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Thread: aire lion vs nrs river cat

  1. #1

    Default aire lion vs nrs river cat

    I'm looking to pull the trigger and buy a Cataraft this year so I can take my family floating with me this tear. Up to now I've strictly used my one man so this is going to be a big step up for me. I have four kids so I need a big raft so I am looking at the aire lion vs the nrs river cat I haven't had any experience with either but I have a friend that is very experienced with them. I like the warranty of the aire but all I hear is bad thingsabout the zippers on the aire so I was looking for opinions on both. My friends biggest complaint about the zippers was the tubes deflated some while sitting outside and they filled up with water.

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    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    All inflatables lose pressure while sitting outside as the temperature drops ie overnight. They also lose pressure as soon as they hit the water where the water is cold (everywhere). With yourself and 4 passengers have you considered a raft vs a cat boat(cataraft)? A raft is super comfortable for kids and they can bounce around.

    Both NRS and Aire make pretty good tubes and boats in general. I prefer HYSIDE inflatables, SOTAR or AVON riverboats. These are boats built for commercial rafting. I've abused HYSIDE and SOTAR boats everyday for many seasons. Just my $0.02

  3. #3

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    I haven't really considered a raft my only experience has been floating the gulkana and some parks hwy streams on a Cataraft.I'm mainly looking to do the gulkana,kenai and some parks hwy stuff till I get used to something that big. I am hoping to do some multi-day trips so it has to hold enough gear for that too.

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    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    A good cat boat will turn faster and ferry better than a raft. Particularly if the cat has a lot of rocker in the tubes. But with more rocker it's going to draw when loaded down... In some skinny, bony areas you can scoot over rocks that would hang up a raft. If you plan to haul a bunch of gear/people in a cat you have to spend more $$$ to outfit the boat with decks/ cargo platforms etc. Rafts haul a LOT of gear and you can simply toss in and tie down gear in a raft. 30 day grand canyon trips are primarily done in rafts. If you are going to fish from the boat, it's harder to lose stuff in a raft. Drop something in a cat and chances are it's gone. My experience is if you are taking more than 2 people besides yourself, a raft is a much more comfortable boat.

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    I agree with DannerAK on this. Conventional round rafts haul more gear in boats of the same size, and I find them more simple to set up and also to load all that gear on. Passengers can also move about a bit on regular rafts, but are usually limited to one chair on a cataraft. The tubes are lighter than the round raft, but the frames are larger and more complicated to assemble. The cataraft is more fun to row but once you load them up they handle like pigs, so you might as well get the round boat. All just personal opinion, of course.

    I don't remember the specs for the tubes but the biggest difference between a Lion and a River Cat seems to be the material they are made of; PVC or Hypalon. Both have advantages. Hypalon rolls tighter but makes a more flexible boat and it is stickier on rocks. PVC makes the boat stiffer and it slides over rocks a bit better but is harder to get the larger rolls inside your car or airplane. They are both good boats and hold air very well.

    As far as Aire's zippers, the old ones used a double truck slider that was a royal pain after a little glacial silt got mixed in. Anything made in the past 10 years uses two single sliders for the double zip so this is mostly a non issue. Unfortunately, I still have one of the old catarafts. No matter how much I abuse it the thing just wont die. I leave it outside, uncovered all year long and have never applied 303 or any other treatment to it, but still the material shows no signs of aging. What do I have to do to destroy this thing?

    Patching the two boats will be very different. With Aire you deflate, unzip, apply a patch (usually just sticky tape) to the bladder and glue on a patch to the inside of the tube. It rarely shows. The NRS you simply deflate and glue on a patch to the outside. I think that's just slightly an easier process, but the patch always shows and after years of use may have to be re-glued.

    If you have a little more money to spend I would look at Sotar. If you want to save some cash I would look at Jim King's Alaska Series. Also, just personal opinions.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by awwu View Post
    I'm looking to pull the trigger and buy a Cataraft this year so I can take my family floating with me this tear. Up to now I've strictly used my one man so this is going to be a big step up for me. I have four kids so I need a big raft so I am looking at the aire lion vs the nrs river cat I haven't had any experience with either but I have a friend that is very experienced with them. I like the warranty of the aire but all I hear is bad thingsabout the zippers on the aire so I was looking for opinions on both. My friends biggest complaint about the zippers was the tubes deflated some while sitting outside and they filled up with water.

    I have used Aire boats (both rafts and cats) since their inception both commercially and privately (I currently own 4) and have not had any zipper problems, although I have read complaints from desert rafters about sand creating zipper problems. I have also since the mid 70's owned and used both privately and commercially Campways/Riken, Domar, Rogue, NRS, Incept, Avon and Maravia. For some reason, I have missed the boat on SOTARS but look forward to that experience some day.

    I don't think I could name a single person in dozens of close fishing/boating friends/clients that would choose NRS's Mexican assembled rubber over any of the American made brands (or Avon or for that matter Aire's Tributary imports).

    Personally, I think a 16' raft makes more sense but if you are set on a cat and for the load you are wanting to carry, I would check into Alaska Raft and Kayak for a Super Leopard. It is not inexpensive or light, but it is a truly unique boat that will last a lifetime and carry more gear than any other cat made. It's nice to dream anyways.

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    Jim not trying to shimmy up along side you at all but once again your opinion and comments are solid gold thanks for what you do and how you do it.

    For what it is worth I have commercially run AIRE cats since 2003 mostly Lions and Leopards both have pluses and minus. Have a few others as well as a Jim King Cat in 16ft in the fleet. I also have a Sotar inflatable round as well as several NRS and AIRE's. if I were looking for simple and efficient I would stick with the round boat and although I am a huge NRS and AIRE fan, Sotar does meet a reasonable product and that would be might top three. IMO the AIRE is the easy to repair on the water and offers the best warranty no questions ask.

    Don't know who told you about and issue with tube deflation and AIRE but with a 10 year no fault warranty someone might not be completely entertaining the whole story. I have not had an issue in over 17 years in regards to normal cold / hot with the inflation issues with AIRE.

    As Billfish metioned a 16ft would put you in a good place concerning float options but please note not all tubes sizes, rockers and kickers are the same. IMO I know again is sometimes or most times load carrying capacity does not equate to overall performance.

    Based on the kids and potential you may wish to look at something in a 16ft round bout.

    Best of luck with your choice and I hope whatever you purchas you enjoy.

  8. #8

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    Thanks for input guys I thought I was pretty much decided but I hadn't even considered a round boat because nobody I know owns one. I'll have to do some more research I almost bought a raft from jim king years ago but he wouldn't take credit cards so the wife pulled the plug sure wished he would have I could have been enjoying it all these years.

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    One thing to consider is the weight if you opt to go the 16' roundboat option. I have a 15' NRS Otter and at 135 lbs it's about all I can handle while moving from truck to waters edge. A big, rolled up hypalon/PVC/urethane/etc burrito it tough to manhandle if you are solo. If you will always have friends/family along, or if the raft will live on a trailer for the season, it's less of an issue.

    There are trip I wish I had a bigger raft and trips I wish I had a smaller....maybe I need a couple of more boats? Lol

  10. #10

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    Yeah I agree I already have a one man cat and I really love it and I've ridden on my friends 16 foot tributary and really like it too but I haven't operated it so all my experience has been on a cat. The one I have ben looking at will have aluminum floors so my kids could move around and have a place to store stuff. The cats seem very user friendly and stable which is a big plus for me to be able to get my wife to go on one. But at over six grand I want to make sure it will work for the whole family so im pretty sure im going with the cat I was just hoping to get some opinions from anyone that might already own an aire lion or a nrs river cat thanks for chiming in though.

  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Inflatable Boats Section on our Site!

    You might check out our Inflatable Boats pages on this site; we posted tons of info in there, including a chart comparing cats to round boats, showing pros and cons of each. It might be helpful for you in making a decision. While you're there, take a look through the menu on the left side of those pages; they provide links to other pages on different boat types.

    You frequent posters might also take a look in there; it might save you posting the same info when these questions come up over and over again as they sometimes do. If you see room for improvement on those pages, I'd love to talk with you on what we can do to make them better.

    Also you might note that the AIRE Lion series and the NRS Grizzly Cats both have really fat, blunt bow sections. These boats haul larger loads than cats with gradual tube transitions like the AIRE Leopard, but they do it at the expense of performance. Heavily laden, these boats plow like a barge. And the blunt bow pushes up a lot of spray if you're running an outboard of any size. Something to consider.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://www.alaskahuntplanning.com/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
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    Mike thanks for listing the link after reviewing the information what a great tool to use. I will ask how does the information listed become expanded to include more Specs on other manufactures of rafts. Under Heavy Haulers you list Pristine Ventures boats that have been manufacture i.e. the Soar and the Sotar which Larry has down a great job of thinking outside the box and making various improvements to an already very sustainable product. I guess my point is if we as sports people are going to be able to utilize such a great tool is there a way to list more of the Specs from other manufactures to inlcude Material types? Don't know if any of the data concerning certain boats would be considered company propriatry type data but it would ensure those seeking sound and creditable information can one stop shop at that link. It is a new valuable tool and again Thanks for Sharing.

    Moose-O

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    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    Mike-
    You have created a great inflatables resource! It provides easy to find and follow factual information for floaters and perspective boat buyers. I think it is great that these questions come up repeatedly on the forum. Most of the time opinions are sought and we can discuss our experiences, preferences, and ideas. New voices speak up and new/different manufacturers are mentioned. We can all learn from both the inflatables resource pages and repeated blabber about our boats past and present.
    Cheers
    -Dan

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Mike thanks for listing the link after reviewing the information what a great tool to use. I will ask how does the information listed become expanded to include more Specs on other manufactures of rafts. Under Heavy Haulers you list Pristine Ventures boats that have been manufacture i.e. the Soar and the Sotar which Larry has down a great job of thinking outside the box and making various improvements to an already very sustainable product. I guess my point is if we as sports people are going to be able to utilize such a great tool is there a way to list more of the Specs from other manufactures to inlcude Material types? Don't know if any of the data concerning certain boats would be considered company propriatry type data but it would ensure those seeking sound and creditable information can one stop shop at that link. It is a new valuable tool and again Thanks for Sharing.

    Moose-O
    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    Mike-
    You have created a great inflatables resource! It provides easy to find and follow factual information for floaters and perspective boat buyers. I think it is great that these questions come up repeatedly on the forum. Most of the time opinions are sought and we can discuss our experiences, preferences, and ideas. New voices speak up and new/different manufacturers are mentioned. We can all learn from both the inflatables resource pages and repeated blabber about our boats past and present.
    Cheers
    -Dan
    Thanks guys. There are lots of holes in the info, but it's a step in the right direction. My plan is to post pages like this for questions that come up frequently in the forums. I think it will save all of us a lot of aggravation and excess typing, and it will help folks form really educated questions. This raises the quality of our forums as well. Still, there are times when only an interaction with a live human will do, and that's where people like you come in. I really appreciate the tremendous help you are to members.

    Moose, I am absolutely up for keeping these pages current, and adding useful data to them. By all means shoot me your ideas or text and I can make the changes. Same goes for the rest of you.. any budding writers out there who want to lend a hand? I'd love to talk with you. Shoot me a PM and let's get started!

    Thanks again-

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://www.alaskahuntplanning.com/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  15. #15

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    Thanks for the help guys I bought a 16 foot aire lion today picking up next week I can't wait to try her out. Mike at Alaska raft was a great help

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