either rocket boxes or captains boxes in the foot bay area to add a little dry storage space.
 

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I agree that with 70" of flat space a 4 bay frame might be a little tight. Plan on a minimum of 20" in the rowers compartment then work backwards from there. If you go with and NRS frame you can customize it to fit how you want and find out what works best. I would suggest the compact outfitter with 70" rails to start. You can always add a 4th small bay for rocket boxes. Another option is running the bighorn II although I find the seat bar a horrible use of space.

You want to go simple and easy, pick up some speedrail fittings and aluminum fence post at Home Depot and go to town. It is a nice cheap option to get things dialed in.
 

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I say go for the 4 bay. Get a flip seat and sit on your cooler, so you control how much beer those kayakers drink. Put a drop bag on the front bay and deck over it with a board that can then be used as a table. Stick the Drybox in the bay behind the bench/table.

Mock it all up in cardboard and blue tape. Use NRS side bars and 5 crossbars. Have NRS custom bend you a footbar like deluxe foot bar, but with no ankle bars.
Side Bars ([email protected]) = 140in
Cross Bars ([email protected]) = 350in
490in (Need 41 ft) @ $4ft = $164
LowPro's (10) = $199.50
Plugs (4) = $7.80
Custom Foot bar with2 LowPro = $100
10in Oar Mounts (cause your sitting on your cooler) = $109.95
Oarlocks = $84.95
Tractor Seat = $109.95
AAA Flip Seat Bracket = $98.95
Total = 874.65
For $155 bucks more than the bighorn, you get a sweet frame that is totally modular. You get the idea, you can get whatever works for you and your boat and play with ideas. Want cobra oar locks or a different seat or no seat, add the seat and foot bar later, etc.


I run a super puma in this configuration, but skip the drybox as I only have 12 inches between captains bay and bench/table cross member.
 

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From a fellow eastern boater in a 14' raft, here is what I do...I *believe* my dimensions are similar to yours- 70" of flat tube with 44" between the tubes (i think, been awhile since I built this).

Being in the east here, most of our multidays are limited to being pretty short (at least in distance) so most of my rafting is taking loads of friends/family on whitewater/ fishing daytrips with a few multidays throughout the season. Being in Breaks would most of your overnighters be nearby places like the New, the James, maybe Red River Gorge in KY or Big South Fork KY? My choices are similar with the addition of several more north in WV. I also do not trailer, I pack into a subaru. (launches and shuttling don't always lend themselves to trailer around here)

Because of that I wanted a frame(s) I could easily rearrange depending on my trip. I use an NRS stern frame for my daytrips, it's what I learned on but its easy to rig, light and compact...leaving plenty of room in the boat, giving me a fun ride and a good vantage point as well....shipping is only like $25 from them. I considered buying the parts from NRS to build modular bays for overnighters but decided to use what I had and buy a few parts and build what I wanted.

SO, my overnight set up is the stern frame moved forward to where the seat is over where the rear thwart would be. It is supported on the tubes by pieces I built that raises it high enough to hang my dry boxes from it (essentially functioning as a drybox "bay"), the frame consisting of the footbay and a cooler bay attach easily to the stern frame with lowpros and stop short of the front thwart (which I leave in because GF likes to sit on it) and the passengers sit on the front thwart with dry bags behind them making back rests. Anything else goes on a cargo net filling the rear compartment on the boat. I can fit enough camp gear for 4 plus myself and two passengers in the boat with this simple set up...and get it packed in the subaru legacy (not wagon mind you).

I've been meaing to post pics as it is a kinda unconventional set up, but it works really well and is easy to adjust for any situation.
 

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Welcome!

I will likely get torn apart for this view but I don't see why you can't get a 4 bay frame in a 14' boat. I ran one for 12 years in a 13' hyside and had plenty of room, yes my frame sat up on "the curve" but I don't see why that's a problem. That frame was 84" long. The rubber will conform to the frame, plus looking at Aire's wire frame of your boat the upturned sections are minimal to at least the handles. If it were my boat I'd have no problem putting an 80" frame on that boat, maybe even a little longer but I'd want to see how things sat before purchasing (using cardboard a few 1.5" pieces of PVC for side rail mockups). Given your set up uncertanties I'd definitely lean to a modular frame (NRS, DRE, etc.) and I really like brendodendo's suggestion. I ran through the same sort of design/calculations when figureing out what to do for my new boat and came to the same conclusion, bastardizing parts from different manufactures will cost about the same but you'll end up with a much nicer set up than buying a packaged frame like bighorn II. I have spreadsheet with a bunch of my thoughts on it if your into that sort of thing...It's nothing fancy but has about 6 different ways to get the set up I wanted...

View attachment T - 14.0 SB.pdf

I have a family that has grown a lot over the years and the 13' boat held it's own until this year and we got a 15. 4 bays was key, with a 16" table up front, a 16" cooler bay and 25" foot bay and a 13" drybox bay/rowers seat. I did a lot of week long trips on that rig and hundreds of day trips. We thought a lot about a 14, but in the end decided to go 15 thinking the 14 was just not that much larger than the 13. Below is a pic of that set up on pack in trip a few years ago. It's a bit hard to see but it is a 4 bay and it extends up onto the curve of the bow and stern (coverd by gear). The end of the straight section sits right at the seam thats just in front of the front D-ring and strap (right where the yellow rub gurad starts to curve up)

P7200137.JPG

I really like having all 4 bays and use the drop bag as much as the dry box on day trips. On long trips the dry box is the kitchen box and the drop bag holds cast iron stuff, chairs, extra beverages, a rolla table, pump, ammo cans, etc. Of course it's up to you but unless you are a minimalist I would suggest trying a 4 bay, you can always cut it down. There are options to add length but I'd rather start big and cut down to perfect fit my self.

Good luck!
 

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I think with rug rats you will definitely want captains boxes or bags in the foot bay giving you quick access to dry clothes, rain gear, toys, etc. for the whole family. You may be able go with 4 bays, and make one bay quite skinny, so that 1-2 RBs or water jugs fit cross ways. If I did that I would choose the bay in front of the foot bay to keep the variable weight of water and crap closer to the center and give more space for the oars. Also, don't underestimate the value of shade/rain protection with the kids; an umbrella or bimini would be worthy investment for the family fun level.
 

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Hello Cerebus1,

I have the same boat and run a 78" four bay frame and it works out quite well. Layout is like this:

1st Bay: 18" table (sitting between rails) 18" Stitches 'n stuff drop bag underneath.
2nd: 16.5"Yeti Sherpa 100qt cooler.
3rd: 22.5" Rowers Bay
4th: 13 x 38 Drybox, with ethafoam for rowers seat.
Tough River Stuff everything bag in the stern.

This is about the max that will fit the Trib 14 and it fits our family of four nicely.

On a side note, I have my first gen Double Barrel frame built for this boat for sale. Pics and details of this frame are here: A different approach to double rail frame. I'll PM you the info.

Enjoy the boat!
Guy
 

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I run four bays on my NRS 14 footer with an NRS frame. My frame length is 82", I could squeeze out 4-5" but it would be tough to get down to a 70" frame. Especially considering 5 crossbars takes up 8" or so. Now if you could figure out how to mod a frame with no crossbars you are good to go! That being said, there are frames the incorporate the drybox into the strength of the frame so you can cut an inch or two off there.

On the bright side, with a three bay, you will have plenty of room in the back for a gear hump. You can even make a poop deck out of a table if you want.
 

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My buddy has a 13' with 68" frame

He runs an 16" box, 13" box, and a yeti cooler. So 4 bays. The yeti is 80qt but more of a function of the width. Since your boat is a foot longer you can probably spare enough length for the larger cooler and 2x of an 16" box
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all of the great info, you guys have given me alot to think about, and have me even more excited to get out on the river this spring....super jealous of all of the overnighters out west.

There are some pretty sweet looking and sounding 14 footers that you guys have out there...I think 14 is going to be perfect for me.

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
From a fellow eastern boater in a 14' raft, here is what I do...I *believe* my dimensions are similar to yours- 70" of flat tube with 44" between the tubes (i think, been awhile since I built this).

Being in the east here, most of our multidays are limited to being pretty short (at least in distance) so most of my rafting is taking loads of friends/family on whitewater/ fishing daytrips with a few multidays throughout the season. Being in Breaks would most of your overnighters be nearby places like the New, the James, maybe Red River Gorge in KY or Big South Fork KY? My choices are similar with the addition of several more north in WV. I also do not trailer, I pack into a subaru. (launches and shuttling don't always lend themselves to trailer around here)

Because of that I wanted a frame(s) I could easily rearrange depending on my trip. I use an NRS stern frame for my daytrips, it's what I learned on but its easy to rig, light and compact...leaving plenty of room in the boat, giving me a fun ride and a good vantage point as well....shipping is only like $25 from them. I considered buying the parts from NRS to build modular bays for overnighters but decided to use what I had and buy a few parts and build what I wanted.

SO, my overnight set up is the stern frame moved forward to where the seat is over where the rear thwart would be. It is supported on the tubes by pieces I built that raises it high enough to hang my dry boxes from it (essentially functioning as a drybox "bay"), the frame consisting of the footbay and a cooler bay attach easily to the stern frame with lowpros and stop short of the front thwart (which I leave in because GF likes to sit on it) and the passengers sit on the front thwart with dry bags behind them making back rests. Anything else goes on a cargo net filling the rear compartment on the boat. I can fit enough camp gear for 4 plus myself and two passengers in the boat with this simple set up...and get it packed in the subaru legacy (not wagon mind you).

I've been meaing to post pics as it is a kinda unconventional set up, but it works really well and is easy to adjust for any situation.

You nailed it. I live 1 mile from the Russell Fork Gorge putin and the New and BSF are the overnighters that I am planning, with the new offering several days if I want.

Your setup sounds very interesting and quite unconventional...having trouble visualizing it and would love to see pics if you have any.

Thanks for the suggestion
 

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snapshot_071.jpg
This is my set up rigged for West Water March of 2013. 14' Aire
5 bay (adjustable bays)
Double rail
Homemade for around $550
Under the paco pads is a 120 cooler and bay for fire wood.
Behind the drybox is another 16" bay for my campchief stove.
Used speed rail, 1.5" Alumin pipe from local recycler and decking from teksupply
Works great and nice to have the adjustability for gearing for different trips.
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/raft-frame-46142.html
 

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Gary at Rowframe.com

I cannot believe no one has mentioned Gary at rowframe.com. He is very knowledgeable and quite helpful. I suggest you get your fittings, towers, and locks from Gary and buy your pipe locally to save shipping. Give him a call even if you don't buy from him you will be ahead of the game. My frame has both rail fittings as well as welded joints.
 

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View attachment 7358
This is my set up rigged for West Water March of 2013. 14' Aire
5 bay (adjustable bays)
Double rail
Homemade for around $550
Under the paco pads is a 120 cooler and bay for fire wood.
Behind the drybox is another 16" bay for my campchief stove.
Used speed rail, 1.5" Alumin pipe from local recycler and decking from teksupply
Works great and nice to have the adjustability for gearing for different trips.
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/raft-frame-46142.html
It must just be perspective but... are you using 14' oars!?
 

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Looks about 10 to me, or 9.5
 
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