Top 6 Best Catarafts | 2020 Reviews (Star, AIRE, NRS)

The world has many beautiful things to offer. It includes the almost unexplored caves, tunnels, structures, and landscapes that you can find when you travel by the river. If you are here, you probably want to explore, or perhaps you are looking for fishing gear.

Because you will be up for an adventure, you need to use high-quality equipment that will not spoil the fun of your exploration. You need to know the best catarafts in the market and figure out which is the most suitable for your needs.

In this article, you will learn some of the best catarafts in the market, which most users love. You will also learn many things about catarafts, which is helpful when you are at the store trying to make your purchase.  

Top 6 Best Catarafts Reviewed

  1. Star Kannah 16-Foot Cataraft 
  2. Star Slice 12-Foot Paddle Cataraft 
  3. Star Kima 15-Foot Cataraft 
  4. AIRE Lion 16-Foot Cataraft 
  5. AIRE Wave Destroyer 14-Foot Cataraft 
  6. NRS Kodiak 18-Foot Cataraft 

#1. Star Kannah 16-Foot Cataraft 

Star Kannah 16-Foot Cataraft

Specifications

  • Length (feet): 16
  • Weight (pounds): 89
  • Tube Diameter (inches): 24
  • Number of Air Chambers: 6

The 1 Star Kannah 16-Foot Cataraft is your best option if you are looking for a roomy and comfortable gear. It is one of the best boats for anglers because it provides you some rooms for your fishing equipment. 

This product has several air chambers that help keep you afloat while in the waters. It has eight D-rings that provide convenient anchorage to secure frame. Also, this product offers abrasion-resistant and lasting air retention. You will enjoy all these features at a reasonable price.

The Star Kannah uses Leafield C7 valves that provide safe inflation and deflation. It also has added the PVC layer above the tubes to secure the frame from wearing. 

The Star Kannah is available in blue or gray colors. It also comes with a repair kit.

ProsCons
Repair kit includedWe got nothin'
Stable and secure
Reasonable price
Durable

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#2. Star Slice 12-Foot Paddle Cataraft 

Star Slice 12-Foot Paddle Cataraft

Specifications

  • Length (feet): 12’8
  • Weight (pounds): 79
  • Tube Diameter (inches): 22
  • Number of Air Chambers: 6

Like the original Star Slice, this model is robust but offers better stability and capacity. This product can carry four paddlers and can handle the challenges thrown by the whitewater.

The side tubes are the only ones that touch the water because of the raised PVC floor. It has a drop-stitch deck that provides stability and a reliable platform.

Its air chambers provide safety, in case a puncture tries to steal the fun of your experiences.

Aside from these features, the Star Slice also comes with self-draining compartments. It uses Leafield C7 valves at the tube and uses Leafield D7 valves, at the center and floor for secured inflation and deflation.

The Star Slice comes with two handles, 10 D-rings and a repair kit.

ProsCons
Compartments for storagePossible exposure to Diphthalate
Eye-catching designCompartments not watertight
4-person capacity
Maneuverable

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#3. Star Kima 15-Foot Cataraft 

Star Kima 15-Foot Cataraft

Specifications

  • Length (feet): 15
  • Weight (pounds): 81
  • Tube Diameter (inches): 23
  • Number of Air Chambers: 6

The Star Kima 15-Foot Cataraft features extra air volume to make your adventures last throughout the day. The construction material used for it is a high-quality PVC that is resistant to abrasion and provides excellent air retention.

It has a Leafield C7 valve that is useful for safe inflation and deflation. The construction material used above the tubes is the 1000 denier wear patch that protects the frame from corrosion.

This product has 20 D-rings to secure the cataraft in place conveniently. This product comes with a repair kit. 

ProsCons
Excellent for multiple adventuresWe got nothin'
Several D-rings
Included repair kit

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#4. AIRE Lion 16-Foot Cataraft 

AIRE Lion 16-Foot Cataraft

Specifications

  • Length (feet): 16
  • Weight (pounds): 93
  • Tube Diameter (inches): 27.5
  • Number of Air Chambers:  4

Its name is fitting to the characteristic of this cataraft. The AIRE Lion 16-Foot Cataraft is as strong as a lion. It can carry extra loads of luggage and gears that will keep you sustained for long trips. Its capacity is comparable to the typical 18-foot ones.

This product features two layers of the Aircel system and welded seams. It also has a Leafield B7 valves and several D-rings. It also came with handles and included a repair kit. 

ProsCons
Excellent for multiday adventuresSlower than some of its competitors
Maneuverable and responsiveFrame not included

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#5. AIRE Wave Destroyer 14-Foot Cataraft 

AIRE Wave Destroyer 14-Foot Cataraft

Specifications

  • Length (feet): 14
  • Weight (pounds): 64
  • Tube Diameter (inches): 22
  • Number of Air Chambers:  4

The AIRE Wave Destroyer 14-Foot Cataraft has an intelligent tube design that allows riding the harsh waves. It is highly maneuverable and responsive, which makes it a perfect gear for an adventurous soul.

This product features AIRE cells that provide durability, strength, and safety. It also has durable handles and comes with a repair kit. The AIRE Wave Destroyer is available in four colors: blue, green, red, and yellow.

ProsCons
Withstand whitewater challenges
Accessories not included
Excellent gear for huge waves
Responsive and forgiving
Excellent tracking

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#6. NRS Kodiak 18-Foot Cataraft 

NRS Kodiak 18-Foot Cataraft

Specifications

  • Length (feet): 17’11
  • Weight (pounds): 92
  • Tube Diameter (inches): 28
  • Number of Air Chambers: 6

The NRS Kodiak 18-Foot Cataraft is durable to ride the challenges offered by whitewater areas, including the ones in Grand Canyon or Alaska. What makes the Kodiak impressive is its ability to carry heavy luggage on a rough trip.

This product is stable. These features are not surprising because the manufacturer’s aim for designing this cataraft is to help transport luggage. It has an intelligent design that is the reason for its added capacity and maneuverability.

It is durable because of the wear patches above the tubes. It uses Pennel Orca that provides resistance against UV, abrasion, and chemicals.

It uses the Leafield C7 valve, which is useful for safe inflation and deflation. This product comes in 16 D-rings that help secure the frame and the cataraft in place. It also comes with a repair kit.

ProsCons
Durable against abrasion and UV raysWe got nothin'
Can handle heavy luggage

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Top Pick – Our Favorite Cataraft

There are several manufacturers in the market that claim to have the best catarafts. However, some of them are not telling the truth. That is why this article listed some of the best products that most consumers love.

What stands out the most among them is the Star Kannah 16-Foot Cataraft. This Northwest River Supplies (NRS) owns this product.

Although it is only available in two colors, it never lacks in essential features. It provides spacious room for storage, making it a perfect gear to use for fishing. It also comes with air chambers that keep you afloat in the waters.

It has eight D-rings for better anchorage and frame security.

With proper maintenance, it will last for a long time because it is resistant from abrasion. It also has  Leafield C7 valves make inflation and deflation safe. 


Brands Where You Can Buy the Best Cataraft

Even if the mentioned products here are the consumers’ favorites, there is still no guarantee that you will like them. That is why you should know some of the brands to look for when buying a cataraft. These brands will never tarnish their names by producing mediocre products.

Here are the two of them.

Northwest River Supplies (NRS)

The NRS has been around since 1972. Bill Parks, a business professor, applied his teachings in real life. Aside from being a professor, Bill also loves riding the rivers, and he wants the other to experience it too. Among these experiences is seeing several places, making a record of memories.

Bill started his venture with only 2000 dollars.

When Bill turned 80, he decided to sell his business to his employees in 2014. From then until now, it is the employees that own the company he started. These people never dropped Bill’s legacy.

NRS sells various products available for men and women. It includes products for water activities, camping, fishing, SUP, kayaking, rafting, and the like.

Argonaut Inflatable Research and Engineering (AIRE)

Everybody knows the acronym AIRE, but not everybody knows that it stands for Argonaut Inflatable Research and Engineering. This company has been around for almost 30 years since 1989.

Alan Hamilton, Kris Walker, Dennis Hill, and Greg Ramp founded the company. All of them are river running enthusiasts and professionals. Their goal for establishing AIRE was to created river crafts that are safe and durable to ride whitewater without the need for glued seams.

This company has become popular in the 1990s because of its two-layer boat system. Also, it provided a 10-year warranty to show its confidence with its products.

Even though AIRE reached the heights of its success, it still continuously improves its products by using innovations in technology and fabrics. According to AIRE, although it changes its boat design to meet the market demands, it still has never forgotten its core values.

Its core values are to provide the best customer service and warranty. It also includes observing proper treatment to its employees.


Terminologies That You Need to Know When Buying a Cataraft

If you are new to buying a cataraft, you probably noticed some jargon used in this article. These words may be foreign to you. For this reason, you might not understand some of the features of what the mentioned products can offer you.

Here are some of the terminologies.

Frame

Catarafts have two inflatable tubes. The frame is the one that holds the cataraft’s inflatable tubes together.

Some boat enthusiasts have their cataraft’s frame customized to fulfill their needs.

Denier

Denier is the standard unite of measurement that refers to the construction material used for the boat. One is oz, which refers to the material weight per square meter, while the denier refers to the gram weight per 9000-meter thread. In other words, the denier is one indication of the fabric’s strength.

Flip Lines

The flip lines are a must-have. You use them for flipping an overturned cataraft.

PVC

PVC is one of the construction materials used for building a cataraft. It has a plastic covering that usually has a utherane bladder in it. PVCs are resistant to abrasion. It also provides the cataraft’s smooth texture and glides in the waters. 

Utherane

The utherane refers to the plastic-coated material. It is resistant against abrasion and mildew.

Aluminum Floor

From the word itself, it refers to the flooring of the cataraft. By using this floor, you can stand on the boat, and you can even add heavy gears to it.

The Aluminum floor is exceptionally durable and long-lasting. It also helps to provide stability in catarafts.

Cargo Floor

The cargo floor is another type of flooring that provides support for the gear on feet. It blocks splashes that passengers might encounter when they ride the cataraft. However, it is not strong enough to carry standing people for a long time.

D-Rings

Catarafts have several D-rings, which are useful for holding the cataraft and its frame.

Carry Handles

These handles allow you to carry your boat from one place to another.

Flat Area

The flat area refers to the flat surface measurement at the side tubes’ top. It is where you can see the side rails of the frame.

Center-to-Center Width

It is a measurement that determines the frame width needed for the raft. It is equivalent to the boat’s width minus one tube diameter.

Kick

The kick refers to the front part of the boat curves.

When the kick is high, less surface area will be in contact with the water. As a result, it provides better maneuverability.

If the kick is lower, it provides less maneuverability but enhances stability and increases control. If you are up for the adventure to feel the waves, go for the raft with an enhanced kick.

Rocker

If the kick refers to the front part of the boat’s curve, the rocker describes the curves at the back. Enhanced rocker allows the rocker to go up on top of the waves.

Thwarts

Thwarts provide added stability on the catarafts. It is a tube filled with air that can come in a fixed or detachable type.

Floor Purge

When the boat becomes exposed to the sun, the pressure on the vessel seams increases.

The floor purge is the one that keeps the boat seams safe from enhanced pressure.

Foot Cups

The foot cups are something that you glue to the paddle boat, where you will place your feet to have better power when you encounter the waves. It is not a part of the cataraft, but you have an option to buy it separately.


Rafts vs. Catarafts

People who are new to buying a cataraft might have a question in their mind. They are probably asking what the difference between rafts and catarafts is. 

After all, you can use both to transport passengers or just chill in the water for adventure. Both of them also have inflatable tubes. However, they are different in construction.

Rafts

 According to the dictionary, raft refers to the simplest type of boat, but it comes in different varieties.

For this reason, you can count a cataraft as a type of raft.

However, most rafts are round. It has inflatable tubes located at the vessel’s perimeter. It also has a floor that allows you to add accessories effortlessly, unlike in catarafts.

Using this boat, you do not need to consider proper weight distribution. It is also child-friendly because it has the floor.

It can carry loads of weight because of its more extensive surface area. The only problem with rafts is that it is not as portable or as maneuverable as the catarafts. Transporting from one place to another can be an issue.

Catarafts

Catarafts consists of two inflatable tubes. As mentioned, a frame connects these tubes. 

Compared to rafts, the catarafts are more maneuverable when you load it to its right capacity. For this reason, it can provide loads of fun if better control is what you want.

Unlike the rafts, the catarafts have more extended frames than the other one. It also has more storage for accessories.

Catarafts are more resistant to headwinds, and the motor is more comfortable to mount. 

The only problem with catarafts is that it is more tempting to place gears and luggage because of the roomy space. You should also observe proper weight distribution. 

Also, you have to consider adding a floor to prevent losing valuable when you drop something.


Factors to Consider When Buying a Cataraft

Life consists of tough choices. It includes buying a raft that should fill your exploration needs.

There are tons of them on the market, and because of this, it already feels overwhelming. Not only are you unsure, which brand to entrust your safety, you should also pick the appropriate one for you among the different varieties in sizes and features. These differences are crucial to meet the diverse needs of the market.

Thus, it is not surprising that boating enthusiasts have a collection of rafts and catarafts that they can use in different circumstances. 

This section will help you figure out the best cataraft to use.

A while ago, this article mentioned the differences between a raft and a cataraft. If you think the cataraft is the better gar to use for your adventure, you should know your gear’s appropriate size and capacity. That is why you should choose the best size by considering the following questions.

Where Will You Use It?

When you are buying a cataraft, you probably have an apparent reason to use it. Among these reasons is for a family outing, fishing, and riding the white water.

If you are aiming for multiday trips, you have to consider the capacity of your cataraft.

Catarafts use different construction materials; that is why they have different durability and capacity. If you are up for a tough ride, you need the one that is resistant from abrasion and punctures.

Who Will Go Along With You?

Be mindful of the capacity of your boat. You do not want to spoil the fun of riding your cataraft because of the damaged tubes. Catarafts are not child-friendly, but if you have to take one with you, you must consider having a flooring. You do not want accidents that can hurt or even kill a child.

How Many Days Will You Stay in the Water?

If you are planning for multiday trips, you know that you should add more luggage, such as food, water, and the like. For this reason, you should consider the capacity of your cataraft on how much it can accommodate.

How Do You Want to Propel Your Cataraft?

Catarafts are not excellent for paddling. If you prefer paddling than motors or other means, you should consider having a raft instead.


Conclusion

Now you know some of the best catarafts on the market, you probably have an idea of what to buy. One of them is the Star Kannah that is spacious and durable but still available at an affordable price.

If none of the mentioned products suit your taste, you now know how to pick the best one to use.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Should I get a Big or a Small Cataraft

A: The bigger one is more capable of carrying heavier and more luggage. Also, you have to consider that small cataraft are more maneuverable if you think about the cataraft’s load capacity. When you put much load on it, it will not be as maneuverable. Generally, you should also consider the number of people. Manufacturers have their recommended capacity. Commonly, the 12 to 13-foot catarafts are for 5 to 6 people. The  14 to 15-foot raft is for 7 to 8 people. You should also consider the trips to determine if you need to add more luggage, such as food.

Q: How to Inflate or Deflate Catarafts Properly

A: Inflating or deflating catarafts is easy. You only need to uncover the valves and inflate it in the center chamber part. Do it on each tube until it forms into its ideal size. After that, do it with the outer chambers. To deflate the cataraft, you only need to open the center chamber’s valves of each tube. The pressure will go out once you do it. After that, uncover the others. 

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