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I'd throw the 14' Aire Lion into the mix as well. They have fat tubes at 25.5" compared to WD at 22". They do not have the rocker that the WD has, but the tradeoff is that you could get more usable area for multi-days. They are also surprisingly maneuverable when unloaded and going light (great for your kiddos!)

Source: trust me bro. It's also the exact boat my dad had your Lodore trip this year and our MF last year if you want a point of reference for that size on a multi-day trip.
 

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I have the 13’ Kimas. Not a single complaint with them after three years. I really like that they’re three chamber tubes. That’s a great bonus at the price.
Wholeheartedly agree, this is easily the best value in new tubes. I abused mine for years without complaint (ok, a little sun fading). Then passed them off to a 2nd-time rower for the Grand. Very forgiving style for newbies and absurdly fun for everyone.

I’ll have some 12.5’ Legend tubes for sale in late Spring if that fits your timetable.
 

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It’s a low budget fishcat from Sportsman Warehouse. The tubes came from Aire originally, I did a bunch of work making it better for whitewater (stripped all the extra crap off it, added an NRS low back seat, etc) but it surfs great, and has held up to all kinds of abuse. I can’t recommend them enough. I have less than $1000 in it, and it gets more use than any of my other boats. The whole boat weighs about 50 lbs, maybe less.
Boat Watercraft Tire Wheel Sky

Something like this, It's too low to take it down the river , I just finished the frame and took it to the lake and adjusted everything. I got it for low water runs when my 14' Kima is too big.
 

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Yee -haw! That’s awesome!
I must play devils advocate though as a guy who just basically bought everything he could find 2nd hand . The shape of the tube and the waterline are so important for how you want the boat to act that a foot here and a foot there means less than you’d think if you KNOW what you want!! The boys all have kimas and run solid class 4/5 but light. I honestly wouldn’t recommend 14-15 foot legends or w.d. For multi day stuff. I’d actually say the ST would be better but that’s me. And now that I own 4 cats I’d also say a 12 foot round boat as a weekender on class 4 would be the bomb (for gear that is)
Of course there is no better boat for day trips in hard or easy water but especially in harder , than a legend or w.d. AND just to be another kook with another opinion ….I honestly think the Baddest of all boys and girls are r1 in a little boat lol!!!
 

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That couple on the 14 headed into Horn is really awesome. I bet on some of the other rapids they had quite a ride !!!!!

I know Aire and SOTAR cats but who makes the
14’ Kima shown in Hermit. I am not familiar with that name.
 

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The Kimas are made in Vietnam for Star. Three chambers, nice rocker. Everyone I know (including me) that has a set loves them.
There was a group of about ten boats, all small like that one at Horn. It was cool seeing how well they did in what I considered big water.
 

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Thanks Wallrat, for the info. Much appreciated.

I did a look see on NRS and the Kima looks a lot like a sotar legend design to me.

Also a google search on kima reviews was interesting.

Some years ago STAR small rafts were popular around here. Owners I talked to either loved em or hated em. Maybe NRS has helped Star improve their quality.

Bottom line is I was pleasantly surprised at what I found out.
 

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Interested in adding a cataraft to our boats and would appreciate some input. Have a 16' raft, a 14'6" raft and a 2 person IK. Considering selling the 14' raft and getting a cat instead. The future cat would be used in two ways. First is to be rowable by my early teen kids on easy water when unloaded or very lightly loaded. This would be when me & the gear (& rest of family) are in the 16' raft. Cat would be need to be something they can manage on their own in easy water and grow into bigger water over time. Second use for the cat would be for me to row solo with gear on multidays and in bigger water. Not generally hauling glamping quantities of gear in the second case, just basic/regular stuff.

Is there a sweet spot size of cat that would do both of these well? How much of a difference in maneuverability would there be on a 14' vs 16' if unloaded or very lightly loaded for my young teen? How about width between the tubes? Lots of cats out there but right now really liking the NRS 14' or 16' river catarafts. Would ideally outfit it with modular NRS frame to leverage other NRS frame components we've already accumulated.

Thanks!
Not sure if it helps any but I have a 14 foot AIRE Lion that I might be interested in trading for the 14'6" raft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
That would have been a good deal - you Dad's lion hauls a ton of gear and passengers (including my kids for longer than he may have liked - but was great about). Before knew much about cats, thought his lion was a 16 footer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 · (Edited)
Had one more question to put out there, about cats and weight. Weight distribution is definitely a factor for rafts, apparently much more so for cats. But, if you're considering weight alone (assuming ideal distribution), what amount of weight on your cat starts to turn it into something that's not fun to row anymore? Name your cat, weight approximation & reasoning! Fun being defined as the cat is functionally maneuverable and you're still happy your cat is a good fit for the task. It's understood that a loaded cat isn't the race car an unloaded cat is.

Edit - estimate the weight (in lbs) of your frame, passengers, gear - everything all together.
 

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Had one more question to put out there, about cats and weight. Weight distribution is definitely a factor for rafts, apparently much more so for cats. But, if you're considering weight alone (assuming ideal distribution), what amount of weight on your cat starts to turn it into something that's not fun to row anymore? Name your cat, weight approximation & reasoning! Fun being defined as the cat is functionally maneuverable and you're still happy your cat is a good fit for the task. It's understood that a loaded cat isn't the race car an unloaded cat is.
I don't know a weight. Mine can be loaded very heavy for a cat. But the MF at low flow was not it's perfect environment. A more seasoned operator would probably had less trouble. Everything else I've floated it's been great!
 

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I would argue too that cats aren’t really that fast either. Manufactures have a weight thing with a water line thing. But truth is they aren’t all that helpful at leas to me. They allways work great going straight. They build momentum ooorly in my opinion and iam starting to feel like that’s one of the most valuable assets in a boat.
 

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Had one more question to put out there, about cats and weight. Weight distribution is definitely a factor for rafts, apparently much more so for cats. But, if you're considering weight alone (assuming ideal distribution), what amount of weight on your cat starts to turn it into something that's not fun to row anymore? Name your cat, weight approximation & reasoning! Fun being defined as the cat is functionally maneuverable and you're still happy your cat is a good fit for the task. It's understood that a loaded cat isn't the race car an unloaded cat is.

Edit - estimate the weight (in lbs) of your frame, passengers, gear - everything all together.
Water Boat Sky Cloud Vehicle


Aire 14' Lion. NRS frame. 3 grown adults. Gear for the 3 adults. Half of our group gear (it was a 2 boat trip). 1 Aire couch haha. As you can see it is a bit overloaded in the rear. Still had fun though!
 

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I run a plywood floor in all my cats. This is good and bad in that it makes it easier to load and helps me find things I drop in the rowing compartment. But might give holes more space to slow the cat and therefore to flip the raft.

Hard to give a overloaded guess in pounds as I think it more or less depends on the total weight for that raft on that trip and the way it is loaded. Manufacturers usually give a 'best' weight. Usually this is very optimistic in my experience.

I did a high water Yampa float in my 18 and accepted way too much group gear at the put in plus had a good sized rider up front. Water was actually coming in the front of the cat floor board. For sure, that was too much. As mentioned above, on that trip the cat was really hard to turn even a little bit and I went into more holes than usual on the other hand with all that weight, if I built up some speed we would blast thru the hole and the rider said that last day's ride was the 'best' ever.

It will vary by tube size but I look at the amount of tube that is in the water if it is more than one third of the tube, things get overloaded pretty fast.

For my rowing style, I like a little more weight towards the bow as I think that helps keep the raft headed down stream. The trick is how much is ok.

I am amazed at the gear load on those 14'er cats. More than I would feel comfortable rowing.
 
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