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Thread: cataraft or raft

  1. #1
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    Default cataraft or raft

    just wondering what the opinions on the 2 were i was looking into buying one and wanted to know which is better

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Jess,
    The forum has a bunch of experts that are going to help you with this decision. But, HELP US HELP YOU.
    Tell us more about the rafting conditions and applications you are most interested in and that you are most likely to encounter.

    remote fly-ins? Or roadside stuff?
    By your lonesome self? Or two of you? Or family rafting?
    Might you want to, or need a motor?
    Are you planning on using a trailor, or will you absolutely be using a pickup truck?

    Again, help us help you by twellling us more about why you are interested injoining the raft team!
    See, lots of guys have experience with only one type of raft. so they don;t even know of the advantages or disadvantages of one type of raft over the other.

    OR, just look at the archives, especially the old archives...
    OR just purchase Mike Strahans book, which is excellent, Float Hunting Alaskas Wild Rivers.

    dennis

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    well i really want it for hunting like moose creek and things like that. i dont know if i will ever get into white water stuff but i cant say that. i would love to float the valley streams for fishing and things like the kasilof for fishing and dip netting. i currntly have a canoe and i love it but i cant go do some of the float hunts that i want to do with it cause just my gear and my brothers gear fills it if we shot something there would be no where to put it. plus if i put 1000lbs in my canoe im drawing so much water i have to drag it everywhere and it dont drag to well

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    i also have 2 kids and a wife that will prolly never go atleast not for a couple years seeing my boys are 2years and one is 4 months but my brother and i would really like to go to moose creek and hunt and fish it

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    Either will work well. I have both but usually prefer a self bailing raft for trips and easy floating. They are easier to setup on the river bank. A large cataraft works best if you can dedicate a trailer for it and leave it set up because of the size and complexity of the frame. The cat is faster, more stable and handles whitewater better. The round boat loads simpler and hauls more weight for the length. You can use a larger motor on the cat, and the motor is easier to mount, but the ride is very wet if you go fast at all.

    Lots of advantages to each, and glad I have both.

  7. #7
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    jesse,
    To complicate your decision, you might like the versatility of a "cata-canoe". Two AIRE Traveler Canoes, with a flat frame. It will break apart to fit in any aircraft. Perfect for fitting into a truck, trailer not necessary. Much faster to put together on the river, as opposed to a cataraft frame. Buit it is still "motor capable" like a cataraft. Perfect for class I and class II water. And can also be used as two canoes.

    Check out the archives for more info on cata-canoes. Or call THE MAN, Tracy Harmon at Alaska Raft and Kayak. Tracy, along with Michael Strahan sort of pioneered the concept....

    Dennis

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    Jesse,

    Lots to say on this question, but at the risk of appearing more interested in selling you something (I'm not, it's 10pm and I have to be up at 3:45am), you should consider the float hunting book I wrote. There's an entire chapter dedicated to boats and accessories in there. It goes extensively into float hunting, and is without question the most comprehensive, complete work on float hunting ever written. I would say that no matter who wrote it. If you're interested, HERE'S THE LINK to order your own copy from our store.

    That said, the axiom I go by is to let the river choose the boat. That is to say that some rivers lend themselves to round boats, some to catarafts, and some to smaller boats such as inflatable canoes. My best recommendation to you is to rent or go with other folks and learn the ropes a bit before committing your money. Otherwise you may not be happy with your purchase.

    You are welcome to drop me a line via PM or by email at <lostcreek@ak.net> and I would be happy to offer any assistance I can.

    Hope it helps!

    Regards,

    -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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    Jesse:

    When my three sons were your boys' age, I bought a 16' cat and dialed it out with all the bells and whistles. I wrongly assumed it would be the dream boat for a family, plus accommodate my hunting trips. Yes, it held a lot when it came to float hunts, but it's not a family boat for young kids. Even with the mesh floats, passengers will get wet, which ultimately means cold kids. More importantly, my wife was terrified that the boys were sitting in individual seats where one bump on a rock could knock them into the river. Even with short posts and mounting them towards the middle, it remained a problem. For hunting it was nice given the roominess, but in my experience, a 16 footer is a pig when it's loaded up and you're trying to hit a slot during low water conditions in the late fall. If it were just you and a hunting buddy, I'd recommend a 14' cat (and get a trailer like the other folks' have said); but with the kids, having the security of the round tube is a better bet. Go for a 13' or 14' round raft, self-bailing and you'll be much happier until the boys get older. I sold my cat and did the same and it was the right decision.

    Northernop

  10. #10

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    Well said mate - this is the same reason I have a shotgun and a rifle - love my kats for hair water and love my rafts most of the time -- but LOVE my IK the most
    Goo

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    I'm with these lucky guys with one (or more) of each. That would be the perfect solution. I just floated a north Brooks Range river that barely had enough water to slip my self-bailer through. A cat would have struggled. Also, unloading and assembling my frame after flying in only took a few minutes vs. a heavier load for the plane and more complexity reassembling it riverside.

    Earlier in the summer a neighbor and I floated the Chulitna with our families. He was in his 18' Aire cat and I was in my 15' NRS self-bailer. I drug bottom less than he did even though I was loaded slightly heavier. However, we've been on other trips where he had a motor bolted to his transom to avoid paddling across miles of flat water while I rowed. I could add a transom/motor to my frame, but it won't perform nearly as well as the cat/motor combo.

    Now I just need to sell my wife on the idea of a second boat.....that way we have the perfect boat for whatever river or one for guests on trips. hhahahah

  12. #12
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    Jesse, I have two kids (now 6 and 3), and they love being on the water more than anything. Until a few years ago, my only boat was a 16' cat, but I never felt the kids were "secure". So, I knew I needed something else, but for the life of me I couldn't give up the cat. My wife has a pretty demanding career and didn't want to go through another pregnancy, so I ended up negotiating a 16' raft in exchange for me getting the dreaded vasectomy. Then, I sold my 16' cat to get a 13' cat. Now, I want a little short raft I can R2 on creeks. And, I think Goo has the right idea with the IK. You'll love whatever you buy, but you will never be satisfied with one boat.

    With that said, Jesse, since you have two young kids, I'd start with the raft. You'll be able to hunt, fish, float whitewater, and take your family out. Buy the best boat your can afford; don't skimp on quality when you're taking the little ones out.

    Josh


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    Start with a cat. It's more versatile. A lot has been said, most of it very good advice, but the bottom line is that every boat is a compromise. You can run a lot of "raft water" with a cat; there is plenty of "cat water" you can't touch with a raft. Plus, if you want, you can mount an outboard on your frame. Having gone through the whole thing, various inflatables, inboard and outboard jets, and airboat, if I had to pick only one boat, it would be a cataraft.

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    After reading the post and figuring I would see about as many opinions as I saw posts, here is another one. I would go with a 14 Aire Selfbailer. I have had a 14 foot cat and personally hated. It was heavier and a little more difficult to steer. I didn't care for the frame systems at all. The selfbailer is more convenant, faster to set up and it, my frame, 2 people and our gear all fit in a 180 for a week float on Lake Creek. I have used it on the Gulkana as well. I also believe it drafts about 1/2 the water that the 14 ft cat did. 3 people fit nicely for day trips, 2 is perfect for extended trips. I recommend a trailer for either one, if you do a lot of days trips, makes it easier to deal with. So good luck with your search and if you want anymore info, or just to chat, send me a PM

  15. #15

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    I agree, 14' raft is the way to go . Especially with children involved. Carries more with simple frame. Much more forgiving. You may want to take a look at urethane rafts which is much stronger and slides better over rocks than pvc. AIRE and SOTAR offer them and are both USA products. This is what most of the pros use.

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    A 14' self-bailer is the biggest you can rent to the best of my knowledge in AK. I chose a 15' SB. Only 1 extra ft. may not seem like much, but it makes a difference on an extended trip. Anything bigger than 15' and one guy will struggle to heft it when un-inflated.

    Here's mine being put to good use a week and a half ago. A raft will open up all kinds of adventures for your family!



    My wife's first bull caribou


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    Default Cold kids, cold wife, kids bobbing in the river... not good

    Quote Originally Posted by northernop View Post
    ... not a family boat for young kids.... passengers will get wet, which ultimately means cold kids. More importantly, my wife was terrified that the boys were sitting in individual seats where one bump on a rock could knock them into the river. Even with short posts and mounting them towards the middle, it remained a problem...but with the kids, having the security of the round tube is a better bet. Northernop
    It will be important to understand the limitations of any raft you get, but from a family rafting perspective, Northernop's points are good ones. Wind or rain (or both) can make a day on the water very long, especially for those not rowing. No one will enjoy fretting about the kids either.

    Two truths about outdoor family recreation in AK I've learnt:
    1. Camping (and rafting) with families is about knowing how to stay or get warm/dry.
    2. Shopping for a truck camper is really about the bathroom for the ladies in the group .

    Good luck.

  18. #18
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    P1090271.jpg

    Never too early to get the kids out. My experience... a round raft is the only way to go with a family. Put a tarp down (dark color) and if it is rainy or windy they go into the cave and are warm and dry. Shoot if it is really nasty I join them They love it in there, nap time in no time. I have owned both and can tell you that I feel a round raft is the way to go with an inflatable floor. Also for family I like a stern frame which allows a big area in the middle for the kids to play and move around without the risk of falling out. My vote aire 156E with a stern frame and two twarts..

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    14ft self bailer I,ve had 2 of them. Get the larger tubes24inch. If you want a motor on it or are going to do some BIG water may be a cat. You really should paddle booth before deciding. I like to keep mine inflated all year and I have a trailer. I just store mine out side under a tarp. I hope this helped. Tom

  20. #20
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    Matt.Ak,
    What do you like about running a stern frame on your 156E??
    Is a stern frame for paddle rafting with a team?

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