pontoon capacity claims

Hi from Indiana. I'm looking to buy a two man pontoon boat and there are zero retailers around here so I've been doing all my research online. The Washington Fly Fishing board kept popping up in my searches so I joined. You guys seem to be pretty knowledgeable about pontoon boats. I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on some issues I've been thinking about.

My budget is a bit tight, so right now I'm thinking either the Outcast Fish Cat 13' or the Scadden McKenzie Drifter. I'd love to step up to a Steelheader II or maybe a raft, but it's just not in my budget.

Here is how I see the pros and cons: the Outcast boat seems much sturdier, just from pictures and video I've seen. The anglers seat, platform, and lean bar seem far superior to the Scadden boats. Cons are that the toons have vinyl bladders rather than urethane (why is this a bad thing?), thinner fabric, and the boat is 100lbs heavier. This is making me balk at the Outcast, this weight. What makes the Outcast 100lbs heavier? Seems like a lot for not much obvious difference between the boats. Both have aluminum frames. And it can't be the urethane bladders because the Outcast PAC 1200 weighs the same as the Fish Cat and it's pretty much the same boat but with urethane bladders and slightly thicker fabric.

The Scadden boasts a 1200lb capacity. This is very attractive as I'm a big dude and want to do some long trips with the boat. When I talked to them on the phone they said this is due more to the frame construction and materials than the toons because the toons are pretty much the same size on the Outcast. The Outcast claims a 750lb capacity.

Can the difference between the frames be this drastic or are Scadden just content with inflating their capacity numbers a bit while Outcast plays it safe? I'd love to hear what you think about this. Does anyone have experience with the Fish Cat 13?



Spey Fishing the Mighty Columbia......
Outcast boats come with Urethane bladders if you jump up to the Outcast Ferrari series boats; they are also known in the older models as the Outcast 800, 900, 1000, and 1100 HD models. They are bomb proof boats. Their frames at heavy walled 1 1/4 diameter aluminum, this coupled with the grade of PVC and bottom fabric maybe makes up the difference in weight. As for capacities....I cannot comment on why the difference, but I have to ask this....would you really ever load it to 750 lbs? I cannot imagine ever packing that much gear, let alone trying to maneuver that amount on a moving body of water. I think if you want to pack that amount of gear you would be better off with a raft,....would you not? I am sure there are others out there that will chime in that are far more experienced than I on pontoon boats. I have the Pac 900 and been more than happy with its capacity and its ease at moving around on open water.
Thanks for the help. The reason I'm thinking I might pack that much gear is because I'm 6'3" 330lbs and I have friends that are big as well. Just two people that size and you're getting close to the limit. Throw in a cooler, some rods, waders, boots, other sundry gear and we're limited out on a day float. Try to do two people with gear for an overnight float, even light backpacking gear, and you're over the limit. I suppose the issue isn't the boat's capacity, but the size of me and my friends so I should just suck it up and buy the PAC 1600 or something.

BUT this is exactly why I'm asking...if the 1200 pound capacity of the Scadden boat is legit, then I wouldn't think loading it with 800 pounds of stuff would make it difficult to handle, that's only 2/3 capacity! But I would expect a boat with a listed capacity of 750lbs to be difficult to handle if I loaded it to capacity of over capacity.


Spey Fishing the Mighty Columbia......

What I would do then is call Outcast directly and speak with one of their reps. I have called them in the past, and from experience I would say they tend to be conservative in their approach to "ratings". The reason I say that is this; I was discussing what white water rating their boats are good to, in particular the Pac 900 . I was advised that they are just fine to a Class 3 rapid, but he also told me that they take their most EXPERIENCED river runners and try to get them to break the frames of the Pac 900, and they have done Class 5 Rapids with no ill effects. Don't forget though, there are a lot of variables in the above statement, and I would never take any one thing as gospel.

Call them up, tell them what you want to do and they won't steer you wrong. They are very service oriented for sure.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Odd. The load carrying capacity should be the limit the TUBES with FRAME and GEAR can handle. A frame that can handle 1300# isn't any good if you have a set of tubes that'll only take 200#'s.

Unless you do long trips you won't ever use up that capacity. I personally have rowed big catarafts (16 and 18') with almost 1,000#'s of gear on them for long excursions when I worked in a whitewater crew. Where rower skills really come into play, since you have to be able to setup your run WELL before you get into it. Once you're in a run, you have to let the boat ride you out.

I'd go with the call as well. Weight capacity on alot of boats is the MAX it'll run. Like anything, you never want to max it out. Like a truck, you don't put the full tonage in it. You'll eventually blow out that axle or springs doing that. Same with a boat. You'll lesson the welds and draft way too much water. The more of the tubes in the water, the more of a slug it is. Something to consider. If you get a set of tubes that has a heavier weight capacity, you can still put alot of weight in them and still ride high in the water (what I love about my guide model steelheader).

And like mentioned about class V's. Not all are alike. Some can literally beat the crap outta your boat (I have a tweaked frame from one, and it's heavier steel). Some are just technical and not alot of stress on the boat (just the rower). In my years doing it I've seen quite a few frames tweaked, bent, and completely incompacitated from runs (some as low as a solid class 3/4). I personally have broke the welds in an old Outcast 8 years ago. Had them tag welded. I think the newer frames are a heavier whitewater (I think). Saw one awhile ago, and looked like a newer style frame. But wasn't sure if that was a custom on Outcast tubes.


Active Member
Capacity rating is a function of bouyant force. You get 62.4 lbs of capacity for every cubic foot of water you displace. A 13' x 22" cat boat will displace around 47 cubic feet for nearly 3000 lbs of bouyancy but will be fully submerged. 1500 lbs at halfway submerged.
Try here for some used rafts or cat boats:


Sidebar: A good run in a Class V will have the same effect on a frame as a crappy run in a Class III. Get trashed in a Class V however, is a different story.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?

Given the weights you're looking at carrying, perhaps you might be better advised to steer away from an 'off the shelf' solution like the Scadden or Outcast and look instead at buying your frame and tubes separately.

Doing so will enable you to build a customized frame as well as to buy better quality, bladderless tubes that will most likely have considerably more buoyancy, durability and service life than those that come standard with the two boats you're currently looking at.

For some other pre-built catarafts, check out http://www.swiftwatersports.com/main_content/retail/catarafts.htm. For more customized frames, scroll down to page 7 at http://www.swiftwatersports.com/main_content/PDF Files/Catalogs/Frames_catalog.pdf.

Kent: like I said, I would love to buy the Outcast Pac 1800 or build my own boat but it's just too expensive. Seems like the cheapest I could do it for would around $2500 then I'd have to have everything shipped to Indiana. It seems like based on Scadden's claims that the McKenzie Drifter would work for me with a capacity of 1200 pounds.

BUT then Ray comes in with his physics and totally shoots it out of the water (no pun intended). Looks like with 1200 pounds on them the Scadden toons will be halfway underwater which would make it terribly difficult to control I imagine. Whereas at 750lbs the same size toons will still allow for some control. I do need to call Outcast.

And Ray, that's a great webpage for used toons but unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of postings from the midwest...

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Matt, you have to realize most of the great whitewatering in the US is on the west coast. Well, I should say west of the Rockies. Why you won't find alot of whitewater setups east of it. So unfortunately you'll have to ship it. I know I had an old bucket boat with rowers frame I actually hauled back to Nebraska to give to one of my cousins. They had nothing like it there (this was before Cabela's offered boats like this) and they were greatly appreciative of it. They mostly wanted it for a couple small lakes and ponds back there.

NRS is a great site. Love their for sale area (well, not sure if they still have it, but they did). You can also look at the Northwest Rafters website too for deals. They used to have a good for sale area too (do a search for NWRA).

I'd also try craigslist in your area. There are always transplants, and you may find someone who moved from here and are selling their whitewater stuff. I had one friend in an old rafting crew who moved to Tennessee for his job and took it all with him. Know he got rid of alot of it there (why he drug it with him is beyond me). May find a winner there (or if anything you may find someone selling the boat you want on there for fishing).


Spey Fishing the Mighty Columbia......

One other option. Instead of buying a single boat that will hold the both of you, why not consider buying two boats....each guy buys his own. That way you get the maneuverability and you would likely increase the amount of gear you could take. A couple of Outcast Pac 1000 would do you easily...or if you really feel the need go to the 1100 HD ( heavy duty) They are far easier on whitewater to maneuver than a raft...at least from all the feedback I get from buddies who have used a raft then tried a pontoon boat.

Just a thought.
Jerry: there's a lot of great paddling on the east coast too, particularly in Western North Carolina. Maybe some of the best creekin' in the country off the blue ridge escarpment and in the smokies: horsepasture, toxaway, thompson, whitewater, raven fork etc. And there's decent paddling in the NE too, in Pennsylvania for instance where I grew up paddling an old Perception OX, a creekin' boat that could hold my huge ass.

The problem with east coast whitewater is that it's pretty small. Most of the best paddling is steep creeks and not too many people paddle catarafts. There is good rafting on the east coast though too: ocoee, youghiogheny, new, gauly etc. where people could run catarafts, but they are pretty rare. And there are great paddling shops on the east coast too, but again, they don't really deal much in catarafts for some reason. For instance, the Nantahala Outdoor Center is one of the premiere paddling centers in the country (olympic team used to train there before they moved to the artificial river in Charlotte NC). They've got rafts out the ass but no catarafts.

This is turning into a "defend the east coast rant" so I'll stop now.

But of course there really isn't much whitewater in the midwest. In fact, there's pretty much none.

And Norseman, this is pretty much how it's going to have to be if my big friends want to float with me. But my girlfriend is not going to like getting her own boat and I hope to get her out on the water some so I guess I'll have to get one of these two person boats and try to talk my friends into getting there own boats for longer floats.


Active Member
Sweet footage of Gorilla. I'd love to spank that monkey sometime. That cat run looks like Oceana Falls on the Tallulah. Amirite?
I have two Skykomish Sunrise 'toons. While they are no Steelheader, they are good value for the $, IMHO. The frames are T-6061 aluminium, heavy wall with good welds. The boats handle well, turn on a dime. I've set up a 2nd seat on the back deck on a 7" pedestal with swivel for my grandsons on stillwaters and carry a battery, trolling motor, gear, my 65# g'son & my 180# easily. I set the frame about 6" forward of recommended single set-up to compensate for the xtra weight. I recommend you go to www.northforkoutdoors.com and get the phone #. Call and ask for the DVD and talk with them. They are very helpful. Dave will also deal, especially this time of year when he's on the show circuit.
I wouldn't load my boat to capacity on moving water over a class II. Yes, it'll carry you, but probably be very sluggish. Think about two boats, that's what I did. I let the wife tag along when she can. Otherwise, it's easier to carry & handle a smaller boat, unless you're in serious water (III+). I love my standing platform/lean bar for stillwater fishing. Easier to get up & down if you raise the seat 6", but you'll want to lower it for fast water.
Either way, they are both good units, talk to the mfgr's and other forums, find out as much as you can. What's the warranty on the Outcast? Scaddens are 10 yrs. on the bladder, lifetime frame. The bladderless models are lifetime warranty.They will work like a dream in the salt, too. Enjoy

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Matt, I've done some whitewatering on the East coast, and know there are some. But most of the places I went weren't much. I never saw any shops over there, but it's been almost 15 years since I've last been and had to hook up with friends who moved over that way. It wasn't like here where I know several whitewater/boat manufacturers within a days drive. I bought one of the first Aire Ocelots that came off the line (when they were 16'), picked it up at the factory. Oh, and I know about the midwest. My family is from Nebraska on one side and Minnesota on the other. Spent alot of time in between and remember not seeing much (but alot of good fishing). Didn't mean to offend at all. It's just when I think about whitewatering, I think the west coast. But, I never made it to NC. But, have inlaws in Georgia, may have to consider making a visit. :) But like I said above, "most" of the best whitewater is over here. Not all.

I like Paul's line of thinking (probably because I'm that way). Get lots of boats. LOL. It is easier actually, since you're not hooked together you can seperate if one wants to fish a certain beat.

I'm sure Ray will back this up, nice to see a guy who runs whitewater on here. Cats maneuver pretty good when it comes to whitewatering over a raft. Punching runs, digging through. I'm tempted to see if we can get some of the old whitewater videos transfered to DVD and upload some. Only pics I have from my days were videos. Shoddy quality for the early/late 80's but nice. Both boats have their place, but running for fun the cats are far better IMHO.