Inflatable Rafts | Whitewater

Filling emergency rooms and creating river carnage for tourists on guided float trips throughout the United States (see video’s below), inflatable whitewater rafts are frequently seen plying rivers with the nastiest rapids around. These rafts, which are large, bulky and heavy, are ideal for larger groups of people for running Class IV and Class V whitewater rapids.

Fly fishing guides in Montana also often use these rafts. The combination of their size, comfort, and durability, makes them excellent fishing platforms—particularly when used on remote rivers such as the Smith River.

Yet these rafts aren’t for everyone. Indeed, of all the inflatable boats available, I’d hanker a guess that these rafts are the least popular of all inflatable boats available. For day-to-day use, whitewater rafts are simply too heavy, bulky and expensive for most people.

This article covers the following topics:

What is an Inflatable Whitewater Raft?

A whitewater raft is an inflatable boat specifically designed for running rivers—especially rivers with strong, powerful Class IV or Class V rapids.

NRS Whitewater Raft

A standard whitewater raft. Large, tough, self-draining and ideal for larger groups who plan to run powerful Class IV and Class V rapids. See more whitewater rafts at Backcountry.Com.

Typically, whitewater rafts are very large—almost always being larger than 10 feet in length but with the most common lengths being between 12ft to 14ft.

Whitewater rafts, unlike many other inflatable boats, are specifically designed for running powerful rapids. As such, these rafts are constructed from ultra-tough and strong fabric—often 2000 denier (which is super thick). The strength of the fabric, combined with the high air pressure used to inflate them, makes these boats very rigid and strong. These rafts can crash into rocks and other obstacles in the river at high speed and easily survive to tell the tale.

Additionally, virtually all whitewater rafts greater than 10 feet in length have self-bailing floors. What this means is that as the raft runs through big rapids, water that enters the boat quickly drains away through the floor—thus preventing the raft from becoming a giant floating bathtub.

Whitewater rafts also can utilize rafting frames. A rafting frame is a metal frame that, though the use of straps, attaches to the raft. The frame, in addition to making the raft even stiffer, allows for easier rowing and much more comfortable seating. Most raft frames allow for the attachment of comfortable, high positioned swivel seats—thus converting these rafts into excellent fishing platforms.

Do You Need a Whitewater Raft?

Whitewater rafts are awesome inflatable boats, for sure. They are tough, super-durable and, for large float parties, an excellent boat of choice.

Yet these rafts aren’t for everyone. So before rushing out an plunking down $5000 for a whitewater raft and raft frame, let’s take a step back and determine the types of anglers/floaters who really require a large, expedition level quality inflatable raft.

How Many People Will Be in the Raft?

This is probably the most important question. If you’re planning to float alone or with just one more person, most styles of whitewater rafts are overkill. For 1-2 people, these rafts are simply too big, heavy, and bulky unless you buy one of the very small rafts.

The one exception to this is if you simply need to haul a massive amount of gear – and by massive, I’m talking in excess of 1000 or so pounds. For 1-2 people, I advise either an inflatable expedition kayak or a more sedate and affordable inflatable recreational raft. These inflatable boats are much smaller—making it far easier to setup and move these boats by 1-2 people. They are also much less expensive.

Ultimately, expedition level inflatable rafts are meant for larger float parties. If your boating plans require space for four or more people, then whitewater rafts start becoming a very good choice. Alone among inflatable boats, whitewater rafts—especially if you get into the larger sizes (12 feet+)—have a massive weight and people hauling capacity while remaining stable.

There’s a reason whitewater guide services uses they rafts almost exclusively to run whitewater rapids.

Fishing

If you use your boat primarily for fishing, whitewater rafts are a lousy choice unless you invest in a specialized fishing frame for the raft. Without the fishing frame, which allows for easier paddling, whitewater rafts simply lack the maneuverability to easily cover water while out on the river.

NRS Outlaw Inflatable Raft with Bighorn II Frame Attachment. See more whitewater rafts with fishing frames at Backcountry.Com.

Moreover, if you’re seeking a “pure fishing boat,” whitewater rafts—even those with fishing frames—really aren’t the best boat choice. Drift boats, inflatable fishing rafts and even inflatable fishing kayaks are all likely better choices for most anglers, due to their reduced cost, lighter weight and ease of portability.

That said, there’s one class of angler who will find whitewater rafts the boat of choice. This is the angler who needs a multi-purpose boat that can carry large loads of people or gear, run Class IV and V rapids and still be a fine fishing platform.

One of the big strengths of whitewater rafts is their hulking size and huge weight capacity. For anglers who need a multi-purpose boat for larger groups—a whitewater raft fitted with a fishing frame is an excellent choice.

Weight & People Capacity

Nothing compares to the gear and people hauling capabilities of a whitewater raft. However, don’t be so quick to rule out other boats, either. For more sedate rivers, some less expensive inflatable recreational rafts—such as the Sea Eagle 9—have a weight capacity of 1200 lbs and can carry four paddlers. Additionally, most expedition level inflatable kayaks can easily carry two people plus 200 or so pounds of gear (more than enough for a multi-night float trip).

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Perhaps the way to look at it is like this: When it comes to hauling people and gear, whitewater rafts are semi-trucks while inflatable kayaks/recreational rafts are pickup trucks. If your gear and people hauling needs frequently fall into the semi-truck category, then a whitewater raft is a good boat. Otherwise, stick with a “pickup truck” type of boat. The pickup truck boat, while it might lack the weight capacity of a whitewater raft, is likely to prove more versatile on a “daily basis.”

Another way to understand this is that a “pickup truck” type boat might prove a better “daily driver.” And should a time come and you need a “semi-truck”, you can always simply rent one or even buy a second “pickup truck” boat.

Best Uses for Whitewater Rafts

Despite their tough construction and versatility, whitewater rafts are actually a rather niche inflatable boat. Most individual floaters and smaller groups will find other inflatable boats that meet their needs just fine while saving their pocketbook a large chunk of money.

That said, there are some specific areas where whitewater rafts reign supreme. These include:

Floating Powerful Rapids with Larger Groups

For groups of three or more people who plan to run Class IV or Class V rapids, whitewater rafts are the boat of choice. Their tough construction allows them to slam into rocks and other obstructions without ripping or tearing. Their self-bailing floors quickly drain the water away. But perhaps most importantly, whitewater rafts are the only boat that really allows a large group of people to run these powerful rapids together. Depending on the size of the raft, whitewater rafts can carry anywhere from three to twelve paddlers.

Thus, for larger group floats through whitewater rapids, whitewater rafts are the boat of choice.

Remote Fishing Trips on Rivers

Another popular use of whitewater rafts, when combined with a fishing frame, is for river fishing trips through remote terrain.

In particular, in Montana whitewater rafts with fishing frames are often used by fly fishing guides for overnight floats down the Smith River. While drift boats still reign supreme among fly fishing guides, whitewater rafts have one big advantage over a drift boat—they don’t draw as much water. As such, whitewater rafts utilized for remote fishing trips on rivers often can float through water too shallow for drift boats.

Shopping Considerations

Despite what you might be thinking, I didn’t put this guide up to dissuade anyone from buying a whitewater raft. These whitewater rafts are truly awesome boats for river running. Instead, I put this guide up to prevent people from ordering a $3000 boat and a $1000 frame, only to be shocked in an unpleasant way when the package arrives.

Aire Puma Whitewater Raft

The popular Aire Puma Whitewater Raft. See more whitewater rafts at Backountry.Com.

Like most purchases in life, it is key to match up your needs to the boats design. If the boat you buy doesn’t match your needs, you can have the world’s greatest kayak/raft and still despise it.

In other words, first decide on your boating needs and then go out and find a boat that best meets your needs.

If you’ve determined a whitewater raft is for you, the process of actually buying a whitewater raft is fairly straightforward. Basically, you’ll need to just determine some of the following:

Weight & People Capacity

All these rafts are large, but some are much larger than others. Try to avoid getting a raft that is “too big” for all but rare uses, since large rafts paddled by too few people have a nasty habit of handling like upset donkeys. Remember, in terms of maneuverability and ease of paddling, the smaller the raft, the better.

For example, if the vast bulk of your floating requires room for four people or less, there’s no reason to buy a raft best used by six people even if—on occasion—you see six paddlers in the boat.

One nice thing about whitewater rafts, you can really “stuff people” in the boat and do so comfortably. So finding space for the occasional extra paddler or two in a whitewater raft isn’t a real issue.

The Little Things

Unless you plan to leave the raft inside your garage, whitewater rafts require a fairly hefty amount of additional accessories to utilize the rafts full capabilities. In particular, you’ll need at least most if not all of the following:

Paddles, dry bags, rope and tie downs, high-pressure electric pumps, a rowing/fishing frame, raft cart, a trailer to haul it, and maybe a rather large anchor.

Color

Whitewater rafts can come in a crazy quilt of colors. I personally prefer bright colors, as other floaters can see the boat better. But really, the color is mainly a personal preference. Just remember, you can’t paint a raft if you later discover you don’t like the color.

Raft Frame

For pure whitewater and recreational river floating, a raft frame isn’t really needed although they can still be helpful depending on your own needs. However, for fishing, a “fishing friendly” raft frame is essential. These fishing friendly raft frames have specialty seats that make casting much easier and effective, as well as making the boat more maneuverable and paddling easier. View some common raft frames at NRS.

Where to Buy Whitewater Rafts

Anyone shopping online for a whitewater raft should begin—and end—their shopping journey at Backcounry.Com. Online, they offer one of the largest selections of whitewater rafts from Aire, NRS & Star. They also sell the hard to find NRS fishing frames from NRS rafts.

Best Inflatable Rafts for 2022

Today’s inflatable watercraft market offers thousands of great products that make it overwhelming to choose the best inflatable boat out there. For starters, one of the most suitable types of rubber boats to use is an inflatable raft. An excellent inflatable raft is the one that can serve its essential purpose: being a water-borne vessel.

Blow-up rafts are without a doubt, one of the most affordable options if you are still starting new. However, choosing the right inflatable raft can be incredibly difficult for newcomers as the options reach far and wide.

But hey, worry no more! In this article, we’re going to introduce to you several of the best inflatable boats that you can get at an affordable price.

best inflatable rafts 2021

Choosing The Best Inflatable Raft in 2021

By definition, a raft is the most basic form of an inflatable boat. As long as it can carry you on a body of water, you can call it a raft. In this day and age, blow-up rafts are an excellent solution for both recreational or other purposes. Let’s start looking at our recommendation of the best inflatable rafts in 2021.

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1. Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Raft

The Intex Excursion 5-Person rubber raft is a terrific option for a durable yet affordable water vehicle. It offers a 1,300-pound carrying capacity that provides sufficient headroom to bring along five passengers plus some gears and supplies.

This inflatable raft is NMMA and U.S. Coast Guard certified so it has met and passed all the safety standards set by the government. It’s also rated to handle lakes and mild rivers – but not whitewater.

The Intex Excursion 5-Person inflatable raft comes with two inflatable seats with backrests, ensuring that you can have a comfortable position even when you’re paddling for hours. You can also mount a motor on the motor fitting pre-installed at the stern of the boat – but it’s worth noting that the motor mount and motor are sold separately. This boat comes with an easy-store carrying bag, 54-inch aluminum oars, a high-output pump, and a repair patch kit.

2. Intex Mariner 4 Inflatable Raft

The Intex Mariner 4 is a high-quality inflatable raft known for its practicality, performance, and durability. You can find in this inflatable raft all the features that you’d need for a relaxing fishing trip or leisure paddling on the lake.

The Mariner 4 model is one of the most affordable products from Intex, but that doesn’t mean that it is not an excellent inflatable raft. It offers all the durability and high-material construction that Intex products are known for. It also has very high portability and versatility thanks to its easy assembly process.

The PVC materials used to build this inflatable raft are designed to withstand UV rays, abrasions, and even exposures to chemicals and gas while on the water. Another fantastic feature about the PVC material is that it has a slow-air passing rate that allows the boat to stay inflated for a more extended period.

3. Inflatable Bay Breeze Boat

This 6-person inflatable raft from SunPleasure is one of the best inflatable rafts to have some fun with on the water with your friends and family. It features a lounge-style design that allows all the passengers to relax, making it a perfect mini-party boat.

The massive design provided with this rubber raft allows all passengers to have their relaxing spots. What’s more interesting about this inflatable raft is that it is an inflatable pool float – that’s shaped like a raft.

There’s an inflatable step-up platform on the back of the raft that you can use to get in and out of the boat. This inflatable raft’s ‘nose’ is also very spacious, making it even more spacious for relaxation.

4. Bestway 65049E Hydro-Force Mirovia

The Bestway HydroForce Mirovia is a 130″ inflatable raft that offers the best value for money. The HydroForce Mirovia is made from terylene-supported PVC that comprises four air chambers. To withstand the air pressure, the PVC is coated with sunlight-resistant materials that also enhances its durability.

Although it comes at a very budget-friendly price, the Bestway HydroForce Mirovia has aluminum alloy floorboards that make it very stable to use, even on open water. It’s also quite large at 10 feet, and 10 inches long with a maximum carry capacity of 1411 pounds (including motors and other equipment). However, the space on the boat itself is only enough for 3-4 people.

The inflatable boat comes with a tow rope, a pair of aluminum oars, an inflator pump, a pressure gauge, a carrying bag, and a repair kit – which means you’ll be able to get on the water as soon as it arrives. Although it doesn’t come with a motor – which is understandable given its price – it has a molded metal motor mount at the stern of the boat. You can use up to 15HP motor without any problem, but it’s highly advised to stay within that limitation.

Although this rubber raft sounds promising, one of the drawbacks of Bestway’s product is that it’s challenging to find any details online.

5. NRS PackRaft

The NRS PackRaft is the best inflatable raft when it comes to portability. It offers a fun, stable, and convenient boating experience for newcomers and enthusiasts alike. Its small and lightweight build is slightly misleading since it still provides a reasonably durable material – but not quite comparable to other more expensive products.

The tubes of the NRS PackRaft are constructed of 70D polyurethane nylon, while the floor is made of the 210D variant of the same materials. Although the most durable boat is by no means, it provides a decent resistance to scratches and punctures.

The company that makes the PackRaft, Northwest River Supplies (NRS), is well known for its top-tier watercraft gear. In other words, we have our confidence in this plain-looking inflatable raft as one of the best value for money options.

One of the most intriguing features of the NRS PackRaft is its mind-boggling 5.7-pound weight and therefore has extreme portability. You can carry the entire inflatable raft with one hand, no problem – so storage and travel are very doable.

It comes with a convenient storage bag and a repair kit – which means you’ll need to get your oars and pump before you are ready to paddle. The NRS PackRaft is also on the smaller side of the inflatable raft at only 6’10” in length and a 400-pound carrying capacity.

best inflatable rafts

Conclusion

With the wide variety of inflatable boats in the market, it’s no surprise that you’ll end up having a difficult time to choose which one suits you best. But with our detailed review here, we hope that this article can give you a helpful insight on the best inflatable rafts that you should check out in 2021. We guarantee you, all of these options are of great value for your money. Now go, take your pick!

Best Inflatable Rafts for 2022

Today’s inflatable watercraft market offers thousands of great products that make it overwhelming to choose the best inflatable boat out there. For starters, one of the most suitable types of rubber boats to use is an inflatable raft. An excellent inflatable raft is the one that can serve its essential purpose: being a water-borne vessel.

Blow-up rafts are without a doubt, one of the most affordable options if you are still starting new. However, choosing the right inflatable raft can be incredibly difficult for newcomers as the options reach far and wide.

But hey, worry no more! In this article, we’re going to introduce to you several of the best inflatable boats that you can get at an affordable price.

Read Post  Best Grand Canyon Rafting Trips

best inflatable rafts 2021

Choosing The Best Inflatable Raft in 2021

By definition, a raft is the most basic form of an inflatable boat. As long as it can carry you on a body of water, you can call it a raft. In this day and age, blow-up rafts are an excellent solution for both recreational or other purposes. Let’s start looking at our recommendation of the best inflatable rafts in 2021.

1. Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Raft

The Intex Excursion 5-Person rubber raft is a terrific option for a durable yet affordable water vehicle. It offers a 1,300-pound carrying capacity that provides sufficient headroom to bring along five passengers plus some gears and supplies.

This inflatable raft is NMMA and U.S. Coast Guard certified so it has met and passed all the safety standards set by the government. It’s also rated to handle lakes and mild rivers – but not whitewater.

The Intex Excursion 5-Person inflatable raft comes with two inflatable seats with backrests, ensuring that you can have a comfortable position even when you’re paddling for hours. You can also mount a motor on the motor fitting pre-installed at the stern of the boat – but it’s worth noting that the motor mount and motor are sold separately. This boat comes with an easy-store carrying bag, 54-inch aluminum oars, a high-output pump, and a repair patch kit.

2. Intex Mariner 4 Inflatable Raft

The Intex Mariner 4 is a high-quality inflatable raft known for its practicality, performance, and durability. You can find in this inflatable raft all the features that you’d need for a relaxing fishing trip or leisure paddling on the lake.

The Mariner 4 model is one of the most affordable products from Intex, but that doesn’t mean that it is not an excellent inflatable raft. It offers all the durability and high-material construction that Intex products are known for. It also has very high portability and versatility thanks to its easy assembly process.

The PVC materials used to build this inflatable raft are designed to withstand UV rays, abrasions, and even exposures to chemicals and gas while on the water. Another fantastic feature about the PVC material is that it has a slow-air passing rate that allows the boat to stay inflated for a more extended period.

3. Inflatable Bay Breeze Boat

This 6-person inflatable raft from SunPleasure is one of the best inflatable rafts to have some fun with on the water with your friends and family. It features a lounge-style design that allows all the passengers to relax, making it a perfect mini-party boat.

The massive design provided with this rubber raft allows all passengers to have their relaxing spots. What’s more interesting about this inflatable raft is that it is an inflatable pool float – that’s shaped like a raft.

There’s an inflatable step-up platform on the back of the raft that you can use to get in and out of the boat. This inflatable raft’s ‘nose’ is also very spacious, making it even more spacious for relaxation.

4. Bestway 65049E Hydro-Force Mirovia

The Bestway HydroForce Mirovia is a 130″ inflatable raft that offers the best value for money. The HydroForce Mirovia is made from terylene-supported PVC that comprises four air chambers. To withstand the air pressure, the PVC is coated with sunlight-resistant materials that also enhances its durability.

Although it comes at a very budget-friendly price, the Bestway HydroForce Mirovia has aluminum alloy floorboards that make it very stable to use, even on open water. It’s also quite large at 10 feet, and 10 inches long with a maximum carry capacity of 1411 pounds (including motors and other equipment). However, the space on the boat itself is only enough for 3-4 people.

The inflatable boat comes with a tow rope, a pair of aluminum oars, an inflator pump, a pressure gauge, a carrying bag, and a repair kit – which means you’ll be able to get on the water as soon as it arrives. Although it doesn’t come with a motor – which is understandable given its price – it has a molded metal motor mount at the stern of the boat. You can use up to 15HP motor without any problem, but it’s highly advised to stay within that limitation.

Although this rubber raft sounds promising, one of the drawbacks of Bestway’s product is that it’s challenging to find any details online.

5. NRS PackRaft

The NRS PackRaft is the best inflatable raft when it comes to portability. It offers a fun, stable, and convenient boating experience for newcomers and enthusiasts alike. Its small and lightweight build is slightly misleading since it still provides a reasonably durable material – but not quite comparable to other more expensive products.

The tubes of the NRS PackRaft are constructed of 70D polyurethane nylon, while the floor is made of the 210D variant of the same materials. Although the most durable boat is by no means, it provides a decent resistance to scratches and punctures.

The company that makes the PackRaft, Northwest River Supplies (NRS), is well known for its top-tier watercraft gear. In other words, we have our confidence in this plain-looking inflatable raft as one of the best value for money options.

One of the most intriguing features of the NRS PackRaft is its mind-boggling 5.7-pound weight and therefore has extreme portability. You can carry the entire inflatable raft with one hand, no problem – so storage and travel are very doable.

It comes with a convenient storage bag and a repair kit – which means you’ll need to get your oars and pump before you are ready to paddle. The NRS PackRaft is also on the smaller side of the inflatable raft at only 6’10” in length and a 400-pound carrying capacity.

best inflatable rafts

Conclusion

With the wide variety of inflatable boats in the market, it’s no surprise that you’ll end up having a difficult time to choose which one suits you best. But with our detailed review here, we hope that this article can give you a helpful insight on the best inflatable rafts that you should check out in 2021. We guarantee you, all of these options are of great value for your money. Now go, take your pick!

Source https://www.bigskyfishing.com/inflatable-boats/inflatable-rafts-whitewater/

Source https://inflatablesportsguide.com/best-inflatable-rafts/

Source https://inflatablesportsguide.com/best-inflatable-rafts/

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