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April 21, 2015 at 4:54 am #2420
Lee Arbach TBPKeymaster
The Tributary Nine.Five HD Raft Self Bailer is the shortest of AIRE’s rafts. This is the smallest raft among all AIRE products in fact.
For the first time in many years there are some changes to AIRE’s imported Tributary whitewater raft line. Measurements on the new Nine.Five HD, which replaces the 9.5 SB Trib, will remain the same but the weight has increased slightly. This is due to a new hull material with a thicker coating on the outside. AIRE’s 2015 catalogs show the old weights so those are mistakes. The new Nine.Five HD is roughly 74 pounds with the thwart, or 70 without it. The thwart is a repositionable lace-in style one like the American AIRE rafts. An extra thwart can be purchased.
Another difference between the 2014 and 2015 models is in the colors (We do not have a picture of the new Nine.Five yet). Rather than being a solid medium-blue on the side tubes and floor bottom, the new Tributary line is done with alternating colors. These are either dark blue for most of the side section and thwarts, and dark gray for the floor top, bow, and stern sections, or vice versa depending on size. The base fabric of this new material is beefy 2000 denier polyester, so as with the older Trib’s, nearly impossible to tear. It also has more abrasion resistance because of the thicker outside coating. There have been some minor changes to the taper and floors, but you would have to look close to notice these. Tributaries have decreased in price for the second time in three years, and remain a solid value – one of the very best in fact. The welded seams and replaceable bladders mean a Tributary should last decades, and though these new ones are a bit heavier than prior Trib models, they still roll up much smaller than almost any other Asian pvc raft. They are one of the very few that we can get back into the factory box in fact!
Easy to Roll Up – AIRE Tributary Nine.Five HD Raft
One thing that stands out with the new Tributary rafts is how easy they are to roll up. The new material inflates very stiff, much like the older Ferrari pvc (Ferrari is a brand name unrelated to the car company), yet the suppleness of it when deflated is amazing. It is actually softer and easier to roll than many of the hypalon boats. We had no problem getting a 14′ Tributary back in it’s box. So if you are not using a trailer with one of the bigger sizes of Trib rafts, getting one into the back of an SUV, truck, or even a mid size hatch back wagon is very do-able.
AIRE Tributary Nine.Five HD River Raft Characteristics
This two to three person model was available as a non self bailing model for many years, but AIRE discontinued the non-bailer last year. This bailing version was introduced many years back to compete with Hyside’s popular little “Mini-Me”. This model has a shorter waterline and pivots a bit easier than the Mini-Me, and tends to ride over big waves rather than punching them like the Hyside. Some paddlers also consider the little Tributary more squirrelly and less predictable than the Mini-Me. Both are unique products and are not really interchangeable even if their lengths happen to be about the same. The Twelve HD is 9’7″ long by 5’4″ wide (the Mini-Me is about 9’1″ X 5’2″). The Nine.Five tube diameter is a generous 18″ like the Hyside. It has quite a lot of kick at the ends, which means the waterline is a scant six feet. It has ten D-rings – quite a few on a raft this short.
Load Capacity for AIRE Tributary Nine.Five Whitewater Raft
It will hold up to 750 pounds if you don’t mind drafting pretty deep, but it will work much better with far lighter loads on order of 450 to 500 pounds. There are two main air chambers plus the floor and thwart for a total of four.
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