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Family raft suggestions...

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  • Family raft suggestions...

    I am looking for a raft for my 5 person family...three kids under 120# my wife and myself...for no more than 2 to 3 day trips on easy rivers like the Big Su from Gold Creek down to Talkeetna, the Forty Mile, the Nenana from the Denali Highway to the Parks Hwy etc. I'd prefer a standard raft vs. a cataraft because I'd also be using this raft for fly in trips on some braided/shallow rivers in the future. We pack pretty light with less than 200# of gear between all of us.

    Any suggestions? I want to make sure I get enough boat, but I'd also like to be able to pack this on my back (100# max) for access to a couple spots that we fly near to.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  • #2
    100 lb boat

    Most of the 14 foot rafts nowdays weigh in at about 115 to 150 lbs.
    anything smaller than a 14 ft will cramp your style with 5 on board.
    I used to have a couple of 14 rafts that weighed 96 lbs, but the quality was missing. If you want a boat that will take you and your family safely down remote rivers you may need to lug that extra 20 lbs.
    One idea is to take along a tank of Helium and inflate the raft with that stuff and then just lead the raft over to the river...
    One other question is if you are planning on using Oars, or paddle the raft?
    So far though I suggest a 14 foot white water type raft with 20 to 22 inch tubes. A rowing frame with 10 ft oars. the frame should accept a cooler.
    That sounds like a great family boat to me.
    ask more questions please.
    Helium won't lift the raft off the ground and was a waste of $120 bucks on my part, but we had fun inhaling it and talking like donald duck...
    Ok not really.
    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.


    • #3
      one other idea..

      This year we had a family trip down the Gulkana river.
      We used a round 14 ft raft and then brought along 2 inflatable Kayaks for the kids to play in on the flat water..
      This way the boat was not as crowded except for when we went thru the rapids. We Deflated the Kayaks for the white water and everyone aboard for the bigger water..
      towards the end of the trip the kids were running white water with the Kayaks and didn't want to ride on the Geezer ship with us...
      Kids learn fast and had a ball doing the trip this way..
      They named the three boats the Nina / pinta / and Geezer maria.
      One time one of the kids pulled up along side the raft and said as he paddled away rapidly in the little Kayak he said, " Suck my Wake Geezer Maria!!!"
      I was able to get an oar full of water sent in his direction and dosed him good..
      just some idea's for the young ones.....
      Last edited by Alaskacanoe; 09-29-2006, 21:24.
      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.


      • #4
        The kayak idea sounds great for the future... I sent you a PM.

        Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem


        • #5


          Get a SOAR Levitator from Larry Bartlett's Pristine Ventures. I bought one from him this year and it is absolutely awesome. There's plenty of room for the family and it weighs in at 100 pounds. I packed mine over two miles this year on one trip and it wasn't that bad. I was pooped after that haul, but it didn't kill me. One of the competitors models that weigh 150# would have been impossible to do that with. I'd also recommend the Oar Saddles from Rocking R Designs (Kent Rotchy). They're compact, easy to put on the raft, and best of all they're extremely light weight. The Levitators and the Oar Saddles aren't cheap, but they're worth every penny. Both Larry and Kent are top notch guys if you ever have any questions.


          • #6
            My only concern with the Levitator is the lack of bow and stearn rise. I plan on running the upper Kenai a bit and there is a small amount of rough stuff. I'll definately give it a look, though. Thanks.
            Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem


            • #7
              If you don't need a self bailing floor, and it sounds like you don't, a 14' NRS Otter Livery 140 weighs 89 lb. Self bailers are nicer to use since you can put stuff directly on the floor, and walk around in them easier, but there are still a lot of people using tub floors. For those few times that you need to pack it in you might even be able to get away without using a frame. Otherwise a frame with oars will take an extra pack trip all by themselves.

              I like the IK options as well. Kids (at least 12 year olds) take to them quite well, and they are amazingly stable with a light load. Another option is a pack raft. They're light enough that the kids can pack their own.


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