NRS Rafts Review | Epic Rafts or Rip Off? [2020] + Guide

The length of time that Northwest River Supplies (NRS) has been in the boating gear industry proves its unquestionable excellence. From having a straightforward catalog back in 1972, the brand has significantly grown over the years, quickly becoming any consumer’s go-to brand for their boating essentials.

Inflatable rafts are an adventurer’s ultimate camping or fishing companion. This device could ultimately make or break any adventure, so choosing the right one is vital. NRS gives us a vast array of choices for inflatable rafts, and we have listed down below the best ones on their lineup.

Top 7 Best NRS Rafts Reviewed

  1. NRS Otter Livery 106 
  2. NRS E-180
  3. NRS 162-D
  4. NRS E-139D Dodger XL
  5. NRS E-130
  6. NRS Otter Fishing Dodger
  7. NRS Otter 120D

#1. NRS Otter Livery 106 

NRS Otter Livery 106 

Features

  • 2-Chamber Construction
  • Removable Thwarts
  • Leafield C7 Valve
  • Pennel Orca Construction Material
  • NRS Batten Attachment Thwart System

The NRS Otter Livery 106 is the perfect companion for lazy days when you want to float on flat lakes or cruise on calm rivers. It offers a sufficient amount of features to let you enjoy your weekend cruises.

Pennel Orca construction assures you that this raft can stand a constant beating, proving its excellent durability. In case your raft gets punctured, the two-chamber construction lets you safely get back to shore. The raft also comes with a repair kit to make a temporary fix and get back in the water.

This raft’s removable thwarts make the Otter Livery 106 highly customizable, letting you have full control of how you want to maximize its interior space. Like the Otter 120D, this raft has a Batten Attachment Thwart System that securely snaps the divisions in place should you wish to use them. Six stainless D-Rings let you securely attach accessories to the raft.

A Leafield C7 Valve allows you to inflate and deflate this raft quickly and helps keep it airtight. Since this raft is not self-bailing, it will be more practical to keep a bucket on hand if water starts to build up on the inside.

Drain Holes are strategically placed on the raft’s floor to expel water to retain buoyancy and improve your stability efficiently. The Batten Attachment Thwart Systems lets you remove the divisions and maximize the raft’s space accordingly.

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#2. NRS E-180

NRS E-180 Self-Bailing Raft

Features

  • Self-bailing with Quick Drain Holes
  • Leafield C7 Valve, A6 Pressure Relief Valve
  • NRS Batten Attachment Thwart System
  • Four Main Air Chambers
  • HD40 Floor

The massive tubes of the NRS E-180 make it capable of carrying anything in any water environment. It offers abundant stability and toughness that can take the beating of whitewater rapids, making sure that you get your money’s worth.

Pennel Orca makes this raft’s frame highly durable, assuring you that it could withstand constant impact and delay the damage of weather changes. The four air chambers ensure that you will back to shore safely despite having a puncture. A repair kit included in the package also allows for a temporary fix, letting you get back to the water immediately.

Like all NRS rafts, a Leafield C7 Valve secures the airtightness of the E-180 and makes inflation and deflation quick and convenient. The A6 Pressure Relief Valve keeps the floors at optimal inflation so that it stays inflated despite carrying heavy loads. You need not worry about sinking since the NRS-180 is self-bailing, expelling excess water immediately to retain buoyancy.

This raft’s HD40 floor layers protect the raft from getting punctured easily, assuring your safety. Its Batten Attachment Thwart system lets you control how you want to maximize your raft’s interior space, making it highly adaptable.


#3. NRS 162-D

NRS E-162D Self-Bailing Raft

Features

  • Outfitter Tough Construction
  • Leafield C7 Valve, A6 Pressure Relief Valve
  • Self-bailing with Quick Drain Holes
  • Four Main Air Chambers
  • Pennel Orca Material

The NRS 162-D makes whitewater with big groups possible with its outfitter robust construction. Its heavy-duty built assures you that no whitewater rapids are too strong, promising that you will get back to shore in one piece.

Its floor has quick drain holes that improve its stability by immediately expelling the water that comes in the raft. An HD40 coat covers the sides and bottom layers of the 162-D, making it resistant to abrasions despite the constant impact.

Four air chambers on the ultra-tough Pennel Orca construction assure you of this raft’s durability and safety. Even with the raft carrying full weight capacity, an A6 Pressure Relief Valve will keep the floor’s pressure at an optimal level, reducing the risk for explosion. A Leafield C7 Valve keeps the four air chambers airtight and allows for convenient inflation and deflation.

Batten Attachment Thwart Systems lets you control how you want to maximize the raft’s interior. 14 D-rings and six handles make casting and rigging secure and relatively more convenient. The 162-D’s lowered sidewalls widen the interior floor area, allowing you to have more space for your gear.


#4. NRS E-139D Dodger XL

NRS E-139D Dodger XL Self-Bailing Raft

Features

  • Three Pre-installed Thwarts
  • Leafield C7 Valve, A6 Pressure Relief Valve
  • Self-bailing
  • Four Main Air Chambers
  • 14 D-Rings

The NRS E-139D Dodger XL makes adventure time for families and friends possible with the abundance of seating space in this raft. With the pre-installed thwarts, you can comfortably fit up to eight people or put on more fishing gear by using the Batten Attachment Thwart Systems to remove the divisions safely.

Its self-bailing capabilities assure of this raft’s stability, immediately draining out water that comes in from constant impact with the rapids. An HD40 floor layer makes it weatherproof and protects the bottom from getting torn apart from hitting boulders.

Four main air chambers assure your safety when the raft gets punctured. A Leafield C7 Valve improves on the airtightness of the Pennel Orca material, ensuring you stay afloat and get you safely back to shore. The sturdy exterior material promises excellent durability as well, improving on this raft’s lifespan.

The abundance of D-rings and handles on this raft make casting and rigging convenient and secured. Its lowered sidewalls also give you a better view of the environment ahead and allow you to be in closer contact with the water during whitewater rafting.


#5. NRS E-130

NRS E-130 Self-Bailing Raft

Features

  • Self-bailing with Quick Drain Holes
  • Leafield C7 Valve, A6 Pressure Relief Valve
  • NRS Batten Attachment Thwart System
  • Four Main Air Chambers
  • 14 D-Rings

The NRS E-130’s relatively narrow built improves its agility without compromising the raft’s stability, making it a good raft for any water adventure. Its impressive list of features will make it hard for you to look for another raft elsewhere.

Like most NRS rafts, Pennel Orca assures you that this raft can withstand the beating of constant usage, making it a worthy investment. The same material, combined with the Leafield C7 Valve, also assures you that the raft will stay inflated through the most challenging rapids.

An A6 Pressure Relief Valve keeps the E-130’s floor inflated with enough air pressure to keep it from bursting. Having four air chambers around the raft assures, you will get back to shore safely in case of a puncture, with a repair kit that allows you to put on a temporary fix.


#6. NRS Otter Fishing Dodger

NRS Otter Fishing Dodger XL Self-Bailing Raft

Features

  • Self-bailing with Quick Drain Holes
  • Thwart-less Design
  • Leafield C7 Valve, A6 Pressure Relief Valve
  • Otter Pennel Orca Construction Material
  • HD40 Floor
  • 12 D-Rings

The seven panels in this raft’s frame make it possible to have relatively smaller sidewalls without compromising its stability. This feature lets you have more space, making this raft perfect for any fishing trip.

Removing the divisions on the Otter Fishing Dodger also allows you to have full control of how you want to set it up. Patches are set up all around the stern to let you cast your fishing rods securely with the seat mount. Twelve D-rings are also set up on specific areas of the raft to secure all your fishing gear.

Like the Otter 120D, the Fishing Dodger has a Leafield C7 Valve that makes inflation and deflation fast and convenient. The same valve keeps this raft from releasing air as you use it, making it airtight. It also comes in with an A6 Pressure Relief Valve on the floor to keep it on the ideal pressure range.

This raft’s Otter Pennel Orca construction makes it lightweight, allowing for more convenient transfers. It also makes the Otter Fishing Dodger highly resistant to abrasions and wears and tear from constant sun exposure.


#7. NRS Otter 120D

NRS Otter 120D Self-Bailing Raft

Features

  • Self-bailing
  • Leafield C7 Valve, A6 Pressure Relief Valve
  • Pennel Orca Construction Material
  • HD40 Floor
  • NRS Batten Attachment Thwart System

The reduced diameter on its tube makes the NRS Otter 120D more spacious at its rear, allowing you to bring more gear for fishing or overnight trips. Its adaptable built lets you fit in a fishing frame or a whitewater paddle raft, allowing you to tailor-fit it to your chosen adventure.

Its self-bailing capabilities reduce the risk of you capsizing, ensuring the safety of everyone on board. The Leafield C7 Valve allows easy inflation and deflation and promises superior durability to keep the boat fully inflated. An A6 Pressure Relief Valve helps optimize the floor’s pressure to reduce the risk of puncturing.

Pennel Orca is a material that has a Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene coating that makes it airtight. This feature also makes this raft resistant to constant impact and sun exposure, assuring you of its excellent durability. This raft’s HD40 floor protects the bottom layer from getting ripped from continuous usage.

A Batten Attachment Thwart system lets you remove the divisions on this boat easily, allowing you to customize accordingly. You also get three air chambers spread out on the raft to that let you get back to shore safely should you get a hole in it.


Top Pick: The NRS E-180

What makes the E-180 outshine them is its capacity for heavier loads on any water environment, improving its adaptability. While the 162-D improves its durability by having a layer HD40 on its sides, its reduced capacity makes it an impractical choice on larger bodies of water. The E-180 has all the features of any NRS raft, assuring you of its stellar quality that has consistently proven itself over the years.

Admittedly, there aren’t many qualities that make NRS rafts stand out against each other, but this consistency is what makes the brand one of the most trusted manufacturers out there. NRS’s attention to detail and dedication to making every feature perform excellently sets them apart from other brands who try to experiment casually.


NRS Rafts Buying Guide

The place where you would be using it, what for, and how many people will be tagging along are some questions you need to answer before deciding on an inflatable raft. Knowing the answers to these queries will narrow your search to a more fitting raft for your needs.

There are two types of inflatable boats, namely, Catarafts and Rafts. Differentiating these two hopefully helps you with your search for the perfect inflatable raft for your adventures.

Tubes connected by a metal frame makes a Cataraft. This type of inflatable raft is highly flexible, allowing for better maneuverability during whitewater rafting. Its open construction makes it resistant to headwinds and self-bailing by default, allowing you to glide through rapids.

Rafts are your usual inflatable boats that have a solid floor. This feature makes loading and distributing the weight of your gear easier since you immediately see everything. Rafts also allow for more people to be on the boat, with thwarts offering sufficient back support. Its maximized surface area also allows for more gear, perfect for multiday camping trips.

Knowing the kind of water environment, you would be tackling lets you choose between a Cataraft and a Raft more appropriately. While both types generally allow you to traverse the rapids of whitewater rafting, maneuvering with a raft will be quite a struggle with its fuller built.

Determining the level of activity you want to do with the raft will also help for wiser decision-making. Daytrips would require significantly less gear, making smaller rafts more suitable since they are easier to carry. Smaller rafts are also relatively more flexible, making it easier to maneuver on whitewater rafting.

Longer camping trips would require bigger rafts to let you store all the necessary supplies. Wider rafts would also improve your stability, making it a better fit for multiday tours and whitewater rafting.

Self-bailing rafts would allow you to keep your buoyancy, which is always ideal regardless of treading flat waters or challenging rapids. While it may not be as much of a necessity on calm lakes, it significantly reduces your risk of tipping over, improving your stability.


Conclusion

What sets the Northwest River Supplies brand apart from everyone else is its dedication to sticking to specific materials and focusing on making them perform excellently. Compared to other brands that tend to jump from one thing to the next, this consistency gives NRS a specific type of branding that only they could claim ownership.

Like all inflatable rafts in this article, the NRS E-180 provides us with an ample amount of stability and excellent durability, assuring us of a longlasting raft. The abundance of control you get on how you want to design its interior allows for better adaptability. No body of water, calm or wild, could make the E-180 back down, making it the best among the rest of the brand’s offering.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the difference between PVC and Hypalon rafts?

A: Rafts made out of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) are more lightweight compared to Hypalon rafts. The material is also more available, making it relatively cheaper compared to Hypalon rafts. Durability-wise though, Hypalon rafts are more weatherproof, lengthening their lifespan. PVC rafts promise more excellent resistance to abrasions caused by impact, but would immediately show damage caused by constant sun exposure. While wear and tear damages are inevitable, proper care and storage could significantly improve a raft’s lifespan, regardless of the material.

Q: Are all floors on a raft inflatable?

A: No, not all raft floors are inflatable. While inflatable floors or air decks improve a raft’s overall buoyancy, their lightweight reduces your stability. Other floor types like roll-up slats or hard floors cater to more specific needs, a factor you need to consider before buying a raft. Roll-up slat floors allow easier assembly and storage, but its unevenness might take a toll on your stability. Hard floors are the most durable and make the raft sturdier, but would require ample storage space and longer assembly time.

Q: Can I use a standard raft for fishing?

A: Fisherman often opts for inflatable rafts for recreational fishing trips for its portability, which does not compromise functionality. Inflatable rafts generally allow you to fish in almost everybody of water except for oceans, giving you an abundance of choices to consider exploring. Inflatable rafts usually come out bare, some with attachments specific for fishing, allowing you to upgrade and add the necessary accessories for the kind of adventure you want.

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