Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 36

Thread: What's the best type raft for learning to run Class 3-5 whitewater?

  1. #1
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    449

    Question What's the best type raft for learning to run Class 3-5 whitewater?

    Most of my life I've used rivers for transportation, and since I was usually carrying heavy loads, intentionally avoided whitewater. Occassionally encountered and managed to get through a short stretch of Class 3, but mostly, chose to portage around anything bigger. Now, I'd like to start learning how to have fun with a proper type raft, loaded only with the essential safety equipment, and 1-2 people*. (* First, with an experience guide and myself, then myself solo, and finally myself teaching one of my teenagers).

    So, which is the best type of boat to learn on safely: 10-13' roundboat, 12-15' cataraft, tandem inflatable kayak, other?

    Thanx, Dave.

    p.s. - The wife & I have already signed up for a swift water rescue class.
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    I would opt for a small to mid-sized cataraft of 13-15'. They are wider and more stable and therefore more forgiving than a small round boat. They are also faster and a little easier to row in either direction. Another advantage is they track better; once you point them in a particular direction they tend to go that way. With a round boats you get them moving, turn the boat, and they keep sliding sideways the same direction they were before you thought you turned. Took me a while to get used to that in small tight streams.

    Size is an important consideration, both tube diameter and waterline length. Lower and shorter is wetter and more exciting. taller and longer is more practical. 13-15' is a good compromise. Also, some 13' boats have long narrow tips and very short waterlines and handle more like 11-12' boats.

    I prefer round boats for tripping because they are easier to pack gear and carry people in. But for whitewater two simple tubes are the cat's meow.

  3. #3
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Chugiak, AK.
    Posts
    1,527

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    I would opt for a small to mid-sized cataraft of 13-15'. They are wider and more stable and therefore more forgiving than a small round boat. They are also faster and a little easier to row in either direction. Another advantage is they track better; once you point them in a particular direction they tend to go that way. With a round boats you get them moving, turn the boat, and they keep sliding sideways the same direction they were before you thought you turned. Took me a while to get used to that in small tight streams.

    Size is an important consideration, both tube diameter and waterline length. Lower and shorter is wetter and more exciting. taller and longer is more practical. 13-15' is a good compromise. Also, some 13' boats have long narrow tips and very short waterlines and handle more like 11-12' boats.

    I prefer round boats for tripping because they are easier to pack gear and carry people in. But for whitewater two simple tubes are the cat's meow.
    I couldn't agree more Jim. The only thing that I would add is, catarafts were designed and initially used for whitewater rescue. They are greater at manuvering (faster) and more stable (harder to flip) than round rafts.

  4. #4

    Default

    Just back from a very remote river in Kamchataka Russia and have been off line. My personal thoughts and opinion-- For "HAIR WATER" I go with a 14' cat with 22"+ tubes and no floor, in case you flip you can pull your self up through the hole and be on top again until the river lets you go. Learned this many years ago before cats were even thought about in most parts of the world. This is a one person rig, for this type of boating. I mainly use rafts AKA- "round boats" for my commercial programs and they work well too, but as age comes on I do less 4 and 5 boating and more remote trips.
    My favorite craft is still a SOTAR IK, witch I helped design years ago, but lots of practice is involved. We did have a custom beefed-up SB FEATHERCRAFT with thigh straps and larger tubes, that really impressed me a lot, and was able to outrun a crazy Russian brown bear chasing me down river with her.

    Back to the main subject for class water- I go with cats.

    Just my humble opinion.

    sincerely,
    Goo
    sotaralaska@yahoo.com

  5. #5
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Rifle River MI
    Posts
    1,835

    Default

    What they said! If you ask around to say Nova, Denali Raft Adventures etc.... as well you will find they for the most part USE Large round boats however you ask most of the guys working for them for the personal trips Cat! Cat and Cat.

  6. #6

    Default

    NOVA-CHUGACH and all the pro companies I know worldwide ALWAYS !! Have a cat or 2 as safety boats - always in class water!!
    Goo

  7. #7
    Member DannerAK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Whiskey River
    Posts
    1,161

    Default

    I recommend a 16' cataraft, especially if you intend to float big water runs such as the Nenana Canyon or Lions Head. A 16' round raft would also be great, once you've gained some experience, especially if you will not be alone. The round raft could also give the option to run it with a paddle crew with your family/friends. I've rowed both 14' and 16' cats and 16' and 18' round rafts extensively on the Nenana canyon, and the 14' cat would not be a great boat to learn from on this type or river, unless you want to go to the school of hard knocks. Not saying a 16' is gonna keep you outta that school, but it will have more stability and nearly equal maneuverability.

    Great idea with the srt class. Next will be purchase of drysuits and type III or V pfd's.
    Dress to swim, rig to flip, and always look downstream!
    Cheers,
    ~Dan
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

  8. #8
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    2,008

    Default

    Also,
    If you are going to run big water make sure your frame is designed and rated for it (wider, within reason, is better) and your oarlock system should allow for quick changes on the water.

    A second for the 16' cat.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  9. #9
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    449

    Default

    I was looking at the SOTAR & AIRE line of catarafts today and found this boat just announced:

    http://www.aire.com/aire/products/default.aspx?id=240

    No rowing frame, so, I can't see how it could be used solo?

    But, an interesting concept . . . Comments:
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

  10. #10
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Delta Junction
    Posts
    4,078

    Default

    my next inflatable will be a super duper puma.

  11. #11
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    449

    Default

    Other similar frame-less paddle-cats:

    Attachment 72621Attachment 72622
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

  12. #12

    Default

    Agree with DannerAK. I have a Traveller II IK, a 14' E Series NRS and a 16' AIRE Jaguarundi. Love them all but for big water the JAG is my choice. For example - I've run Lions Head at moderate flow in my round boat with just me and safety gear - difficult but doable. I've made the same run in my 16' JAG and believe me the JAG performs better - and with a little more room for error as stated by DannerAK.

    If I was to have only one boat it would be a round boat - probably the AIRE 15'6" - but no doubt the CAT is a better white water boat. Good Luck.

  13. #13

    Default

    the best raft for LEARNING any new class level is with an experienced guide. Othwerwise, each class level varies with the type you're floating in. If you're gonna hunt and float in class II-III, learn in that watercraft. If you're trying to gain experience with reading rivers a novice, learn from an experienced boater in any watercraft, then tailor your skill level to suit your personal choice of boat selection.

    After that, gain experience with your boat in class I, then class II, then class III, then hope you dont have to experience the next levels under a heavy load. Time is your best teacher.

    larry

  14. #14

    Default

    As I read the original post - I thought it said class 3-5 class water?? Most any decent raft - cat will do class 3 water. I was stating my opinions on the technical stuff. As my best opinion is learn to read the river and what she dishes out to you. Another tip is to always look way ahead of where you are.
    Goo

  15. #15
    New member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ketchikan, AK
    Posts
    1

    Default

    I learned to raft on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers in Idaho and have a very fond place in my heart for the Maravia Williwaw 1.5. The boat is 15 feet long and has 21" tubes. It tracks remarkably well and functions well in the Idaho seasonal conditions--big water in the spring/early summer and low, bony conditions by the fall--and doesn't really have to compromise on performance. The cats definitely are the most forgiving in big water, but I have always found them to be not very passenger-friendly and somewhat limiting in terms of the amount of gear you can bring along. It sounds like you are mostly interested in smaller boats (for day trips mostly, I assume) and you won't go wrong with one of the reputable manufacturers--Maravia, Sotar, and (imho) to a lesser extent Aire. If you think you'll get into multi-day trips, I'd kick the tires on some rafts as well. Perhaps your best bet is to rent or borrow one of each multiple times to explore the pluses and minuses.

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    158

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BluNosDav View Post
    I was looking at the SOTAR & AIRE line of catarafts today and found this boat just announced:

    http://www.aire.com/aire/products/default.aspx?id=240

    No rowing frame, so, I can't see how it could be used solo?

    But, an interesting concept . . . Comments:
    I cant see the link, but I'm guessing you are talking about a Shredder (rumor was that both Aire & NRS each are developing one).

    They are paddle cats. Some smaller intended for 2 paddlers, and some longer for 4/5 paddlers. Very popular among East coast WW boaters.


    I'm also partial to cats for whitewater. My 12.5 foot cat is a blast on everything I've run it on (6mile, Lions Head, Nenana), although sometimes I'd like to be a little wider. I would look for 13ft tubes if you want a pure WW cat.

  17. #17
    Member Heg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Girdwood
    Posts
    233

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jomama View Post
    I'm also partial to cats for whitewater. My 12.5 foot cat is a blast on everything I've run it on (6mile, Lions Head, Nenana), although sometimes I'd like to be a little wider. I would look for 13ft tubes if you want a pure WW cat.
    Agreed.

    I have a 13' Sotar cat with a high clearance frame. Perfect to learn class III-V whitewater. It works well on all the local AK whitewater runs (both creeks and big volume) and the remote stuff. It is tough...extremely important when you are learning. Stable, but easy to reflip when you mess up. Light so you can manually transport (solo) where other big boats typically don't go. Super maneuverable...both solo and with a passenger riding directly behind...this is a great way to teach someone. There are a lot of cool boats out there, but I think this boat is perfect for your situation.

    Have fun.

    -Josh

  18. #18
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    fairbanks, ak
    Posts
    494

    Default

    Also to think about though is most of the above mentioned boats are great boats if transportation is on a trailer. What if you wanted to fly out somewhere? Weight quickly becomes an issue. Some of those boats are 100+ lbs and quite bulky. Not easily placed in a plane. I won't say my boat is ideal to all situations but I can run III's easily 4' are more fun and 5's well I can handle them. I've had a sheep and caribou both in it as well as myself and 10 days of gear. She's sluggish and slow but still floating. I learned on and have all of my WW experience in an AIRE Outfitter II. For whitewater, you're going to want a self bailing floor for sure.

  19. #19
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    5,767

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sambuck12 View Post
    Also to think about though is most of the above mentioned boats are great boats if transportation is on a trailer. What if you wanted to fly out somewhere? Weight quickly becomes an issue. Some of those boats are 100+ lbs and quite bulky. Not easily placed in a plane. I won't say my boat is ideal to all situations but I can run III's easily 4' are more fun and 5's well I can handle them. I've had a sheep and caribou both in it as well as myself and 10 days of gear. She's sluggish and slow but still floating. I learned on and have all of my WW experience in an AIRE Outfitter II. For whitewater, you're going to want a self bailing floor for sure.
    None of the catarafts mentioned present problems with respect to Bush plane transport. I have flown my Leopard out in Super Cubs and Helios many times.

    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://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    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

  20. #20

    Default

    Hope no one gets mad, but I just got my new series of SOTAR 100% urethane protos made for ALASKA airplane use, 34 oz. 3000 din. 14'6" with 21" tubes, in the 80# range and rolls up like hypalon. Hard as a rock and slides over rocks as only urethane does. None for sale until I see what a beating she will take---BUT , no worries on that issue.
    Goo

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •