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(preface: I have spent the last couple of day going back through old threads getting information and now I have information overload.)

(Rafting info - typical rivers: middle and north forks of flathead, smith, main salmon, mfs and lower, snake, john day. trip types: 10-15 single day trips (usually wife and I and maybe another person) and 2 or 3 multi-days with 2+other boats)

I am considering selling my 156E raft and purchasing a cat. Looking for quick answer on what size of cat and brand and what type of frame? (example: you should buy XXXX cat because they are bullet proof or manueverable with gear load, etc). Thanks to everyone in advance.
 

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Get a sotar st 16' or an aire jag 16'. It will carry a bit less than the raft but an 18' cat will be awfully big for the mf flathead and smith. Leopards are good 18' cats and more maneuverable than the lions. 18' sotar rocks too, a friend caught a surf on one in the grand canyon even though it was pig loaded. Lots of good big gear cats, you really can't go wrong with those two brands, plus maravia, jacks, etc. nrs will be the least maneuverable big cat. I expect this thread is going to make your head spin even more!
 

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I'll add the Maravia 16 X 24 to the recommendations above. Bomber construction & 10 year warranty. If you were looking for a 14 X 24, I have a great set of tubes I'm selling, but maybe too small for want you want? Three people on a 14 footer would be tight.
 

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I'm looking at 14x24 for those same rivers you mentioned but I run solo most of the time in the spring run off. So I'd say go with the 16'. You will be trading off the advantage of a smaller boat for times when the river gets thin but gaining the larger capacity for running 3 up and hauling a bit more gear for the longer trips. I would not even try to overnight with 3 off a 14' unless you were going completely backpacker style. Not to say it can't/ hasn't been done but I enjoy ice cold beverages too much. You and your lady on a 14' would not be bad but a 14' cat is like a 12' raft. I like catgirls 14' Maravia tubes but sotar or aire are also good proven designs made in the USA with good warrantees. If you want the capacity of your current boat, you'll want the 16' tubes. Happy floating,
 

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Get a sotar st 16' or an aire jag 16'. It will carry a bit less than the raft but an 18' cat will be awfully big for the mf flathead and smith. Leopards are good 18' cats and more maneuverable than the lions. 18' sotar rocks too, a friend caught a surf on one in the grand canyon even though it was pig loaded. Lots of good big gear cats, you really can't go wrong with those two brands, plus maravia, jacks, etc. nrs will be the least maneuverable big cat. I expect this thread is going to make your head spin even more!
Get the Sotar ST. Have them make it to 16' w/25" tubes - both free options. You may want to reinforce the bottom of the tubes w/any of the options such as floor wrap, coating, etc. The bottom of my tubes have taken a bit of a beating from low water MFS trips. Tubes have a couple of deep scrapes going into the fabric which I vynabonded to prevent air leakage. Maybe could've avoided that with coating or floor wrap.
Recently did the GC with my 16' St/25" tubes and had a blast - 2 of us carried our fair share of group gear and still had good draft. 1st time I had run big water in it and the performance was great. It also works great as fishing craft for 3 peeps.
 

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For 16' cats, I'd say Aire Jag or Sotar ST tubes or Maravia's 16x24 also. That's if you're aware of your gear load. If you want a little more capacity then I'd say the 16' Aire Lion. Keep in mind no matter which cat you go with you're going to be about half the capacity of your 156E once it's ready to be loaded. Big cat frames are 2-3 times heavier than a raft frame. If you want to downsize, but capacity is an issue, I'd seriously consider a 14' Sotar or Aire raft. Just my $.02
 

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go big or go home
 

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(preface: I have spent the last couple of day going back through old threads getting information and now I have information overload.)

(Rafting info - typical rivers: middle and north forks of flathead, smith, main salmon, mfs and lower, snake, john day. trip types: 10-15 single day trips (usually wife and I and maybe another person) and 2 or 3 multi-days with 2+other boats)

I am considering selling my 156E raft and purchasing a cat. Looking for quick answer on what size of cat and brand and what type of frame? (example: you should buy XXXX cat because they are bullet proof or manueverable with gear load, etc). Thanks to everyone in advance.
I've got a leopard 18 with 12' frame and its nice to be able to spread out all the gear. keep in mind you will not be able to put much more gear on it than your 156E raft, weight wise. So as long as you are going with drop bags, barney bags, and light weight dryboxes you can get a pretty clean setup. Oh and get a trailer so you don't have to haul your cat disassembled they are a bitch to setup and break down.
 

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I'm looking at 14x24 for those same rivers you mentioned but I run solo most of the time in the spring run off. ,
These beautiful teal cat tubes are still waiting for you spider. $200 price drop. They want to go live in Montana. :)
 

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14' Sotar or Aire raft. Just my $.02[/QUOTE]
@DRL
I was looking through craigs ads and I noticed you have a yard full of those, you must be collecting them. :p
 

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These beautiful teal cat tubes are still waiting for you spider. $200 price drop. They want to go live in Montana. :)
Unfortunately my wife does not want those for our anniversary. She thinks we have enough boats for now. I can sneak them in around x mas if you still have them. Maybe November if I get the new job I'm testing for. You know they would fit nicely with my Maravia collection. I do hope they end up in my shadey, cool garage in Montana.
 
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