Some questions came up in another thread, concerning the new Pristine Ventures boats, and I thought a new thread on this topic would be a good discussion.
Before I get to my questions, I want to say that I applaud Larry's work in this field. It takes a lot of time, money and determination to produce something new in a field where it seems that almost anything has been tried. How do you come up with something truly new and innovative that meets the unique needs of Alaska float hunters in ways not already covered by existing products? It's not easy. I believe Larry's experiences on remote rivers in Alaska have given him a unique insight into those needs that many manufacturers do not fully appreciate, because they are targeting all markets, not just Alaska float hunting. This has forced float hunters to "adapt and overcome" with the tools on the market. Larry is modifying the tools or, in some cases, trying to make completely new tools, specifically to address the needs of Alaska float hunters. He's found some unique ways to secure loads in his canoes that, as far as I know, have not been tried. This method allows hunters to properly suspend loads just off the floor, which addresses impact damage that can happen when the floor of the boat is pinched between the riverbed and heavy loads of floor-loaded meat and trophies. Other canoes lack this feature. He's also constantly looking at the weight and bulk issue, which is very important to fly-out hunters who not only have to ship their boats to the charter, they also have to load them into the aircraft, unload them in the field, and sometimes portage them long distances. Weight and bulk are very important factors for float hunters.
As I mentioned in another thread, I do have some questions about these boats, which are not addressed on Larry's site. The boats are built in a Chinese factory that also makes Maxxon Inflatable boats. For those who are unaware of Maxxon, their stuff is generally considered mid-range on the quality scale. One of their specialties are ship-to-shore dinghies. Product durability is a question, particularly UV degradation, which is somewhat problematic when it comes to PVC fabrics. Because Larry's boats are built by the same company that makes Maxxon, a natural question arises concerning the fabric itself. Is it the same fabric used in the Maxxon boats, and therefore, can we expect the same issues with that material that we see with Maxxon? At any rate, here is a list of my questions so far:
1. Do these boats use the same fabric used on the Maxxon boats?
2. Is the base cloth nylon or polyester? Each has different properties and there are reasons one might use poly with plastic, and nylon with rubber, though not all manufacturers do this.
3. Are you using identical fabric on the Wilderness X-Stream and the new Levitator? (The new Levitator shows an 1100 denier base cloth, but you don't show the numbers for the X-Stream).
4. What denier is the base cloth used on the Legend?
5. PVC boats are prone to wicking, and different manufacturers control it in different ways. How do you control wicking? (for those who may not know what wicking is, it is discussed AT THIS LINK. It's important, because it leads to flat boats.)
6. I see additional armoring on the bottom of the tubes on the new Levitator. Is the floor itself also armored, or does it use a thicker material than your main tubes? I'm asking, because manufacturers typically use a heavier fabric on the floor than on the main tubes, then they armor the bottoms of the main tubes. The combination gives the bottom of the entire boat additional protection in shallow water. Your site doesn't say if you are using thicker floor material.
Possible Areas of Disagreement
We will have to disagree on some of the information you have on your site, but perhaps you have facts of which I am unaware on the following issues. If so, please correct my misunderstandings, as I want to communicate accurate information.
From THIS PAGE:
You are saying that the move from rubber (Hypalonģ and neoprene) to PVC has helped you do two things:
1. Save Boat Weight
I am not aware of anything intrinsic to rubber materials versus plastics that would accomplish either of these goals. From my understanding, it's all about the thickness of the material, which is expressed in ounces. So 32 ounces of Hypalonģ is an identical weight to 32 ounces of PVC. Did you achieve the weight savings by going to thinner material? If so, how is this going to help you with wear issues, given PVC's tendency to scratch and gouge, versus the tendency of rubber to wear more evenly?
2. Increase Boat Capacity
While plastics have certain performance characteristics that make them superior to rubber in some situations, I am not aware of anything unique to plastic materials that would give them greater load-hauling capacity than a rubber boat. What is it about PVC that is giving you greater capacity? I realize you added removable plugs in the bailer holes on the new Levitator, which gives users the ability to open or close the holes (an excellent idea, by the way). But that's a feature that could be used with either material. It's not a characteristic unique to plastic.
From THIS PAGE:
You are saying that you moved to a drop-stitch floor because the pressure relief valves on I-beam floors tend to leak as they become clogged with glacial silt and such. What is it about the I-beam floor that would cause a higher failure rate of pressure relief valves over those used in drop-stitch floors? The valve is a separate item which is installed in the floor, and has nothing to do with the means used to keep the floor "flat".
You are saying that I-beam floors are more durable than drop-stitch floors. How do you support this claim?
You are saying that drop-stitch floors are easier to repair in the field than I-beam floors. How are you repairing the floor in the field? Are you using urethane tape or external patches? Tape is a temporary repair, and an excellent solution in field conditions, however the floor will need patching at some point. In most cases this is done from inside the floor, to avoid patch edges that catch and can peel off over time if applied incorrectly. It's very difficult to patch the interior of a drop-stitch floor, because of the thousands of fibers exposed inside the floor. Properly repairing a drop-stitch floor from the inside is anything but easy. What are you doing differently to make it easier? This is potentially valuable information if you have a new method that's working for you.
Okay, I think that's it on my questions. I wanted to get this posted so I can get on to some other things.
I appreciate all the work you have done in this field, and I hope you see these questions not as challenges of some kind. They're just honest questions that hunters need to know about.