A smaller raft has it's applications. I just bought a 10' Sotar self bailer from Goo Vogt (Alaska Wildwater) in Anchorage. Most you guys know Goo of course, for those that don't, he is the Alaska Sotar rep. Goo is salt of the earth. Got my 15' Sotar from him a few years back and the wife and I have been getting good use out of it on remote floats in NW and SW Alaska and some time on the Upper Kenai each September. We also got out and did a few rivers here in the NC Smoky Mountains. The boat still looks brand new, just amazed with the fabric this boat is made from. Picked up this smaller boat for solo remote float trips, odd number folks on trips, easy boat to throw in the back of a rental truck on the Upper Kenai for the wife and I, etc..
It is such a pain flying up from NC with a raft and trying to find a truck with a hitch so I can then rent a trailer to haul our boat around the Kenai during Fishapalooza each September. The last year or two it was just easier to rent a raft on a trailer from Max at Alaska Canoe and Campground in Sterling. Max hooked us up in a BIG way, but we bought our own raft with intention of using it on our trips to Alaska. The real issue for us was needing a trailer though. And of course, a truck with a hitch, a rarity to find. ABC RV rental has one, but it is a $100/day, even in September.
Will be nice just getting a normal (and normal priced $65/day) rental truck at the airport and being able to put this raft in the back. Got the folks in Colorado (Riverboat Works) that made my basic 4 piece rectangle frame for the bigger Sotar making new center sections (one is pipe up front, pipe for back with basic poly seat). This allows me to use the original side sections from existing frame. Sawyer is making shorter middle sections for my 3 piece pole cat oars so I will have 7'10" oars for the 10' boat, 9' oars for the 15' boat. That way my frame and oars will be used with both the 10' and 15' Sotars. Pretty versatile set up.
In the past, I would not have had much interest in such a small craft. But now, with the stated utility, I am quite excited about this little 10 footer. Small boats have their place it seems. Over the last year or two I had been searching for a high quality, yet small raft, for my above stated intended usage. Had the Alpacka Rafts on my radar for a while, but at 6'6" 300 lbs, I couldn't pull the trigger.
Recently was interested in the "Big Rig" that Larry Bartlett is selling. What a great idea for folks wanting to hike in to (or out of) a place. The big rig looks like a considerable improvement in the pack raft designs I had seen in the past. Very cool looking little boat, but I am more interested in a solid boat than a super light weight thin fabric boat. I am not hiking with the boat, need something I can fly with easily, but not carrying it on my back. Also, the "Big Rig" was a bit small for my wife and I, admittingly not small people. I was in need of a Bigger 'big rig' more or less.
The 10 foot Sotar has 19" tubes, 24" interior room (tube to tube), has five air chambers, and weighs in at 72 pounds. If carrying on my back, not an option, but in bush planes and rental trucks, should excel in every way. I think this is about as small of a boat as I could fish and float two people in. Also, I have the peace of mind of the legendary Sotar fabric and durability.
The Sotar from Goo has material that is about 20x thicker than the smaller boats above. 10x thicker material than the 'heavy duty' option on the Big Rig. At my weight, I have learned to error on the side of caution in these matters. Then throwing my wife in the boat, I will take an overbuilt boat for a given application any day of the week. Nice to have so many options in smaller rafts though. There is something out there for all of us. Found my solution in this 10' Sotar from Goo.