Raft Question

Hey everyone,

I am in the market for a raft this season, and thought I would post a thread to get some input...

I have been looking into NRS rafts pretty heavily lately, and was wanting to know if anyone has had any experience with both the Otter and Expedition series rafts.

My first question is: Otter or Expedition???
I understand that the E-series boats have a 10-year warranty over the 5-year of the Otter boats, as well as a more solid bottom coating that protects them from abuse. Are they really worth the extra 1k thought? I am quite anal, and take great care of my equipment, but do the Otter boats wear out substantially quicker than the expedition boats?

Second question is: 140 or 142???
I am pretty set on getting a 14' raft, but now am debating on whether I want the 142 (6'6" wide) or the 140 (7') wide. I know on a raft the extra 6 inches is quite a bit for being able to haul more gear, but does it also reduce my maneuverability? For the most part I will be doing single day trips on the bonier rivers in Montana where I can't fit the drift boat, but I do want to have the ability to venture on multiple day trips, (the Smith, the Salmon, etc...)
Also, I would need a trailer to go along with the raft... Do you guys recommend getting a 7' x 12' trailer or could I get away with a smaller 6' x 10' trailer? I'm out of Bozeman, so if you guys know of any reasonably priced trailers in the area, would you mind letting me know? I have heard of a couple over by Missoula, but the seem a little pricey, but they are pretty solidly built rafts.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you guys for your time!


Donny Z.
With the otter, they don't make them in hypalon anymore - you're almost better off looking for a used hypalon one (like the one on nrs gear swap right now). They are easier to repair/patch, take a beating, require only one coat of 303 a year (if covered or garaged most of the time). I've rowed gear on 13 and 14' hypalon otters and paddled the new ones. The old ones cruise, whereas the new pvc ones feel too light and bouncy for me, more like a Maravia New Wave. Don't have much experience w/ the Expedition series.

As far as width, that depends on what you are doing... If you are shooting skinny chutes and want less resistance when you are working the oars and people are casting, get the 14, which should cover you on over nights should you pull that permit.

With a 14' raft, you should be able to get away with a 6 x 10 trailer, as long as there are no sharp metal edges along the long side of the trailer. Happy shopping, and a good state to be in, in both meanings.


Active Member
I've had a 12 1/2-foot raft (first an NRS Sprite and then an Achilles) for well over twenty years now and think it has some significant advantages over a larger raft. The weight is not so great as a 14-footer while it has sufficient room for two anglers and the oarsman. I inflate and deflate my raft every trip, a high-capacity LVM impeller pump gets the job done in only a few minutes and, of course, portability and the ability to store it in a limited space (and not having to license and store a trailer) is one of the best reasons to own a raft as opposed to a hard boat


Active Member
Boney rivers means scraping over rocks, so I think it would make sense to go with the E series. In skinny water, a narrower boat can be pretty nice and usually tracks better.

On a side note, I do a lot of low water trips with rapids that look like boulder gardens. I've found that a half flat floor makes it so I can slide over barely submerged rocks without getting stuck.
I can't help you with your questions on the raft, but as far as a trailer, I'll assume you're looking on the Bozeman Craigslist. Plus, if you haven't already done so, might want to also look at the Billings and Eastern, MT Craigslist, and perhaps others also. I was looking for a traielr for my Polaris Ranger side by side the year before last, and noticed a number of trailers (new and used) for sale in the Billings area. You know there's also some local trailer dealers closeby you.

You are getting into an expensive sport. :) Raft is only a small part of the equation. By the time you get frames, oars, coolers, drybox, straps, you will know what I mean. You may want to find a package deal. If you are willing to drive, Downriver Equipment is having their annual boat swap. There are a few that may fit your need.

If money is no issue, don't limit yourself to NRS. I have nothing against the company, but there are a lot of good ol' American companies that build quality boat that will last a lifetime. Aire, Sotar, Maravia to name a few. Hypalon is good material and the newer NRS is using newer brand of Hypalon that has a different name since Dupon is no longer making Hypalon. It's not PVC. The same rubber.

If you are doing boney rivers with more day trips than multiday, go for the narrower boat. If you need to haul gear for multidays, definitely wider. And even longer. Trailer is not a must, but will be so much easier once you get into that size of boats. IMHO, you do not need 7x12'. I would actually recommend a trailer that is slightly larger than the foot print of your raft. Anything bigger is wast of space and gas. Your boat will be suspended off the deck anyway. I have an aluminum Triton 7x9' and it is perfect for my 16' raft. Make sure that the tongue will be long enough the balance the raft. I almost bought a full on deck over wheel raft trailer, but am so glad I went aluminum path. It weighs 340lb and I can move the whole thing rigged up with one hand. Plus, I still get 24-25 mpg on highway, where as my previous steel frame trailer was running 16 mpg. That is $80-100 saving for every long distance trip I do. Feel free to PM me, and I can share more details.

Josh P

Active Member
Aire Super Duper Puma is a soild option for a 14' boat. Skinny boat that fishes solid. Again nothing against NRS but there are a lot other options. Make sure to look at Maravia, Sotar, Hyside ect. Packages are a good way not to get nickled and dimed to death putting it together.
I second the Super Duper Puma suggestion. My buddy and I got ours years ago for the Middle Fork of the Salmon and since then done many types of trips from day trips to multi-night drifts from rapids that would make you scream like a little girl to placid lake fishing with the chitlins. One of the features we love most is that the raft frame is so easily reconfigurable for whitewater multi day trips. The SDP raft and frame was easy to break down and set up (no tools required) to fit in a tiny Cessna 109 with us and all our gear & provisions. We were able to loaded it with lots of camping luxuries and it handled great in Class IV rapids. There's no better way to cap an awesome day of great fishing and wicked rapids than with an ice cold beer and sizzling ribeye steak with all the fixings. Oh, sausage, eggs and cream for your coffee for breakfast anyone? Back home on more gentle rivers, the lean bars easily go back on, front floor, back seat, etc., and it becomes not only a sweet shuttle but a great casting platform again as well.

I've never rowed an Otter but I've rowed other inflatables as well as hard sided drift boats. I can tell you that this is our most favorite feature: the SDP pulls/planes/holds in the current as close to a drift boat than any inflatable I've rowed. I'm sure the slightly narrower width and the clever self bailing floor has everything to do with the superior handling. I think a slightly skinner boat is an advantage too in snaking through those pinball rock gardens with less hang ups and bumps that spin you is way you don't wanna go. Yet, it's not so narrow you can't throw a rather shameless amount of luxuries for a sweet multi day trip.

Seems you've given it some indepth research like we did so you know how hard it is to pull the trigger. Not to complicate your decision, have you given the SDP a look? I can post some pictures if you're interested. Either way, I'm sure you can't go wrong.


Joe Streamer
I strongly recommend you look at a Stream Tech. Two friends and I just bought a Salmonfly model from Derek Young (guide and Stream Tech rep in WA State). All three of us are amazed at how capable that raft is. I have rowed Aire rafts in three different models, and they are sluggish by comparison. The Streamtech just rocks. And it's of course far cheaper if you go in with 1-2 partners.


Joe Streamer
I took my kids out to Beaver Lake on the Sammamish plateau Monday AM in the raft. They're little kids, so we just trolled behind the raft. I was amazed at how fast it was rowing up-wind into about a 10 MPH steady breeze. I expected that to be more of a struggle, but it was super easy.


Active Member
x3 for Stream Tech. I did a MT tour last summer where I rented 5 different rafts over a two week period, then came home and demo'd the Stream Tech while the others were still fresh in my mind. The handling difference is dramatic, presumably due to the aggressive rocker. They basically made an inflatable drfit boat rather than trying to modify a whitewater raft for fishing.
Stream Tech's are awesome. The raft is manufactured by Maravia in Idaho by folks that boat...a lot. I just bought a second Ranger which is basically a 14' version of the Stream Tech. The rocker design on the Stream Tech has been modified to improve maneuverability. I've run the Ranger in Class V and as a gear boat at 1600+ pounds. Although there are other great boats out there, we'll always run Maravia.

I have a 14' x 6' raft. In the beginning I had a 7' x 12' tilt trailer built by a guy in Missoula. It was nice, but it didn't need to be that big. Because I'm limited in space at my place here, I sold it and bought a 6' x 10' trailer from M&M trailers in the Bitterroot. Yes, they are expensive, but built fantastic and very multifunctional while still being perfect for a raft with the rubber rollers. But with the size of my raft, it was just fine and much more manageable. Really, on my raft, less than 10' of bottom is actually touching the deck, when fully inflated, and only about 5 foot wide. So there is some overhang length wise but it was fine.

What I did, because I am also quite anal, is inflate and load up the raft... then do a chalk outline in the driveway of where the rubber touched concrete. So, do that with your raft when you get it and you'll know exactly how much deck you'll need.

(BTW - I'm selling my raft too. Posted on this site)

Derek Young

Emerging Rivers Guide Services
The Ranger is a great boat, but the drop-stitch floor is not like a StreamTech, and that's a big difference. The rocker of the boat and the floor together provide the performance advantage.

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