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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm narrowing it down. Becasue the Sotar ST14 is about 25 lbs. lighter, I am leaning THAT way -- mostly for my wife and I (not spring chickens) moving the raft around -- on and off the trailer in the garage for example. My other primary concern is stability in big water, so I guess the question boils down to this: do you think the 143R (R being the Round series that Aire markets as their most stable rafts) is MORE STABLE than the ST14? Enough to offset the weight inconvenience?
I'm not trying to start a thread about the pros and cons of Aire vs. Sotar in general -- just wondering about the stability question. (However, I guess there is the very related question of maneuverability helping to avoid potential flip situations in the first place.)
Thanks for the thoughts.
 

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Without the sealed floor pocket the Aire is likely a little more stable because it'll hold a few gallons of ballast in the floor. Your part of the country isn't that silty, so this might be worth it. That said, I think it makes the boats more sluggish on the water - and REALLY heavy when you first pull them out. In 100 close calls the Aire MIGHT flip one less time.

After guiding some Sotar boats this summer and learning more about them I would chose one over the Aire - and I'm a big Aire fan. The Sotar is lighter, simpler, and I think a better choice for your "have it forever" boat.
 

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Boy Howdy!
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I have and aire 156, it pulls in alot of water addind alot of weight. Its about 15 min before we can move it on the trailer to get it foward for better road handling. As far as Sotars I have not had the chance to oar one yet
 

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Consider a drop stitch floor- you and wife will have an easier time moving around the boat with that dance floor beneath you- Sotar offers one as an option.

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Keep in mind the Sotar drop stitch floor is imported so you are buying half of a Korean boat. The bottoms get rashed up fairly fast on sharp rock also and their bottom coating is not thick enough to help much, you may have round rock and have no issues at all. I have an Aire 130D
 

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The water filled AIRE floor will almost certainly be a little more stable, it's been discussed many times, but for a 14' boat there is a lot else that comes into play. I think the weight difference and ease of maneuvering is more important than a tiny fraction's worth of stability. If you and your wife are planning to start dropping steep creeks or class V, maybe go with the AIRE. Otherwise you can't go wrong with SOTAR. Their fall sale is coming up....

The SOTAR drop stitch floor isn't worth it. An I-beam floor is good, tracks better, and will be more durable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks folks. That's what I figured regarding comparable stability: words like "a little" and "MIGHT" -- not enough to tip the scale toward the heavier boat. (And although it's not too silty up here, I do expect to use the raft in other places.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Maravia on your list?
Willi1 was on my list. Let's see; why didn't it get to the top?
Well, highest priced (I always figured 20% off Sotar) -- maybe Maravia's go on sale, too, but I'm not so familiar - feel like I'm already pu$hing it with the Sotar sale price.
Also, if published weights can be trusted, it is 137# vs. 125# for the Sotar ST14 (roughly half of the Sotar/143R difference; so not a huge deal).
Also, I have some experience with Sotar (and Aire) products and like them -- almost no experience with Maravia (so that's just about personal comfort with spending big bucks on a more known quantity).
Same for dropstitch floor -- almost no experience with them -- but no opposition either.
Sotar's customization is a plus, but not critical.
Maybe availability of a great deal would get a Willi1 in the top part of the list.
(Boise area is closer to me than Merlin, but that's not a huge factor.)
 

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Drop stitch is gonna be easier for you to walk on- not like walking on a waterbed- Cascade Outfitters is having their annual Maravia sale right now. Aire, Sotar and Maravia are top of the class. All deserve a look for sure. I've got my 2nd Sotar cat and added a Maravia Zephyr this year. We LOVE it- I came close to a 156D- bit didn't like either floor. Sotar's tapered design was a little hard to fathom- it had a different design to the taper, and their floors were a question I couldn't comfortably answer. I'm sure I'd have been happy with either- but the Zephyr eventually won out. As far as the weight difference- you're gonna end up with a trailer if you're using it more than just occasionally. Once you add a frame and a cooler you're looking at 300 lbs.....a few pounds either way aren't gonna matter.

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Jared
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One thing about a standard ST, they come with no frame chafe, and no floor wrap on the tubes or floor itself. The Maravia boats are put together, and then Maravia coats the entire shell with Urethane, over all of the seams, everywhere. They have a better protection system than Sotar, IMHO. You can add frame chafes, floor wraps, etc to your Sotar from the factory, but then the price goes up hundreds of dollars. I'd seriously consider that in your decision, if this is gonna be your lifetime/ longtime boat. I have friends with inexpensive RMR rafts that paid half what the Sotar is that came with floor wraps and frame chafes. Yes, they are heavy, but I am glad to see they build a boat to last, even at the entry level price.
My point is, if you are at the top of your budget and you want the added protection, I'd be leaning towards the Maravia and Aire. The Aire's outside layer doesn't even hold air, it only holds pressure. The Maravia is coated with urethane.
By the way, I am a Sotar ST owner. I bought mine used, and it doesn't have chafes or lower tube protection. I have bite marks from people pulling straps out from my frame tubes, and I have some gouges in my main tubes just above the water line about mid ship. It is a 2008 model that has been down the Rogue, middle fork, and Grand Canyon. (That was before I had it, friends with the original owner)
I'd buy another Sotar, but I'd pop for more protection this time.
 

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Jared
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.....and there goes the weight advantage

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I agree, I can set my ST on my right shoulder and move it a pretty far distance before I need to set it down. But if it 12-20 lbs of extra weight means the raft will last longer or won't need wear patches in ten years, I'm all for it.
Once I start loading a boat, I don't think 20 lbs makes much of a difference. If I was constantly paddling the boat with very minimal day gear, 20 lbs might matter. When I load for a multi-day trip, once my boat hits a certain amount of weight, I can't tell a difference performance wise. 20 lbs is less than 3 gallons of water.
Also, if it was a day use only type boat, or not the the boat I intended to use all of the time, the added protection probably wouldn't be needed. My 14 is my go to boat right now. I row it, paddle it, day trips and multi day stuff. It gets used regularly all year. I could ruin it pretty fast if I don't take care of it, or any other boat.
 

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I'll speak to sotars I-beam floor... I wanted a drop stitch floor, but sotar didn't have any for a 15' SL when I got mine, I would have had to wait until the 2014 order came in, so I went I-beam. I inflate it to the point that the blow off valve opens (seemingly around 3 psi). It is very firm. Walking on it is not an issue but I still wonder what the DS would have been like...ply wood?

As far as add ons I went through numerous back and forths on that issue. In the end I added a few extra d-rings and top chafes as well as one for my trailer frame. I originally planned on adding bottom chafe's but Cheryl essentially talked me out of it - saying roughly that most commercial clients had quit adding them because after a decade of use they showed very little to minimal wear. It sounded like they figured if they needed to the could be added later, but for now save the upfront cost... I went with that idea... the only drawback being shipping costs to and fro...(I figured it would give me an excuse for a Rogue trip). I have seen very little wear, except where the boat sits on my trailer wheel wells. It really hasn't removed much material but it's got me planning a trailer modification (which I need anyways).

I have nothing against either aire nor maravia and looked into both. I decided against each for one major and one minor reason. The major reason for each was I simply liked the SL profile much more - constant rocker, yadda, yadda - described in on several other threads. The other is I've been around a lot of aires and a few maravia's and have run into problems with both brands.

Aires it's the bladder and zippers- just too much going on. While I'll admit that the users of said boats are probably to blame for the failures I just think the idea is unnecessarily complicated.

My sour taste for maravia's comes from a few boats my guide friends bought around Y2K. 3 spiders each with maravia addition fishing frames, one had constant pinhole leaks and eventually tore where the frame "hinged" on it (no outer wear, it seemed to tear from the inside, like folding a tortilla?..?). Another also got crease marks, this time on the outside - little fissures in the urethane. The third was fine structurally but like the other three faded very badly, looked like it was 20 years old yet was only 5. I'm sure these boats were not taken care of correctly either - but it's always left a bad taste in my mouth. I still think virtually every maravia I see looks super faded... just makes me wonder.
 
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