Different Types of Rafts and Why We use Them

Whitewater Raft

If you’ve been on a guided rafting trip, you may have noticed that rafts come in a variety of different setups. Some rafts have the guide using oars in the center. Others place the guide and oars in the back. And some rafts are paddle boats with no oars at all. Each type of boat has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Here’s a quick overview of the different types of raft configurations, and why we use them.

First, consider the raft with a center-mount frame. According to Sage owner and guide, Cole Bangert, 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 or technical rapids with large loads of gear.

Next is the raft with its frame and oars mounted at the back. This makes a great paddle-assisted setup, where the guide rows and calls commands to the crew equipped with paddles.

“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 rafts. SOTAR and Sage have actually teamed up to produce an innovative raft design that’s ideal for our whitewater situations. We worked with SOTAR to build these rafts 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.

Something Completely Different: Horseback Rides With Sage

When was your last horseback ride? Was it a nose-to-tail, hardly thrilling experience? Well, you can forget it. We’ll show you a horseback riding experience the way it was meant to be.

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, we explore big, wide-open spaces. We ride through open meadows, aspen groves, stands of old-growth spruce forest, and along mountain lakes. Our horses are trained to ride side-by-side rather than in single-file formation.

Where most outfitters are limited to single-track Forest Service trails, we offer something completely different. Operating on a historic ranch near Vail, Colorado, we get to explore 6,000 acres of private, spectacular scenery. The Ranch is the size of Vail Ski area, and it’s exclusive to our guests. Not only will you be able to break formation, you’ll have the place to yourself!

Our base of operations on this incredible ranch provides the perfect summer home for our horses. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a beautiful new place on horseback, and our excellent wranglers will help make sure you feel comfortable and ready to enjoy it. We can accommodate riders of any ability level.

Perched above the Vail Valley and overlooking the Eagle River Canyon, this ranch is a quick drive from Vail and Beaver Creek. We offer free hotel pickup and two-hour rides that will have you back in time to enjoy the rest of your day.

Take a look at this video that highlights our horseback riding experience:

To learn more about horseback rides with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please visit our Horseback Riding Page. For availability and reservations, please give us a call at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.