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Thread: 14' vs 15' round boat?

  1. #1

    Default 14' vs 15' round boat?

    I'm looking for a meat hauling, self bailing round boat, and it seems like the gold standard is the 14'. However, the 15' has an identical width, more surface area to help float loads in skinny water and has the obvious advantage of a little more space. The only obvious disadvantage is that it is a little heavier, and is a bit more boat to manuever. But, am I really going to notice a difference in manueverability with a boat that is 1' longer? Any thoughts?

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    14' Raft is not really a gold standard, yet it is the popular 'Self Bailer' due to factoring in things like size/compactness of the roll plus dead weight being relatively easily grabbed up then transported about when rolled. On rivers/streams, running a 14' boat will handle all-around very well through waters of diverse character and conditions. 14'er will generally provide room for most purposes. Worth some folks consideration of 14' specific choosing... 14' is most often the better choice in size when both rowed and/or paddled.

    15'-16' is realistically the bona-fide outfitter's and guide's selection for multi-day tripping with gear hauling... advantages being overall roominess, running more shallow given identical load of the 14', lower center and better handling (again given same load as 14'). Unless you need a 14'er for more dodgy walled in runs like 6-Mile Creek --- go with a 15'er. If you can deal with the disadvantages of grabbing up the heavier roll, you'll find that much of your concerns go by way-side once you realize it's not fun to max load a 15' then toss same contents and people into the 14'.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    bbags,
    I believe you have mentioned all the factors, diffferences, between the two boats. They will row/oar effectively the same. The smaller boat will sure fill up quick. The only difference is the larger boat will carry the same load with a lower center of gravity, it will weigh more and roll-up into a larger package. Folded/rolled up and strapped tightly, I can "man handle" my 13'6" raft without help. Anything larger becomes a two man lift for me.
    Before we can help you any further you may need to provide more info concerning your specific wants, needs, and expected conditions-of-use.
    dennis

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    Along the lines of this thread, I was moving some boats around my shop from various quality manufacturers, models, and made of different materials.

    I figured it to be worthwhile making mention that a common high-quality mid-tier (read as not highest end but well made) Hypalon 14'er up here in Alaska is the NRS OTTER.
    Why is this? Well for a couple great reasons… it is what (is and has been) routinely sold, universally rented out, fits a lot of people’s purpose, comparatively affordable, easily available, handles and drafts OK, and has good endurance regarding the detail that it’s made of softer-coatings with a lesser base-fabric than commercial-grade Hypalon .

    On to specs that count here in Alaska. All things considered in a comprehensive raft package that you could take anywhere in Alaska... the 14’ NRS OTTER rafts of Hypalon on my digital aviation certified scale come in at 111-114 lbs (based on four different Otters). Roll dimensions are 31" tall, 54" around, 14"x19" thick (not a perfectly round roll-up). This is a tight roll! Just a quick word --- Most folks may as well go ahead and spec frames, oars, pump, repair kit, cam-straps, etc. & so on as same weights/dimensions for all boats for simple evaluation

    Moving up in my line-up... two 15' SOTAR ELITE SP rafts of Urethane fabric tips scale at 121 & 123 lbs. Roll dimensions are 35" tall, 66" around, 18"x23" thick. Again... tight roll!!

    Going larger to near 16' in AIRE 156E... roll dimensions are 36" tall, 68" around, 21"x26" thick. Very tight roll. This is a heavy boat by most standards. This raft is an all time favorite!!!! Tho' I haul it around looking like it's nothing --- I can assure you it's a load!!! Specs say 160 lbs. Keep in mind; this is not a fair measurement for real world because bladder system boats will fluctuate on overall weights if/when there is water trapped between layers.

    What I'm linking with all this (& hoping you and others hit upon this info as something useful) is select the right boat for the water character and conditions that you are most likely to find yourself running. Get a raft that exceeds the perspective number of people and estimated lb. loads. Identify that some lengths/widths, qualities, materials, makes, models, and constructions are give and take of sorts. Good guidance here is to think about all foreseeable utility, then try not to make too many or costly concessions for the long run.

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    I can only agree with everything that's been said so far, but....

    In my personal experience, I almost always find myself filling whatever boat I'm driving. If I have a boat that fits 3-4 people and gear, I usually end up with 4 people in it. But if I only have a boat that fits 2-3 people and gear, I never put more than 3 people in it. Since I prefer pushing ever smaller and lighter boats, my next raft is going to be too small for me to get in.

    My point is, if you know what your load is going to be, buy the boat to fit. But if you're like me, buy the boat size you want to row, and that will help you limit your overall weight.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I bought a 14'5" Sotar bucket from Goo Vogt of Alaska Wildwater 3 years ago. Weighs 94 lbs in it's bag.

    Amazing boat and you can fly with it as checked luggage (under 100 lbs).

    Call Goo.


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  7. #7

    Default 14 or 15'

    Quote Originally Posted by bbags View Post
    I'm looking for a meat hauling, self bailing round boat, and it seems like the gold standard is the 14'. However, the 15' has an identical width, more surface area to help float loads in skinny water and has the obvious advantage of a little more space. The only obvious disadvantage is that it is a little heavier, and is a bit more boat to manuever. But, am I really going to notice a difference in manueverability with a boat that is 1' longer? Any thoughts?


    the only 14 and 15 foot boats i familiar with are the aire d series and they are not the same widths. with an extra foot + of length and slightly more width, the 15 foot boat requires longer oars which is imo more work and plays more of a roll on skinny water than the actual boat width. just one opinion.

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    It is a intersting and difficult choice eh! Brians 2nd post last comment is very sound advise. I for one find my-self in a 15ft Otter more often than not when out and about for extended trips but I never use it is Skinny Skinny water i.e. South Fork of the Chena (oh it would still be a raft however I would not be oaring it I would be towing it because there be no room to oar). The reason I almost alway find my-self in the 15ft Otter on extended trips is for the additional room and carrying capacity for what I do.

    Jim also makes a valid point about filling your boat and understanging your LIMFACS limiting factors associated with your application.

    Over the past two years a lot of request for rentals have been made for 15ft and 16ft boat lengths for Moose hunters. Most of the Sheep and Bou renters request 14ft self bailing round boats. One of the first questions I am always asked is how much will the raft hold and do I think it is a good choice for the river intended to hunt. In theory a lot depends on how you pack for your trip, what are the current water conditions, total amount of people in the raft and how many animals you harvest all of these are LIMFACS to what raft you may need.

    I know I rambled again. Best of Luck with your potential purchase.

    Richard "Moose" Mousseau
    BMR

  9. #9

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    Your basic 14' SOTAR ST has 20" tubes, 40" between them and 14' long, and i use 9' oars. The 15' has 21" tubes, 42" between the tubes and is 15' long I get by fine with 9'6" oars. If you need a tight rolling raft I personally use the non-bailer which we charge 15% less for. For serious fly outs, where weight and size is a factor. They both weigh less than 100#. For white water of course SOTAR did come out with the first self-bailer in 1982, which has a 7" inflatable floor and they are what they are, a bit heaver because of the inflatable floor. You can also order smaller d- rings, as I do to save even more weight. Custom, hand made in Merlin Or. USA. 40 oz. urethane over 4000 din. polyester. All seams triple welded and seam taped. Will build you what you want. Any size , length, tube diameter, rocker, ect.
    Good luck in your choice. Many good boats these days--- And remember non-bailing rafts have worked for lots of years all over the world.

  10. #10

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    Just wanted to say thanks to all of those that have contributed information to this thread. I appreciate your time and expertise!

  11. #11

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    bbags, today's technology allows for a variety of alternatives to "standard" raft models and conventional designs.

    The NRS Otter (as one example since it's talked about here) has always been staple for 2 guys hauling up to 2 moose.

    Today, the NRS Otter doesn't compare well with other models IF you want to achieve access to remote streams with narrow channels and shallow depths. To reach these places and to transport heavy loads of game meat, while providing uncompromised access to narrow, poorly defined river channels...other options perform better than "standard."

    The SOAR Levitator is 15' 9" and has a width of 67" (a 15" more narrow than NRS Otters). Total packed up weight is around 110-lbs (about 25lbs less than the Otter). This raft holds 3000 lbs (nearly 1000lbs more than a 14' Otter).

    If what you need is versatility and field performance when reaching extremely remote stream channels, do your homework and buy the best raft for your needs...and don't just get what other guys have been using for 20 plus years. You might decide that conventional models simply have been improved upon for the type of wilderness use you described as your "needs."

    Here's a link to our site if you need or want more details or inflatable descriptions.

    http://www.pristineventures.com/prod...ing-boats.html

    loaded Lev with 3 moose.jpg wow.jpg

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I rented a 14' Otter for my first family "overnighter" I bought a 15' which gave the additional room I needed for 2 adults, 2kids, and 2 dogs. However, I'd also like a 13' for solo trips on the Kenai or for skinny rivers with a lighter load. There is no single model/size that will fit every situation perfectly.

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    I wanted to add take into consideration how easy they are to repair in the field. I have always liked PVC for this reason tough as nails and you have the air bladder inside.

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    Why not try a HD urethane raft, and not fret over patching at all??

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    Your right that was not an option when I bought my Aire.

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    I've got a 15' Alaskan Outfitters from 6th Ave Outfitters. It handles very well for a larger boat but is not something I would fly in for a lightweight float hunt. I needed a bigger boat since I'm usually accompanied by my wife and 4+ kiddos. I've had it on the Gulkana, Little Su, Little Willow and the Matanuska and have had zero issues with its size/weight. It is a self bailer and has a lifetime warranty. I got the whole package (boat/rowing frame/two seats/upgraded oars) for just over $3k in early 2009.

    Just my $.02
    AKmud
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    To continue on this theme . . . .

    It seems like most folks recommend a 15 footer over a 14, because of increased capacity, etc.

    But, when does "more" become "too much"?

    Is a 16' better than a 15'? and therefore is an 18' even better still?

    I have a wife, 3 kids, 2 dogs and don't plan to take it on an airplane,
    just launch it along the road system.

    I'm hoping to buy/order a raft at the GAS Show this weekend?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PugtSounDav View Post
    To continue on this theme . . . .

    It seems like most folks recommend a 15 footer over a 14, because of increased capacity, etc.

    But, when does "more" become "too much"?

    Is a 16' better than a 15'? and therefore is an 18' even better still?

    I have a wife, 3 kids, 2 dogs and don't plan to take it on an airplane,
    just launch it along the road system.

    I'm hoping to buy/order a raft at the GAS Show this weekend?
    With regards to above... you'll be happier in a 15' than the 14' or 16' based mostly on roominess, capacity, with good on-water handling plus the ability to still relatively easily pick-up and carry it. 14'ers are a bit on the tight side with your family size, while a 16'-18' can be quite the wad to carry around and may end up the barge on handling if your new to this.

    See ya at the Show!

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