The oars break due to user error, not boat error. If you use them properly, they won't break. A lot of people struggle with taking responsibility, so they'd rather blame a boat to make themselves feel better.
I think for the most part, it is user error. However, a lot of people get into situations where they expect an 'entry' level oar to not break...pushing off a rock or a pull in shallow water...something like that. The cheaper oars I got on my first Waterstrider, I did not think they would survive, but except for many scrapes on the oar blades, they were fine. BUT, I never got into class 3-4 water, and if I ever was going to I would definately upgrade. This is a fishing site, where we have some interest in white water rafts, but most of us [I think] want a pleasant float and lots of fish. I do know that the rafts I have had or do own, will never get close to what they are capable of.....I believe thats true for the vast majority of members on this board.
I am not a great oarsman on technical water. There are individuals on this site who can attest to that. I made a conscious choice to upgrade my oars despite the fact I will never see Class 3 water or above. I am prone to user error, or will at least assume so. I have never broken an oar, but I have abused them. I believe that cheaper oars would have broken in a couple of those circumstances.
As a side note... I also abused my leg in a kick boat early on as well. Feeling that impact on your leg, is a lesson never forgotten. I hate being educated by near misses, but sometimes that is the way it goes. Despite all your preparation, and advice and training from others, there is always a certain amount of ignorance to overcome.
Whether the oars break due to user error, rock error, or divine intervention where a lightning bolt comes from the sky and directly hits your oar, the bottom line is this - if you're floating rivers it's inevitable that you could break an oar. Sometimes that spot you thought was safe to take a stroke isn't, your oar digs in, gets bent a certain way and bam, the blade breaks. This is where having a FRAMED boat gives you more room for error as the oar lock systems (horn style or pin & clip) used on them allow oars that catch on the bottom of the river to push through and out so they do not jar the craft or compromise your position in a rapid, and in a lot of cases it might allow you to save your oar as well. On a frameless your oar doesn't have anywhere to go so your craft could become jarred violently, or cause some type of failure either breaking the oar, breaking the oar pad off the PVC, or breaking the Pin right off the oar pad itself. Just speculating here, but the fact your oar does not have anywhere to go like on a framed craft oar system, could cause that oar to dig in deeper and guarantee some type of failure as your craft's weight works against it.
The Commander and Stealth are interesting boats. If you could get the weight down to something that is reasonably packable for a few miles I wouldn't hesitate to buy one. If it has to be hauled to the river anyway, I would prefer a frame.
I received the 2014 outcast catalog in the mail yesterday. This looks like a nice unit---I am very interested in how it tracks with fins...I would much prefer spending most of my floating time fishing than rowing and constantly correcting position. If anyone test drives this unit, please add to this post and let us know how it handles.
waist waders are fine. Only below the knee is in the water on my stealth pro. I do recommend buying the extra scotty glue on mount pads. Thats the ones outcast uses to slide in the slots for the gear system, It only comes with 2. Obviously you dont have to glue them but be sure to buy the, scotty mound hardware because none of the accesories come with it. I have to buy 4 sets of hardware. You could go to lowes or something I suppose as well.
: in the last day or two, I read another post accusing Blue of "trashing" Scadden rafts yet "again" ... in my experience, if BOTH sides of an argument are pissed at you, you've probably done something right, so thank you for your balance insight Blue! ... I've got a Waterstrider (circa 2007) that I love on moving water, and am in the market for a back-up/"loaner" (frameless style) for pontoon-less friends who can then float with me as well as something I can use on windier lakes (like maybe even Pyramid near Reno) ... the Escape looks interesting as does the Predator, both Scadden units, as does Outcast's new Stealth, and I am super-curious to hear user comments regarding Scadden's extremely unique looking Fuzion ... though I have read that the rowing is quite awkward on the Fuzion, how about using it primarily as a kickboat with the oars used sparingly??? ... I used to have a Water Wagon (made in Amarillo, Texas, was 6'x4'x1' of injection molded styrofoam around an internal metal frame, weighed about 25 lbs., and took 1500 lb. of weight to submerge it) that I'd slightly customized and I caught more fish-per-hour-of-fishing while sitting atop that little unit than any other watercraft, including an Outcast 800 framed pontoon, and a real boat, a Lund 16" semi-v hull w/a 50 HP Merc ... there's gotta be a market for new Water Wagon-type kickboats ... mine drew about 2" of water w/300+ lbs. aboard ... a little 25 lb. thrust MinnKota pulled that thing around like a champ ... I easily made my way down Class 2 water using only fins ... anyway, back to frameless inflatables: at the very most, we'd be doing water on the low side of Class 3 ... any suggestions???
scottybs, I've compared the oar mounts that Scadden and Outcast use and they are different - as are the ones on my Water Master. In contemplation of purchasing a boat, I spoke with Outcast about the mounts and they said their oar mounts are custom made for them. The man I spoke with said they spent quite a bit of time perfecting the material used for the pin. I was told that the pins that will be used on the Stealth have been on the market for a year and they have not had a single failure. (He said including when they have purposely tried to break them running a rock-strewn true class 3 river.) Of course, Outcast/Aire is known for their awesome service so I am pretty confident that if someone did break a pin, they would get it replaced quickly. But in a true crisis situation, I'd rather break an oar or oar pin than have the oar mount rip off the boat, so it should be the weak link by design.
Here's my bad pic of the Outcast ones. (water droplets were from washing the boat before returning it to the owner)