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Hello All, I am wanting to purchase my first raft or maybe 2... My wife and I have 4 daughters ages 14, 11, 9, and 1. We love the outdoors. Hiking, fishing, camping. Since we have had the youngest one it has put a hold on our hiking. We took my oldest on a rafting trip on the Ocoee this summer and we all loved it. I also have 2 German shorthair pointers that go on every adventure we take.
Would y’all recommend a 14ft or 16ft raft. I’m looking at a RMR with drop stitch floor. And possibly a cloud 9 for the oldest girls, and when I go solo. I will have a frame in the bigger raft. What are your thoughts on the kids in their own raft? I am in Arkansas, but will be traveling to some western rivers a few times a year. Mostly I will be on tailwater trout rivers and Ozark mountain streams that get somewhat narrow in low water conditions. Any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Are you thinking of day trips as a paddle boat or as a multiday over night boat. In my opinion the latter would be very close to mission impossible with 6 people and 2 dogs on one boat. Please note that a lot of western rivers do not allow pets. I would recommend renting a few times to get more experience before jumping in.
 

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Are you thinking of day trips as a paddle boat or as a multiday over night boat. In my opinion the latter would be very close to mission impossible with 6 people and 2 dogs on one boat. Please note that a lot of western rivers do not allow pets. I would recommend renting a few times to get more experience before jumping in.
I should have added a little more info. My wife and I are somewhat experienced paddlers. We have fished the Upper Rouge a few times in a drift boat and raft. We have a couple very nice rivers within a hour or so. We rent from them 15+- times a year. They don’t rent over night. So to answer your question yes this raft will be mostly for over night. But I don’t want something that is to large for me to handle with a solo trip. I will have oars... all our gear is back packing gear so it is very light can easily packs up very small. I am sure I will add some gear since I will have a raft; I don’t want to be cramped either. As for the dogs, I have relatives that can keep them for a trip if necessary.
 

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I should have added a little more info. My wife and I are somewhat experienced paddlers. We have fished the Upper Rouge a few times in a drift boat and raft. We have a couple very nice rivers within a hour or so. We rent from them 15+- times a year. They don’t rent over night. So to answer your question yes this raft will be mostly for over night. But I don’t want something that is to large for me to handle with a solo trip. I will have oars... all our gear is back packing gear so it is very light can easily packs up very small. I am sure I will add some gear since I will have a raft; I don’t want to be cramped either. As for the dogs, I have relatives that can keep them for a trip if necessary.

I'd echo Bighorn's comment to rent something first and see how it works for your needs, 6 folks on a 14 footer for a multiday would be one heck of a heavy boat even going backpack style, the required gear for that many folks isn't going to change, and kids tend to need a lot more gear to make the trip comfortable than an adult, and IMHO quite cramped..


My 2¢, your mileage may vary
 

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You are going to want TWO rafts. One for you to row with two kids and a dog and one for your wife to row with the others. Six people and two dogs on an overnight in one small boat? Nope.
 

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I bought a 14' for multiday trips for 4 people and wish even that was a 15 or 16. I think you'll be terribly crammed on a 14. I'd definitely go with a 16' for multidays with that many people, especially if you are gonna get a smaller boat also.

I got the 14' mainly so I could take it on day trips on the Ark in addition to multidays, but ultimately got a minimax and now I never use the 14' on the Ark any more (even at high water - the smaller boat is too much fun).
 

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IMHO, you will need a 18', 14' and a 12' raft plus a 13' play cat and IK's. But then again my wife says I have a boat problem!
 

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16’ gear boat and a Storm! I’m surprised how much I love the versatility and fun level of the Storm and reach for it most days now. Weld up a frame for solo missions and it makes a great boat to learn to row on.
 

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I have a 15' boat which does great for multidays with a family of 4 and I have rowed it a bunch as a 1-2 person ride on tight stuff. It rides high without all of the weight in it and is very responsive. I always figured that if it is too tight to get a 7' wide boat down, knocking 18" of of it isn't going to matter.
 

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Sounds like you are not really a newbie. If you’ve rented rafts you know how to row and what’s involved. If you want to do day trips for fun go for the 14’. Multi day with that family, definitely the 16’. Maybe get 2 rafts! Then teach your wife and kids how to row. Good luck.
 

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I've a 15.5 and a 13. The 13 is way easier to move around on shore by yourself. And if you have to carry up a hill to get out, with help, the 13 is nice. 6 people on the 15.5 and you can get up the hill.
 

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Family Boats

IMHO, you will need a 18', 14' and a 12' raft plus a 13' play cat and IK's. But then again my wife says I have a boat problem!
A "boat problem?" At one point, Bill Mason had 23 canoes. Said he could use a few more, but a fellow's just got to make do. Yeah, learn how to make a real "forever" patch and old boats will follow you home.

I'm voting for the 16' too, as a frame & rowing boat. You'll certainly want a 12' or 13', plus IK's for the 2 older kids and their friends. And all the swiftwater rescue clinics you can get under your hat. Don't argue; just do it. Some will be fair and some will be great, but you'll be glad you have them. Especially with all that precious cargo.

After a whole fleet of canoes and the usual duckies, our first was a heavyweight 18' Rogue. A floating beach. "The Queen Mary." A real freight hauler for canoeing and 'yaking buds & hauling other people. From there, we snagged a great old 16' Avon Pro and kept it working for decades. I could actually carry that thing. The Queen? It's probably part of what's wrong with my back today. Then a few cats, 1K's, and 12' to 14'ers. We're really glad we had that old 16' Avon!

If you don't mind losing a few bucks on every boat, (call it rental if you like) you can experiment with a bunch of them. There's always some greener grass on the other bank, and ... wait a bit ... somebody will want to try something different, and a bargain will always come along. Once your boats are capitalized, they don't cost much when they're laying on a trailer or hanging in the garage.

Keep it safe, My Friend, and enjoy that family. Get them off the river an hour before they want to get out, and they will always want to go again. Get them off the river an hour after they want to get out, and you'll build resistance.

I'm just an ancient Fun Hog, but I'm telling you, Family can be real wealth. Jd'A
 

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I've a 15.5 and a 13. The 13 is way easier to move around on shore by yourself. And if you have to carry up a hill to get out, with help, the 13 is nice. 6 people on the 15.5 and you can get up the hill.

Same here. Really glad to have a 15.5 and a 13' boat to choose between. I'd never take the 15.5 out solo or with one other person. Just too much boat.

15.5' is GREAT for 3-4 people on a multiday.



a bargain will always come along. Once your boats are capitalized, they don't cost much when they're laying on a trailer or hanging in the garage.

Keep it safe, My Friend, and enjoy that family. Get them off the river an hour before they want to get out, and they will always want to go again. Get them off the river an hour after they want to get out, and you'll build resistance.

I'm just an ancient Fun Hog, but I'm telling you, Family can be real wealth. Jd'A

^Wisdom.
 
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