Some of the best rafts in the world are constructed of Ferrari's patented Preconstraint PVC fabric and urethane AIREcells, they set the standard for durability, performance and innovation. Aire is one of the companies who carry's one of the best.
Types of rafts are:
* Self Bailers
* Paddle Rafts
* Differences in Boat Speed
* What's an ‘R2’?
* J-Rigs and Sweep Boats
Let's start with the Self Bailer and we will explain the rest in other articles. So how can a whitewater raft bail water out of itself? Well, an ingeniously simple design makes it happen. You see, the floor of a self bailing raft is a wide flat inflated chamber, sort of like a big air-mattress. The edges of the floor are stitched or laced to the rest of the raft.
When inflated, the floor is about 4 or 5 inches thick, so the top surface of the floor floats above the surface of the water. When water splashes into the boat, it flows across the floor, down over the edge, and out through the lacing. This design works amazingly well. A self bailer filled to the brim with water will proceed to empty itself in just a few seconds on a Colorado River Rafting trip.
If you've ever bailed water out of a raft, you know how sweet it is to have a self bailer. In fact, if you float with someone who has an older non-self-bailing raft (known as a 'bucket boat' for the obvious trait - it retains water), you get to stop and wait for them to bail at the bottom of each major rapid. So, nowadays, when someone says 'raft', they are usually talking about a self bailer. If they say they've got a 'bucket boat', well, too bad for them.
Self bailers are the work horses on a raft trip in Colorado River Rafting because they can carry a lot of gear and passengers. Popular sizes are from 13 - 18 feet long, with 14 feet probably a minimum for carrying the gear and two adults on a multi-day raft trip. 15-16 feet is ideal, and 18 footers are nice to have on larger rivers. From a performance standpoint, rowing a self bailer is more like driving a bus. So the longer the raft, the slower it is to maneuver. And the performance of any raft is diminished if it's overloaded, pressing it deeper into the water.