Let's just assume that you and your kiddos have done a day trip rafting or enough rafting to know that you want your own rig...(Yes, I know it's not that time of year...but what the heck, I love talking about rafting)..it's time to become a private boater! What kind of raft is best for your and your family?
There are lots of opinions on this topic. And again, since I'm not trying to be an "expert" on this blog, I'll just give you mine, "your mileage may vary". ;)
You'll likely want and oar rig...instead of just a paddle boat. So you'll be getting the raft, and a frame, oars etc. You can always use your raft without the frame as a paddle boat when you want.
We started out with a 14' PVC boat. I bought a package, including the frame and oars etc. This was a good start for us, and served us well for our first 5 years. We now have a 16' boat because we do a lot of multi-day trips, my kids are older and bring their friends etc. and we like the extra room for gear and comfort.
Expect to spend between $3,500 and up to get started. If you want to start with a boat that is in the upper end in quality, you might be looking at spending over $4,000 "just for the rubber" as they say (meaning just the raft, even though they aren't made of rubber) and another $750+ for the frame, then we have oars, straps, coolers, Life vests, Paco Pads (don't ask, just open your wallet) etc. The above pic is of an 14' NRS Otter, which will run you $3750.00 new.
I'll speak more in the future about the different types of boats, PVC vs. other materials like Hypalon, seams (glued and welded). Just a heads up, I really like my friend's new 16' Maravia. This is the one I'd get if I were looking for a new boat to spend some serious cash on.
here to look at different NRS frames.
The initial investment can get pricy, so make sure you and your family are into it. Owning your own raft is a life-style. There's nothing wrong with doing occasional commercial trips. Me? I like doing my own thing and rowing my own down the river! I have a neighbor who only does commercial trips with his family and has no interest in learning to row, or owning a raft. I also think he also feels safer on commercial trips. I'm the opposite as I like having my kids in my raft with me. Different strokes....
To support rafting, please become a member of American Whitewater. Go here to learn more about this important and helpful organization:
If you are in Denver, AAA Inflatables or Down River Equipment are great places to start. Talk to Mark at AAA to get great advice on how you want your rig to go, the best way to save some money, or general questions. Mark makes some amazing frames and give great advice...go into AAA to take a look!
Here is a great site to also look over options. NRS Rafting
I am also a member of OutdoorPlay and save 15% on products with no shipping. Go here: Outdoor Play
A great site to become a member and to ask questions is Mountain Buzz. I get great information from this site. It's edgy at times, but the members are welcoming and great for "newbies".
Mountain Buzz has a great classified section for used boats, which is a good way to go. Boats hold their value, so it's even used ones aren't cheap. Go for quality in your outdoor gear!
That's all for now...more later!
Bill Strong Denver