Ideas for transporting a raft without trailer


spent spinner
I've had an Aire Super Puma w/ NRS frame since 2000. Its on a trailer now and has been towed/used all over Montana. I recently purchased a travel trailer for the family. To have a little family fun (and slum a little fishing on the side) I've been trying to come up with a way to transport the raft while towing the travel trailer. I realize there are better cartopper boats, but I've already spent too much $$$, and the raft is a perfectly good and safe boat for lakes and lazy rivers.

My truck is a Chevy Avalanche which has a short 5'6" cargo top, so the options I see are:

1. Partially deflate and fold the raft end to end (with the frame attached) and strap it to the cargo cover

2. Fully deflate the raft and carry it inside the truck bed, strap the frame to the cargo cover.

If setup is a pain in the ass, it won't get used, so I'd rather not fully deflate. Once we are at our camping destination, I can use a truck bed extender to haul the raft short distances, but not on highways.

Any ideas, good or bad experiences trying to pull this off? Not interested in a triple rig, although it is legal in MT.



Active Member
I have a Super duper puma, I transport it rolled as I don't have a trailer. Get yerself a quick electric inflator, there are a lot out there that can really throw some air. Strapping on your frame should take less than 5 minutes. If at a deistation and doing day runs, based out of a base camp I can throw my raft on top of may tacoma with canopy, put a strap on each corner of the frame down to my truck rack, and drive 50 mph with out lift off.


spent spinner
When I bought the raft I also bought one of those 12v inflators with the alligator clips. Its never been used, and I found it the other day. About how long does it take you to unroll, inflate and strap on the frame? About how long to deflate and roll the boat up?

Is your trailers roof load bearing? If it is just strap it on and head out. Your raft probably doesn't weigh more than a few hundred pounds so the roof should hold it just fine if it is built to handle a load.
I had a 14' SOTAR raft that I hauled in the back of the pick-up with the frame on the bed rails. I had a 12 volt NRS Blast pump to inflate with.When we got to the river there were usually a couple of us so someone would start inflating while the rest of the equipment was readied for the trip. In 20-30 minutes the raft was inflated and topped off with a hand pump and the frame was strapped on. I had a travel traqiler also that is why we hauled in the back of the truck.
Breaking down was easier, open the valves and while you are getting everything put away and having a cold beverage the raft deflates. I found that using the 12 volt pump as a deflator got the air out better than trying to roll up the raft to squeeze the air out.


Active Member
When I bought the raft I also bought one of those 12v inflators with the alligator clips. Its never been used, and I found it the other day. About how long does it take you to unroll, inflate and strap on the frame? About how long to deflate and roll the boat up?

if just rigging for whitewater day trip about 10 to 15 to inflate/top off and 10 minutes to rig total, going multiday, rigging everyting 45 to 1 hour to rig and pack assuming all the gear is pretty much ready to load up already when the boat is rigged. Day trip fishing, takes somthing inbetween theset two. Unrigging takes less time. And if you are camping, just throw the thing inflated on the truck throw on a couple straps and drive to camp.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Travel trailer top. I've put my 14' cataraft on mine. Limits things, but works well. If that won't work for you, get adept at setup and break down and you won't really "not use it".


spent spinner
Great info and ideas guys. My trailer is the lightweight variety and does not have a roof rack, otherwise I'd put the raft on top of it.

Anybody ever partially deflate the raft with the frame still attached, and then fold the ends over the top? I'm going to get the thing out of storage this weekend and mess around with it...
Maybe I am just old and weak, but the raft weighs 100#, and the frame weighs between 50 and 75 pounds depending on which one you have. Lifting the raft with the frame attached does not sound like fun. I bought one of the high volume inflators this past year and it is fast. I don't fully deflate my raft as it sits on a trailer, but I inflated my 9 foot pontoons in like 30 or 45 seconds. Need to top off with hand pump, but that was another 20 strokes of a Kpump is all.

If you do this (partially deflated on the roof) there's a danger where any fabric ends up between a frame part and the roof surface. Road vibrations - like on that last 1/2 mile on the dirt road to the ramp - will eventually cause the frame to abrade and discolor the still-attached fabric and possibly even wear through at those locations. Also any loose fabric will be a problem and will try to work loose in the wind so strapping a partially deflated raft down could get tedious. If you're going to transport on the truck I'd deflate the tubes and put them inside where something heavy can't rub on them continuously. This will keep the raft cleaner too. It also eliminates the air pressure problems of crossing mountain passes. The fully assembled frame on a solid roof rack - if it and the roof can support the weight - and if it is solidly attached to the truck so the wind blast from that high speed 18 wheeler won't send it airborne - and if you can get it on and off without wrenching your back is not a bad choice. Like others have mentioned, a good 12VDC air pump will make a big difference.

Added on edit: Even with a trailer, if I'm going any distance to fish, which in the NW pretty much means over a pass or two, I'll deflate the tubes and carry the assembled frame on the trailer to the area I plan to fish - for the reasons listed above.
Re: Ideas for transporting raft without trailer
I just purchased an Aire 14SB with a trailer, but usually take my tent trailer fishing so I can't tow two trailers. I bought a folding dolly trailer to transport raft inflated while on the river and it works super. It weighs 70lb and fits nicely on top the tent trailer until I get to destination. Just set up deflated raft during the trip and you are ready to do. check this out. It is made of lightweight aluminum and works well with the optional inflatable kit. Don


Active Member
For the last twenty years I've transported a 12 1/2 foot raft (an NRS Sprite and now an Achilles) in a variety of vehicles, including a Subaru wagon, and now an S-10 pickup. I fully deflate the raft, fold it in thirds lengthwise and roll it, and the frame breaks down and straps together into a fairly compact bundle. I have an LVM impeller pump which inflates the raft in about ten minutes and total set-up time on the river seldom exceeds twenty minutes (two-man job).
My NSR Sprite was about ten years old when I bought it and I got a good fifteen years out of it before sun damage to the upper surfaces led to innumerable pinhole leaks and the need for replacement. I normally store it through much of the winter (from the end of sea-run cutthroat season to the beginning of Skwala season), rolled and stashed in the garage without any problems.
Hi CreekX!

I know this is a very old post, but, I am currently thinking through the same scenario. What did you end up doing?

While fishing in Montana I sometimes see people hauling their fully inflated raft on top of their truck bed rails with extensions to support the raft. I am looking into a system like this.

My plan is to deflate the raft and then once I get to my destination rig up my AIRE Super Puma and haul it during the week on the truck rails. I don't know if this would work while also pulling a trailer, but, it should.

Does anyone have any experience hauling with this kind of setup? Praises? Curses?