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There is a reason RMR are in stock, heavy come unglued, don’t track well. I owned. 14ft
RMR are fully welded these days if I’m not mistaken. Yea very heavy but I’ve found mine to be bomber despite lots of abuse. I’d go new RMR for sure over used unless you find a unicorn deal. You’ll get 15 solid years out of it. Aire/ Sotar etc. are incredible boats and there is something to be said for supporting US manufacturing. That said, I think the vast majority of boaters reach the point of diminishing returns with the higher end brands from a purely practical standpoint.
 

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Yes, they are welded I changed my wording. I simply meant when I had mine. There customer service sucked when it did fall apart. The boat was a few years old and they wanted me to throw it in the landfill and give me 25% off a new boat. WTF.
 

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These days RMR's are indeed fully welded, have a legit 6-year warranty, and to me represent an all around excellent value especially for a first boat. But the 'buzz will always be rife with anecdotal experiences and fuzzy memories, although as I've heard it the whole "PVC=heavy" hype was dreamed up by raft manufacturers still sniffing glue at the time and looking to hate on pioneers like Jacks Plastic Welding.

Honestly though, let's not kid ourselves here that something that costs 2x as much delivers 2x the performance. These aren't classic cars, you're still just buying a boat (to abuse), which as the old saying goes is merely "a hole in the water in which you pour money"...how much is wholly and entirely up to you.
 

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If you have a trailer, I wouldn't worry about PVC vs Hypalon or bladder systems. Aire is a solid brand, with tons of fans. NRS and Hyside are great too. I also wouldn't hesitate to purchase a used raft. Full packages are great for new boaters because there is a lot that goes into outfitting a raft, and it will take you some time to get up to speed.

If you buy new, you will likely make some mistakes and they will cost you money. Purchasing the wrong oar length, wrong oar mounts, cooler doesn't fit properly in a bay, you name it. When you buy a package, somebody has already done all the hard work for you. In a couple years, you might decide you want to outfit your own raft, and you will have the cash and knowledge to do it. You'll have seen things on the river that you like and dislike, and you'll be better armed to make sound decisions. My 2cents.
 

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Definitely rnr..but ...for a phat cat!! Cats meow lol! As a dude who had bought boats for cheap to try and figure it out. I'd say buy a 14ftr for a good price and go put on miles. You'll buy again anyway so just get a good deal regardless. Yheres a raft company here selling their fleet of 13 foot Aires for cheap. Great small river boat. Just sayn cause now I have 700 boats and there all the wrong ones lol! Perfect quiver???
Phat cat
12 ft mini max
14ft sotar/maravia/aire
16ft " "
12 foot w.d./legend
15ft. " "
Creature craft for me cause I can't swim to good...
 

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These days RMR's are indeed fully welded, have a legit 6-year warranty, and to me represent an all around excellent value especially for a first boat. But the 'buzz will always be rife with anecdotal experiences and fuzzy memories, although as I've heard it the whole "PVC=heavy" hype was dreamed up by raft manufacturers still sniffing glue at the time and looking to hate on pioneers like Jacks Plastic Welding.

Honestly though, let's not kid ourselves here that something that costs 2x as much delivers 2x the performance. These aren't classic cars, you're still just buying a boat (to abuse), which as the old saying goes is merely "a hole in the water in which you pour money"...how much is wholly and entirely up to you.
don’t forget that the $3500 RMR will have already been in a landfill for 20+ years when a $6500 somewhat maintained Hyside finally gives it’s last run. So yes, long term, the Hyside comes out cheaper and a more reliable boat.

that said, a lesser boat now is better than no boat for a year or whatever all the backorders timelines are these days.
 

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Buy once,cry once.
You'll find that everybody has so many opinions, and that there are so many options, that it there's no one answer. But I find that this advice (quote) is really important.

Raft set ups are expensive no matter what you do. You can try to save money by piecing together used, or you can get lucky with a unicorn deal on a great used set-up, or by buying cheaper-made rafts, and that's all fine and good, but if you're reasonably sure that you want to own a raft with your buddy and have some great family and friend experiences for a long time to come, it's worth considering spending money to just do it right. The only people I've ever met who have regretted buying a raft have been people who bought a piece of junk and spent a lot of money trying to get it to work well and it was never fun and then they finally gave up and their piece of junk still was not worth much.

Plenty of advice already on here about brands and materials and sizes, etc (personally, I think 14' is pretty max for ideal for day fishing trips and 14' is big enough to run multi days on many rivers at many levels WITH a family on board if you get good at packing and planning). I have a 15' that is totally big enough for a few people on a multi-day, but would feel a little big to me for just going day fishing. That's all just personal though.
 

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RMR also has frame packages. For $5,339 you get the 14ft drop stitch raft, two bay frame, oars, Sawyer components, a poly deck, drop bags, cam straps...tough to beat

You're post says 2 bay frame, dealer says 4 bay. If you pull the trigger clarify it's 4 bay. A 2 is a dayframe with a cooler bay
 

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Hypalon... Buy once, cry once. Is well worth the investment in so many ways. Hyside, NRS, quality is great on both. You won't regret not buying a plastic boat, they work, but have their own draw backs.. The drawback to Hypalon is cost, but is completely offset by it's durability and longevity IMHO
 

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The bottom line for a first raft, kayak, mountain bike genre of fun pieces of gear is find a decent deal, get on the water or trails and learn what works for you. Personal experience is what counts not what others think.

In my opinion, it does not matter what you buy first because soon as you can you will get rid of it because what works for other people may or many not work for you. And, till you get time on the water or trail you do not know what you do not know as far as rafting and what is the "best" setup for you.

I spent most of my boating life in kayaks. Always looked for the best one kayak. Never found it. When an accident made hard shell kayaks not recommended big time for me, I had 7 selected "best" kayaks that I had acquired over many decades of paddling kayaks. For me every one of those kayaks was the ideal craft for a specific run or float.

Bottom line my recommendation is read all these opinions then buy what ever you can find that looks good (new or used does not matter) and get on the water ASAP and as often as you can on any water you can. No matter what your first raft is, I bet unless you really screwed up, that will not be your last raft. It sure was not for me.
 

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My only dis agreement with okie is to wait till after peak run off before you buy lol! That way you don't get all kid at Christmas excited and get to worked an harsh your mellow! Youll buy again unless you spend a fortune.
 

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I’d focus more on size/use case more than brand. Boats are a lot like mountain bikes these days; there aren’t a lot of turds out there. Get a boat from any well known brand and it’ll be fine.
 

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If the boats are taken care of, they will last crazy long. I have 3 aires that are over 20 years old, and they still look great and handle great. Over time the valves can get tired, and need to be rebuilt. I have learned to really really hate rebuilding the valves "ship in a bottle" my ass. The nice thing is if you get a decent boat, but it is not the flavor you want, you will take a very small loss on it reselling it. If you want to use it this season, you need to buy something that is in stock and the seller can put their hand on it. If they say it will be there in a few weeks move on. I waited for 4 months for a frame that would be in "in 2 weeks" before I ordered a whitewater machine works frame (and I am WAY happier). It is a good idea to figure out what you will be boating most and get a ride for that. I am a fan of renting canyon boats because the sand and sun are the top two enemies of inflatables, and it can really hasten a boats demise. Also boating out east there really is no need for an 18 footer.
 

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Liked the ski analogy, spot on. Gweyduke’s post hit the nail on the head. For size, consider what you are now and then what might you use for the future. A lot of people who get serious about this have multiple rafts for different uses. If you are going by yourself with maybe 2-3 people on your boat, a 13 or 14 foot raft is a great jack of all trades. If going with family/kids on overnights or longer trips in bigger water, you’ll most likely want a 16 footer. If you get a 13–14 footer now, almost guarantee you’ll want to keep it if you decide to buy a bigger boat in the future.
 

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Surprised to see a few people put Maravia and Sotar up with Wing and above Hypalon boats. My 3 cents coming in...
  • Tier 1 rafts.
1. Wing / Hyside / Well made hypalon like Achilles / NRS. These are the cream. Many outfitters still have 40 year old Rogue Inflatables going strong.
2. Maravia / Sotar. But these are such a pain to store and really offer zero advantage over Hypalon. Hypalon is expensive. But these aren't?
3. Aire. Very good, but for some reason some of their boats still have fabric wear way too soon.

  • Not Tier 1 rafts - Everything down here is a huge step down from everything above here.
1. All luck of the draw with all these.
 
RMR, Hyside, NRS, Sawyer, K2 coolers, Whitewater Worthy Trailers, Frames and soft goods
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RMR makes great boats at a reasonable price point. The Construction is solid and I’ve not had a single warranty issue. They allow customers to put more into outfitting while keeping the investment below a price that is unobtainable to many buyers. Their quality is significantly higher that any other brand with a similar price point.
 
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