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Thread: Cat Recommendations

  1. #1
    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Default Cat Recommendations

    Skiing kind of stinks right now, so my mind is drifting to rafting….

    Last summer I bought a 16’ Sotar raft and absolutely love it, putting my 16’ cat on the sidelines. I’m going to sell my 16’ NRS cat, and buy a smaller one. I am not opposed to buying a used boat if I can get a good deal. My research has focused primarily on the AIRE boats (Wildcat, Ocelot, and the Wave Destroyer Series), although, I am also looking at Sotar and Maravia. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on these boats, or perhaps a different brand. Also, I would welcome any recommendations on length, frame, and oars. Here is specifically what I am looking for:

    *Will use mostly as a one-man boat, but would like the ability to take another passenger at times, primarily for 6 Mile and other road accessible whitewater creeks in Alaska, but also Idaho and Montana
    *Has the ability to punch holes on big volume rivers yet still maneuverable for small creeks
    *Something that it is durable
    *Frame that breaks down easily for a fly-out
    *Needs to compliment/be different than my 16’ raft (not exactly sure what I am getting at here?)

    Also, if anybody has a boat like this and wants a bigger boat, I might be willing to trade my 16’ NRS cat.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default

    I have a AIRE Leopard(18') that I have really enjoyed. AIRE makes a solid boat/raft with a warranty that is untouchable(10 year no fault). Mine is 6/7 years old now and shows no wearing and it has been on several fly-in hunts. Alaska Raft and Kayak makes a nice break down frame for the cats also. Give Tracey a call at Alaska Raft and Kayak he is a great guy and has a ton of knowledge he is wiling to share. Plus he is a dealer for AIRE and he is the one I bought my setup from. He has always went out of his way to help me.

  3. #3

    Default fun cats

    Heg-- sent PM

  4. #4
    Member AK-Bandit's Avatar
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    Default

    I've also been looking to buy a cat before the summer. I've pretty much decided on a 14' AIRE Lion or 14' NRS River Cat (I'm torn between the two). I like the blunt bow tubes for the extra load capacity. I have no need to attach a motor to a cat this small, so the blunt bow is not an issue for me.
    This raft will see primarily 2 to 4 people on day trips (Upper Kenai, Willow), and 2 people for multiday trips (Gulkana).

    But since you're looking for primarily a one man cat, with the option of adding another person, I'd take a hard look at the AIRE Ocelot.

    Tracey and Mark at Alaska Raft and Kayak are both very helpful.

  5. #5
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default big fan of Aire products

    I'm also a big fan of Aire. I've owned 3 Aire cats in the last 18 years and have not had any problems with any of them. I sold a 12' Wildcat last year, a boat that I had for about 12 years or so, and used primarily for whitewater. This thing was a blast on Six Mile, and performed equally well on bigger volumes of water like the canyon of the Talkeetna. The frame I used for it was made by Alaska Wild Rivers (company no longer in existence). It was approx. 6 1/2' long, if memory serves me correct. On one occasion I took a buddy with me down Six Mile and ended up swimming twice in the second and third canyons. I probably didn't have it set up right for 2 people on that trip but did many other trips in it with 2 people without any problems. This is a great little raft, IMO, for what you’re looking at doing with it.

  6. #6
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Wow the Options

    You could be looking and looking and looking. Between the Sotar, ARIE, NRS, Outcast, Jack's, Scadden, Hy-Side oh the options.

    I am bias towards AIRE sorry Goeux :-)


    For Heg IMO your options will be the Wave Destoryer by AIRE and the Wildcat. If your looking for greater load carrying capicty the Wave Destroyer is better option. If not there is no reason not to go to the Wildcat if in fact you choose AIRE.

    I have never been in a SOTAR Cat but if I was looking ot play the tube design on the SL would make for a fast boat that would tern on a dime so for what it is worth is a valid option.

    Hyside's 144 or 156 CATU are also valid options and quality crafts and are worth at least researching. 144 is 12"6" and the 156 is 13' so both cats are in your length and preformance range. i.e. more playing than hunting.

    If I were looking for a custom frame in the Anch I would talk to Tracy at AR&K quality work and they back their products and can make just about anything you dream of.

    28 cents officially spent.

  7. #7

    Default Sotar cats

    No worries Moose -- Check out our new web site , sotar.com, shows all 3 of our production models. We can make any size, style, tube diameter, ect.
    They are hand made one at a time in Merlin Or. All of our products are made from 40 oz. - 4000 denier urethane and polyester.
    You might like what you see??
    Goo Vogt
    ALASKA WILDWATER
    sotaralaska@yahoo.com

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    Default

    goeaux I'm in the market for some smaller cat tubes too, pm sent.

  9. #9

    Default Sotar cats

    Hey Joe, Im having problems getting the pm to you. Give me a call at 907-345-4308 or e-mail to my sotaralaska@yahoo.com -
    thanks
    Goo

  10. #10
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Already done Bro

    I checked out the updated site before they did a nice job. I agree 40 OZ slick stuff. You have to promise me no extra extra double coverings :-)

  11. #11

    Default Promise

    No need mate!! I think they just updated the site again, take a look.
    Hope you guys are not too frozen up there!!

  12. #12
    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Default

    Goo and others, thanks again for all the responses. Goo, I checked out Sotar's website, you guys have some very cool boats. I am quickly developing a Sotar bias. I'll give you a call in the next couple days.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heg View Post
    Goo and others, thanks again for all the responses. Goo, I checked out Sotar's website, you guys have some very cool boats. I am quickly developing a Sotar bias. I'll give you a call in the next couple days.
    They are light, and slick. They glide right over gravel bars that would stick hypalon, and to a lesser degree whatever that Aire material is. IMO, Sotar builds the best boat.

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default clarification-

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjy View Post
    They are light, and slick. They glide right over gravel bars that would stick hypalon, and to a lesser degree whatever that Aire material is. IMO, Sotar builds the best boat.
    I agree with you, but there are some other considerations.

    "Whatever that Aire material is" is PVC (a plastic). The inner bladders on AIRE's boats are made out of Urethane. I checked SOTAR's site and I see they are using "Lexatron" (another plastic) for some of their boats. "Lexatron" is a urethane-coated material. Used to be that they made most of their stuff from PVC too (I think their name for it was "Polytron"?). But their site doesn't say whether they're still using this fabric. One place says that one of their cats is the only one that uses "Lexatron", but the descriptions of some of the other cats indicates that they use it for some of those boats too. The site is new though, so they probably have not caught up with this yet.

    In addition to the fabric, the OP would do well to compare warranties between the two companies (SOTAR and AIRE). To my knowledge, AIRE is still the only inflatable manufacturer that includes a standard ten-year no fault warranty. SOTAR, like other manufacturers, reserves the right to determine whether or not your boat is covered, and their six-year warranty on Lexatron boats only applies to the original purchaser. You can read it HERE.

    In SOTAR's defense, it is my understanding that Goo Voght, the Alaska SOTAR dealer, takes pretty good care of his customers, regardless of what the warranty says. Still, it would be wise to compare.

    I can personally vouch for AIRE's warranty. A couple of years ago I bought an AIRE Super Leopard that had tubes which were severely weather checked. I don't know what caused it, but the fabric was even starting to turn brittle. I bought the boat because the frame and accessories alone were worth the purchase price. Anyway I called AIRE about the fabric and they replaced both tubes with a brand-new set of tubes! New bladders, new skins, new hardware, new valves, everything! I can't say enough good about them, and they deserve the accolades they get for their warranty.

    For many of us in Alaska the warranty is a big issue. Most damage to inflatable boats happens off the water, during storage and transit. In my case I ship boats by air cargo. Though I take all precautions to protect them during shipping, there is a chance of a tube being punctured by a nail sticking out of a pallet, speared by a forklift, or ripped by being rubbed against another freight load in the warehouse. With AIRE's warranty I'm covered every time, without question.

    I like the Lexatron fabric, for sure; without a doubt it is the slickest and toughest material being used these days. But, like all plastics, it is difficult to fold or roll when it is cold. You don't get this with Hypalon or neoprene, the two rubber materials used on many inflatable boats. Something to think about.

    Another consideration is cost. Lexatron is the most expensive material used in inflatable boat construction that I am aware of. Consequently Lexatron boats are some of the most expensive on the market. For comparison, the SOTAR ST Classic 18' cat retails for $3,243 and the AIRE Leopard 18' cat retails for $2,599. The tubes on the AIRE Leopard are a larger diameter, too. BTW, this price is just for the tubes; frames and rigging is extra.



    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 02-28-2010 at 08:57.
    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

  15. #15
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default

    Aire also makes rafts using urethane. They make this option available for all their rafts, with the exception of the Tributary series rafts.

  16. #16
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Urethane on AIRE boats?

    Quote Originally Posted by AK Troutbum View Post
    Aire also makes rafts using urethane. They make this option available for all their rafts, with the exception of the Tributary series rafts.
    Hi Trout,

    Urethane coating can be added to a boat after it is manufactured. In fact, you can paint it on yourself, and I think Alaska Raft and Kayak offers this service. Is this what you're talking about, or is AIRE offering their boats with a urethane top coat now? I had not heard this, and it is not listed on their site as an option...

    -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 AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Hi Trout,

    Urethane coating can be added to a boat after it is manufactured. In fact, you can paint it on yourself, and I think Alaska Raft and Kayak offers this service. Is this what you're talking about, or is AIRE offering their boats with a urethane top coat now? I had not heard this, and it is not listed on their site as an option...

    -Mike
    Ya, Aire is now offering it as an option. When you get on their site just click on any raft (with the exception of Tributary) and at the bottom of the description they state "For extra durability this model is available constructed with Urethane fabric. Please call for pricing".

  18. #18

    Default lexatron

    Morning Mr. Mike, A little info. on SOTAR. Lexatron is a name we gave our urethane fabric about 20 years ago. It then was made by a company in Virginia, Cooley. We now get our fabric from another supplier. It is 40 oz. urethane coating with 3000 denier polyester base cloth. Our standard warranty is 6 yrs. but if you like you can buy an upgrade to 10 years, though you would probably never need it. About 20 yrs ago we did make pvc boats, but too many problems with welding it and the toxic gas it puts off when welded. Urethane is about 10 times more abrasion resistant than pvc, according to the AIRE web site, and cost about 5 times more than pvc. AIRE will build you a custom boat from urethane for $1,500 - $2,000 extra cost. They use the same ERES urethane that we use, except it is a lighter base fabric, 1670 denier. Now you know why SOTAR cost more than most other USA made boats and why our boats are tougher than others. I do my best to take care of Alaska boaters and cant remember when i charged full retail to any one up here. Having been the Alaska SOTAR rep. for 28 years i amy very proud of the company and the direction it is heading in the international and domestic
    commercial markets as well as private boaters.
    If any questions feel free to cal or e-mail.
    Goo Vogt
    ALASKA WILDWATER
    907-345-430
    sotaralaska@yahoo.com

  19. #19

    Default

    Sorry, had an interruption at the end of my post--
    My phone number is 907-345-4308
    thanks, Goo

  20. #20
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Thanks, Goo!

    Thanks for coming back on with this info. I knew you had the details! I could not remember what your base cloth was or I would have posted it, and for some reason I could not find the data on SOTAR's site. BTW, pass on my congrats for the nice upgrade to their site- much better than the old one! They put a lot of work into it, and it shows.

    The urethane AIRE boats was a new one on me- dunno how that slipped by. But their pricing seems a bit high. It would be interesting to get one in hand. Are they using the shell and bladder system on the urethane boats too?

    Also thanks for the additional info on the SOTAR warranty extension; another detail I did not find on their site, and had not heard of.

    Most importantly, I appreciate the superb customer service you offer, and have never heard a negative report about it. These days it's hard to find a truly bad boat out there, and when things get to that point in any industry, it becomes a focus on customer service. I hope you're not planning to move to Louisiana any time soon...

    All the best-

    -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

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