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Discussion Starter #1
We are new to rafting and want to make the right purchase but there are so many options and opinions.

What we need is a raft for myself, small woman, taking out active but elderly mom, teenage daughter and 7 year old son. So weight is an issue, handles? We plan to do mostly scenic routes on the Snake in Jackson, Wyoming and then on the weekend we will have the husband to take us through lunch counter, the rope, Kahuna.

There are so many rafts, construction options, prices. Based on our needs, what is your recommendation for our family raft?

TIA and SYOTR
 

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An aire super puma, or super duper puma would meet your needs nicely. There's a lot of used rafts on the market this time of year, if you keep an eye out you may be able to find one used for a significant savings.

Good luck with your search.
 

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I second the super or super duper puma. The 10 year warranty on AIREs can't be beat. A new boat would be a good choice if you know that you're going to stick with the sport. A used AIRE boat will still be great. They're very hard to kill. But I must say that if you find a great deal on another major brand you shouldn't shy away from it.

-one note- The super duper puma has 4 handles, while the super does not. There are T handles you can get that go on a D ring.
 

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There are a lot of reputable raft manufacturers out there - Hyside, Avon, AIRE, Maravia, NRS, SOTAR are the first that come into my mind (there are others). A new boat from any of them would be a good choice - and frankly it would be hard to go wrong with these brands. You mentioned weight - which is directly related to size, but the size of a raft is also directly related to the size of the river (s) that you plan to run. The Snake runs from 2,000 cfs to 30,000 cfs. I haven't done much boating in your area but I think that most of the other rivers up there are significantly smaller.

The AIRE Pumas are great rafts and towards the lower weight end of the spectrum - but they are narrow boats. Narrow is great for lower volume and more technical rivers, but they are easier to flip, especially on high volume runs like the Snake. With your elderly mom, teenage daughter and 7 year old son you might be looking more towards an increased safety margin instead. That means a wider more traditional boat design.

Considering the size of the Snake I would recommend you look for 14-16 foot self bailing rafts. Given your passenger list I presume you are going to be rowing as your 7 year old and Mom probably aren't the strongest paddlers. If you live somewhere that you can store a trailer that will make your life a lot easier. A trailer with a roller on the back and a winch up front will let you keep your boat rigged and take full advantage of the ultra nice boat ramps on the Snake.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the quick replies. My family will the passengers and I just want them to have a good time and smile while I do the work, as much as I can for them.

Right now we are looking at a new Aire130R package and a Tributary 13 package. We are dealing with Canyon mountain sports in Idaho falls and I have checked online. Canyon has beat any online deals so far.

I am surprised that all the dealers I have checked so far feel that the tributary would be a great boat for our family. This weekend we are going over to see both boats and make our choice.

Again, thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. Snowboards being put away and time for a raft.
 

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Tributary boats aren't bad, but AIREs will last you longer. They're different qualities of the same design from the same company. The choice is going to depend on how much use you plan on getting out of the boat. If this is going to be something you plan on doing often for many years to come, the AIRE is a better choice.
 

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I think you will regret going with only a 13 footer. That is a small boat for what you want. I would say get at least a 14 ft boat and if you will be doing over nights trip with 4 or 5 people go with a 15 - 16 footer. That will give you plenty of room for gear and people. Also, the Snake has some big beefy wave at high water...you will want a large boat to plow through those holes without flipping.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have been asked by several dealer so I think it needs to be said, there will be no overnite trips. OH my, the kids, the mom, the boat, no overnights for us.

I asked the DH (dear husband) about even just camping at the campground on the river and his answer I must I agree with. "Why, we live 20 minutes away"

Our trips will just be scenic on the weekdays when DH is at work and then whitewater on the weekends. Because we value all our gear this purchase will be the same, we will lift the raft not drag it and try to make it last for years of smiles and fun for the entire family. I hope that rafting will the be the fun I remember.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think you will regret going with only a 13 footer. That is a small boat for what you want. I would say get at least a 14 ft boat and if you will be doing over nights trip with 4 or 5 people go with a 15 - 16 footer. That will give you plenty of room for gear and people. Also, the Snake has some big beefy wave at high water...you will want a large boat to plow through those holes without flipping.

Sorry, DH has already set down the law, no high water. He use to be in the SAR and was the one to do the recoveries with his search dog. The river doesn't have good memories for him as it does for me. No high water, ok, I am good with that. For now we are just going to build new memories of our family together and laughing. Now me, I am good with high water!!!
 

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Check out our website at Home Page We can get a great boat for you at the best price around for the quality. Plus, all of the owners guided on the Snake, so we know your area real well.
Arne
 

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I don't think you necessarily need to spend the money on a new raft, given that the boat will be used primarily for scenic floats and that the Snake will be the largest whitewater you intend to encounter. As far as size, you should go with a raft that will fit your group comfortably, but you want something fairly short so that you can float side channels of the Snake (in GTNP, Wilson- South Park, etc.). You will want to float the Hoback, Salt and the South Fork as well. My suggestion is a 14' boat, although one that is wider than the Puma series.
 

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Be sure of the 13' size

I know that it has already been brought up but I would still suggest looking at a bigger boat for the crowd. 13' boats are awesome for smaller rivers like the Gres Ventre and Hoback but I would think they are a bit small for the Snake, especially Alpine Canyon. If the dealers have the boats for you to look at, you may want to see if they will let you take out a demo so that you can get a feel for the size. One other thing to consider would be the width of the boat. Narrower boats tend to track a lot better but they are also a lot easier to flip and they have less room inside.

Happy Floating with whatever craft you get.

Dan
 

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I live in Pocatello and am familiar with all of the area rivers. Any of the boats you are considering will last you well into the forseeable future. A tributary that is taken care of will easily last long enough to justify the purchase. Givent he number of days you are likely to float with the crew you suggested you probably aren't going to wear out a boat any time soon.

Stepping up from trib to Aire probably isn't worth it given the big water nature of the snake and the general lack of wear you are likely to have. If you were running colorado creeks it is a safe upgrade, but deep snake floats just don't wear out boats very fast.

I checked out a bigwater raft last weekend tha b_liner1 represents. They are a really good value. They look generic (no name plate, logos and frills) but the fabric seems solid (at least as good as NRS expedition) and the construction techniques are time tested (glued hypalon). they are worth a look. I have no affiliation with them other than a test drive.

Retail prices from low to high-

14' bigwater- 2700
14' trib- 3000
14' nrs otter 3660
14' super duper puma- 3670
14' NRS expedition- 4850


A used raft would be a good choice- if you are willing to take the time to research older boats, drive to get it and roll the dice on the unknowns that come with older boats.

Or you could just post the deals here and rely on group wisdom to guide you.

As far as size I think you would be happy with a 14'. It can handle pretty big water, carry some gear if you get serious, but is small enough that you can feel the waves on the snake at 5000cfs. i agree that the puma series are awesome, but narrow for you.
 

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also...

when you budget don't forget to factor in your frame, 3 oars, blades, PFD's for all, lots of straps, a throw bag or 2, repair kit, bow line, paddles, misc junk and ideally a trailer. the raft is only about half of it. If you blow your whole wad on the rubber you won't be able to get out any time soon.
 

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I would buy a second hand boat. The environmental cost of new boats can be huge (rubber or PVC, shipping from far away, etc.) and you'll get 20 years out of a good used boat. For a used boat I'd suggest hypalon. Also, don't buy the discount series boats (Hyside's Rio Bravo, Aire's Tributary, NRS' Otter, etc.) or you'll end up regretting it.

Look for a used Avon, Hyside, or NRS boat in decent shape. 14 feet is the size. It's versitile, family friendly, and has a high resale value. They're also the commonly used commercial rafts so you can find them everywhere.

Don't buy that glued PVC crap (Vanguard, Saturn, Maxon, etc.). It sucks, won't last, doesn't roll well, and given your family's inexperience I'm guessing you don't want to have to repair a seam.

Check out the swap section on this site, as well as on NRS - Kayaking Gear, Rafting Supplies and Boating Equipment for good deals from fellow rafters. Ask "does it hold air completely for 24 hours?", "are the baffles and I beams in good shape?", and "was it stored inflated?" If the answers are yes, yes, yes you're on the right track.

P.S. If you do buy a new boat I think the boats b-liner is selling might be what you want. Glued hypalon, sold by real boaters, and very inexpensive. He's just over in Salt Lake too, you could pick one up easy....
 

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I have to disagree with your comments about the Otter series. For the type of use Wy has indicated I think the Otter series will hold up just fine. I put a second hand otter through 3 years of outright torture and it took it like a champ.
 

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I think a SD Puma would be perfect for your scenic day trips. I have one and love it. It's light, takes up less space and still has plenty of capacity.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I am going to strongly consider the 14 now and it is just a few $$ more than what we are already going to spend.

We have a trailer already for our sleds so DH is going to put the outdoor carpet on it and now we have sled trailer and a raft trailer.

We are now waiting for a few more quotes to come in and hopefully will be making our choice this weekend. Thanks to all for your great guidance, SYOTR.
 
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