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16' or 18' Cataraft for 3 hunters, 3-4 caribou

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  • 16' or 18' Cataraft for 3 hunters, 3-4 caribou

    Looking into a 16' NRS or a 18' Leopard I can borrow from some friends. Do you think either will be big enough for 3 hunters, camp for ~8-10 days, and a handful of caribou and maybe a bear or two? Should be pretty benign rivers up in NW. Other option is to rent a 14' round raft.

  • #2
    I've taken three big men and a huge heavy camp on an 18' Aire Cougar and didn't have any concerns. This was the Gulkana. I'd imagine three guys and a couple caribou would be no problem on the Leopard. Don't get any more animals until you've loaded up the raft with party and meat and are happy with how it rides.


    • #3
      Two guys and one moose is about all I'm comfortable with in my 18" leopard. I would say you are way to heavy. I'm usually running some rougher water though.


      • #4
        I rented a Leopard years ago. Didn't like it because it was a bear to trim out. I bought an 18' NRS pontoon raft. Its a pig on big water in the wind but will work very well with 3 people your camp and 3 caribou. Some bear hides/skulls won't hurt it. Mine has the webbing floors and I use an otter ice fishing sled to retrieve my critters AND put it in the raft to hold my game bags of bone-in caribou meat. It works great! Zero blood in the raft. You DON"T want blood on your raft.

        The NRS sits flat on the water, has no banana shape, penetrates the water less than the Leopard (easier to move in shallow water) IMO. The NRS is probably not as good in white water but I don't take it in more than class 2 so its perfect. You might also rent or own a Pristine Ventures boat as a little water boat, tag along or put someone in it and they paddle with.

        My system with 5 people was the 18' NRS and a SOAR canoe paddled. We had lots of room and capacity.

        Between the two? I'd go with the 16' NRS and rent an inflatable canoe paddled from the center and hold some gear. No more leopards for me. This is just my opinion from experience w/the leopard. It takes fiddling around with the Leopard to trim it with your straps so it floats straight. The NRS is much easier to trim, it floats flat on the water, penetrates into the water far less with a load and tracks straighter IMO.

        Just my 2 cents. You'll have a blast in any event.
        That country was so hungry even the ravens were packin' a lunch.... HUNGRY I tell ya'!!


        • #5
          Ok...Your in my wheel house so here is my 2 cents worth..

          It sound like your doing a fly out hunt and the thing you will find right away is how much of a pain in the Ar$$ a Cat Frame is when it comes to breaking it down to fly and the and of time it takes to reassemble them. Most flight services, especially in Kotz's will not like your cat for 2 reasons... The frames are huge and the pigs eat capacity in the plane. Most 16/`8 cats will tip the scales at 200-215 pounds easy! Your pilot is most likely flying a 206 which has 800 pounds os capacity, and each man is let's say 200 pounds, the Cat is 215 pounds and right now your over your 800 pounds so you just bought another flight and you haven't look at your camp gear, personal stuff and food..See where we are going here?

          We have switched to most of our hunters taking Pro-Pioneers and a few highly modified 13/14 foot round boats. Our 18 for Pro-pioneers tip the scales at 110 pounds, no frame and carry 2 moose, 2 men and 10 days worth of gear! The Round boats have cut down frames (4 sticks) and haul between 1,700 to 2,200 pounds and tip the scales at either 125 or 155 pounds. The flight services don't scream too much about the round boats but one of them will not haul Cats so you might want to check before you arrive.

          Cats are way cool but they are not designed to fly when compared to round boats or SOAR Canoes.

          Good planning

          Northwest Alaska Back Country Outfitters
          Attached Files


          • #6
            Some more pics from NW Alaska!

            Pic #1 is a 18 Pioneer Mag
            Pic #2 is a 206 aircraft

            Attached Files


            • #7
              There are several factors to consider. River width will be a factor in how big a raft you want to put down it. The longer the raft, the harder to maneuver quickly. Traditional rafts are much more forgiving when you have to carom off the banks. Overhanging trees and alders tend to catch a cat framework more easily than a raft, too. What Walt said- ease of air transport is huge, as is weight. I would rather have food and warm clothing than a heavier raft, if I have to choose. Also, wind resistance. If you are rowing down frog water, wind can be a huge factor in getting down the river. Bigger raft, more wind resistance. The higher a raft or cat rides, the more wind it catches.


              • #8
                3 guys and game in one raft, no matter what raft, is a real load. IMO you're really pushing your luck.


                • #9
                  Thanks for the input everyone. Going to take a 18 leopard and bring a pro pioneer as well.


                  • #10
                    I would see if you could get Mike Strahan to chime in on this. Send him a PM about the thread
                    Semper Fi and God Bless


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