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Inflatable Kayak Reviews
Inflatable Raft Reviews
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Inflatable Rafts - Benefits & Limitations
|The Sea Eagle 9 with Floorboards and the Motor Mount Options|
Whiterwater : Every other inexpensive (less than $500) inflatable raft I've ever come across is only able to handle Class II whitewater (which is nothing special - most inner-tubes can go through Class II without problems!). The Sea Eagle line of rafts (the SE 8 and the larger SE 9) are rated to handle Class III whitewater due to their substantially tougher fabrics and the way the seams are put together. This rating is no "pie in the sky" rating either - I've taken my own raft through countless Class III rapids without problems.
So what is Class III whitewater? Class III is whitewater that contains waves in excess of 3-4 feet in height. We aren't talking big ripples here. Instead, we are talking waves that are caused by underwater rocks.
To counter water entering the boat, just cut a milk jug in half and presto - you have an instant bailer that can empty the boat of any/all water in no time.
By and large, you shouldn't have much use to bail out the raft. However, when going through Class III waves, hitting a wave wrong can lead to lots of water in the boat. So it's best to bring a bailer - just in case.
Maneuverability : Due to the light weight of all sizes of Sea Eagle rafts, they are remarkably easy to maneuver. Just give a tug on the oars and the boat responds instantly. The oar locks aren't the greatest invention ever made, but they work quite nicely for general rowing that does NOT cover long distances (see below).
Paddling : If you will primarily end up paddling on rivers (such as to maneuver around), or end up paddling on small ponds, Sea Eagle rafts are remarkably easy to paddle and will post no problems for anyone.
Now, that said, if you will primarily use this on small ponds or in rivers, the story changes as you won't be doing extensive flat-water paddling. This boat is very maneuverable and quite easy to paddle over short distances. Likewise, if you get the motor option for the raft, the paddling characteristics are not of concern (unless your motor dies in the middle of the lake).
Thus, for river floating, don't even worry about the paddling. It will work just fine. But if you see big lakes in your future - and you won't be using a motor - go with an inflatable kayak instead.
Fishing & Floorboards : Sea Eagle Rafts (both the SE 8 and SE 9) make for a great little portable, fishing vessel. For fly fishing on rivers, the raft is quite easy to cast from - particularly if you get the "fisherman's high seat" which gives you a boost of elevation.
Now, for spin fishing on lakes, be sure to get both the floorboards for the boat as well as the motor mount package. The floorboards allow you to actually stand up in the boat - making spin fishing not much different than fishing from a more normal fishing boat. And the motor allows you to motor around the lake, not paddle around it.
|Floorboards for the Sea Eagle Raft|
Massive Capacity : Of all the surprises of these rafts, the massive capacity had to be the big one. The Sea Eagle 9 has a capacity rating of 1000 pounds. This allows lots of people or lots of gear to be hauled around. The Sea Eagle 8 has a capacity rating of 900 pounds, which isn't too shabby either. If you need a veseel to haul LOTS of gear, look no further - as these two rafts fit the bill perfectly.
Quick and Easy Set-Up : Sea Eagle rafts are exceptionally simple to setup, especially if you use a automatic inflater. But even using the boring but always reliable bellows air pump, I've always been able to full assemble my raft in less than 15 minutes. Just dump it from its bag, roll it out and start pumping up the air chambers. Then put the oars through the oar locks and off you go. There are no surprises waiting (like assembly) of the raft. Just inflate and go.
|The Storage Bag for a Sea Eagle Raft|
Portability : The rafts come in moderately sized, but relatively easy to carry, bag. The bag is large enough to carry everything, although you do have to work at it if you want to smash the bellows pump and other stuff into it.
Multitude of Options - The Sea Eagle 9 and Sea Eagle 8 both have countless options available. Everything from a windscreen (which also helps keep water out of the boat,by the way) to a full canopy are available as things you can add to these rafts. The boats can also have a small motor added onto them as well.
Temperature Use - Above Freezing Only! : As Sea Eagle Rafts are not rigid inflatable boats (fully inflated, you can depress your thumb about 3/4 of an inch into the fabric), the boats are NOT meant to be used in temperatures below freezing. Freezing temperatures will make the fabric brittle. This is no big deal if you don't fully inflate the boat or just have it stored outside. However, when you fully inflate the boat and drop it in the water on a sub-freezing day, if the temperature is below freezing, you run the real risk of seriously damaging it.
Thus, if you see yourself using this boat in sub-freezing temperatures, get a inflatble kayak instead (which is not temperature limited due to different types of fabric used).
Well, I'll make it simple.
If you do NOT need a boat to be used in below-freezing weather, and you'll either use a motor (while on a lake) or primarily use the boat on a river or small pond, then this is an ideal - and very affordable - boat to own. Get the Sea Eagle 9 for more people and tons of gear. Get the Sea Eagle 8 if you'll be doing most floating alone (better maneuverability).
Hopefully you found this information useful.