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Thread: Who makes small break down raft frames?

  1. #1
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Who makes small break down raft frames?

    I am looking for a break down raft frame small enough to carry on commercial airlines. Will be flying from North Carolina to Kotz, Bettles, Dilly, and such. I need a compact frame so I can use oars on a 14 ft raft. Small frame needed. I want to put the oars and the breakdown frame in a single bag as checked luggage. Anyone know of any such frames? Thanks.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  2. #2
    Member AK Tubes's Avatar
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    Default Oar saddles?

    Have you looked into oar saddles? I haven't used them as I have a cataraft and need a frame, but I recall a past thread that gave them pretty good reviews. Probably need thwarts, but then again, I'm not a round raft guy...www.oarsaddle.com Not sure if this is the best bargain to buy them, but should give you a start.

    Good luck!
    Tubes
    ...been on a search to top my 30x18 rainbow for 13 years now...I guess it's game time!!!
    13' Aire WildCat, 9' 7wt SAGE RPLXI, 10' 5wt SAGE XP, .300 RUM Zeiss 3x9 when all else fails

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Thanks...

    Thanks for that link. Neat idea for sure. I tried to find them online but could not. Just wonder if it would be OK on a 13-14 foot raft with 800 lbs in it? It is a great idea. I am in the process of finding a raft with regular floor to save weight in the 14 ft range. If I can find one under 100 pounds, I can bring it up from NC as checked luggage. Much better than the shipping charges. No telling how much that would be. But that leaves me with finding a very small breakdown frame. I appreciate the link to the oar saddles. Reading it now...
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Thumbs up NRS Longhorn

    Dan,

    I would have a look at the NRS Longhorn frame; it's a basic staple here in Alaska. Given the loads you're looking at, I would also consider an additional seat bar and seat up in front of your foot bar on this frame. This gives you a light but sturdy round boat frame that works on anything from 12' on up to the big 15-footers. At the same time the frame is relatively light, uncomplicated, and loads well in the aircraft.

    Regards,

    -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.
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  5. #5
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Thanks...

    Thanks Mike,

    That is a nice looking frame. I appreciate your continued assistance. My concern is getting it up to Alaska from North Carolina. I may be over ambitious, but my goal is to get a raft under 100 lbs and very compact frame and break down oars so I can fly my raft up as checked luggage on Alaska Air. Putting the oars and frame/saddles in another bag. The max weight limit for any one piece of luggage is 100 lbs. I read on Sotars website where they make custom rafts. If I forego the self bailing route, I am hoping they will make a regular floor 14 ft model. If they can do it and guarantee it will be under 100 lbs, I may be on to something. Hoping to hear from them tomorrow. Other than that route, I am looking at the Aire Super Puma, Tributary 12 with regular floor, or the Avon Drifter 13. They are right on the line of 100 lbs, but with the thwarts in another bag, they should fly well. Also, I am guessing that the Sotar will cost twice as much as the other options and with no more than I know about rafts, I am skeptical if the cost is worth it. Any thoughts?
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Shipping Options to, from, and within Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Thanks Mike,

    That is a nice looking frame. I appreciate your continued assistance. My concern is getting it up to Alaska from North Carolina. I may be over ambitious, but my goal is to get a raft under 100 lbs and very compact frame and break down oars so I can fly my raft up as checked luggage on Alaska Air. Putting the oars and frame/saddles in another bag. The max weight limit for any one piece of luggage is 100 lbs. I read on Sotars website where they make custom rafts. If I forego the self bailing route, I am hoping they will make a regular floor 14 ft model. If they can do it and guarantee it will be under 100 lbs, I may be on to something. Hoping to hear from them tomorrow. Other than that route, I am looking at the Aire Super Puma, Tributary 12 with regular floor, or the Avon Drifter 13. They are right on the line of 100 lbs, but with the thwarts in another bag, they should fly well. Also, I am guessing that the Sotar will cost twice as much as the other options and with no more than I know about rafts, I am skeptical if the cost is worth it. Any thoughts?
    Sure thing, Dan!

    At the risk of sounding like a shameless self-promoter (which I am not) I wrote eight pages on this topic in my book "Float Hunting Alaska's Wild Rivers" (pages 56-64). If you have that book, it provides much more background on this subject that I will provide here. That said, essentially you have three options when it comes to getting your stuff to, from and within Alaska:

    1. U.S. Mail
    The post office is very restrictive in terms of what you can ship, weight and dimensional parameters, hours of operation, and packaging requirements. You cannot ship hazardous materials such as raft glue (there goes your repair kit), stove fuel, etc. Because of the weight / dimensional issues, you cannot ship some raft frames, rafts, intact antlers (there goes the Boone and Crockett moose rack), and other larger items. Also the post office may not be open in the village you're flying out of when you return from the field, so you have to make alternative arrangements to get it dropped off. In short, the post office is cheap, but it's not a very user-friendly method, in my opinion.

    2. Checked Luggage
    Taking your stuff as checked luggage sounds like a great idea until you consider the shrinking free luggage allowance (some carriers are now even charging for the first bag too), the risks of standby baggage being bumped, and the likelihood of having to wait several days for your stuff to show up if you're flying intra-Alaska on a smaller commuter carrier such as Grant Aviation, Peninsula Airways (PenAir), ERA Aviation, Frontier, etc. Plus you cannot ship hazardous materials in your baggage, so forget your stove fuel, raft glue, pepper spray, and the like. I have waited many days in places like McGrath for my client's duffel bag to show up, because the planes were full and his excess baggage went standby. In one case we lost three days of a ten-day hunt because of that.

    3. Cargo
    Cargo is, for most folks, the best option. It allows you to consolidate and shrink-wrap your stuff onto a pallet, all but eliminating the chances of loose parts and small containers getting lost in transit, while at the same time allowing you to protect fragile items like lantern globes in the middle of your pallet. Note, though, that in some cases your cargo may be broken down as needed to get it into a smaller aircraft in Alaska. In such cases, pack your stuff in suitable containers. Cargo also gives you the option of shipping all of your hazardous materials. Finally, when you return from the field and everything is wet and dirty, it's much easier to just toss it on a pallet, tarp it, and shrink-wrap it into one package and deal with it at home. Oh, and your meat and trophies? If you're shipping to processors in Anchorage or Fairbanks there are usually no special packaging requirements. In other words, you can load all those game bags on a plastic tarp, tie the top of the tarp around it all, and let it go like that. In some cases you may want to box it in waxed "fish boxes", which are locally available.

    Unless your load is extremely light, and truly able to travel as baggage, cargo is your best option.
    Especially in your case, you will be hard pressed to find a boat that will accomplish what you want to do for under 100 pounds, plain and simple.

    Lots more to say on this, but I hope this helps.

    Best regards,

    -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/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  7. #7
    Member chano's Avatar
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    Default oar saddles and more...

    Oar saddles work great I have used them on my Pro Pioneer and Levitator. They are exactly what you are looking for, compact, easy to ship, and can handle the load. Have you looked at the Pro Pioneer as an option? Its under a 100 lbs and pretty compact. The Levitator comes in right at 100 lbs so I think it would go over when you put it in a bag to ship. I tried your Grayling Gumbo recipe in my dutch oven this weekend on the Delta it was great.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Thanks Mike..

    Thanks again Mike. I ordered the book over the weekend The cargo option does sound interesting. I just need to find out what it would cost to send from North Carolina. That would be good to find out either way. I got an email back from Sotar today. Sounds like they are willing to make a custom 14 ft raft with regular floor. Still waiting to hear back from them on what the weight would be. In the absence of that, I could look at the Aire Tributary 12 ft or Avon Drifter 13 ft. Both have regular floors and would be under 100 lbs. I just worry that they would be too small. You brought up some good points on that earlier. If I can get a 14 ft custom Sotar under 100 lbs (without selling the farm), I may be on to something. But the jury is still out. I will look into the cargo cost. It would sure make like easier if I could choose a raft in the 115-130 lb range. Lots of nice stuff out there. But they are heavy. Thanks for your continued assistance.

    Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  9. #9
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default thanks..

    Quote Originally Posted by chano View Post
    Oar saddles work great I have used them on my Pro Pioneer and Levitator. They are exactly what you are looking for, compact, easy to ship, and can handle the load. Have you looked at the Pro Pioneer as an option? Its under a 100 lbs and pretty compact. The Levitator comes in right at 100 lbs so I think it would go over when you put it in a bag to ship. I tried your Grayling Gumbo recipe in my dutch oven this weekend on the Delta it was great.

    Good to hear more on the saddles. They sure would be easy to bring up from NC. I have contacted Cataract Oars and asked if they would make some breakdown (in the middle) oars. If so, I could carry the oars and oar saddles in one custom made bag, and if all works out, the raft in the other. I just need to find a raft that weighs about 95 lbs. Not much to choose from in that weight range as Mike pointed out earlier. As for the Pro Pioneer, I have been looking at it all weekend. I got a nice email response from Larry. Nice guy, and he sure knows his stuff. I am just concerned that it would buckle on class III waters. I am not experienced with rafts, so I am not the best one to say either way. But I have read that a conventional raft may be safer in those situations. Guess it all comes down to application. Like everything else in life. So many options, yet so few under 100 lbs. As for the grayling gumbo, glad you liked it. We make that on every float trip. Always will. We make garlic biscuits (Bisquick instant) in the dutch oven. Man, you talk about a fine riverside meal. Hmm.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Oar Saddle Input

    I have known the Oar Saddle since Kent Rotchy first came up with it (Kent assisted me a couple of years at the SCI National Convention in Reno). So I have nothing against the product itself, and am a believer in it for certain types of trips. But in your case you're better off with a regular frame. Without the support of the longer bars on your frame you're gonna get too much tube flex with big loads, and especially on the Class III waters you mentioned.

    Without getting into the boring details, a regular frame has a rowing station consisting of a seat, oar stands, and a foot bar. This allows the oarsman to exert considerable leverage when rowing, by bracing his feet and leveraging off of the oar stands and seat. Because the Oar Saddles are a separate piece without an integrated seat or foot brace, you lose the leverage advantages of a traditional rowing station. There are workarounds though; you could run a strap across the boat and brace your feet on that, or brace your feet on your payload, and you could sit on a cooler or gear, but these are usually less than best solutions.

    The Oar Saddle is a specialty item that is more appropriate with light loads and smaller boats.

    Just one man's opinion- and worth exactly what it cost you!

    -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

  11. #11
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Good points..

    I am sure you are right Michael. I am just working under some tight limitations as to what I can fly with. I have emailed several frame makers to find out how compact/portable of a frame they could make. As of yet, no response. If I could get a NRS Bighorn style frame like you suggested that broke down all the long pieces in half, I would be onto something. I would not think the fitting to do so would be that difficult. Not sure how it would effect the rigidity of the frame though. I will hope to find out soon. If that type of frame could be built, I would buy it for sure. It would fit well in a bag with the oars and the longest section in the bag would be the oars at 4'. That is something I could fly with and the bag would be in the 65-70 lb range (oars, frame, and thwarts). Then in the other bag I could have a 80-95 lb raft (God willing). Two to three additional bags could be checked with gear and food. I would be in good shape if I could get to that point. I feel I can get a raft in under that weight restriction. It will be a 13-14 ft non self bailer. If all works out, it will be a custom Sotar. They sent me 6 emails today giving/asking info. I am impressed. If they can't get one under 100 lbs, I will be forced to look at the Aire Tributary 12, possibly a Super Puma with the thwarts removed, or an Avon Drifter 13. Still considering the Soar 16 or Pro Pioneer as well. Larry was very helpful and I am sure he has a good product. Just not sure if it is right for my application. Truth is, most my paddling will be class I/II with just sections here and there of class III. All these boats would likely perform well. I am just hoping to do it right the first time. Lots of money involved. Thanks for the help here and keep it coming. I am wide open to suggestions. Like all the other idiots of the world. Ha ha.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Breakdown frames

    Dan,

    Any of the NRS frames are easily made into break-down versions. Generally with the Longhorn frame this has not been seen as necessary up here, since all the bars will fit very nicely into any Bush aircraft. But you are trying to fit them into a duffel, and that's different. If you cannot get a local raft shop to do the conversion for you I would suggest talking to Tracey Harmon at Alaska Raft and Kayak. They could whip that out in less than a day. All they do is cut the bars where you want them cut, and install a ferrule on one end, with through-bolts to hold it all together. I imagine you could also do it with quick-release pins if you didn't want to carry two 1/2" frame wrenches (supplied with the frame).

    Regards,

    -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

  13. #13
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Thanks..

    Michael,

    Thanks. I got an email back today from NRS saying just this same thing. I was glad to hear it too. Now I have the option of easily flying the raft and frame up from North Carolina. They basically said they (NRS) will do what ever I want. The Longhorn frame you suggested to me is what I had inquired about. They said they would make all four of the sections break in half. That way I can carry the frame (with 3 piece breakdown Cataract oars) in one duffle bag. Now I just need a sub 100 lb raft to go in another duffle. I am close man. Thanks for all your help!!
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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