Casual River Rafting??

Inland paddling
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CrazyD
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Casual River Rafting??

Post by CrazyD » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:22 pm

Heyyy all,

I've kinda got the rafting bug and I want to progress and have fun, I've kayked for a few years and now been rafting for a season I have nowhere near enough for a full raft and Ive heard they get themselves pinned easily and also it would be nice to be able to take friends sometimes on flatwater so the Catarafts design is great because it's quick. I've been looking at the ZelGear VectoR-2 which is a new raft developed for steeper stuff in the UK but I've never seen them about, is there something about the design/ are they just not know about currently or is river rafting in the UK just not viable?? I've tried the R-4 and loved it but not sure on actual rivers? Have I gone mad or maybe I've just been off the water too long in this drought...

Any input is great

https://www.facebook.com/ZelGearUK/

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Chris C
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by Chris C » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:33 pm

Could be worth chatting to the rafting centres(CIWW, Tryweryn, HPP) as they sell off their older rafts from time to time, this would give you a much comfier option than a c1 kneeling position and without the need of strapping people to tubes altho very popular with the Russians! You could look at an R4 small Gumotex Pulsar or Bull Rafts do one also £1800 but these are very well made and tough

MarcT
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by MarcT » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:15 pm

I've got an R2. Definitely worth getting one, in fact I don't know why our rivers aren't littered with the things? Well actually I do, the biggest draw back is that casual rafting just isn't a thing..... yet.

I don't get the chance to trawl the forums often but when I do I'm pretty much looking for references for rafts/rafting/catarafts, there's not much out there.

The UK body is an offshoot of the BCU, focused on commercial and competitive rafting, as such it's got nothing to currently offer the likes of me.

I can drone on about the qualities of the R2 endlessly so don't get me started. The short version is that it's versatility is phenomenal and it is excellent quality for the money.

I'd recommend that everyone gets a ride on one, its not what they'd expect (unless you've paddled an R4 of course) ....and as far as I'm concerned knee straps are optional.

I posted a thing on song of the paddle about a flat water paddle down the Severn on mine. The link is below (apologies if I'm not supposed to do that, I never read terms...)

Next planned trip will be the rapids from Horseshoe Falls to Llangollen and hopefully later on the Tryweryn. Ive run the detail of the boat past the centre and there's no issues using it from there.

http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/ ... Bridgnorth

CrazyD
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by CrazyD » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:06 pm

Thankyou both. Chris I see your point of being strapped in not that I find it that bad although some of my friends did dependant on leg length. I thought the bull rafts were mainly for racing and a little too expensive and centre rafts seem to always be 6-8 people which is too big so that's why I've considered these ZelGear ones. Thankyou Marc, a long and interesting read, if you have space on the raft I'd be more than happy to come over and saftey boat/ be on the raft to see what they are like.

D

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ZelGearUK
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by ZelGearUK » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:20 pm

To answer some of the points / observations raised so far .....

Contrary to the visual impression that the kneeling seats / saddles are uncomfortable, the general consensus among the raft guides at Lee Valley and HPP who tried the demo 4 seater SportCat-4 last year was that the kneeling is surpassingly comfortable. The saddle seats are set at a height to reduce compression of the legs so you are not sitting on your legs, you are sitting on the saddle. The kneeling straps are there to keep you in place for executing extreme radical paddling strokes in white water. The kneeling straps together with foot rests are designed in such a way that you can easily pop out whenever you want to - no releasing of buckles is required to get off, just move your feet to 'unlock'.

The 2 strap kneeling seat has since been improved to a 3 strap version making the seat even more comfortable and allowing for more movement. New version kneeling Cats will have an extra cushion that you can sit on when not kneeling. Foot rests have also been changed to an adjustable version which now caters for shorter paddlers (adults).

The main reason we think why catarafts has not taken off here is very much like wind surfers not liking kite surfers, skiers not liking snow boarders, so it's a matter of time when folks will open their eyes to what they are missing out with these unique and affordable Cats. Cats are like skiing and rafts are like snow boarding down a mountain - one carves down the river and the other slides down the river. Cats are simply fast and nimble, much safer, and also very light - to carry overland and on rarer occasions, to flip back upright. The 2 seater is only 22kg, the 4 seater is 31kg, comes with a backpack easily carried by one person.


ZeGear UK
Simon

ZelGear UK
Inflatable kayaks, catarafts

LeoF
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by LeoF » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:04 am

I did a few rivers in Canada, Sweden and Grand Canyon in the US using both ZelGear R2 and R4, older models. Run many rapids up to class 5... and some flat waters as well.
Both boats did fantastic, they are nimble, super-stable and easy to steer, I love their unique kneeling seats - you feel and control the boat like a slalom canoe (C1). Mesh deck is nicely stretched and lets the water out instantly.
Boats are light, R2 is only about 23 kg, yet very sturdy and well made.
VectoR seems to be their new model, and a very promising one, with integrated high-pressure drop-stitch deck under each paddler... it should lower the center of gravity and improve knee comfort. ZelGear says they will start shipping VectoR-s within weeks, I am getting mine in the spring.

LeoF
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by LeoF » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:32 pm

This is what I think as well. If you make them compete side by side, rafts have nothing on these cats - all the advantages go to cats. Well, maybe raft guides like their seat on a stern, but I am sure one can be designed for cats in a future... Yet, it will take time for folks to open their eyes...


ZelGearUK wrote:To answer some of the points / observations raised so far .....

Contrary to the visual impression that the kneeling seats / saddles are uncomfortable, the general consensus among the raft guides at Lee Valley and HPP who tried the demo 4 seater SportCat-4 last year was that the kneeling is surpassingly comfortable. The saddle seats are set at a height to reduce compression of the legs so you are not sitting on your legs, you are sitting on the saddle. The kneeling straps are there to keep you in place for executing extreme radical paddling strokes in white water. The kneeling straps together with foot rests are designed in such a way that you can easily pop out whenever you want to - no releasing of buckles is required to get off, just move your feet to 'unlock'.

The 2 strap kneeling seat has since been improved to a 3 strap version making the seat even more comfortable and allowing for more movement. New version kneeling Cats will have an extra cushion that you can sit on when not kneeling. Foot rests have also been changed to an adjustable version which now caters for shorter paddlers (adults).

The main reason we think why catarafts has not taken off here is very much like wind surfers not liking kite surfers, skiers not liking snow boarders, so it's a matter of time when folks will open their eyes to what they are missing out with these unique and affordable Cats. Cats are like skiing and rafts are like snow boarding down a mountain - one carves down the river and the other slides down the river. Cats are simply fast and nimble, much safer, and also very light - to carry overland and on rarer occasions, to flip back upright. The 2 seater is only 22kg, the 4 seater is 31kg, comes with a backpack easily carried by one person.


ZeGear UK

LeoF
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by LeoF » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:28 am

Yes, I own Star Inflatable WonderBug raft (13.6 ft - 6 people plus guide) and used it on many expeditions ( Alaska, Canada), and on short weekend trips. Also I own a few different inflatable kayaks ( Aire SeaTiger, Aire Force, Star YellowJacket, ThrillSeaker and a couple more), Alpacka packraft, PaddleCats - by Hyside and Jack's Plastic Welding. Also a 4 hard-shell boats. I paddled them all. If you wonder why my wife did not show me out of my house, I have no good answer to that, maybe I just got lucky. Just to complete the "experience", I have rowed the large rented NRS 18-ft raft on Colorado river (Grand Canyon).

Lately - for the last 2 years - my tool of choice is ZelGear R2 (or R4 if I have bigger crew). The Star raft was used for only one day in 2016 and for 2 days in 2015. For a very simple reason: ZelGear boats proved to be a better choice for nearly all my trips.
IMHO, ZelGear cats are the future of both hardcore and recreational paddle activities.
It is just a matter of time... If someone sees one these boats somewhere on a water by chance - and tries to paddle it - he is more than likely to buy it, sooner or later.
These cats do not flip in class 3-4 rapids ( rafts do). They are 2-3 times lighter than rafts, yet very sturdy - I had to do only one patch and replace one D-ring over about 100 river days. They are a lot faster than rafts, have about same speed as most inflatable kayaks ( of course, both people have to paddle). They can turn on a dime, execute difficult lines on creeks and narrow runs. They are safer, thanks to seat straps - no one is getting thrown out when your boat hits the rock. Finally, they are a lot more technical and fun to paddle... you can do all kayak strokes, braces, etc. The more you paddle it, the better you feel it... I have even seen one guy who was able to roll the R2 - when other paddler bails out, he starts the move from under the deck. That's all. Cannot wait to try out VectoR, I've seen videos with it and it looked perfect. If someone decided to criticize (older) ZelGear cats, it would be a knee pain or discomfort that some people experienced after long time spent in a kneeling seat. VectoR may not eliminate the issue completely, but will certainly make knees a lot more comfortable, plus it offers an option to seat normally on your rear... all has to be tested, of course, but I like the ideas.

CrazyD
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:10 pm

Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by CrazyD » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:24 pm

Thankyou all for the comments, lots to consider. Now my main concern is the difference in UK rivers that are incredibly low volume in comparison to the rivers you have mentioned but I think I'll wait for the Vector R-2 as I want to paddle more steep stuff and hopefully I'll be able to afford it. Then I can better review their use on UK rivers, once I find a partner crazy enough... Lots of volunteer boaters and people with cameras but very few willing to be on the raft.

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StillNewish
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by StillNewish » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:59 pm

Interesting thread, I'm intending doing my L1 raft guide course this year, having done a few raft trips before (legacy course at Lee Valley, nothing heroic, but did manage to flat spin it in the last feature...). I'm a kayaker too (France, Italy, Austria, Scotland etc and mainly paddle grade 3 and 4 rivers)

As a half-way between a kayak and a raft, maybe an inflatable kayak would be a good option?

Had never considered buying a boat of my own though (normal kayak / creek boat aside, of course), does anyone know if something like the K1 version of this could be used at Lee Valley, Cardiff, HPP etc?

http://www.bullrafts.com/Bull_Rafts/Kayaks.html

Cheers,
Colin

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ZelGearUK
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Re: Casual River Rafting??

Post by ZelGearUK » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:42 pm

The new ZelGear VectoR-2 two man cataraft is now out and we have a demo version available for tryouts. There are several changes in this Cat over the earlier model that this Cat was based on. The seating set-up has been vastly improved - more comfortable, more adjustments to cater for your height (foot rest positioning), and you are able to sit normally (no kneeling) when needing to take a break from kneeling, and the floor that your lower legs rests on is level and flat.

Also a new 'raft fit' two man cataraft is now out and we have a demo available for try outs too - TourCat-2 Mini. This 'raft fit' means you sit just like on the normal river rafts. This small lightweight two seater Cat weighs only 21kg and fits into a small rucksack - very easy to store, carry and affordable. Designed as an budget entry level Cat, this boat has two cross airbeams as opposed to three as in the two seater TourCat-2 and four in the bigger brother TourCat-4 which can be used to seat four or six paddlers.

We are keen to have experienced open minded raft users to provide reviews / feedback on either or both of the above Cats.
Simon

ZelGear UK
Inflatable kayaks, catarafts

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