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Thread: Alaska Series in Costco at a great price, but

  1. #1
    Member e45colt's Avatar
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    Default Alaska Series in Costco at a great price, but

    Wife and I went to Costco Diamond Monday 6/8/09 and there were Alaska series Kenai drifter 14-26 rafts w/rowing frame on sale for a crazy low price.
    It's an amazing deal IMO...................but I mentioned to the vendor that I had an AIRE and he went deep-kimchi on them and said that were much much inferior to his craft. He went on and on and on and on and on...............................and on and on.
    Bottom line in my opion is, the warranty that the maufacture gives, is usually a decent indicator of quality. AK-series 5yrs vs. AIRE 10yrs. My main concern is the way he represented his product. I researched many rafts before chosing an AIRE and asked Mark and Tracy at Alaska Raft and Kayak a hundred questions over multiple visits to their shop.
    Professionals that they are, I never heard a negative comment about others........but simply the diiferences between designs and manufacturing................I never felt pressure to "pick mine or you suck".
    I think the AK-series is a slammin-deal for the price and I think that everyone should have them on your list of ones to look at. I just freakin hate when someone is so negative about others in the sales-pitch. I am very happy I went with an AIRE. Got the Super Puma and love it!
    Buy what works for you but don't buy the hype and pressure.

    Ed

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    Default

    Aren't Aires made in America? I do like to support local stuff when I can. Those ones at Costco are a great deal and he did good to land the spot.
    Update: Aire's site says they are made in Idaho. I never mind paying more for American labor.

  3. #3

    Default Another point of view

    AK Raft and Kayak..... I told them about my purchase of a Kenai Drifter last summer and they gave me lots of crap about how inferior my boat was to their selection of boats.... never mind they wanted me to pay twice as much for a raft that was just as good as mine. So, I think everyone in the business talks about the other 'guys'.

    Jim King is a great guy and has treated me fairly every time I have talked to him.

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Can of Worms and Opinions

    For what is worth for the most part we all our Bias in some form or matter concerning the products we Sell, Use and or Promote just the nature of the beast.

    The boats in quesiton are sold at a discount store if they were comparable to an AIRE for argument sakes then they would not be sold at a discount store however that being said I am not knocking the product or the method just that they are not an AIRE.

    There are four basic places to purchase as simalar inflatable directly from ZEBEC International, 6th Ave Outfitters, Jim King Alaska Seires Inflatables (Costco) or on line, and Star Inflatables in S.C.

    www.zebecboats.com & www.starinflatables.com & www.alaskaseries.com &

    www.6thavenueoutfitters.com

    That being said if someone is looking into entry level rafting you are correct they are being sold at a smoken price and should be looked at. I have owned a couple of types to inlcude the Kenai drifter and standad SBS (used in my rental pool) however they are not AIRE's and I have my-self of sold both of those boats.

    AIRE's are made in America the boats in quesiton are manufatcure overseas. You need to take a long hard look and the warranty difference becuase there is a large difference in what is applicable and what is not. 10 year No fault means ten your no fault verses Manufacture deffects and certain shipping cost. If you can live with the cost difference verses the application and the warranty then reasonable is the word minus the sales pitch and negative comments that should be considerd.

    Last note I promise - There are very few boats that are designed specifically for Alaska that I am aware of Mike S, Tracey H, Mark C, Paul J, and Larry B have all worked with manufacture to create Rock Solid Alaska Nich Boats the rest IMO are just tweaks of models that were already being used. As an example the Power Traveler and the Radical which of course look nothing like anything your going to find at Costco ;-)

    Just food for thought.

    Blue Moose

  5. #5

    Default Aire

    Best warranty, and awesome customer service. Raft and Kayak have always been great to me, top notch outfit...........

  6. #6

    Default Alaskan sotar

    Hey BLUE MOOSE- Just for what its worth- SOTAR has been making custom rafts designed for Alaska for me since their 1st year in business 27 yrs ago, and some of the first ones are still on our rivers. If you are looking for a raft that will last- you may want to check out our urethane boats, hand made in Merlin, Or. USA
    Goo Vogt
    ALASKA WILDWATER

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    Default

    I mostly have Aire boats as well, but I've used Alaska Series boats, and been with a lot of Alaska Series boat, and they have always performed well enough; even when abused mercilessly. I generally expect a tool costing twice as much, and having twice the warranty to hold up better, but it doesn't always happen. And I also find that you seldom get twice the product for twice the money -- it's the last 10% of perfection that always costs the most.

    A lot of the cost differential in these products is due to where they're made, and I note that Aire is now selling an imported line of boats themselves. I'll pay extra for "Made in America" too, but I also have a limit to how much I will pay for it. You'll have to set your own limit on that one.

    Jim King is sold on his product, and zealously deffends and puffs them. Besides I've heard Aire dealers criticize Zebec boats, and Sotar dealers criticize Aire boats, and... They're just more subtle than Jim.

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    Default

    I don't know what Goo is giving as a warranty, but I think those Sotars are about the best things being sold around here. They are also evidence for my statement about the last 10% of perfection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK flyster View Post
    AK Raft and Kayak..... I told them about my purchase of a Kenai Drifter last summer and they gave me lots of crap about how inferior my boat was to their selection of boats.... never mind they wanted me to pay twice as much for a raft that was just as good as mine. So, I think everyone in the business talks about the other 'guys'.


    I like supporting AR&K, but I had a similar experience with one of the salesman (not Tracy) when I went in to get another round of frame parts for my fishing frame. I had already purchased the equivalent of the NRS fishing frame from them, with custom lengths and widths suitable for my 6th Ave Bug style 16 footer, and had no problem paying for a reasonable markup for the custom cuts, dealt with Tracy and the experience was 5 star, and got exactly what I wanted. Following summer I wanted to add the NRS style stern frame/seat mount with anchor set up for fishing. Some other guy helped me, and when he found out it was for a 6th Ave boat, he snarkly said "why'd you get that?" and proceded to quote me 100% more than the NRS price for the stern frame... I left, came back when Tracy was there, and got a far more reasonable price. Not a big deal, I will still buy from them, but I will only deal with Tracy from now on after being treated like that by the other guy.

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Sorry Goo

    I listed the boat and not the Manufacture or provided additional names! You are correct Sotar will cut just about anything you wish and or designed and put it to task.

    I owe you one.

    :-)

  11. #11

    Default no worries

    No worries- Just sitting here trying to build frames and sell boats--- instead of GREAT ADVENTURES- In the NEVER-NEVER!!
    Lots of good rafts out there these days-- Have a great summer
    Goo

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    Member e45colt's Avatar
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    Default Now that's what I'm taling about

    Quote Originally Posted by goeaux View Post
    No worries- Just sitting here trying to build frames and sell boats--- instead of GREAT ADVENTURES- In the NEVER-NEVER!!
    Lots of good rafts out there these days-- Have a great summer
    Goo

    Goeaux has a PMA................positive-mental-attitude

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by e45colt View Post
    Goeaux has a PMA................positive-mental-attitude
    i know! he's got a lot of nerve.....
    have fun everyone, abel6wt

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    Member Tomcat's Avatar
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    Question How Much?

    Quote Originally Posted by e45colt View Post
    Wife and I went to Costco Diamond Monday 6/8/09 and there were Alaska series Kenai drifter 14-26 rafts w/rowing frame on sale for a crazy low price.
    It's an amazing deal IMO...................
    At what price are these rafts selling for? Thought I might take a look the next time I stop in. Thanks.

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    How do NRS and AIRE compare? Or is it really just preference for the most part?

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default NRS vs AIRE

    Quote Originally Posted by brittadlai View Post
    How do NRS and AIRE compare? Or is it really just preference for the most part?
    AIRE makes their boats out of plastic (PVC and Urethane)

    NRS makes their boats out of rubber (Hypalon and Neoprene)

    Both companies make their stuff in the United States, but both also manufacture a line overseas. Generally the overseas boats are slightly inferior quality, and lower price.

    AIRE and NRS also collaborate from a marketing standpoint; NRS carries some AIRE products in their catalog and in at least two places in Alaska, (Alaska Raft and Kayak in Anchorage, and Blue Moose Rafting in Fairbanks) both product lines are carried in the same store.

    These are some of the reasons you often hear them discussed together.

    -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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    Member e45colt's Avatar
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    Default If I remember correctly

    With rowing frame.......$2995.00 is what I remember. Seems great to me for a good boat, but I would do your research and compare the different companies make your decision based on what you see.

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    Thumbs up we can look at this a different way -

    Been super busy with Alaska float trip planning, very high-end USA made Raft Rentals, and river rafting instructing… Headed into the guided & unguided rafting season. Been on water 3-weeks in a row now and rentals are goin’ out and back in. Life is on the fast track with 2 14’ SOTAR SP customs and 1 ARIE 156E out the door tonight on multi-day.

    Been followin’ this thread a bit… Kinda amusing… most in part ‘cause when you’re in the raft business you’ll pretty much be hearing (or amplifying) all of this dialogue daily UNLESS provided you are providing the best. Everybody always wants the best, alleges they have the best, or has some counterfeit conception they are nothing but the best. Why don’t we all just discuss, vend, and acquire that brand called ‘BEST’???

    SO who are in the cast’s list of best quality raft honors?

    Who cares…

    Yet, we can look at this a different way:

    Let’s look at innovation and workmanship of product –

    SOTAR was one of the very foremost to take the lead in custom rafts by welding (not gluing) seam work. SOTAR took a big leap by using more exclusive urethane fabric Plastomers for a much stiffer, more rugged boat. SOTAR was a trendsetter in self bailing design as well as a modernizer of the Cat rafts we see everyone trying to produce today. Going a step further SOTAR shaped the continuous curve rocker that took inflatables from barges to high performance. Lots of science, engineering, latest materials, risk, and fresh ideas go into this kind of development. Some early fabric outlets/experiments they tried had issues and some boats that were made with it therefore had tribulations. It nearly cost the elite custom boat producer in the USA its lifeblood of innovation and cash flow; yet they endured this with tenacity and better fabrics now producing the finest custom rafts available today right here in the USA.

    AIRE got its real foothold in the early 1990’s based very much on mixing an assortment of that era better designs while re-engineering in the order of the other top inflatable shortcomings. Timing, money, brainpower and operational innovations with marketing became the name of the AIRE game. They took self bailing design adding a piano twist. They jumped on continuous curve designs were possible and persistently modernized the blueprint for performance. They were highly successful in conception of the unsupported bladder with an outer skin. At that time, no other plastomer boat could reputably do a long raft trip without periodic top offs. Nothing plastic could compare back then to holding air inside a urethane bladder system that incorporated bulk-head chambers and zippers. The troubles with leaks in the plastomer raft fabrics of the 90’s were over. AIRE to has had it’s ups and downs with manufacture, but not many mistakes along the way, and they have made good reputation on problems solved. AIRE & Outcast (not talking its lesser brandings) are also made in the USA.

    I’ll say that there are some other very good boats and industry innovators made in the USA like Maravia, Jack’s, etc., but none in my experience compare to SOTAR and AIRE.

    So what is NRS? NRS is a “Supply” company. Boats within the past dozen years or so have been made in Taiwan and Mexico factories like the popular OTTER, and recently some in China like newer Expedition Series that used to be made in USA to some extent. Down River Equipment another supply company & HySide are all Chinese now. Are they good boats? Yes. Traditionally they have been very good quality ‘Rubber’ boats with fine reputation and excellent representation of the conventional raft or cat. Are they in the class of AIRE or SOTAR? Not in the same league! In all probability the best rubber boats in terms of tradition, highest quality, detail and fabric are Achilles from Japan. Gone are the days of AVON raft dominance.

    This brings us to the guys that got hype under par of the high prices, brand exclusives (or being excluded), and all politics linked. HELLO CHINA and move over USA innovation and work into “Blue Sign” 4th world!!! Look, I can relate to the STAR (I did some of their product testing) Zebek (Gary King Storefront Days), AK series (Jim’s @ Costco), Alaskan Outfitter (edited), Air Guides specials,,, etc, etc. ALL CHINA from companies that actually specialize in making inflatable fun towns… yes inflatable kid’s castles, pools, slides, and trampolines. Why is this stuff costing less than AIRE and SOTAR? Because Chinese can make tons of plastomers and rubbers (poisonous process with toxic effects) like we grow corn!!! Oversees does not have all the protections/restrictions in place, they have computer aided design, modern computer cutting and manufacture with cheap non-union labor.

    I know this info all too well as I started to go down this road for a higher end NRS-like Expedition Class Series for the ALASKA RAFT CONNECTION business. Good Hypalon (or like) Fabrics led me to a specific China factory… emails and design went back and forth… My boats were to be just like the NRS E-series with a thicker fabric/coating combo…. Only to find out three weeks later into the international business dealings that NRS had decided to go into some sort of “by the unit agreement” for (you guessed it) the same boats!!! For what it is worth per unit I would pay per 1 boat shipped maximum $1200 per 15’ self-bailer W/ 3 year warranty……. But $450 on shipping…. That translates to a catastrophic warranty issue being a total throw out or parts boat!!!!!

    Ya really want a China boat… it’s probably much, much better than just ok based on today’s rafts and construction & will likely do most folks fine for several years… make no mistake tho’ --- they are what they are and the venders selling them (can’t blame ‘em for making a livelihood) are doing so because there was no other way to sell superior more mainstream USA brand rafts. End of story.

    I had to ask this myself this spring ---- MY ANSWER:

    Nope - Not CHINA… Not for ME… Not for ALASKA RAFT CONNECTION… Not for ALASKA… Not for USA!!!! I went with fully custom SOTAR with advanced design, high pressure, exclusive floors and my other boats are AIRE all made in USA for ALASKA RIVERS… for ALASKA RAFT CONNECTION… & for me to steadfastly stand behind beyond any whisper of doubt!!!
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 06-17-2009 at 22:09. Reason: personal comment

  19. #19
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Costco products

    One tool I like to use before I purchase products, is Consumer reports.com.
    Its a good tool if you want to get some unbiased results from their test labs. Comsumer reports does not adverstise or take any money from any manufacture, but relies only on subscriptions to stay afloat.
    All products they test are purchased. they do not accept free stuff to test in anyway...
    Although they don't test inflatable rafts, they test many products that are used in homes around the world..
    In one of the News letters from Costco, I read that they are using comsumer reports test results to make sure that products they put on their shelves are of the best quality.
    Take products like Cannon and Nikon cameras, Dyson Vacum cleaners, the highest ranked personel computers, etc. Costco stands behind the products they sell, and their quality.
    Its not in Costco's interest to put products on their shelves that would initiate their return for credit..
    They just won't put up with junk, as it will cost them in the long run..
    Many years ago, I was hired to come up with a Cake recipes for Costco. They wanted only the best ingredients and no preservatives. I worked in a testing bakery in Arizona and developed dozens of prototypes and samples before they settled on what they wanted to put into their store line. They wanted only the best....
    ( I bet many of you did not know I was a pastry Chef for 24 years )
    .....
    Anyway...Alaska series Inflatables are quality boats, and are not entry level.
    I know Jim is passionate about his products, and stands behind them 100%.
    Nothing wrong with that....
    In my dealings with Jim, I have only heard him talk about the differences between his boats and others.
    I was not there to hear what Jim said, so I can't argue that point.
    I know he has a loyal following from those that have purchased his boats.
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Default Alaska Series Rafts

    So will these Kenai Drifters do the job on a float hunt?

    It sounds like they are ok in Whitewater, but most float hunters are not interested in that part. If we hit class III, hopefully it is for very short stretches.

    After reading through this thread and the archives, I come up with a mixed bag on using these for float hunts. Some say yes, some say no.


    Thanks!

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