Types of Rafts and Why We Use Them

If you’ve been on guided rafting trips before, you may have noticed different raft setups. Some have oars mounted in the center. Others place the guide on oars in the back. And some rafts are paddle boats with no oars at all. Have you ever wondered, what are the reasons for using a particular type of boat? Do each have advantages or disadvantages?

We recently spoke with Sage owner and director of operations, Cole Bangert for his thoughts on raft setups. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of rafts and why we use them.

First, consider the raft with a center-mount frame. According to Cole, these types of rafts are extremely agile, since the pivot point of the raft is in the center. You’ll most often see this type of setup on overnight camp floats for their ability to navigate big rapids or techy rapids with loads of evenly loaded gear for good weight distribution.

Next, there’s the stern-mounted frame and oars. This makes a great “paddle assist” setup, where the guide rows and calls commands to a paddle crew.

“The paddle crew and guide work together to move the boat,” Cole said. “This is ideal for commercial outfitters. The guide can do most of the work but guests are still heavily involved. It’s a great setup for family trips with younger kids, as guide has ability to move the boat without much power from guests.”

You have probably seen a paddle boat with no oars. This is the way you see most commercial trips structured. This heavily involves the customers, as they must come together as a team to move the raft efficiently.

“The guide and guest have to create a trust factor,” Cole told us. “The guide usually could not navigate certain whitewater without the performance of his paddle crew, and the paddle crew must trust that the guide knows how to command the boat. This is fun for the guide and guest alike. There is a lot of teaching and learning.”

Sage uses a mixture of boats, but primarily SOTAR and Hyside. SOTAR and Sage teamed up to produce what many call “the sexiest raft I’ve seen on the water” for the past couple years. Not only are the colors custom to match the Sage logo, its also a custom design of boat, built specifically for maximizing performance and fun.

“These custom rafts are 13.5 feet long and they track well, meaning they move in the direction you point the boat amid heavy waves and currents,” Cole commented. “They are balanced and stable with the 19-inch tube diameter, which is slightly larger than a standard 13-foot raft. The tubes diminish from 19 inches to 15 inches on the tip of the bow and stern to enable the raft to “punch” through big waves without getting stalled out.”

SOTAR also used a high-end material on our custom rafts that, when inflated, turns very stiff. This is crucial to have in hard whitewater. It makes the boat more predictable, faster, and stable for the paddlers. “The height of the bow is also custom,” Cole concluded. “We set it to have a good mixture of speed, anti-deflection, and wetness…because cause lets face it, when waves cover the raft, it’s the best feeling ever!”

For more information on rafting trips near Vail and Beaver Creek with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please visit our Rafting Page. To book your trip, call us now at 970-476-3700.

Featured River Profile: The Eagle River

It’s time to get to know some of the incredible stretches of whitewater here in Colorado! This state has incredible rafting opportunities, and we’d like to introduce you to one of our favorites. In case you’re not already familiar, here’s a look at the Eagle River.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to raft the Eagle River, you need to make time!

“Right now is prime season for the Eagle River and when it flows, it’s some of the best whitewater in the nation, no joke,” said Sage Outdoor Adventures owner and river guide, Cole Bangert. “All the river enthusiasts in the state flock here during peak season. If the prime season on the Eagle ran longer into the summer, it would rival the Arkansas River in use numbers.”

While the Arkansas’ long rafting season makes it the most famous river in the state by a long stretch, the Eagle is perhaps the most underrated. Because during its peak-rafting season, there is nothing else like it. It’s long, steady gradient drops with awesome class 3 and 4 rapids the entire way, including a continuous, mile-long class 4 rapid!

“The Eagle River is unique in the sense that it has a very steady gradient,” Bangert said. “Specifically, the upper section from Minturn to Avon has a very steady drop. As the water rises with snowmelt, the fun increases. It’s pretty much a 10 mile wave train.”

Perhaps the Eagle River’s most famous stretch is Dowd Chute.

“This is a fire hose of a rapid,” Bangert commented. “It’s class 4-plus and it’s fast and steep with big pushy waves. The last wave is named Tyson’s, as it delivers a very heavy hit. Paddlers in the front of the boat generally end up in the laps of the people in the back of the boat on this hit.”

After Dowd chute, the fun isn’t over. In fact, the rest of the upper Eagle River features 10 miles of outstanding class 4 whitewater, culminating in the “Edwards Mile”, a mile-long class 4 rapid with continuous huge waves.

For more information on rafting the Eagle River or any of our other rafting trips throughout the summer, check out the Rafting Page on our website or give us a call at 970-476-3700. Don’t miss your chance to raft one of the best rivers in Colorado this season!

Sage Raft Race Team Takes 2nd in National Championships

We are very proud to announce that in only their second year of competition, the Sage Raft Race team took 2nd place overall at the USRA National Championships last weekend in Oklahoma City.

2016 marked the first year for the Sage team, finishing 3rd overall in the six-person National Championships. In just their second year, the team has moved up the podium one spot, finishing 2nd place this year in the 4-person competition.

Sage team members at this year’s National Championship races included Wes Zittel, Danny Zittel, Kyle Nix and team captain, Cole Bangert. The competition included four separate events, including a time trial, slalom and a head-to-head race. Sage was the only team to cleanly navigate all gates on the first slalom run. But each team is allowed two slalom runs, keeping their best time. And on the second run, the Ark Sharks team from Summit County took the fastest time by only six seconds.

With such exciting early success, the Sage team certainly plans to be back as a serious contender next year. But in the meantime, there is more rafting competition to look forward to. Today, the Sage Raft Race Team begins competition at the CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista. Then, they’ll make appearances at the Vista GoPro Mountain Games and FIBArk festivals later next month.

If you’re interested in a Colorado rafting adventure with Sage Outdoor Adventures and our world-class guides, give us a call at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. We’ve got a great rafting season to look forward to and we’d love to see you on the water!

Runoff is Coming, Prepare for Your Rafting Adventure

This year’s massive runoff is about to begin! There’s still a ton of snow up in the high country that is now starting to melt. Statewide throughout Colorado, snowpack is sits at about 130% of normal. It’s going to be a big, long runoff season on our rivers!

As you prepare for your summer rafting adventure, there are a few things to think about. First, is what to bring. The list is pretty simple but you’ll want to make sure you have a few key items. Here’s the rundown.

What we provide on your rafting trip:

  • Helmet
  • Wetsuit
  • Splash jacket
  • Splash pants
  • PFD
  • Wetsuit booties
  • Neoprene gloves for chilly days

What you should bring:

  • Wear a swimsuit
  • Think about a cover shirt on sunny days
  • Wear and bring sunscreen
  • Chapstick with sunscreen
  • Sunglasses with Croakies or Chums
  • Cash to tip your guide, 18% is normal
  • Bring a change of clothes for after the trip
  • You may bring a camera, but only if it’s waterproof!

With your bags packed, you are all set for your whitewater rafting adventure. We hope to see many of you on the water with us this season. And finally, here is a list of questions that you might want to ask your rafting guide!

Questions to ask your rafting guide:

  • How does this water compare to other times of the year?
  • What animals may we see on the water today?
  • What’s your favorite part of being a rafting guide?
  • What do you do during the off-season?
  • What other stretches of river do you run?
  • Where is the best swimming hole?
  • Ask about the history of the area.
  • Ask for any crazy river guiding stories they have!

If you’d like more information on rafting with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please be sure to check out our Rafting Page. And explore the rest of our website to see all the other fun activities we offer, including horseback riding, ATV tours, fly fishing and sporting clays!

For details, availability and booking call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.

Spring Photo Journal From the Yampa River

Members of the Sage Raft Race Team recently had the opportunity to raft Colorado’s Yampa River canyon in preparation for the U.S. Rafting Association National Championships this weekend in Oklahoma City.

The Yampa River, before its confluence with the Green, is one of Colorado’s iconic rivers with sweeping desert landscapes and sheer rock walls. Here are a few shots from the recent raft trip.

Now, the Sage team heads to the National Championships! Stay tuned for updates. When they return, it will be time to kick off the rafting season here in Colorado! The water is getting high, and this season is going to be epic! If you have any questions about rafting trips, call us at 970-476-3700 or send us a message.