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Discussion Starter #1
As a granddad of 5, I am considering a raft as a great way to get most of my grandkids on the water. They live in Kansas and the Kansas River is a good easy paddle to get them outside.

I also have a group of kayakers that I kayak with and we are planning a Rio Chama trip if we are lucky enough to win a lottery spot.

Looking at the various brands of rafts and multiple designs in each brand, what key features would you look for in a raft to be used with grandkids on the Kansas river and rafting the Rio Chama?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.
 

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Can we get a little more info? How are you planning to set up the raft? With a rowing frame and oars or as a paddle raft, making the munchkins work a little? Day trips or ideas at over-nighters? Other pertinent info?
 

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A company in your neighborhood. - Try Midwest rafts ; in Lebanon MO.
They import a hypalon raft , I have owned a couple , and still have a little
10'er , that I love to use for a day tripper here in Colorado. [class 3 -4 water]
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Little ones are pretty little right now so I am thinking day trips on the Kansas with the potential for one overnight occasionally with son-in-law and older kids. Beginning overnight would be 2 adults and 3 kids under 13 with gear one night, maybe 2.


For the Rio Chama I am thinking a rowing frame. That would be a 3 night trip with kayakers that are mostly self sufficient in kayak camping. We need someone to carry the group gear.


I kayak, but with the grands I think putting 3 or 4 with their mom and/or dad a raft makes more family sense.


I am considering the far flung whitewater rafting school this summer to learn how to paddle a raft, I think they are well respected.


I know this is probably a pretty tall order that why I was looking for some input.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess I did not really answer that question clearly. For the munchkins I was thinking paddle raft set up and putting a frame on for the Rio Chama.
 

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It almost sounds like what you need is a 13 or 14' boat, for most of what you would like to do, with the overnight trip having a second boat along, or if the kids were ready for it, getting ahold of a couple of ducky's for the overnighter.

Two adults plus 3 small kids would be pretty tight with overnight gear, unless you had something big, like a 16 or 18', and that would be really big on the Chama nearly all of the time( and often not doable at all, plus a lot of boat for the crew to paddle on the day trips ).

Maybe look for something that will handle up to 7 paddlers( 4 kids tops, 2 parents, and you guiding), which puts you into the 13'-14' range, a raft that will still be runnable on the Rio Chama, and can pull off hauling gear for a couple Kayakers, as long as it is not TO low.

What price range are you looking at? I'm guessing you're not going to be beating the living snot out of it, and don't need to spend $6,000 - $7000 on an outfitter grade boat.
Any preference on new or used?

A couple ideas that come to mind, might be the upper size range of the Puma series, a tributary, maybe a 13' or 14' RMR? Not boats that I have personally owned though, since my needs and wants are different. Maybe a tall order, but not one that you can't find a solution to.
Props for trying to get your grand kids outside, and introduce them to something you love!!

Have fun, be safe,
-Matt
 

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Oh, one thing that might help with the transition from Kayaking into rafting, could be getting out in your raft to "R-2" ( sitting across from one other paddler), possibly with some one who has run a raft, or one of your kayaking budy's, it makes for a lighter boat to learn on at first, and seems a little more like kayaking to me. Plus it is a lot of fun! You can do a lot of the same things that kayakers do, with some practice.

There is a lot of similarity between the two methods of boating, having more weight, and having to direct other people, are the two maine differances with guiding a Paddle raft.
Setting up earlier then you have to in your Kayak, is one of the biggest helps when running both paddle rafts and gear boats with a frame.

I'm not that familiar with Far Flung, but I think a guide school is a great idea! You can learn so much, about rafting, and river rescue, it is a great way to gain experience before taking responsibility for kids on a boat. Keep in mind that guide schools involve usually a good bit of swimming in the riv and being cold, so plan appropriately, dry suites are awesome, but you learn so much, it is worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the input. I think putting the kids in a Ducky is a great idea. The oldest ones are 11 and 9.


I am leaning towards something like Aire Puma 143 or NRS Otter 142. Good used would be OK, but I would rather spend the money for a new one rather than skimping and winding up with a POS. I like that the Aire are made in US, I am fairly sure NRS are imported, but could be wrong on that.


Thanks for the R2 comment as well, that would allow me to get the raft and do day trips with grands and wait a while for the frame. Would you expect a 14 foot raft to carry much gear? I just do not have a good frame of reference for that.


I have been down the Arkansas Royal Gorge 3 times with RiverRunners. I had a great time, but me on class V is a away down the road.
 

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Aire is built up in Idaho, NRS is another Idaho company, but there rafts are manufactured in Mexico.
I have run NRS boats since I started rafting 17 years ago, they are bomber, my E-140 has been around since '95, and I just took it down the Grand Canyon, though I had to top off every day do to a slow leak that just started.

Aire has a good reputation, and a 10 year warranty instead of 5 on NRS boats.

An Aire product would be lighter, as they make there boats out of PVC instead of rubber, the seems are plastic welded instead of glued, PVC can be a little tricky to glue for a patch your first time. Both methods of building a raft are fine, in my opinion.

Between those boats, I would expect the Super Duper Puma to be a little livelier as a paddle raft, though the NRS will track extremely well, with the ribbed floor design, give em a little momentum and they tend to just go in the direction you point them, all things being equal.

A 14' can carry a decent amount of gear, though not really what you would get if that were your main use. I can run up to a two week trip with two people as the only boat on the trip, but I have had plenty of time learning to pack gear down efficiently.

I mostly recomend the 13'-14' range as something that should be able to meet all your current needs, paddle up to 7, be small enough to make it down the Rio Chama at decent water levels, and still be just big enough to pull of an overnight trip with your group, as long as you can put some people in other craft( it will still be tight, but should be doable).

I think both of those boats are quality rafts, and could be something you'd be happy with.
If you end up buying used, there are usually lots of boats that pop up towards spring if people upgrade, some under the classified section on this site, some are good deals, but be careful, there are some good threads on how to check out a used boat before you buy it, just use the search button towards the top of this page, and you should find some info.
A new boat with a warranty is awesome if you can invest the money in it, get something decent, so it holds some value.

Last, many people will say that the Royal Gorge is only class 3-4, back when I guided trips down there, we called it class 5 to, and it used to be, but as boaters and equipment have improved, harder sections are now being run, down grading stretches like the Royal Gorge. And if you're guiding a paddle raft down there at high water, and people don't listen, or go for a swim, it sure FEELS like class 5!!!
Such an awesome stretch of river:D

Hope I have not given you way too much info!

Cheers!
-Matt

P.S. both those boats will feel kinda big R-2 ing, you still can do it, just will feel like a lot of boat to move for two. Also, the black strip of rubber on the top tube of the otters on the web site, could burn people's butts, maybe ask about a blue ware pad if you go that route.
 

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Glacier raft company sells their boats after a couple years use. Supposedly in great shape and knocks a good chunk off the price. Mostly super duper pumas, I almost bought one this year but ended up ordering a new hyside.


Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
 

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The Super Puma is a fantastic boat. I have mine set up with a frame and can self support with 2 people and dog for 2 nights with out much problem. I paddle raft it on small creeks and big volume rivers as well. Handles well, is very sporty, and light, which makes getting to the river much easier with smaller kids.
It is, however, much more narrow than the NRS otter or other 13-14 ft rafts. This improves the maneuverability, but does make it easier to flip if you have a bad line. It being light does makes it easier to flip back over!!
Going from kayaking to rafting is a learning curve, but throw a couple of experienced kayakers in the raft for the first season and you'll get the hang of it. The super puma for sale on this site is a good deal. If I didn't just buy a 16' Aire I would consider adding a second super puma to the fleet!
 

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You know, we had my friends supper puma on Cataract last fall at about 13,000 CFS, and I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting it to flip, never did. At one point in Big Drop 2, all I could see was the two people in it, thought they were swimming, nope, boat was submerged! The boatman was experianced, and they hit things straight though.

I wonder, could it pull of the things Tex river rat needs? I think one could handle gear for 2 yakers and the oarsman on the Chama, if it were packed light? The overnight with grand kids and a couple adults would be tuff, but a couple ducky's, or a second raft, could maybe make it work.

It does seem like a great boat for other reasons, light for ya to move, Great warranty if they'll transfer it, tons of fun to R-2! It would be a lighter boat to for kiddos to paddle, as they get older they could get into a ducky or kayak if they love it?
The good price would leave some money for other stuff you need.

Thoughts from those that own one????
 

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If you are in the market for a Super Puma and are willing to buy new, I would have a hard time not looking at the new Aire 136dd. Its about 5" longer and a foot wider and would do a much better job at carrying more people and gear while still being small and nimble. It would hurt my wallet, but I'd sure love to get one myself.

You aren't gonna find them used for a year or two since they just came out, but its a great looking boat and has the legendary Aire 10 year warranty. The Super Puma has been a very succesful boat for Aire too and there is a reason. I don't think you'd regret either one.

If those hurt the wallet too much, then Aire's tributary series is a great way to go. Quality not as good and the warranty isn't either, but I have friends who are very happy with theirs.

Lots of great options on the use market too. I bought a 13' Hyside with oars and a frame last year for $1700. Its 20 years old and needed some work, but so far so good and its nice to have a small boat a long side my 16' Avon gear pig.
 

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I think you would do great with an Otter. My friend has 14' Otter and takes his family of 2 adults and 4 kids on 5-8 day trips without any trouble. The kids are ages 7 to 1 year and he knows he's got to get a bigger boat or expand his fleet soon, but for your purposes it sounds about right, especially if you added a ducky. You'd keep weight in mind on low flows. He's run the San Juan at 600 CFS with his family loaded for a long float and had no issues, but the San Juan has a sandy bottom most of the time.
I have to admit that I'm interested in an RMR with a dropstitch floor in the future. Having a nice solid floor to stand on and fish off occasionally sounds very appealing, $1,000 dollars less than the Otter also sounds nice.... but then we get into the PVC debate and we don't need to spoil a nice thread with that kind of talk.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the great comments, certainly seem doable.


I called Far Flung yesterday and they will have several brands for 14 foot raft at their Rafting School set up with frames. The prudent idea would be to wait until I have actually paddled to purchase; however, a great used deal would be hard to pass up.


That said, if I stay in the 13' Puma or 14' Otter range, what common equipment would work on both craft?
 

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Paddles, with a couple ones being shorter for the kids, and at least one spare for the guide.
P.F.D.s for the kids.
Possibly a full sized throw bag, if the one you carry in your kayak is a kayak throw bag, it's just good to have the extra size once you have the boat space for it.
Boat pump, an electric blower would be nice, several options out there, mine came from wallmart 10 years ago.
At least one dry bag for day trips, for things like a first aid kit and some warm clothes.

You probly don't need to go out right away and buy these things, and it is possible if you find a used boat, the owner will be selling some of these items with it, but you could keep an eye out for sales on some of them in the meantime, a good pump lasts for years, and if you see a used one at a good price, grab it, of course with P.F.D.s buy new, or be very careful they are in working order and meant for river running.

Some of the other junk you get to buy eventually when you have your boat, and maybe after guide school; repair kit, will depend on type of raft material ( comes with most new rafts), either a waist flip line, flip lines mounted to the sides of raft, or both, I use my waist flip line for lots of other things on the river. A z-drag kit (for unwrapping a pinned boat) is something you should have on the chama I feel, maybe the kansas, but you need to have trained on using them first, river rescue courses cover this, sometimes guide schools do also. Cam straps that hold the world together, whatever frame and oar set up you decide on, all the stuff I probly forgot.

Much of the overnight gear could be rented in New Mexico, not sure about an overnight on the Kansas, but that's down the road a ways.
 

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The Super Puma is narrower than the Aire 136DD of the 14' Otter, so the frame would not be something that would transfer very well. With the narrower design you would also use slightly shorter oars. I Wouldn't buy anything boat specific, like repair kit, dry boxes, frame etc. until you have a raft.
First-Aid kit, throw bags, dry bags are all useful items whether kayaking or rafting. I like having the option, when kayaking, to carrying a longer throw bag when on larger rivers.
With the raft your first-aid kit will grow, as will the people you will need to accommodate for.
Cooler. firepans, groovers, water jugs, etc, etc. A wise man once told me that Boat stands for: Break Out Another Thousand......
 

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A wise man once told me that Boat stands for: Break Out Another Thousand......
That's awesome!
Reminds me of gearing up for the Grand Canyon last December, feeling so broke, yet was so worth it!
 

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That's awesome!
Reminds me of gearing up for the Grand Canyon last December, feeling so broke, yet was so worth it!
I hear ya big time. Colder weather trips take a lot more gear then a summer Grand trip. I feel like I've been hemorrhaging money getting ready for my February trip. Its all stuff I've needed and been getting away without, but it still hurts.
 
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