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Thread: Best inflatable canoe(s) for building a cata-canoe?

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Question Best inflatable canoe(s) for building a cata-canoe?

    Not asking which is the best inflatable canoe.

    Rather,
    If you wanted to build the best inflatable cata-canoe,
    using a rowing frame to form them into a cata-raft.
    Which pair of inflatable canoes would you choose to be the pontoons?

    The secondary purpose would be to use the canoes as canoes,
    only when the cata-canoe raft was unable to get into smaller waters.

    Inquiring minds want to know?
    Dave

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    I would go with a couple of Aire Travelers

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    Grabbner Outside(s)

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    The aire traveler would be my suggestion. That is what my plan is. I bought the first o0ne and will be getting the other soon. Here is the way the first is set up and was put together by Tracy at ARK.

    ould be great for the cub.
    Semper Fi and God Bless

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    It depends on what you're doing. The original intent behind the design was to float rivers that were too narrow for a conventional boat, but that widened out somewhere downstream enough to allow the cataraft configuration. Any pair of canoes can work, as long as they're the same general size (length, tube diameter, and configuration). Travelers are commonly used because they're light enough, at 55#, to allow a long overland portage into headwater areas, while providing enough lift to make it worth doing. You could do the same thing with the Pro Pioneer, however that boat already has a lot of lift, so it doesn't make much sense in most situations.

    In the end, it's all about the river and what you're trying to do.

    -Mike
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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Grabbner Outside(s)
    The problem with the Grabner Outside is that it has a flat transom at the back, instead of the tapered tubes that make it a canoe. If you have to back-row much, that transom is going to slap against water that's trying to flow under the hull (back-rowing is a method of slowing your drift slower than the speed of the current). The Outside is more of a narrow sport-boat design than a canoe....

    JMHO

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    You need to look at the original white water designed "Outside"... They only made the flat transom version for a few years...they still make the original white water "Outside".....check out their web site....I've owned one for over ten years....they are a continuation of the Metzler line of boats....which Grabbner bought out.....tough as hell...vulcanized rubber into the fabric......no PVC BS

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    You need to look at the original white water designed "Outside"... They only made the flat transom version for a few years...they still make the original white water "Outside".....check out their web site....I've owned one for over ten years....they are a continuation of the Metzler line of boats....which Grabbner bought out.....tough as hell...vulcanized rubber into the fabric......no PVC BS
    Ah, right you are, sir! I was recently distracted by a post of a Grabner Outside with a transom. Kinda confusing with two completely different boats of the same name, by the same company....

    Thanks for the correction!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PugtSounDav View Post
    Not asking which is the best inflatable canoe.

    Rather,
    If you wanted to build the best inflatable cata-canoe,
    using a rowing frame to form them into a cata-raft.
    Which pair of inflatable canoes would you choose to be the pontoons?

    The secondary purpose would be to use the canoes as canoes,
    only when the cata-canoe raft was unable to get into smaller waters.

    Inquiring minds want to know?
    Dave
    The inflatable catacanoe is an expensive mistake touted by most who "think" it's a good idea, and likewise is merely a theoretical proposition. The PRICE that it would cost to build one of these rediculous things is through the roof when compared to a good professional grade full sized raft. Your best off going with inflatable canoes to be used as such, a real raft, or a real cataraft offered by AIRE. After it's all built, the width of this thing is outrageous, and the price is equally so. That's the truth with this gimmick idea........take it or leave it. I could source the advice of the most experienced Alaskan rafters in the industry, but that would be a PM proposition since the Rafting world is as caddy as a room full of women.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    The inflatable catacanoe is an expensive mistake touted by most who "think" it's a good idea, and likewise is merely a theoretical proposition. The PRICE that it would cost to build one of these rediculous things is through the roof when compared to a good professional grade full sized raft. Your best off going with inflatable canoes to be used as such, a real raft, or a real cataraft offered by AIRE. After it's all built, the width of this thing is outrageous, and the price is equally so. That's the truth with this gimmick idea........take it or leave it. I could source the advice of the most experienced Alaskan rafters in the industry, but that would be a PM proposition since the Rafting world is as caddy as a room full of women.
    The original cata-canoe concept is probably older than the combined age of our forum community. In more recent times I was involved in sort of "hatching" this idea with Paul Jobe, the former owner of the now-defunct "Wild Alaska Rivers Company" (WARCO) of Anchorage. WARCO was at the time the largest shop in Alaska, and was the NRS and AIRE dealer at that time, a mantle that has now fallen to Alaska Raft and Kayak.

    At any rate, our idea was to use two AIRE Travelers, connected to a simple flat frame, into a cataraft configuration. I never used it, however I know several others who have done so in a hunting application, and they have found it to be a very satisfactory boat for its intended purpose. I do not doubt that whitewater purists scoff at the idea, however float hunters are not generally floating whitewater, nor are they looking for a boat with top-performing characteristics you would need on whitewater. Simply put, most float hunters need a shallow-draft boat that hauls big loads. In that regard the cata-canoe does the job well, and offers the versatility of having a pair of canoes along for situations where they are required.

    As to your points on the "through the roof" cost and "outrageous" width, I disagree. Properly rigged, the cata-canoe made with twin AIRE Travelers is only six inches wider than the AIRE Leopard, and the cost is a scant $500 more. I just confirmed these numbers with Mark Cohen, owner of Alaska Raft and Kayak, today while I was at the Fairbanks Outdoor show.

    These minor differences are more than acceptable for hunters looking for a boat that offers this kind of flexibility, and are less than the differences between other boats AIRE offers. The other two big load-haulers AIRE offers are the Super Leopard and the Cougar, both of which are wider than the Leopard and substantially more money. For example, just the Cougar tubes alone (without frame and rigging) spec out at over $1300 more than the Leopard. The Super Leopard, if you can find one, is even more.

    There have been some amazing strides in the inflatable boat industry in the last 20 years and some of them have been very benificial for Alaska float hunters. The cata-canoe concept, while certainly not for everyone in all situations, is most definitely appropriate for some situations in Alaska. It will likely be here for a long time.

    Best 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.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    I put two 10' Aire Lynx kayaks together and used it quite a bit. I liked it as a one man boat with a lot of gear capacity. Of course 10'x12" tubes put the center of gravity low enough for whitewater, but also low enough you were constantly getting splashed. A couple of 12' Lynx 2, or 13' Super Lynx canoes would have worked better for my application, and made room for two people, but you make do with what you have. I was going to take that thing down Sixmile, but never got around to it. Probably better not to; it would likely do a back flip in Suckhole.

    I'm of the (personal) opinion that two Travelers are wider than I want in a boat, let alone two Pro Pioneers. I'm thinking two 16' Soar canoes would be a better fit for a cata-canoe than two PP's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PugtSounDav View Post
    Not asking which is the best inflatable canoe.

    Rather,
    If you wanted to build the best inflatable cata-canoe,
    using a rowing frame to form them into a cata-raft.
    Which pair of inflatable canoes would you choose to be the pontoons?

    The secondary purpose would be to use the canoes as canoes,
    only when the cata-canoe raft was unable to get into smaller waters.

    Inquiring minds want to know?
    Dave
    Hello Dave,

    Most are two wide and barge-like for me. Squatty, wide, wet ride, poor handling, and uncomfortable comparing with cats or rafts.

    Cost factor indeed may be of issue to some folks. In the case of two AIRE Travs for example --- the price will be twice the cost of a set of 16'-18' Performance or Expedition series cat tubes. Even the quad-tubed set of Limited Edition Cougar cat (just tubes) will be had for less! The $500 one side or the other here nor there is a ridiculous posting to even be made up and completely depends on what the package on the whole will consist of!!!

    Some History... also contrary to some misinformation, the 'AIRE Trav.' dates back to 2002 production models then became available in any on-water numbers just prior to 2003. So while an inflatable cat-a-canoe concept may have been experimented with in some custom orders at the Jobe's old wild rivers shop... it was not an 'AIRE Traveler'. The AIRE Travelers came into the scene by way of the current dealership here in Alaska by this time at Alaska Raft and Kayak!!! I should know this in that I have one of the very originals on my shop floor AND Sponsor top of this forum... Mark and Tracy at Alaska Raft and Kayak would likely confirm this regarding sales availabilities.

    Lots of boats for different folks... not sure what waters you'll mostly on, pounds loads, numbers of people or how you'll go from one phase rafting to another canoeing --- I'd need better info from original poster to shed better insights. Most of the time however, a boater is better suited to the particulars in a particular boat by not combining stuff.

    Back in the day --- I cat-boated a set of Lynx 1 & also Lynx 2 set-ups... I was way, far better off (in all cases) just going kayaking, or using one of my cats or rafts --- whether it was flat water or more demanding and differing character whitewater.

    If I wanted to build the best... I'd have a highest end manufacturer like SOTAR custom build one of super strong yet lighter-weight all welded 40oz Urethane than going the other proven bladder system from AIRE. You want a super stiff boat to frame your cat, plus wish it to be super durable and lighter when canoeing. I'd also make the custom additions of keeping out the water so it stays more like a cat tube even if it already has self-bailing floors.

  13. #13
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Now although these guys did not have inflatables, they had the design figured out, in fact a recent study of ancient navigators of the sea. it was determined that the polynesian ships were far above the greatest boats, capts and crew.
    Able to go as far as 3,000 miles between stops. amazing boats and pilots...
    The ability for these ancient boats to use the pontoons as open usable space was very important..
    Last year I was in Hawaii at the PCC and spent quite a bit of time looking at the big boat they made to duplicate the old original design.
    The Iosepa boat is over 50 feet long and made from single logs carved and hollowed. Although the folks from our day are not near the same muster as the old navigators of the old days, this boat does amazing on the open ocean..

    This idea of tying two canoes together is still going strong even though the original designs may be older than any written history.
    this thread is pretty interesting due to the different ideas, testing and thoughts on what will and not work, and in what type of water.
    I like the idea of having usable space in the pontoons. Space is always a problem when floating rivers, and using the pontoons for more than just floatation would be nice.
    I have tied a couple of standard canoes together with poles and hauled a moose across a lake before and have seen others do the same.
    An inflatable canoe that actually looks like a canoe would be my choice for building a catacanoe.

    this type of canoe paddles like a standard canoe on its own, would offer alot of usable space for storage, and the hull design is narrow and sleek .
    Never done it yet, but I imagine it would work ..
    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

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    Alaskacanoe is correct on the Polynesian Canoes in outrigger or 'cat' forms. Even Southeastern Alaska Tribes used very large and capable canoes. These early mariners and explores with their designs are truly inspiring.

    Some 20 years ago, I met a group of European Adventurers coming down a Brooks Range float. What did they have for a boat?
    These guys (party of four) have the largest of the Metzeller Canoe --- spruce-pole lashed to two 20' large diameter cylinder-shaped tubes (before the catarafts caught on) on the outsides. What I'm relating is that this could effectively be so called another cat-a-canoe by definition.

    At the end of the trip, they burned their spruce-poles rigging, and I bought the green Metzeller Canoe (w/full-length spray skirting) as well as the great big tubes that in a prior venture was used to float a Mercedes Benz on water for an advertising campaign.

    The Metzeller Canoe was quite unstable (like an ordinary canoe you want to have canoeing skill-sets), yet this boat paddled much more like most canoes than the AIRE Trav (better described as a hybrid skinny raft). The Metz was a good boat... but by itself... if you are not a good canoeist/paddler... a canoe like this on waters of ever-changing character/demands/loads is a mistake. Cat-boated between to huge tubes made it very stable, but handling was log raft-like. Cat-boated as two canoes is also not the best boat of choice based on material, featured accessories, and design. In terms of useful space it was relatively limited and not good with a bunch of weight (tipsy and sluggish in a hurry).

    All in all you actually you get right back to more or less my position: If you want a canoe go for the canoe and if you want a raft go with a raft or Cataraft. When you want to combine the two --- you should try to complement the package by having a more raft-like canoe to start with (think skinny Hybrid). I feel this is not the Trav because A.) it is too low 2.) too wide, 3.) the wrong type of self-bailing slits/locations for rafting. Something also to very much consider is that the fabric on most of these canoes and hybrids are much thinner and lighter duty than a real high-end raft or cataraft!!!

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    The grabner outside is a serious whitewater boat....Not a canoe. The adventure model is like the old metzler canoe. The canoe model has two smaller tubes on the side, the outside has one big tube and is in calmer water a much drier boat then an aire anything....it has a solid inflated floor (tubes). When you combine the outside with a breakdown aluminum tube frame you have the ultimate fly in cataraft setup. You can paddle them separately or raft them up in bigger rivers...putting your moose/caribou up on the webbing between the frame keeps it dry.....you can put a heavy load on two rafted outsides and still take on some serious water....when I say aluminum frame I'm talking about heavy walled 6061, internally sleeved for breakdown with drilled holes. One half the frame goes in each boat when you are paddling separate outsides....like I said this is a fly-in setup that is tough as hell and yet is light and compact....Supercub size breakdown cataraft.....

  17. #17

    Default two soar 16s

    I don't check the site often but it is always entertaining to read the comments guys. Especially the theoretical ones...

    I have put two soar 16s together with a few 2x4s and mounted a 20 hp. jet on them. Actually got on plane because of the flat floors but still had the water between the canoes physics to deal with.

    Those would be my choice. I like them better than the aire traveler simply because they are more like a canoe. You can sit up in them and paddle.
    You can rent two of them in Fairbanks and try it out. Make a prototype frame and give it a go.

    You can easily mount any motor to this configuration or paddle or row it. You can even deck over the 2x4s between the canoes and have an awesome platform for hanging out or storing gear and meat.

    It would be a hoot to float the Yukon like this with a few folks.

    Would I take it down a class 4 river- probably not unless I had a real frame made....

    Anyway. Hope this helps.

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    Well if you are going to use the ###### you would want to rent them.....because if you buy them and then find out how poorly they hold up in the rocks! The material they are made out of is way too soft for rocky bottom rivers.....too big...too heavy....poor construction....


    I removed company name for the reason below, this is just one of our rules of negative posting .
    Thank you guys .. Max
    We do not permit negative comments about individuals, businesses or organizations. If a question is posted about a business, it is best to respond privately. The issue is one of liability for us. These forums are a public service, and we are unwilling to deal with the potential for litigation that could destroy our business. The easiest answer for us is "no negative comments." If you have had a bad experience, simply indicate that you have had experience with the company in question and invite people to contact you privately.
    Last edited by Alaskacanoe; 04-29-2011 at 21:31. Reason: No brand bashing thanks guys

  19. #19

    Default never had problem with #####

    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Well if you are going to use the#####, you would want to rent them.....because if you buy them and then find out how poorly they hold up in the rocks! The material they are made out of is way too soft for rocky bottom rivers.....too big...too heavy....poor construction....
    Hmmmm....
    never had a problem with my ##### Tough as hell. The bottom is extremely durable and not the same material as the tubes. I've paddled it solo and tandem with good results on rivers and lakes. Banged off plenty of rocks and drug over plenty of gravel. Easy to fly in. I've even lined it 7 miles upriver with little difficulty. No it is not a hard shell, but no inflatable is.

    There are a lot of folks up here that own ###### of various models.

    I guess we have had different experiences.
    Last edited by Alaskacanoe; 04-29-2011 at 23:08.

  20. #20

    Default experience with #####

    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Well if you are going to use the ######, you would want to rent them.....because if you buy them and then find out how poorly they hold up in the rocks! The material they are made out of is way too soft for rocky bottom rivers.....too big...too heavy....poor construction....
    I'm not an advocate of any brand over another, heck, I hardly ever come to this website because of that. Everyone is an expert. But, if you tout such a statement please tell us why so we can learn. Otherwise your statement is empty. Like I said, many people use ######in the north, including Larry Bartlett who has much much experience with them. Never heard of the things you say....
    Generalities don't help much.
    Last edited by Alaskacanoe; 04-29-2011 at 23:09.

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