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Thread: Outfit Investement Advice

  1. #1
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    Question Outfit Investement Advice

    I have 6 50ish Montana flyfishers who are interested in establishing an Alaska outfit for our own use. We like clear gentle flyfishing waters like the Alagnak.
    We generally do 10 day floats with 3 persons per raft for rainbows & silvers. We plan to spend about $15,000 or $2500 each to get started.
    I'm impressed by you guys collective experience and want your help with the following:
    Are there viable rental alternatives you might sugggest that make the investment & storage issues evaporate?
    Storage and location of gear is an issue, safe storage in King Salmon is hard to find. Anchorage seems too far from the waters we like but has good storage options....is it practical to charter from Ancorage to Alagnak region?. If we purcahse an outfit we want top quality.
    What boats do you suggest?What tent (I was looking at 2 Cabela's Alaska Outfitter 8 man but see you don't recommend it.$569) Please suggest a local supplier we can purchase the whole shebang from. Interested in mutual help situation for you Alaskans that like to fish or Elk hunt Montana...have good gear here for you.........Thanks in advance for your advice

  2. #2

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    I'd do either two things.

    Buy your stuff in MT and keep it there. Buy a used plastic bulk container for $100-200 or a open lid plastic barrel on Ebay and load it with your rafts/break down oars/gear and ship it to AK on Alaska Airlines Cargo Service to your destination town 2 weeks before your trip date. A take apart frame can be shipped in a heavy duty,padded double ski bag(carries two skis) either UPS or AK Air Cargo. Cost up and back is a little less than rental fees $500-600. It's more about if you want to use your own gear or not... savings is minimal for that short of a trip. The extra work kind of shipping kind of negates the savings for 7-10 day trips.

    Or just rent. Alaska Raft and Kayak will ship your rafts to your destination town. Basically any town AkAir goes to. Plus allot of remote towns like KS or Dilly have people to rent from. Ask here or your bush pilot ect and someone will know the specifics for a town. Really grill the service on the gear,repair kits provided. I've had one rental that was pretty piss poor and not adequate with extra oars,repair kits and grossly improper oar lengths. The upside is it is often great gear and all you have to do is throw it on a pallet in the bush pilot's hanger or shed,call the renter to tell him where it is and walk away. Pretty casual usually.

    Storage fees for a year in some remote town seems like a real waste of money and gear. If you go that way make sure you really protect it in a thick plastic container so mice don't make a home in it and chew holes through it.

    Plus,what if your gear is KS storage but you want to do a float out of another town/region next year. AK is a big state...no reason to get hung up on one river/town forever.
    Last edited by indyjones; 02-25-2007 at 11:21.

  3. #3

    Default buy/ rent/ store

    I faced the same or at least similar dilema. My issues with renting were...quality, availability, and costs vs. owning. I bought my outfit and add to it every year. By buying localy you get what you need and the quality that you need and by the time you add frieght to ship it up you don't save any money by purchasing at home. I have the good fortune of having family that live in Alaska and I am able to store my outfit in one of thier outbuildings. I even bought a vehicle, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 that I leave. There are numerous options on the storage issue in and around Anchorage, do some research and I'm sure you will be able to find someplace to stash your stuff for a reasonable fee. So far, three going on four years now, it is working out well. I did buy the large heavy plastic storage containers to put my stuff in. I also tape the lids on well...so far no bugs or mice problems. Be sure and dry everything out well before putting it away. Right now I am quite certain that I could, if I wanted to...but don't, sell the whole outfit for close to what I have invested in it. There is a high demand for "quality used stuff." By the time I deduct the amount that it would have cost me to rent ....I am way ahead of the game! You can't go to Alaska just once so building an outfit that you can add to every year works for me! This year we will add a new tent, utility trailer, .454 Casul Ruger Alaskan, and a couple of new sleeping bags. All but the handgun will be bought localy, I like the idea of supporting the local independents...good people..and it is amazing how much good solid information you get vs. big box or catalog. My plan works for me becuase I spend a month in Alaska...maybe more in the future!

  4. #4
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    Talking What type of raft did you buy?

    I live in Fairbanks,Alaska and was just wondering. I have a 18' Aire Leopard Cataraft and love it.

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    Default Aire options

    I have not yet purchased the boats ..I was set on 16' NRS cats because I've always had hypolon boats.....but you guys got me interested in the Aire cats. We plan to have up to 3 guys on a boat with 10 days gear
    .....was thinking the Jaguarundi would do the job but the wieght looks close to capacity on this boat.....the Leopard looks good but wanting to keep the boat wieght down and with 2 boats the difference in 16' & 18' is 40Lbs.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRock View Post
    I have not yet purchased the boats ..I was set on 16' NRS cats because I've always had hypolon boats.....but you guys got me interested in the Aire cats. We plan to have up to 3 guys on a boat with 10 days gear
    .....was thinking the Jaguarundi would do the job but the wieght looks close to capacity on this boat.....the Leopard looks good but wanting to keep the boat wieght down and with 2 boats the difference in 16' & 18' is 40Lbs.
    I would take an AIRE over a nrs for a remote trip just based on the ease of repair...it could happen. I have had the Jag, 3 guys is doable but add gear and it is pretty sketchy, need soft water, I run an AIRE LION 16' now, it would easily tote your load, I have run the clark fork when it was rollin hard and it took 3 adults a lab and our gear like a champ.

  7. #7
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    Default reply to indyjones

    Thanks Indy.......I rechecked Alaska Air Freight and I'm afraid shipping my outfit from here round trip is $1800.Rental for 2cats is $1800 for a 10 day trip......and that includes no camping gear. So I think you are correct it makes the most sense to keep my gear here and use it all year and pay the price to ship it to AK.

  8. #8

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    Any reason you are going with cats overs rafts? A 16ft raft with the thwarts out can haul a ton of gear in the center for 3 and easily leave lots of room at the bow and stearn for people to stand up and fish.

    Here is a pic of the set up I'm talking about...they put all the stuff on top but without thwarts you can get stuff allot lower and out of the way.



    Aire is a darn good raft but there are more parts to go wrong with bladders and zippers added in the mix. Zippers get clogged with mud and grit and can be a ***** to open. The tubes can take on water inside and need to be drained off and dried before storage or they will mold up. Grit can get inside between the bladders and pvc and cause holes. The PVC gets super stiff in cold temps and can crack. It doesn't have the abrasion resistance of hypalon either. Everyone loves their Aire's on this site and they are great boats but it's not a perfect raft either.

    If you like hypalon boats then go with that. I've owned Aire, several hypalon boats and urethane boats and like hypalon the best. It's very user friendly in many ways and easy to manage and work with too. Simple to maintain with no draining,cleaning grit out of the inside walls/bladders.ect. Avon is the mercedes benz of the the hypalon raft world. Hyside's pro series stuff I'd rate next. Then NRS's stuff from the Expedition series on down. Don't buy Hyside's Rio Bravo stuff though ...it's crap and ,in my opinion, a blemish to Hyside's otherwise great rep.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
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    Default cats vs rafts

    Indy, I thought if I was going to buy rafts and keep them in
    Alaska the cats were a bit lighter and cheaper.......but I think I'll take your advice and ship the boats I have, 4 Avons and an NRS.. Some of the rafts will need better take down frames.Not looking forward to the logistics of packing and shipping all that stuff every year but the alternatives are not great. I understand why rentals are so expensive....it's a big investment and people don't take care of things they don't own. However when you've already made the investment in this equipment it kills you to rent it repeatedly. I could see a one time deal but not every year.

  10. #10

    Default Hysides and tents

    I agree with Indyjones about the Rio Bravo series from Hyside. That said I LOVE their Outfitter Pro series. Made well, tough and comparatively light weight. We have had a couple of these boats in a rental program in Utah and they look like new after 5 years of rental use.

    Someone asked about tents on this list and I am wondering if anyone has a favorite.

    Lori

  11. #11
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Ally canoe

    This is a bit off subject, but after seeing the trouble/expense you suggest for taking trips in Alaska, I had to make a suggestion that has worked flawlessly for me over the last few years on Alaska fly fishing trips. I bought an Ally canoe three years ago for a lower Noatak trib and love it. I used it again for a 13 day trip last summer on a different lower Noatak trib and will be taking it on a fly fishing trip in Bristol Bay this Aug/Sept. It weighs 46 lbs, carries 900 lbs, is 16.5 feet long, tough as nails, and fits in a backpack that is checked luggage at the airport. If you are set on a raft, this wont interest you. But if you are fly fishing fairly easy paddling rivers, you may want to take a look. They are made of Tarpulon, a lighter version of Hypalon, and assemble in about 20 minutes. Incredibly well designed product made in Norway. My buddy just bought one for the same purpose. I would encourage anyone to take a look at them. I know its a bit off subject, but the cost you are paying to store/ship your rafts and gear blows my mind. Big Agnes makes 0 degree bags that weigh less than 3 lbs and pack to 7" x 8", Black Diamond makes a 4 person tent that weighs 5 lbs and packs to the size of a cantelope, and titanium cookware and MSR whisperlite international stove with fuel for 10 days (4 people) would add about 10 lbs. I know it is a different way of doing a trip like this, but it has worked fantastic for us over the last few years and each year we go lighter and lighter as we learn from previous trips and modify our gear list. You can see the Ally Canoes on the website below. We got the green "down river" models and they have been used in class II and III water with no problems at all. Food for thought.

    http://www.fujitana.com/products/canoe/ally.asp

  12. #12
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    Lightbulb Radical departure for a raft lover

    Dan you sure made me think...I thought my canoe days were behind me. I've gotten so used to the mega capacity of rafts I forgot about the more spartan options. In Montana I fish almost exclusively from the boat ...so the stability and comfort are intoxicating. However I found most of my fishing in Alaska was from shore with sinking lines which don't work very well from a boat for me.....although I like to throw a mouse while drifting.
    Anyway you added an option to my thinking and confirm the value of collaboration on this forum.

  13. #13
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    Question PS Dan - 3 people in a Canoe?

    Dan, tell me about putting 3 people in a Canoe......I've never had more than 2 with gear, but I see the big wide models advertise they accomodate 3-4 people and gear. Where does a 3rd person nest. I'm not too worried about comport because it seems like we only go a short distance between fishing breaks. What do you use for bear proof containers I assume aluminum dry boxes are not compatible with a canoe.
    I'm not into freeze dried food so we bring conventional meals in coolers.

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Outfitting yourself for Alaska float trips

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRock View Post
    I have 6 50ish Montana flyfishers who are interested in establishing an Alaska outfit for our own use. We like clear gentle flyfishing waters like the Alagnak.
    We generally do 10 day floats with 3 persons per raft for rainbows & silvers. We plan to spend about $15,000 or $2500 each to get started.
    I'm impressed by you guys collective experience and want your help with the following:
    Are there viable rental alternatives you might sugggest that make the investment & storage issues evaporate?
    Storage and location of gear is an issue, safe storage in King Salmon is hard to find. Anchorage seems too far from the waters we like but has good storage options....is it practical to charter from Ancorage to Alagnak region?. If we purcahse an outfit we want top quality.
    What boats do you suggest?What tent (I was looking at 2 Cabela's Alaska Outfitter 8 man but see you don't recommend it.$569) Please suggest a local supplier we can purchase the whole shebang from. Interested in mutual help situation for you Alaskans that like to fish or Elk hunt Montana...have good gear here for you.........Thanks in advance for your advice
    Hi Montana,

    For starters, welcome to the Alaska Rafting Forum! My, this thing moves quickly; so quickly that even I cannot post on everything, of which I have been accused / guilty on occasion.

    Lots of good advice here. You mentioned staging your gear in King Salmon, and having a hard time making that connection. Have you tried Dillingham? It's just a short hop away and it puts you within reach of some pretty awesome fishing; the entire Nushagak drainage, the Goodnews, etc. As to storage, you might give Dan Boyd a call out there. He runs an outfit called Dan's Rentals, and he rents boats, tents, the complete camp, etc. Might be worth checking out.

    As to the boats, I haven't had the trouble with AIRE that Indy has. The bladders keep water from accumulating inside; I realize that small amounts can bleed in between the bladder and the shell but I haven't seen that as a problem in any way, and I ship mine around the state. Same deal with silt accumulation, it just hasn't been an issue on the rivers I'm on. I will say that the boats are heavier, because of the double-wall construction, and it's a given that the boats are stiffer than rubber. For me that's the whole point. I'd rather deal with a bulkier package going into and out of the airplane and get the performance you get with plastic, than the alternative. I have also heard that the PVC can crack in extreme cold, but I don't float when it's THAT cold :-). My boats are in storage then and I don't move them until spring. To each his own though. Rubber does wear more evenly, plastic tends to gouge on abrasive surfaces, but plastic is easy to slip over wet rocks and even tundra in a portage situation.

    Lots to think about.

    If you like, feel free to drop me a PM and we can go over more details on the phone. I'd be happy to assist with some of the more tedious details and such.

    Once again, welcome!

    -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

  15. #15
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    Wink Renting vs. bring your own

    The cost of transporting heavy/bulky equipment like rafts is a bad bet. Freight costs up here will eat up the value of your equipment in a hurry and then you have to look at storage and maintaining/repairing a raft. Its like owning a pair of $1000 skis that you use 1 week a year, its cheaper to rent for sure!

    The last thing a guy needs is to mess with repairs when you get dropped off on a gravel bar in the middle of remote Alaska. When you rent the equipment is in good working order and ready to inflate and go.

    I operate a rental outfit and I have a opinion based upon my own business but when your coming to bush Alaska renting makes more economic sense than lugging costly equipment all the way from the lower 48.

    Walt
    Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
    www.northwestalaska.com

  16. #16
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default tents

    I have two of the 6 man cabela guided models with vestibule.
    I also have the 6 man outfitter XWT model.
    they are great tents, but i prefer easier to set up and take down tents for rafting trips where i am moving most every day.
    I use mostly now my Eureka TL Timberline Outfitter in the 4 man.
    really easy to set up, very strong and handles wind, good ventilation and great rain protection.
    I take along a smaller Timberline for storage and to cook in if weather is bad.
    I like a sewn in floor even for my equipment tent, rather than a floorless vestibule.
    I have considered selling my Guide models, but they are popular in my rental program.
    Tents are so very important when planning trips to alaska, as you sometimes need to spend lots of time inside them.
    warranty is also important and buying from a company that will take back an item that did not work for you, or failed in anyway without fuss.
    Over the years I have sent tents back to cabela's without any problems, and they treat you very well.
    As far as renting and owning?????
    I have people that buy equipment and then store it at my place and then use it once a year when the come up for their annual trip.
    I have never crunched the numbers as to if this or that is more expensive.
    some people just prefer to own rather than rent, and economics is not the issue. they just want to know that when they get here, they have what they left from last year.
    I have a lady that rented rafts from me for several years, two years ago she bought a new raft from me. she stores it in one of my conex. She comes up for two weeks in the summer and raft and fishes the Kenai for several days. She brings up different people with her each year. She likes it that way. It works for her, and she feels comfortable with it all.
    I guess we all have our personel preferences.
    If you need some names of people that could store your equipment for while away from Alaska, don't hesitate to PM me. I know many people in the Naknek, King Salmon and Dillingham area.
    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

  17. #17
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Montanaman

    "Dan, tell me about putting 3 people in a Canoe......I've never had more than 2 with gear, but I see the big wide models advertise they accomodate 3-4 people and gear. Where does a 3rd person nest. I'm not too worried about comport because it seems like we only go a short distance between fishing breaks. What do you use for bear proof containers I assume aluminum dry boxes are not compatible with a canoe.
    I'm not into freeze dried food so we bring conventional meals in coolers"

    I would suggest two to a canoe. Ally does however make an 18 foot model that would hold 3 people for sure. My 16.5 ft would perhaps, but it would depend on the size of the individual. At 6'6" 310 lbs I like my space. But the 18 foot Ally with the middle person sitting on a cooler would probably work well. Especially if you are on rivers like me that are for fly fishing and dont have any rough rapids to negotiate. The Ally canoe is perfect for this type of fly fishing river. And like you, I dont fish much from the boat. I go spot to spot downriver and stop to fish the good runs/holes. It is very productive for me personally and I perceive no benefit in a big raft. As for food. We cook pinto beans and cornbread (dutch oven) chili and jalepeno cornbread, Grayling gumbo and garlic biscuits (Zatarains gumbo mix with slivers of a large grayling (fantastic) Pitz pizzas (pepperoni and pizza sauce with cheese fish (dolly or salmon) wrapped in aluminum foil with lemon juice and seasoning or cooked in a fish basket pasta rice orzetto biscuits and gravy for breakfast country ham bagels pancakes oatmeal etc.... We eat good is the point. And we have not taken a cooler yet. But you could easily do so and add even more options to the forementioned. One midsize cooler in each of the Ally 18 ft canoes would serve you well I am sure. I have never used one, but can appreciate the efficacy in doing so. That would increase your food options exponentially. And the canoes are plenty wide to carry a very big cooler in. Look at the measurements on the website I posted earlier. These are full size canoes. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for. Much cheaper than a high quality raft I am sure. And the real saving would be the shipping cost or renting cost of every trip you do with them. They would pay for themselves in no time at all. And it when my wife and I go to the airport in Raleigh,NC and take all we need for a 13 day canoe trip in checked luggage with no extra fees. Its hard to beat in my opinion. I added the spontoons (an Ally accesory) on the last trip. I took my wife on that one. They guarantee you wont flip. But the canoes are extremely stable as they come. But I have a high center of gravity and little canoe experience and she had none at the time. So the spontoons make a wonderful accessory. They are torpedo shaped and look sharp too. I got the expedition repair kit (never used it yet) for repairing any possible part of the canoe that could fail. It is a wonderful product and I prefer to spend my time fishing on these trips instead of carrying a ton of gear that I dont need around. It has improved the quality of my Alaska river trips more than I can explain.

  18. #18
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    Default Thanks Dan for Canoe tips

    Appreciate the advice......wow 13 days gear in checked luggage is compelling....and hard to beleive. Our airline out of here now has a 2 bag 50LB each limit and last time I went to Alaska I had 70LBs of personal gear and the outfitter provided everything else.

    I guess I could learn some things about packing.

  19. #19
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    Red face Thanks Canoe for the offer & tent info

    Canoe I appreciate your advice and good tent reviews.
    I also like the 6 mans for their ability to stand up to put waders etc on in bad weather.

    Let me know if you run into any good used raft or cat setups for sale.....
    Prefer hypolon with NRS type frame in this configuration.
    .... Cooler as rowers seat, dry boxes as front seat and optionally back seat.

  20. #20
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    Red face Rental vs Own Analysis

    NorthwestAlaska thanks for your input. I'm not yet familiar with all the rental options but what I've found so far is partial solutions. Renting me a boat, tent & stove does not solve my problem.....I still need bear proof coolers/dry boxes, coffee pot, cookset etc etc etc....to make a legal comfortable camp in Katmai. I provided my equipment list below and divided it in 2 sections....stuff provided by typical rental outfit....and what is left for me to transport. The problem....it's about the same cost to air cargo the whole outfit vs the partial outfit. So renting the boat saves me $400 in shippong but costs about $1800 and I still have to ship the remaining gear. I need to be able to rent the whole outfit. I'd be very interested in a Rental company that could provide whole list of equipment for 10 days for $2400. $800 more than it would cost me to ship my own equipment that I know and trust.
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 02-28-2007 at 07:17. Reason: formatting error

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