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Thread: Metzler Inf Canoe/Grabner XR Trekking/Soar Pro Pioneer?

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Default Metzler Inf Canoe/Grabner XR Trekking/Soar Pro Pioneer?

    Hey folks, I was trying to find an inflatable canoe for my neighbor, and I couldn't help but notice some similarities between the three mentioned rigs. I've been in and handled all three. The metzler had inflatable bow and stern supports that provided so much rigidity, that hard seats weren't necessary for the inflatable to holds it's shape. Whereas with the pro pioneer, if you didn't have the hard seats tied in, the thing would fold on you n your gear like a clam shell, because it doesn't have those inflatable bow and stern supports.

    My question is: is the pro pioneer a cheap foreign made knock of of an original, or is it an entirely different design? I'm trying to figure out which would be better for my neighbors bush plane, a used metzler (almost new in box but old), a new grabner more in tune with the original design with bow and stern supports, or a new pro pioneer? I don't know about old boats like that mint condition metzler, does the glue degrade over time even though the boat was almost never used? It would be less than half the price of a pioneer or the newer grabner version or the metzler.

    From the website:
    http://www.grabner-sports.at/XR-TREK..._x.0.html?&L=2

    "The legendary XR TREKKING was the first inflatable canadien canoe designed lightweight, compact and suitable to be taken as luggage on air travel. It was already in production over 35 years ago by the METZELER company. Its distribution was later taken over by the BIG PACK outdoor specialists.
    In 1998 the XR TREKKING boating programme was continued by GRABNER, to customary GRABNER quality standard."

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    Yes, If you can get the THE METZLER for half the price go with the it, and do not worry about the glue. It is a good boat. Larry Laba copied the design when he lived in Europe, I was the first dealer for him in Alaska, just did not like the quality, and he had them made in Mexico, costa rico, and I guess china now-- don't know for sure. Hypalon rafts, but there are a lot of very old AVONS that are glued and still working fine. GRABNER bought METZLER years ago. Had the "canyon" model myself in the old days-- fun boat!
    Or you can take a look at my new light weight SOTAR, urethane MOOSE boat, (at a higher price) but new age welded urethane.
    Goo

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    wow, I love to learn alaska rafting history. the rafting world seems to only have one generation of elders....it's that new. thanks for the lesson. least you got the blz to shine truth on what I already suspected. My neighbor will own the metzeler then.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    with that said goeux,

    I'm used to identity theft. It's not a new concept. All the major canoe companies of north america, stole the designs from neighboring Indians,who taught them how to build them, then monopolized the designs, where the factories of all north american canoe companies, hold less than 1/50th of a percent of a workforce that is american Indian or First Nations peoples.

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    Glad to be able to give valid input. Your friend will be happy, if she is as described. Been working and selling all types of inflatable boats and guiding for over 35 years. I really have done this a lot, if I can help with older and newer boat information-- I am here for my thoughts, to anyone - anytime. Unless on the river
    Goo Vogt
    ALASKA WILDWATER
    sotaralaska@yahoo.com

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    ...is the pro pioneer a cheap foreign made knock of of an original, or is it an entirely different design? I'm trying to figure out which would be better for my neighbors bush plane, a used metzler (almost new in box but old), a new grabner more in tune with the original design with bow and stern supports, or a new pro pioneer?...
    Mainer,

    I have written about this many times already, including on our Inflatable Canoes Page, some years ago. Here's the lowdown, some of it straight from someone who was involved in SOAR's part of the story.

    The sled design originated with Metzler of Germany (not Canadian company). When Metzler went out of business, they sold their patterns, designs, equipment and fabric-- essentially their entire operation, to Grabner, also of Germany. Grabner continues to market this boat as their "XR Trekking". Some time later, SOAR copied the design and launched their "S-16". I should mention that SOAR went on to produce the same boat in 10, 12 and 14-foot models, however the S-16 was their most popular size. This is the boat which I believe Larry Bartlett used on his first float hunts after transferring up here with the Army. You can see this boat in the first edition of his float hunting book. It is my understanding that Bartlett realized the severe limitations of the S-16 for heavy meat and gear loads, and that's when he approached Larry Laba, owner of SOAR Inflatables, with the idea of "Super-Sizing" the S-16. This larger version of the S-16 became known as the "Pro Pioneer". It initially caused some confusion in some rafting circles,because Riken also made a boat called the "Pioneer", but before too long, thanks to Bartlett's excellent marketing skills, most Alaska floaters became aware of the difference.

    I should also mention the SOAR Canyon, which sports similar features to the Pro Pioneer, though a foot shorter and five pounds lighter.

    The Pro Pioneer is hardly comparable to any of it's predecessors, as you suggest. Although similar in appearance, it's really a completely different rig, designed specifically for Alaska hunting and heavy loads. D-rings and grab handles were added to make the boat more appropriate for tying down large loads and for dragging through shallow water found on some rivers in the fall. Most significantly, the tube diameter was increased by two inches, the floor thickness was increased by an inch and the floor itself was widened by eight inches, giving the boat substantially more lift over the S-16. Here are the numbers on both boats, directly from SOAR.



    Probably the most significant performance-related difference between the Grabner XR Trekking and the SOAR S-16 lies in the material the boats are made of, particularly the bottom. The S-16 (and all SOAR canoes) use Neoprene on the bottom, for abrasion protection. Neoprene is great for abrasion-resistence, but it grips when it's wet (that's why car tires are made of neoprene). The Grabner boats use EPDM, a synthetic rubber with excellent ozone-resistance (doesn't oxidize, fade or weather-check as easily as some materials), and it's slick on wet rocks. What does this mean from a practical standpoint? SOAR boats, including the Pro Pioneer, are hard to drag in shallow water, especially when heavily-loaded. Somebody needs to talk with Grabner about Super-Sizing the XR Trekking. "XR Hunter", or "XR Expedition", anyone? Such a move would provide an opportunity to correct some of the design flaws in the SOAR canoes, as well. Most notably the floor issue; it's eleven inches too long (which is why a fully-inflated Pro Pioneer has an "arched" appearance when viewed from the side). This can be a problem on the river, as it can cause the bow to ground out in shallow water, allowing the current to swing the boat around, where you are out of position to deal with the next oncoming hazard. I'm also not fond of the numerous glue smears and fabric voids, signs of shoddy workmanship. None of that is Bartlett's fault, by the way. The boats are made overseas, where tight quality control has been historically challenging, to say the least.

    Bartlett no longer carries the Pro Pioneer, but it is still available through SOAR Inflatables and I believe Alaska Raft and Kayak. I should point out that ALL of these boats are made overseas, which is a big deal to some folks.

    A whole separate discussion could be had on the pros / cons of the sled design compared with other hull shapes, but that's a different topic for another day. I think we dealt with that on the canoes page already linked here.

    In terms of your final question, the best answer would have to emerge from what you intend to do with it. There is no question that the Pro Pioneer will haul substantially more weight. Hopefully this info, combined with that on our Inflatable Canoes Page, will help you make an informed decision.

    Mike
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 08-15-2013 at 11:49.
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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    It's intersting that a boat design from Germany is inferred to be a domestic product, while a similar design that's maufactured in Asia is called "foreign"? And a little canoe history: they were developed all over the ancient world at different times, independently. Not surprising, since a canoe is a pretty simple concept, only a few evolutionary steps up from straddling a floating log and paddling with a branch. The earliest recorded evidence of canoe making was actually found in the Netherlands. But, that doesn't mean that Grumman, Old Town, Scott, et al, owe a bunch of jobs to folks of Dutch ancestry.
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluNosDav View Post
    The earliest recorded evidence of canoe making was actually found in the Netherlands. But, that doesn't mean that Grumman, Old Town, Scott, et al, owe a bunch of jobs to folks of Dutch ancestry.
    dang, this lesson in canoe history be gettin crazy!

    I just posted a help wanted add for a dutch canoe builder:

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...68#post1315468

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