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Thread: AIRE Super Leopard!

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Thumbs up AIRE Super Leopard!

    Hi folks,

    Well, I went out to the Matanuska last weekend with Jim Strutz and company. It was a wonderful time; thanks, Jim! I'm not much of a whitewater guy, but I followed him through Lion's Head with a few other folks. I was trying out the new Super Leopard I picked up this year. The thing handles like a dream!

    Thought I'd toss a few photos out there for you to drool over. This is the one cataraft I would have no problem putting two guys and two moose in. I think it will haul about 3,000 lbs, but AIRE doesn't have numbers on it yet. I'd love to see what it would do with a large outboard on the back.

    Sorry about the pics- one is in the front yard after the trip (wanted to show the inner sponsons that give this thing such a giant load capacity), and the other is at our overnight campsite on the river, where we hauled the boats up on the bank for fear that rising water would take them away. The river didn't rise, though it was raining a little.

    Maybe Jim has some whitewater pics? I was just a bit busy at the time and didn't stop for photos! It was running just over a Class III.

    -Mike
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    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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  2. #2
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default looks like it

    Looks like it would take a bigger load and I imagine that you had plenty of fun. Thanks for taking the time to share your insight. Hope Jim does have some whitewater pics of it in action.

  3. #3
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Sparky

    Mike you can't post like that any more. I am stuck at this desk typing and having to dream of running the river Grrrrr.

    Nice rig, great set up! Nice Boat!

    Jim I want to go have fun! If you two are going out after moose season shoot me a note I need some play time. We just fnished up on the Gulkana last Tues and I am having the shakes need my rafting fix.

    Thanks for sharing. Jim if you do have some pics let us see eh!

    Blue Moose

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    Default

    Sorry, but I didn't have time to take pictures either. Mel was on my boat though, and he was shooting with a waterproof Olympus. Maybe he's got something. There was probably too much distance between us though, so I wouldn't hold my breath. When I did get turned around and could see the Super Leopard, it seemed like it was handling everything with ease. That is a sweet boat.

    And the trip was a lot of fun. I haven't done much whitewater in the past couple years, and I think this got my blood a movin'. Water on Sixmile is dropping into a safe and comfortable levels. Anyone up for getting seriously wet?

    Ya know, the Matanuska has a lot of campsites that could work for a really large group. We had 13 people on this trip, and 18 on a spring trip, and we could have tripled that with ease with the right choice in stopping spots. You have to stagger into smaller groups to float, but I bet the camping could all be done together. Perhaps we should think about organizing another ODD group float for next year -- like the one I had to miss on the Kenai this year. We could incorporate Lion's head as an optional start like last week and continue on down for several days. Doing it on the Mat would allow people to float for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days, and they could pick the days and section they were most interested in.

    I promise to bring the right connectors for the stove this time.

  5. #5

    Default

    Jim,
    i'm seriously interested in sixmile. how late in the year is it normally run? when are you planning on going? what levels are you referring to when you say "safe and comfortable"? i think a big group trip on the Mat next season sounds great. it would be neat to meet the good people on this board. thanks again for all the info Jim. take care, abel6wt

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Matanuska River!

    Jim,

    I would be up for a group float on the Mat next spring, water levels permitting! I'm not much of a whitewater guy, but your Lion's Head idea could work well for those who want to do it. I would probably do it again- but I am not interested in an "out of boat" experience!

    It would be great if we could spot a photographer / video person at Lion's Head to catch us coming through! Don't know what it would take to do that, but it might be interesting!

    You're right about campsites too! Plenty of room. Let's remember to bring it up in late winter and see if we can schedule something.

    Thanks again for everything!

    -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

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    Default

    abel6wt, Sixmile has been run in every month of the year, as it is relatively warm water stream and occasionally opens up with warm winter weather. But the end of October is certainly not too late to run it most years. Although the water might get too low.

    Safe & comfortable for me is 8.8' to 9.5', which is what it's at right now and dropping. It's more fun at higher levels, but a lot more eddies show up when the water drops, so a swim wouldn't have to be as far or as fast. Some places get more tricky, but mostly it's easier at low water.

    I might be able to get away this Saturday, but I would have to find a couple bow paddlers to come along. If this weekend doesn't work I would need to wait a couple weeks.

    Anyone else interested?


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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Super Leopard = Heavier tubes?

    Mike,
    Any idea how much the Super Leopard tubes weigh?
    I'm just learning different pros/cons of different rafts, but here am pondering the 100# weight limit for checked luggage on commercial flights. Do you run into this problem with your (older) 105# Leopard tubes?
    Thank you in advance.

  9. #9
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Tube weights...

    6XL.....The Leopard tubes (older, "regular" Leopard) weigh in at 53 pounds each...X2=106 pounds. The break-down frame, three oars, two passenger seats and one high-back oarsman seat, and straps weighs an additional 164 pounds. That a 270 pound 18 foot long Leopard.
    ....if these numbers/weights can help you with your decision...

    I ship my rafts on Northern Air Cargo, which is nearly a dollar per pound (ouch) from Anchorage to Dillingham, but only thirty three cents per pound from Dill back to Anch.

    Dennis B
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  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Tube weight and shipping

    Hi folks,

    I have an air waybill from one of my fall hunters who used the Super Leopard; I'll check that out for you and post when I have the info. I would caution against trying to ship them as checked luggage though. For starters, each tube will for sure come in well above the 50# weight limit. But then you just have the tubes... what about your frame, straps, pumps, etc, etc? I usually just ship the entire package as cargo, shrink-wrapped and / or in fish totes. This keeps it all together and alleviates damage that can easily happen in transit.

    Dennis, the boat he's talking about is not the Leopard, it's the Super Leopard. This boat has larger diameter tubes than the conventional Leopard, plus an inner sponson that runs the full inside length of each tube. It's a whole different animal and even just the outer tubes are gonna be heavier than your regular Leopard tubes. The length is the same as the Leopard though- 18'.

    Somebody asked a while back about the tube diameter- I was gonna get that, but with all the fall aftermath I forgot to do so. I'll see if I can post those numbers too.

    It's an amazing boat, to be sure.

    -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
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Super Leopard Dimensions

    Okay folks,

    I contacted AIRE today and spoke to Sean concerning the Super Leopard dimensions. Turns out I was incorrect on some of it. The boat is so huge that it threw me off, even with a Leopard sitting a few feet away from me while I was rigging up my Super Leopard! Sooo.... here's the deal:

    Outer Tube Dimensions: 18' long x 26" diameter.
    Inner Sponson Dimensions: 18' long x 18" diameter.
    Weight per side: 72 lbs.
    Overall tube weight (both sides without frame and rigging): 144 lbs.
    Load capacity: unpublished, but Sean hopes to have numbers to me early next week.

    The real news was that the outer tube is a regular Leopard tube and the inner sponson is a Cougar tube. I never knew that, and had thought that both tubes were custom sizes. Like the other double-tube boats AIRE has made in the past (the Panther and the Cougar), the two tubes are laced together by a length of 1/4" braided nylon rope.

    I don't know what the load capacity of the Cougar is (it is back in production I believe), but because the Super Leopard uses both a Cougar and a Leopard tube, it will have a larger capacity. Should be interesting to see AIRE's numbers. Of course, keep in mind that the actual "real world" capacity is a function of what kind of water you're on. There are no universally-accepted standards in the inflatable boat industry for generating load capacity stats.

    Hope it helps!

    -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

  12. #12
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Good info

    Mike, Dennis B -
    Thank you for the info/comments.
    The Leopard info is handy for comparison.
    I'd understood Aire's product info to mean 105# each for Leopard tubes.
    Both great boats! Thanks again.

  13. #13

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    Where can I get a super leopard??

  14. #14
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Super Leopard

    Deerslayer...Alaska Raft & Kayak has one on the floor right now...907 561-7238.

    Dennis
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  15. #15
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Super Leopard Availability

    Quote Originally Posted by deerslayer View Post
    Where can I get a super leopard??
    Slayer,

    There are only two places you can currently locate a Super Leopard.

    1. Alaska Raft and Kayak. Mark Cohen (the owner of the shop) ordered a set of brand new tubes when mine were replaced under warranty. As far as I know, mine and his are the only two new ones in existence. In other words, there is only one new Super Leopard available right now. Call for pricing (907) 561-7238.

    2. Craig's List. I just did a quick check and found three listings, but two of them are the same boat. Both are over $5,000.

    This was originally a custom boat manufactured for the now-defunct "Wild Alaska Rivers Company", so a few can be found on the used market. But AIRE is currently being lobbied to resurrect the Super Leopard. I think there's enough interest to justify production, however that remains to be seen.

    Hope it helps!

    -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

  16. #16
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Adjusted Tube Diameter Alert!

    Well, it never ends.

    I just talked with Tracey Harmon at Alaska Raft and Kayak, and asked him to actually MEASURE the Super Leopard tubes they have on the showroom floor, and guess what? The inner sponson IS NOT the same size as a Cougar tube! It is two inches less in diameter. Sean's numbers were incorrect.

    I would have measured my tubes, but they're put away for the winter.

    Sorry for any inconvenience out there!

    -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

  17. #17
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Wake-splash with 4-tube catarafts

    Question for Mr. Strahan:
    Under outboard power, wake/splash is a significant problem from what 4-tube cataraft owners say. In another thread, a few suggestions were made for solving this problem. I wonder, do you think this is solvable (without too much dinking) on the Super Leopard?

  18. #18
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Yes. And no.

    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    Question for Mr. Strahan:
    Under outboard power, wake/splash is a significant problem from what 4-tube cataraft owners say. In another thread, a few suggestions were made for solving this problem. I wonder, do you think this is solvable (without too much dinking) on the Super Leopard?
    Leech,

    In short, the problem is solvable, but you will have to mess with it a bit. I would suggest a section of fabric up in the lacing between the tubes. This is only one place where you'll get splash, but it is significant. The most foolproof method would be to weld the fabric strip the full length of the tubes. This provides the best seal, but then you don't have the ability to separate the tubes (but really, how often are you going to take them apart at the lacing anyway)?. The other area where you will get splash is of course between the tubes, like with any other cataraft. For that you need a spray shield setup. It takes too long to describe how they work, but your best bet would be to have Tracey build one up for you. He's got the technology down as well as anyone, and better than most.

    My take on it is that nobody has really figured out a simple, elegant fix for the spray problem. Yet. I have some ideas, but nobody has tried it yet. If it were me, I'd weld a grommet flange the whole length of the inner sponson, and make a solid fabric sheet with corresponding grommets along the length of it, and simply lace it to the tubes with 1/4" nylon rope (braided of course). Then attach the back edge of it to a transom plate, and put a small sheet of UMHW plastic in a sleeve just forward of the transom, to help mash the air bubbles out of the water column to alleviate most of the cavitation you get from aerated water aiming at your lower unit or jet intake. Of course you'd have to back the floor with something or the water pressure would push it inward (this is what happens with Zodiac-style powerboats). That's one idea that has not been tried yet. The "Big Brother" of this idea is an AIRECELL floor with a slight vee, which laces to the tubes in the same way. I KNOW that would work. But it would be expensive.

    Okay folks, the cat's out of the bag now. Who wants to help make it happen? Any takers?

    Hope it makes sense!

    -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

  19. #19
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Tough problem...

    Thanks, Mike. Those sound like workable solutions, though I guess the devil is in the details.

    For just crossing Skilak or similar short trips, waders and jackets (and goggles?) work. We put a big pile of gear and the dog on the front of the cataraft then the cooler (with beverages) in the back. On a sunny day, this works.

    Seriously though, I talked to Tracey yesterday. They install UHMW for a wet shield, which sound spendy but effective.

  20. #20
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default salt

    Is it even imaginable to use a cat in PWS for spring bear hunting - ? It sounds like even with 'good' skirting on the cat that a fellow is going to get very wet.......that might take all of the fun out of the trip....

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