AIRE 143 D Raft review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    AIRE’S fourteen foot rafts used to be our most popular whitewater boat in terms of sales until the less expensive Tributary line came out in 2005; now we sell about equal numbers of both lines. Fourteens are an ideal size for many boaters who need maximum flexibility in a raft. They are just big enough for Canyon trips if you are not trying to support a gang of twenty kayakers, and they are fine for day trips on almost any “full size” river. An East coast boater who runs skinny sections with a paddle crew would want to look at the narrower 143E (the red raft shown below). If you run mostly high volume rivers with an oar set-up, the 143R may be your ticket. The 143D remains the most popular though and it is the best all around “multi-use” raft. The 143E is fine for seven people and the other two models are okay with eight. You often see commercial outfitters stuffing eight adults plus the paddle captain in a 14′ raft, but we feel you are asking for trouble overloading a boat this way. The deeper the boat drafts, the more rocks you’ll hang up on and the slower the boat will respond. All D and R series rafts now come with grey frame chafer strips. The “E” series does not since it is intended as a paddle raft.
    Specs for AIRE Rafts 143D, 143E, 143R

    Tube diameter one all of the AIRE 143 inflatable models is 20″. The 143D is 6’8″ wide & 143 pounds, the 143E is 6’7″ wide and 136 pounds, and the AIRE 143R is 6’9″ wide & 146 pounds. The 143R and 143D are 14’3″ long and the E model is 14’5″ long.

    Regardless of the model you want please understand AIRE is often low on at least one hull style in any given size, and rarely if ever do they have all the colors. Try not to be too picky and remember most raft brands only come in one or two colors. Colors for 2013 are yellow, red, dark green, orange, and blue, with white, dark purple, and two-tone grey available sporadically, mostly by special order.

    One other important point is that all U.S.-made AIRE rafts are shipped with the floors loose, so you will have to lace them in. Plan on spending 3-1/2 hours 143 if you are working alone. Unlaced floors help keep AIRE’s prices low. AIRE will lace one in for you but they charge $125. Sealed floor pockets (with drysuit zippers) are also available for an additional $447.

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