Maxon vs NRS and Aire
Conventional wisdom states that you usually get what you paid for, but I have to ask anyway.
I am looking for a raft that I would use primarily on the Kenai, maybe the Gulkana and possibly for a moose hunt or two. The prices of the Maxon rafts are really low compared to Aire or NRS. Is the Maxon a good choice?
It is well what it is. Maxxon is brought in by Evergreen products out of WA. They are a overseas made boat to compete with like boats sold in AK. There are a little heavy but also a little wider then most NRS/ AIRE depending on the model. I ran them in my rental fleet last year thay did fine. One slight problem I noted back through the distributed and Maxxon addressed it for 2011. It was really a slight issue but I wished for the mod and it was accepted. Most on average would not have had an issue with it but being in the rental business I wished for additional insurance for my clients. Dollar for dollar I would match them against what is available in AK for overseas manufactured boats. Does it compare to an AIRE by no means however based on utilization, warranty versus cost you are in the ballpark for what they are.
Richard "Moose" Mousseau
Anything will work on the Kenai... roadside or close proximity, little demands on an inflatable boat, and easy street for an oars-person or paddlers.
Originally Posted by gdkodiak
Most inflatables will be fine on the Gulkana on lower section below Sourdough as the conditions are again not too demanding for equipment or boaters.
Begins to change somewhat on upper Gulkana forks. Low water conditions carting multi-day hauls of folks plus gear (maybe a kicker motor)... a party could find themselves dragging here and there. Any routine to this over the years - you'll notice much more wear and tear with higher probabilities of needing repair on mid tier to lower end inflatables. Running canyon section is a cake walk for good boaters, yet cutting your teeth at the oars through this section considerably ups the potential for 'running' into things like sharp boulders that in turn cause much more significant damages to lesser boats.
It is generally speaking going to be more important for the less experienced, not so good boater to own the pinnacle best of boats vs. the highly experienced boater rowing a piece of old-school tired-out raft or rowing less than the best new boat if ya catch my drift.
Maxxon are and overseas lower-end PVC inflatables representing a step up from the inner-tube in color selections and geometry --- it is A PRICE POINT - and not worth going over the fact that this boat is sold at MAXon margins so please don't be fooled. In much of (not all) Alaska's inflatable marketplace, your package purchase will often require very similar looking/cost components and accessories. To simplify what I'm relating is that I would not put a set of monster aggressive 4x4 tires and heavy duty trailer hitch on a Chevy Luv.
From a repairman's side, I have already worked on 3 of these... two (sold brand new within the last year) already had seam leaks, and fabric porosity issues while the other was a few years older and simply needed some handiwork on pinholes and sharp digs. The warranty in my opinion does not mean much and even less in the field.
AIRE and NRS maintain a good reputation and brands. Top shelf boats remain very good quality. Decent mid-tier boats are also made by these companies from overseas. Keep in mind there is a market-share for some Asian fabrication within their ranks today.
If looking at Japanese, Asian, or Mexican rafts... I'd look toward higher grades of Hypalon or CSM rubber constructions.
I'd look long and hard at high-end new and used SOTAR, AIRE, or Maravia Rafts made in the USA.
SOTAR is the pinnacle of true commercial grade reliability... you would do yourself very well to look at both new and used from SOTAR. Talk to Geaux here on the forum. This guy is 120% the real deal, rafted/guided/built components/competed worldwide and is the SOTAR Representative for Alaska. He's seen first hand, paddled with innovators of our sport, and experienced rafting as few have... yet about the easiest going, humble guy to talk with. An old salt, down home guy like this is best over the phone or in person... Alaska Wildwater 907-345-4308. A little insight - ya don't really need a self-bailer for the tripping you plan to do mentioned here. I know that Geaux has a couple Demo 15' and 16' non-bailers at a steel. Another poster on here Dan uses this set-up and very satisfied.
Well I must disagree to a certain degree with Brian. We have a maxxon raft we have had for almost 5 years and run it on a lot of stuff especially a lot of low water trips were dragging was done, especially on the Grande Ronde in 2007 at extremely low water, and several low water N umpqua trips (lots of sharp rocks). Bottom line, the Bottom of our model anyway is super thick and we have not put any holes in it at all. However, it does have several issues and I think you can get a better setup for about the same total cost, Like for example an new cosmetic blemish aire. Anyway my full review of our maxxon 14 raft is here (basically besides different glued on accuriments our 10 year old maxxon is exactly the same as the new model).
The thread says saturn but it drifted to maxxon raft discussion quickly
Also, to my knowledge all NRS boats are made outside the U.S., their frame parts are over priced and their frame R and D people (if they have any at all) must have ridden short bus, their inovation in the frame department stopped years ago, so I can't recommend them on laziness alone. I have exensivley used both Sotar and Aire, and they are my favorite brands, and couldn't recommend one over the other at this point.