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Thread: Aire Traveler versus Soar Pro Pioneer

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    Default Aire Traveler versus Soar Pro Pioneer

    I'm currently looking at buying a cata-canoe setup and was comparing the Aire Traveler versus the Soar Pro Pioneer. Based on the number the Pro Pioneer has twice the capacity and is only 11" inches longer with the same size tubes (14"). This doesn't seem right to me but I would like to have 3,000lbs of capacity versus 1,500lbs for the Aire. Looking for anyone to comment that has first hand information on the two products. I would like to make a purchase soon and this information would be very helpfull.

    Soar Pro Pioneer Specs
    Specifications Length: 16 feet Width: 48" Tube Diameter: 14" Floor Thickness: 5" Air Chambers: 3 No. of Persons: 1-3 Load Capacity: 1500 lbs Cargo Capacity: 21+ cu ft Weight: 85 lbs Rolled Size: 22" x 13" x 45" Color: Blue Warranty: 5 Years Price: $2595.00 SALE PRICE: $2205.00 Sale ends November 26, 2008
    Tube and top of floor: 840 denier nylon coated with 30 oz Hypalon
    Bottom of floor: 840 denier nylon coated with 36 oz neoprene


    Aire Traveler Specs

    Specifications Length: 15' 1" Width: 47" Tube Diameter: 14" Floor Thickness: ?
    Air Chambers: 3 No. of Persons:
    Load Capacity: 750 lbs Cargo Capacity: ?
    Weight: 70lbs
    Rolled Size:
    Color: Blue,pur,grn,red Warranty: 10 Years No fault
    Price: $2100.00

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Catacanoe issues and such

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfeel View Post
    I'm currently looking at buying a cata-canoe setup and was comparing the Aire Traveler versus the Soar Pro Pioneer. Based on the number the Pro Pioneer has twice the capacity and is only 11" inches longer with the same size tubes (14"). This doesn't seem right to me but I would like to have 3,000lbs of capacity versus 1,500lbs for the Aire. Looking for anyone to comment that has first hand information on the two products. I would like to make a purchase soon and this information would be very helpfull.

    Soar Pro Pioneer Specs
    Specifications Length: 16 feet Width: 48" Tube Diameter: 14" Floor Thickness: 5" Air Chambers: 3 No. of Persons: 1-3 Load Capacity: 1500 lbs Cargo Capacity: 21+ cu ft Weight: 85 lbs Rolled Size: 22" x 13" x 45" Color: Blue Warranty: 5 Years Price: $2595.00 SALE PRICE: $2205.00 Sale ends November 26, 2008
    Tube and top of floor: 840 denier nylon coated with 30 oz Hypalon
    Bottom of floor: 840 denier nylon coated with 36 oz neoprene


    Aire Traveler Specs

    Specifications Length: 15' 1" Width: 47" Tube Diameter: 14" Floor Thickness: ?
    Air Chambers: 3 No. of Persons:
    Load Capacity: 750 lbs Cargo Capacity: ?
    Weight: 70lbs
    Rolled Size:
    Color: Blue,pur,grn,red Warranty: 10 Years No fault
    Price: $2100.00
    Wolf,

    Have you searched the forum archives on this? A lot has already been written on these boats here, and it would be worth wading through some of it.

    The boats are completely different from each other. Different shape, different hull design, different materials, different warranty, different manufacturers, different gross weight, etc, etc. If you're looking for a head to head comparison, you have to start with what you plan to do with the boat and work from there. Either one will work as a catacanoe, as will any other inflatable canoe or kayak.

    One of the reasons for the capacity difference you mentioned is that the SOAR is a non-bailer and the AIRE is a bailer. Makes sense when you think about it. Push the boat deep enough in the water and the bailer will allow water to flow in through the bailer holes. The non bailer will not, therefore it has greater displacement. The downside is that everything that goes inside a non bailer stays inside the boat; rainfall, splashes, etc. That's why they call them "bucket boats". You'll have to dump it out now and then, and cleaning the sand and grit out is a little more difficult than with a bailer.

    If all you're looking at is sheer lift, then a bucket boat is the way to go. But keep in mind that all that lift comes at a price. You might get it to carry 3,000 lbs, but it will be a pig on the water; sluggish and difficult to push around.

    Having said that, here are my pros and cons concerning these boats:

    AIRE TRAVELER PROS and CONS

    • 10-year, no-fault warranty. No matter what happens to the boat during the first ten years of its life, AIRE will take care of it for you. Last winter I purchased another AIRE cataraft and noticed that the tube fabric was somewhat brittle on the ends. AIRE replaced the entire boat for me at no cost. They even replaced the inner bladders, valves, the whole works. In other words, they gave me a brand-new boat. I should mention that the boat was nine years old, so it had only one year left on warranty, and I have no idea how many folks owned it previous to me. On another occasion we had a poorly-secured Cougar cataraft on a trailer. The straps holding it to the trailer snapped while we were cruising down the highway at about 60 mph. The boat flipped off the trailer and skidded down the highway, and was scuffed up pretty badly. AIRE fixed it up good as new for free, no questions asked. Finally, a friend of mine had three feet of the end of his Rivercat cataraft literally consumed by a brown bear. AIRE replaced the tube with no questions. NOBODY can beat their warranty.

    • Product Availability. AIRE is the largest manufacturer in the country, and they build all of their Travelers here in North America. So you can get one just about whenever you want. You will find some of the best deals in the spring, when the sales happen and folks are upgrading or leaving Alaska and dumping their stuff.

    • PVC and Urethane materials. The outer shell is made of PVC, which is very slick when wet. I have heard of some folks using their Travelers to slide meat and gear across wet tundra with good results. The downside of PVC is that it does not fold up as tightly as rubber. The urethane inner bladder is very strong and easy to work with.

    • Ease of repair. Because the AIRE boats are built with a zippered shell surrounding an inner bladder, repairs are very easy in the field. In the unlikely event you do have a laceration, all you have to do is unzip the shell and repair the slice with urethane tape (it’s in the repair kit). No glue is necessary in most cases. You can close up the slice in the shell from the inside, with duct tape or possibly by stitching it if you must. When it is time for a permanent repair, you can glue your patch on the inside of the shell, and if done properly, you won’t even see it from the outside. This means that you’ll never have patch edges showing that can catch and possibly grab.

    • Wide color selection. Travelers come in your choice of Blue, Purple, Green or Red.

    • Self-bailer. I prefer bailers for three reasons. First, water that ends up in the boat drains right out. This means I never have to bail my boat. Second, bailers are easy to clean. Simply use a cut-off bleach jug, bucket or whatever to scoop some river water and wash it down. Sand and grit goes right out through the bailer holes. Finally, bailers help you form good loading habits, because if you overload the boat, water is going to come in through the bailer holes. A lightly-loaded boat is more nimble on the water, and much easier to control. Of course the downside of the bailer design is that the boat will not carry as large of loads as a non-bailer, because of the difference in displacement.

    • Traditional hull design. The Traveler has a pointed bow and stern, like a regular canoe. The downside of this is that you have reduced carrying capacity in both ends of the boat. On the positive side, the boat offers a drier ride and performs better than flat-bow designs.

    PP PROS AND CONS

    • Five year warranty. I have heard good things about the customer service offered so far on these boats, however the warranty is not as good as the one offered by AIRE for at least two reasons: First, it is only five years in duration. Second, the judgment call on warranty coverage lies with the manufacturer, not with the customer. In other words, it is not a no-fault warranty. Try bringing in weathered tubes, or tubes that skidded down the freeway or were eaten by a bear and see what kind of coverage you get.

    • Product availability. All of the SOAR boats are made overseas in batches. I don't know the frequency of their manufacturing process, however I do know that historically there have been availability issues, extending even to the PP. So if you want one, you need to get on the stick.

    • Hypalon and Neoprene materials. The tubes are made of Hypalon and the bottom is neoprene. These are rubber fabrics, and the best thing about them is that they roll up very tightly. This is a huge plus on flyout trips. There is a performance reduction compared to plastic fabrics though, with the rubber boats having a much greater tendency to flex, especially when heavily-loaded. Hypalon is very abrasion resistant; much more so than PVC, which tends to gouge. Neoprene is even more abrasion resistant, which is why some companies use neoprene chafer strips on the bottom of their boats. This boat uses neoprene over the entire bottom, so you’ve got great abrasion protection where the rubber meets the riverbed, so to speak. The downside of this is that neoprene grips when wet (that’s why car tires use neoprene); you will have a harder time dragging this boat over wet rocks, and even over the tundra, should you want to try that.

    • Repair issues. The only way to effect a repair on large lacerations on this boat is to glue a patch on it. In a shop environment where you can control temperature and humidity, you may be able to patch the boat from the inside. But in most cases you’ll patch your Hypalon boat on the outside, and end up with edges that are visible. For small punctures in the field you might give Tear-Aid tape a try. It’s great stuff for field repairs on both rubber and plastic boats.

    • Color selection. Hope you like blue.

    • Non-Bailing design. I already mentioned the issues with this. The plus is that you can load the boat clear to the gills without water coming in. That shouldn’t be a real issue on deep, slow rivers that are easy to navigate. But if you’re on a shallow, windy river with lots of navigational issues, you could be in trouble. Something to think about.

    • Design Features. The PP has some extra things worth commenting on. I like and dislike the full-length grommet strip that runs atop both tubes. On the plus side, you’ve got plenty of lash points for your load. On the downside, it may be in the way, and it interrupts the clean lines of the boat. I know, it’s cosmetic, but some of us have preferences… Another thing worth mentioning is the sled design of the bow and stern. Because the bow and stern are opened up on this boat, you have more load capacity in those areas. It comes with a price though. The flat bow and stern tend to plow more than a conventional design, especially if overloaded. This means you’re gonna push water, which means you have to work harder. Because the bow and stern are fairly flat, you will be seeing some water come over the tubes in these areas in some situations. And where will that water go? You guessed it, right at your feet, or wherever the lowest part of the floor is, until you have time to dump it out. Finally, I like the ample grab handles around the boat. You can never have too many handles, it seems.

    • Weight. You have already mentioned that the PP is heavier than the Traveler, by about 10lbs. If you're looking at any long portages you might consider that the PP weighs over 80 lbs, fully rigged. That's a pretty big chunk 'o rubber to carry very far on your back.

    CATACANOE ISSUES

    The Traveler works very well as a catacanoe, no question about it. The PP will also work in that configuration, but you must keep in mind that you will have greater limitations if you run it with an outboard. I have not tried it yet, but based on extensive experience on motorized catarafts in various configurations, I would expect to see a substantial amount of splash generated by the flat bow section. It would be interesting to try some time.

    If you have more questions about these boats, feel free to download my Inflatable Canoe Test results. Both of these boats were included in our testing on Eagle River a few years ago.

    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/
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    First of all I really want to says thanks for taking the time to sum up all of those points. I'm really leaning towards the Aire Traveler for a lot of the reasons you stated. I also like having the ability to add extra weight capacity if needed by covering the self baling holes with duct tape. That seems to give you the best of both worlds. Do you know the actual weight of the Aire Traveler? I'm seeing 70lbs and 55lbs from various sources. Thanks again.

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    Here's a PP with a bone-in moose and backpack camp aboard. Loaded as such, it handles okay, albeit a bit slow, with a single paddler weilding a long-ish canoe paddle. I've not tried it loaded like this with my oar saddles and oars yet (they would have been too heavy for the backpack insertion). Would the Traveler do better? Who knows?

    The PP can indeed be backpacked/portaged. Train for it. It is heavy. For this hunt, the raft/paddle/repair kit/life jacket was strapped to one packframe, and camp in a separate backpack. I moved the raft and backpack well in off the road to get the moose, over the course of four days, hop-scotching the loads. I could do the same job in two days, knowing now where to go (I was spotting for game while moving gear inland). Go slow with the heavy raft load (no rubbernecking while walking), lest you hyperextend a knee or turn an ankle on the tussocks.

    A substantial amount of the PP's floor protrudes below the tube bottoms (2-3"). This may explain the heavy payload rating. The neoprene is indeed grabby, but showed zero evidence of damage after multiple rock sleeper contacts.

    Stability of the boat has much to do with how it's loaded. I didn't have far to float out, and the meat was very cold, so ventilation while floating was not a concern. As such, I suspended the meat low between the tubes (but up off the floor) with a rope lattice, rather than laying the quarters sideways on the tubes. This kept the center of mass WAY low, and the boat was very stable. I had about three miles of "exciting" water to deal with on the way out, and the two or three times I couldn't avoid broaching and contacting rock in fast water, the boat stayed upright. I wasn't particularly comfortable, but the boat did well. This section of the river was too narrow and rocky for any sort of bigger watercraft.

    The poncho on the bow was a semi-successful effort to prevent shipping water when I plowed through some bigger standing waves inthe fast water of the float. I think a guy who is clever with a sewing machine could really do some things making a tight-fitting cargo cover for the bow. This will be a consideration for future hunts.

    P.S. in retrospect, instead of spreading the meat out extremely evenly and low (causing the slight hump in the middle, which my 220 pounds offset a bit), next time I will locate the meat closer to my paddling turret and try to keep a bit more weight out of the bow. I put the hindquarters in the stern with a bag of loose meat, and the shoulders and rib racks and remaining loose meat in front of me, with my turret about 2/3 back from the bow.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Vek; 12-10-2008 at 15:37. Reason: add postscript

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    Default

    Vek mentioned the PP's floor drops below the side tubes quite a ways. This will add some height to the sides, and like Vek, I suspect that is where some of the additional load capacity comes in. Of course, if this was a self bailing floor this wouldn't help at all, but it's not. This will provide a slightly taller rowing position too, and that could be good or bad, depending on the river and your willingness to get wet.

    The Traveler's floor hangs down a bit as well, but not as much, so it should ride lower. This might make it a wetter ride for the guy in front, or it might offset the blunter nose effect Mike was talking about. I don't really know, I'm just speculating. But I do know that my two little Aire Lynx cata-canoe is a very wet ride with only 12" tubes, and not enough boat to put in front of you.

    Anyway, I have an opinion about the load capacity issue. 1500 lbs is all I want to push around on a boat. I drove an 18' self bailer for a while with well over 2000 lbs in it, and it was a beast. It was a fun trip, but hard work the whole way. My brother-in-law has a 21' self bailer that needs 2 oarsmen at a time to do it justice, and that's with a light load. I much prefer a smaller boat and lighter load.

    Personally, I think one PP with oars would be a sweet boat -- better than one Traveler for my uses -- but not two of them. As a cata-canoe I think two Travelers would be the better choice. Just a personal opinion based on what I see. Not that I've used either.

    That said, I think it could work with either boat, and if I had use for two PP's (and could afford them), and only occasional use for a cata-canoe, I wouldn't wesitate to use them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    Here's a PP with a bone-in moose and backpack camp aboard. Loaded as such, it handles okay, albeit a bit slow, with a single paddler weilding a long-ish canoe paddle. I've not tried it loaded like this with my oar saddles and oars yet (they would have been too heavy for the backpack insertion). Would the Traveler do better? Who knows?

    The PP can indeed be backpacked/portaged. Train for it. It is heavy. For this hunt, the raft/paddle/repair kit/life jacket was strapped to one packframe, and camp in a separate backpack. I moved the raft and backpack well in off the road to get the moose, over the course of four days, hop-scotching the loads. I could do the same job in two days, knowing now where to go (I was spotting for game while moving gear inland). Go slow with the heavy raft load (no rubbernecking while walking), lest you hyperextend a knee or turn an ankle on the tussocks.

    A substantial amount of the PP's floor protrudes below the tube bottoms (2-3"). This may explain the heavy payload rating. The neoprene is indeed grabby, but showed zero evidence of damage after multiple rock sleeper contacts.

    Stability of the boat has much to do with how it's loaded. I didn't have far to float out, and the meat was very cold, so ventilation while floating was not a concern. As such, I suspended the meat low between the tubes (but up off the floor) with a rope lattice, rather than laying the quarters sideways on the tubes. This kept the center of mass WAY low, and the boat was very stable. I had about three miles of "exciting" water to deal with on the way out, and the two or three times I couldn't avoid broaching and contacting rock in fast water, the boat stayed upright. I wasn't particularly comfortable, but the boat did well. This section of the river was too narrow and rocky for any sort of bigger watercraft.

    The poncho on the bow was a semi-successful effort to prevent shipping water when I plowed through some bigger standing waves inthe fast water of the float. I think a guy who is clever with a sewing machine could really do some things making a tight-fitting cargo cover for the bow. This will be a consideration for future hunts.

    P.S. in retrospect, instead of spreading the meat out extremely evenly and low (causing the slight hump in the middle, which my 220 pounds offset a bit), next time I will locate the meat closer to my paddling turret and try to keep a bit more weight out of the bow. I put the hindquarters in the stern with a bag of loose meat, and the shoulders and rib racks and remaining loose meat in front of me, with my turret about 2/3 back from the bow.
    Vek,

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on taking such a fine moose.

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    I would like to see Soar make the Pro Pioneer with a self-bailing floor.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default I think you can...

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeJoe View Post
    I would like to see Soar make the Pro Pioneer with a self-bailing floor.
    Buckeye,

    I have had many conversations with Larry Laba (the owner of SOAR Inflatables) about this very thing. Don't wanna mis-quote the guy, but I'm pretty sure he said you can do it yourself, and that some folks have done that. He was referring to the SOAR S-16, but the same would hold true of the PP and the Magnum, considering these are simply larger versions of the same design. Yes, I know they added some more D-rings and such, but I'm talking about the hull design.

    The issue you will have with this is the height of the tubes in relation to the floor. I believe it will flood out sooner than a conventionally-designed bailer, which has tubes at or slightly below the bottom of the floor. You would be better off perhaps making a hole at each end, somewhere below the top of the boat. This would allow you to dump water out without unloading the whole boat first. If the hole were surrounded with a duckbill setup, you could keep it closed until you needed it, which would prevent back-flooding from the outside if you had oncoming waves. It's not the best solution, but it could prevent you having to unload to dump the boat.

    -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
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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    I have one of the very early model's of the Pro Pioneer and it has the Bailer option before that option was removed although all the holes in my raft have been patched over, I do not need a bailer for what i do with it.

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    Default Updated weight information for Aire Traveler

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfeel View Post
    I'm currently looking at buying a cata-canoe setup and was comparing the Aire Traveler versus the Soar Pro Pioneer. Based on the number the Pro Pioneer has twice the capacity and is only 11" inches longer with the same size tubes (14"). This doesn't seem right to me but I would like to have 3,000lbs of capacity versus 1,500lbs for the Aire. Looking for anyone to comment that has first hand information on the two products. I would like to make a purchase soon and this information would be very helpfull.

    Soar Pro Pioneer Specs
    Specifications Length: 16 feet Width: 48" Tube Diameter: 14" Floor Thickness: 5" Air Chambers: 3 No. of Persons: 1-3 Load Capacity: 1500 lbs Cargo Capacity: 21+ cu ft Weight: 85 lbs Rolled Size: 22" x 13" x 45" Color: Blue Warranty: 5 Years Price: $2595.00 SALE PRICE: $2205.00 Sale ends November 26, 2008
    Tube and top of floor: 840 denier nylon coated with 30 oz Hypalon
    Bottom of floor: 840 denier nylon coated with 36 oz neoprene


    Aire Traveler Specs

    Specifications Length: 15' 1" Width: 47" Tube Diameter: 14" Floor Thickness: ?
    Air Chambers: 3 No. of Persons:
    Load Capacity: 750 lbs Cargo Capacity: ?
    Weight: 70lbs
    Rolled Size:
    Color: Blue,pur,grn,red Warranty: 10 Years No fault
    Price: $2100.00
    Here's an update for anyone that's interested. I just spoke with Shawn at Aire and he was a unsure about the actual weight of the Traveler so he actually had one weighed. The canoe itself weighs 54.3 lbs and with both seats it comes in at 62 3/4 lbs. This sure beats the stated weight of 70lbs. I hope this information helps.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Arched floor issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    ...in retrospect, instead of spreading the meat out extremely evenly and low (causing the slight hump in the middle, which my 220 pounds offset a bit), next time I will locate the meat closer to my paddling turret ...
    Vek,

    The arched floor on the S-16, the PP, and the Magnum (which are all essentially progressively larger versions of the same hull design) is a design flaw. It did not happen because of the way you loaded your boat. Inflate any of these boats and set them on flat ground; you will see the same arch.

    As to the comment someone made on a self-bailing version of these boats, the original S-16 had that as an option, and you can order one that way. But you will reduce the load-carrying capacity of the boat if you do, because you have less displacement. The reason these boats post such high load capacities is because they are non-bailers.

    -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
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Vek,

    The arched floor on the S-16, the PP, and the Magnum (which are all essentially progressively larger versions of the same hull design) is a design flaw. It did not happen because of the way you loaded your boat. Inflate any of these boats and set them on flat ground; you will see the same arch.

    As to the comment someone made on a self-bailing version of these boats, the original S-16 had that as an option, and you can order one that way. But you will reduce the load-carrying capacity of the boat if you do, because you have less displacement. The reason these boats post such high load capacities is because they are non-bailers.

    -Mike
    "Flaw" is a strong word, but I see what you're getting at. I presume they glue it all together in an uninflated state, and inflating the floor causes the boat to bunch up a bit. A "correct" straight or rockered shape compromised in the name of having a very thick and buoyant floor, which due to is section depth, serves to stiffen the boat considerably, bowed though it may be.

    Moving my load to the center would have helped flex the boat back to flat and reduced the boat's moment of inertia for quicker maneuvering, at the expense of my super-low center of gravity. As it was, I ran over quite a few big sleepers in the fast water (one guy with a canoe paddle atop a 800+# load is exciting) that I hit on one tube or the other, and the boat went over the sleeper without feeling squirrely tippy. I broached against a couple of rocks when things started moving too fast to keep straight, and the upstream side didn't dig or tip - the boat just sat there or pivoted out. If I wasn't a few hours' walk from the road, I would have lined the fast water and gone a lot slower.

    Could I have fit that entire moose in a Traveler? I guess it's not a whole heckuva lot smaller than the PP. I would have been about 300 pounds over the Traveler's stated capacity. I had room and freeboard for more weight in the PP - I could have floated out with a larger camp and a partner. As it was, none of my cargo was touching the floor, and nothing got wet from sitting in water, in spite of the small amount of shipped water. Flatwater would have been a no-brainer, with capacity for WAY more weight. The side tubes were just beginning to submerge with my one-moose load.

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