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Thread: cataraft or traditional raft

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default cataraft or traditional raft

    I am looking to buy a raft that is transportable by plane many people say the 16 foot cataraft is the way to go others say stick with the raft you can go in shallow water.I in some ways think the rafters have not tried the new catarafts.looking for some advice on this one thanks explore alaska

  2. #2

    Default I have a 16' cat

    I have had my 16' NRS cat for at least 7 years now. I love it, however I have the cedar floor and have not broke the raft down to fly it out yet. My only expierence with traditional rafts is whitewater rafting on the American river in California. I think that the Cat has a better platform capability for cargo and as a fishing platform. But, I can not give you a true side by side comparison.

    The best advice I could give is to go talk to Jeff at Alaska Raft and Kayak and maybe rent one of each and try it for yourself. That is how I ended up with the Cat, rented one, loved it, ordered one the next day.

    Enjoy the water!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    You might want to check out this previous discussion:

    This is mostly a matter of personal preferences and a persons opinions are largely determined by what they have used and the rivers they have run. I have a couple catarafts, but they are set up primarily for whitewater playing, and I don't think there is a better choice for that. For general purpose floating it is different. Either can still work though.

    Catarafts are easier to put larger motors on, and make them go fast (although very wet when on step). They break down into smaller parts and stow into small airplanes better. But they are also harder to set up when you get to the put-in, and are actually heavier (considering the larger frame) than the equivalent round boat. (16' cat is about like a 13' round boat in weight capacity) Cats can run in tougher water and still be stable, and you can outfit them to be comfortable with hard floors, chairs, etc. But if you do fit them that way they cease being really good whitewater boats due to the weight gain.

    You can put more stuff on a cataraft deck, but doing so almost always overloads them, and then they row like a pig. Round boats carry more weight (in a smaller space), and don't draft as much water as the cat when loaded. When loaded the round boat turns faster, but the cat always rows faster.

    I personally think that a 14' self bailing round boat is the best compromise for an all purpose raft. But then, I don't own one. I bought a cat because I was interested in running gnarly water. Now that I'm older and slower, I think about trading the cats in on a nice round boat. It's all about compromises. You just got to figure out what and what kind of water you are going to run the most, and how much people and gear you are willing to push down a river. You probably won't be disappointed with whatever you buy. They're all fun.

  4. #4


    If your looking for a raft that is lightweight but able to carry heavy loads in remote country I would recommend that you take a look at the Levitator made by SOAR and sold by Pristine Ventures and Wiggy's Alaska. There's lots of options out there to fit whatever style of rafting you want to do.

  5. #5
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Rifle River MI

    Default Nice to see you Back

    AKHunter45 nice to see you back on the forum! Hope all is well in your area!

    I have a stupid plan of getting one more good private float fishing trip in Mid Sept. I will shoot you a note. Might be something you can fit in after chasing moose.

    Thanks for your input and knowledge.

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Default Input on rafts


    Lots of variables here, many of which have been discussed here many times. A search through the archives will produce answers to your question and other questions you may not have thought of yet.

    Jim is correct that the plus and minus of cats is the available space. In a round boat, everything has to fit inside the bow and stern areas, for the most part. But on a cat, you have lots of room to spread out. Unfortunately we tend to use all of that space and end up with an overloaded boat. Stick to the load limits of your boat and you'll be fine with either.

    If you're hunting I would not consider a round raft under 14 feet or a cat under 18 feet. Those two boats have about the same load capacity. The now-defunct AIRE Cougar had one of the best load capacities of any cat in its length class, but it is no longer made. You may be able to find one on the used market though, as I see them on the river from time to time (saw one last weekend dipnetting on the Kenai). In my opinion it was one of the best float hunting rigs out there. Of course cats have the advantage of multiple frame options, including an outboard transom that can run a larger motor. Round boats don't really do well in this area, though you can run a small kicker.

    Ultimately you have to decide exactly what you plan to do first, then find a boat that will do that for you. Lots of things to consider.

    I also concur with the Alaska Raft and Kayak comment. ARK is the largest raft shop in Alaska and the guys over there really know their stuff. Give them a shout, or, better yet, go over there and spend some time picking their brains on this one. I would recommend Tracey, Brian or Jeff. All of them have a lot of experience.


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