MAXXON SB-430 raft review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    The SB-430 whitewater raft, as with the Maxxon cataraft tubes featured elsewhere on our site, are glued pvc boats like Star, Vanguard, and a number of others. This means the top lifespan is usually around 14 years, 15 max. This probably doesn’t sound bad for a raft of this price range, and it’s not. A good hypalon raft from Avon, Hyside, or NRS will last more than twice that many years, but the price on those three is also well over double. A vulcanized mil-spec boat like a Demaree or a bladderized raft like an AIRE will have an almost unlimited lifespan, and in the case of the AIRE’s import line (the Tributary’s) the pricing is only about half again the Maxxon cost. So the Trib’s are probably still our best value, but if the budget is limited the SB 430 whitewater rafts from Maxxon are well worth looking at.

    Due to the large boxed size of this raft, it must be sent by motor freight (NOT UPS).

    Eventually, if a pvc inflatable is assembled with adhesive rather than being welded, that glue will fail. It breaks down chemically due to phthalates (softeners) in the pvc material outgassing. There is no fixing this problem either once it starts to happen. This is discussed in a couple other parts of The Boat People website, but the biggest issue to us is that it means you will eventually be putting 154 pounds of pvc into a land fill somewhere, and pvc is hardly friendly to the environment. In the end it is your decision. On the positive side, some of the no-name rafts found on Ebay and other dubious venues have far shorter lifespans than Maxxon whitewater rafts, yet don’t cost that much less. The difference is in the heat-resistance of the glue. The glues used on Star, Vanguard, and Maxxon seams, and things like transom attachment on Zodiac products, tend to hold up quite a while. Some of the no-name mystery pvc rafts may experience glue failure after only three or four seasons, often beginning with the inflatable floors.
    Whitewater Rafts Rowed or Paddled

    Although Maxxon’s fourteen footer can be rowed, and many people do, the relatively low rocker of only 9″ means it is also very easy to paddle-captain. This lower rocker and gentle lift also improves the handling over what many more angular rafts can provide.

    As an oar rig, the generous full seven foot width allows tons of room for large dryboxes and coolers. The overall length is 14’3″ to 14’4″. The track mounted thwarts are removable, and also adjustable to almost any position. These come with three thwarts standard, but as mentioned above the footloops are no longer in this raft.

    There are 10 D-rings, four lift handles (not shown), two bail holes per foot around the whole floor perimeter, frame chafers, and extra gray pads at the rear and just forward of the chafer to mitigate the wear that paddler’s butts might have. This raft has two full layers from the fender down, for 2200 denier’s worth of protection, and even a third layer of underside chafer at the lowest point. These extra layers, found on many imported pvc whitewater rafts, also make them a very difficult proposition to roll tight.

    The I-beam floor is a full 7″ thick when inflated, and like the main tube it has a second layer on the bottom. There is a pressure relief valve on the floor, but you should never assume it’s safe to inflate the floor until it blows off. If you want your floor to last and not blow I-beams, you should only inflate it to shape, then just a bit more, and stop. Going even to a full 2 p.s.i. on the floor chamber repeatedly will insure you’ll be shortening it’s lifespan to some degree.
    Maxxon Whitewater Rafts Warranty

    Maxxons whitewater rafts are now back to having a five year warranty, which is fairly solid since the company has been around for a very long time now. A lame foot pump is included with all Maxxon whitewater inflatables, but before you throw this pump in the garbage, make sure you save the twist-in valve adapter. The valves are a Chinese Halkey-Roberts knock-off, and while you can use K-Pumps, Wildwater, and a few others without the adaptor, most others will require that you use one.

    Note that there is also a shorter 12’6″ version of these whitewater rafts available for $200 less ($1,799; some of these models may still be red). It’s not on the shopping cart nor is there a separate write-up here on our site for it. If you are interested in the smaller one, please give us a call, or you can email to check stock.

    Model:SB-430 | Overall Length:434cm/ 14’3” | Beam:215cm/ 7” | Tube Diameter:52cm/1’8” | Max Persons:10 | Max engine power:none | Air Chambers:4+3 | Stowed Dimension(cm):140x80x40 | Net Weight (kg/lbs):65kg/143lbs

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