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Thread: small cataraft

  1. #1

    Default small cataraft

    I am looking to purchase 2-3 of the small 8-9' catarafts and I am having trouble finding a place in Anchorage that has a large selection. Ak raft and kayak are WAY too overpriced and Sportsman warehouse has only a few to choose from. Could someone send me in the right direction. I saw the backpack style and the boat show and could only find 1 at 6th ave outfitters.
    Thanks BUZ

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Small Cats

    Buz,

    There's not a huge selection in Anchorage. Your best bet is to go online.

    Don't know if you're aware of this, so I'll mention that most of the small cats are made of lighter (cheaper) material in order to keep the cost and weight down. This includes the frame. They're just not as durable as the more expensive boats. At the upper end of the quality scale, you might look at Outcast. They're made by AIRE, and should last you a long time.

    -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

  3. #3
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default one man cats

    I tell you, from a distance these little cats that they sell for $400.00-$500.00 bucks or so look pretty good. The problems were not easily seen though.
    I looked at the Oar locks and they were made of a cast Brass material, they looked like they had Nylon sleeves on the moving parts so they would be quiet and keep them from wearin out. The material on the cover looked like a quality Cordora stuff on the top and a PVC material on the bottom.
    I took one up to the Moose river bridge and rowed around for a few minutes in slack water, then I headed down the Kenai river for a short 30 minute float to see how they handle. Within the first 30 minutes, the Plastic, (NOT Nylon) inserts wallowed out, and were useless. The Oar Sleeves showed extensive wear against the Brass Oar locks ( Cheap Plastic Sleeves )..
    I thought well.. The rest of the boat seemed ok and they handle great..
    I put one out front for people to see that I had them available, and within in week the Cordora looking material had changed from a bright maroon color, to a very dusty Gray, with shadow lines where the sun could not get to it.... The zippers became useless on the compartments. they look great, but are of the cheapest quality you can imagine.
    The first guys that took them out broke A very cheap pop metal oar lock. I thought they were a quality Brass, wrong,!!! and one of the tube valves refused to hold air, and so he had to pull over and air it up several times..
    I gave these guys there money back, and fixed the problems that I could, and sold them for a loss.. ( I was lucky to have not had someone injured)
    I know that AIRE would make a great Craft, and the guys at Alaska raft will take care of you... Tracy Harmon will take care of you.. There are others out there on the internet that make good stuff.. This is a tough market for quality manufactures to compete in because ( LOOKS ARE DECEIVING).. I was at the sports show this spring and saw people looking at the cheap ones and then look at the better built and more expensive ones, and many would walk out the door with the cheap ones.... It is still an expensive lesson to learn, as flushing $400 bucks down the john is not my idea of frugal investing.
    The breakage of a cheap oar lock or the failure of the Oar could indeed put you in a bad and dangerous postition in a river situation. If you have ever lost an oar on a raft, You are at the will of the River... hang on and pray for those next few moments..

    Max

  4. #4
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Reply on small catarafts

    Max,

    One of the hardest things for me to write here is recommendations of cheap gear. On one hand I realize that none of us is made of money, but on the other, I know that many of these folks will end up disappointed with their purchase. In my view, you're better off to do without for a while and get something that lasts, than buying junk two or three times before you wise up.

    The hardest part is recommending something between the two extremes of junk and the very best. But in the case of small cats, I would say that Outcast falls squarely in this category. Yes, they are more expensive than the cheap little rigs you see, but they'll last a long time. Great boat! There may be other good ones out there, but this is the one I recommend.

    Another option is Jack's Plastic Welding (JPW), but in my opinion they're a cut below AIRE in quality. At the beginning they had some trouble with wicking and other types of leaks; the worst one I saw was their Pack Cat. An acquaintance of mine had two of them on the floor of his raft shop and had to inflate them every day, because they'd go soft overnight. I've heard that they have corrected these issues, but each of their boats is made by hand and small blemishes, glue smears, and even leaks can occur. JPW takes a lot of pride in their work though, and I would be surprised indeed to hear that any of their initial defects persist today. I'm not intending to slam them at all, but only to point out that there is a lot of variation out there. Anyone interested in a JPW boat might want to have a look at their small cats. Here's a link to one of their ten-footers, the "1910 Personal Fishing Cat". I would rate a JPW boat somewhere toward the middle of the pack in terms of quality.

    My advice to anyone purchasing any inflatable is to get a guarantee from the retailer that if leaks are discovered within a reasonable time, you can get a replacement boat quickly. What makes me uncomfortable with boats manufactured overseas is that, despite the best intentions and planning stateside, there simply may not be any replacement boats available. Of the manufacturers commonly discussed in this forum, the ones that build their boats overseas are SOAR (including the SOAR Pro Pioneer) and Jim King's Alaska Series. I know the owners of both companies, and will tell you that both of them work really hard to satisfy their customers on this end. Just something to be aware of.

    Another boat made overseas that might be worth a look is the Outcast "FishCat Series", made for AIRE. These boats carry AIRE's five-year no fault warranty (as opposed to the ten-year warranty offered on all other AIRE boats). These look like a good boat, and I have not heard of any product failure issues with them. They're also competitively priced in the $350-$550 price range, making them as affordable as some of the cheap boats out there, with a substantial warranty and quality boost.

    -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

  5. #5

    Default Thank

    Thanks for all of the input. I will use the suggestions wisely.
    BUZ

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