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Thread: Good 12' raft?

  1. #1

    Default Good 12' raft?

    Finally going to throw down for a raft this year. I'm a 5'6" woman, relatively strong but I like oaring like being inside on a sunny day. So, I decided being able to do the biggest waves on the Nenana is an acceptable sacrifice to make oaring easier.
    I want to run a paddle team probably most of the time... I like whitewater, don't really care about slower rivers or fishing comfort. That bein' said, a lot of our rivers have their fair share of slow shallow sections I want to run. I also want a raft that will hold it's value well in case I don't use it as much as I expect the next year or two.
    It seems like a lot people have skinnier rafts up here, an Achilles is one I'm looking at, why is this? Seems like they would tip easier?
    I am also looking at an Avon Scout SB, it's an extra $1k, but has the exact oaring frame I want.
    Any feedback on brands or materials? I know with snowboarding there are brands that are worth every penny, but at a certain point you're just paying for brand name.

  2. #2
    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Buy a Sotar! They are super tough boats and slide through shallow water and off of rocks with ease. You will not be disappointed in whitewater, and I bet you will never want to get rid of it either. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Sotars are not cheap, but they are very good boats. An Aire Super Puma might be another good choice for you. Aire boats usually costs less than Sotars and they still deliver a good boat. Not AS good perhaps, but still good.

    There are less expensive options like Jim King's Alaska Series, 6th Avenue Outfitters and our forum's sponsor, Brian at Alaska Raft Connection. I might not put them in the same category as a Sotar, but in most cases they will provide nearly equal performance and good reliability for less money. They also have some nice designs and extra features.

    I think most people's choices come down to weighing how precious they value their money, to how highly they value quality, or at least their perception of quality.

    If you want an easier to row boat you might consider a cataraft. They're usually faster, more stable and can handle rougher water for an equal size boat. "Equal size" in this case means a 12' round boat compared to a 14-16' cat of comparable weight capacity. That way Nenana Canyon at high water would still be very doable. So would Sixmile and just about anything else. It's a little more difficult to paddle-raft a cat, but with longer paddles it's not too hard.

  4. #4
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    a friend purchased a 12' aire tributary from a certian box store due to the comparatively low price.

    while the raft is ok in terms of quality for those who just want to get out there, I think it was on the whole a poor choice in terms of the material and designe, there are much better crafts out there that are affordable.

    anyhow, would recommend against this particular aire model for many reasons, and I think I have come to the conclusion that a 12' raft is too small for my uses. It quickly becomes overloaded and sluggish for multi-day trips, you will find it much easier to row a 14 or 15 foot raft I think if you have more than 2 bodies and gear in the raft.

  5. #5
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Aire

    Hello .....kernel,

    Aire makes the Puma and Super Puma in the size+- you are considering.
    Fine construction, variety of colors.

    10 year no fault warrenty. IF something with the boat isn't right....10 yr warranty.
    If a bear eats it...10 yr warranty.
    Somehow flies off a trailor at high speed...10 yr warranty.
    If a friend get drunk and shoots it....10 yr no fault warranty.

    Note that 12 foot boats fill up really quick. A little bigger might be better.
    Do....spend the cash required for a quality raft. Dont....get a cheaper, seemingly affordable, pool toy.

    Call Alaska Raft and Kayak at 561-7238

    dennis

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by thekernel View Post
    Finally going to throw down for a raft this year. I'm a 5'6" woman, relatively strong but I like oaring like being inside on a sunny day. So, I decided being able to do the biggest waves on the Nenana is an acceptable sacrifice to make oaring easier.
    I want to run a paddle team probably most of the time... I like whitewater, don't really care about slower rivers or fishing comfort. That bein' said, a lot of our rivers have their fair share of slow shallow sections I want to run. I also want a raft that will hold it's value well in case I don't use it as much as I expect the next year or two.
    It seems like a lot people have skinnier rafts up here, an Achilles is one I'm looking at, why is this? Seems like they would tip easier?
    I am also looking at an Avon Scout SB, it's an extra $1k, but has the exact oaring frame I want.
    Any feedback on brands or materials? I know with snowboarding there are brands that are worth every penny, but at a certain point you're just paying for brand name.
    I can see by making mention of 13' self-bailing rafts both oar-rigged and paddle-teamed and a boat like the Avon Scout... there are several very good boats to choose from that will be excellent here in Alaska on the rivers you're talking.

    The Avon Scout is an interesting selection in that it differs from traditional Hypalon construction. Avon has always had an exceptionally supple version of long-lasting, reliable rubber Hypalon fabric... this Scout boat is a hybrid of sorts with a 40OZ. urethane fabric floor. This makes the floor stiffer, slicker, and more cut/puncture/abrasion resistant than if the whole boat was rubber.

    Your inquiry with regards to skinnier rafts like 'Puma' series is right on... yes, they are 'much more tipsy and reactive' (less stable with good handling) than raft dimensions like SOTAR ST & SP. Puma and Spyder type boats ~ skinny w/ diminished tubes ~ were in fact originally designed for steeper, narrower, paddle rafting descents... then later caught on to oar-rigging, fishing, and so on.

    Is the Avon a good choice in 13'? Yes is the answer... all components on this boat are very good. Keep in mind SOTAR & AIRE are Made in USA

    PM if the AVON, AIRE, or SOTAR are of interest.

  7. #7

    Default So many choices!

    Hey, thanks everybody for all the good feedback so far.

    Hadn't thought about the benefits of a local (well, AK) dealer, and buying USA made would be nice.

    I will either be running a team of 3-5 people on rivers like the Lowe or Nenana - or - doing overnighters with 2-3 people and gear, I'm more of a minimalist camper.

    For my "river personality" I have found that anything bigger than a 14' just takes too much of the bounce and fun out of any rapids.

    I think I am most undecided on size. I am afraid, without having any experience, that 14' of raft will be a whole lot more difficult if it's just me oaring than 12' of boat? And perhaps a 12' boat will feel overloaded with a full crew rowing... But I think it will be just me and one other paddler more often than not and I don't want to feel like we can't manuever the thing fast enough.

    As for material, sounds like PVC is more rigid, slides of rocks etc easier/ better...

    I will be taking my younger nieces out, so less tippy is better, although the # of Aire Pumas I've seen on the rivers has to be for a reason.

    I was thinking new was out of the question expensive, but quality and value retention are also at the top of my list. Sounds like I need to start calling around to some local companies and find out!

  8. #8

    Default 12' rafts

    Sent ya a po

  9. #9
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Great post

    I have 28 cents as well but it will onluy confirm what has been said.

    IMO if your running big water with people you might be better off going to 14ft you will need the room when you start talking 3-5 people day trips day or 2-3 people extended trips. You may be a min person but your party may not.

    AIRE is tuff to beat and Local dealers, repair is a no brainer but than again it is my opinion. Frame configuration is anything you want in this state most dealers are willing to meet or exceed your demands by custom building most frames. AIRE has many options of boats starting with the Puma series. Call Alaska Raft & Kayak 907-561-7238. If your in the Nenana area you can also contact me 907-460-7758.

    You could also look at the NRS Otter Series which is an affordable boat with a 10 year warranty. We rent a ton of them for fishing and hunting trips. Little Lighter than an AIRE for the most part size on size.

    AIRE Trib series made in China subline of AIRE is another option and I do see where someone stated that is a no boat. I run them in my rnetal fleet and commercially guided fishing trips they do fine however I have yet to run one on big water so I can not comment on the preformance concerning Class IV / V

    Maxxon which is the subline now carried by AR&K is inexpensive and has a 5 year warranty so pricing is good and it is aplastic boat. Thye have a 13 and 14ft option

    Same could be said about Sotar which Brian is affiliated with has a local distributor and very knowledgable people such as Brian working with them. Great boat and a wonderful option. Nice 40 oz fabric with poly coating light weight with a 7 year warranty they will extended it for a couple of extra bucs. Get with Goeaux or Brain and they can fill you in about Sotar options.
    Goaeux can have just about anything made custom you may be interested in.

    As mentioned as well Jim King Alaska Series Boats and 6th Ave Outfitters have available options both made overseas but both have reasonable pricing.

    Options as well as Avon are Hy-Side and Marava M is made in the U.S. little heaver boat IMO but I am somewhat bias.

    If your in the Fairbanks area give me a shout I have no issues with letting you test NRS Otters, Cataraft configurations and or a couple of AIRE Series boats.

    Best of luck with your choice.

    Best Wishes

    Richard Mousseau
    www.bluemooserafting.com

  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Hi Kernel,

    Could you give us an idea what your budget is? Lots of recommendations, but there's a big price difference between some of these boats.

    -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

    Default Norman

    Hey Mike, Thanks for your quote- Mr. NORMAN was a good friend and mentor, whom we shared many obscure adventure stories.
    Goo

  12. #12
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    12' is the biggest I would try to run whitewater with a 2 person paddle crew, any longer and you just can't spin it as a team. It is the smallest I would take on a multi-day with 2 people with a row frame, and that would be leaving some of the big and heavy stuff at home. A few feet of difference in length makes a huge difference in how big your paddle crew can be. 12' boat= 5 person crew. 14' boat= 6 or 7 person crew.

    How easy a boat is to row comes down to a lot of factors. A smaller boat will often row like a pig when you've got too many people in it. A bigger boat will float higher with the same load, it's just math, more surface area, more air in it.

    Your best bet is to demo as many as you can get your hands on.

  13. #13

    Default

    Well, Benjy, that's exactly what I'm struggling with. I don't know too many people who are exited about jumping in to do day trips as a paddle team, so I want to be able to get out on the water even if I can only round up one or two other people! But at the same time, a big "family trip" is out with a smaller boat.

    I just had to invest a wholelotta cash in the 4runner, so I'm now looking at used boats... $2k is probably my limit for the setup. Gonna try to be patient, get in a couple rentals to get the feel of 'em...

  14. #14

    Default

    another 2 cents . . . .

    first to address your comment " I am a 5'6" woman . . . ."
    don't just focus on the raft. The frame you get, should be adjustable enough to get a secure foot bar, oars easy to reach, and preferably some back support (a real seat vs a cooler). This will allow you to get max power to the oar blades, and remain in the boat during the wild times. Really a seperate topic than the right raft.

    Secondly 12'er
    I second several comments that 12 ft is probably the minimum. I find that a 14' is a nice middle of the road size. I can wiggle down most rivers in the early spring/fall, and also ride Loin’s Head up till mid July. I have a 14'sb Maravia, and a 14' sb Achillies. The Maravia is about 50lbs lighter, has more bow and stern kick and therefore a shorter waterline. The Achillies is a freighter flatter kick, more usable floor space, seems more "roomy. The Maravia has room for 3 removable thwarts but can be easily handled by a little as 3 paddlers in most situations. Both boats are essentially the same length & width, but are made with different material (weight) and have distinctly different handling characteristics.

    Next hold Value
    Here's where I may raise a fire storm (no offense to vendors on the forum). Our boating season is SOOOOooooo short here in Alaska compared to elsewhere. You figure from June to August you have 12 weekends (24 days per year). Unless you have no other interests, and do nothing but boat every weekend, and take a one week vacation in your raft (7 days days per year), if properly cared for, most reputable brands will almost last forever. In fact if you are just starting, find a frame you like and by a cheap boat. Run it a few years, learn how to take care of an inflatable, then sell it to a fisherman (who will not take care if it at all !! they look for fish not rocks )

    If you are buying a used boat, steer clear of a boat that has been stored in the sun, and a boat used by a fisherman !!

  15. #15
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default No Fire Strom

    Great Sound Advive Enjoy the Rep Point

  16. #16

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    So far there have been lots of good points. But from my personal experience, a 12 foot boat is really fun in a river on a day trip with a paddle crew, and just about useless on a multi-day trip as there just is not much room left in with the whole crew in the thing. Yet with that said, a good friend and I rowed his 12 footer down the Salmon on a 4 day trip and it was adequate. Barely....and that was just 2 of us sharing duties (or should I say fun) at the rowing frame. It was great trip.

    Like you noted, a 14 footer takes a lot of the fun out of the little rapids - where the little 12 foot boats are a kick in class II-III. They can be interesting in class III plus on the right day. Now, you could have a rowing frame made for a 14 footer that will go in the back (I made mine out of fairly light galvinized tubing and it has withstood the test of time) and still run a crew (3 on a side) in the front just for kicks (my favorite set up). With just four paddlers (with you in the back) there is still decent room for some gear on a multi-day trip, but it is really pretty tight and I don't think you'd be able to cram it all in there and not have a pig boat. In fact, I know you'd have a pig boat as that was what my old 14 foot Riken was years ago.

    The question is, what do you really want to be doing? A small boat is great for a rowing crew on a day trip, but really inadequate for a crew on a multi-day trip as there just isn't much room. A 14 footer is much better as the load carry capacity and extra space is significant when compared to the 12 footer and is much more doable for a multi-day trip. Depending on how big your crew is, how long you're going, and how much crap you bring, even the 14 footer won't be big enough really. Simply put, they both have their positives and negatives, what you are going to use it for will dictate what is going to work for you. You idea of renting is great. And when you do, cram all that stuff in each one of them that you will be using on you multi-day trips to get an idea of how they will handle, and whether you will have enough room at all. One thing for sure, it is surprising how quickly they fill up.

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