RMR CT-160 Cataraft review by TBP

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    Rocky Mountain RMR CT-160 cataraft tubes.

    There are many imported pvc catarafts on the market but only the Rocky Mountain tubes are welded instead of being glued together. The use of glue leads to eventual seam failures and an indeterminate lifespan. Even if the better glued brands hold up for ten to fifteen years, there will still come a day when you have to put a large quantity of pvc in a landfill. Rocky Mountain currently has the only imported pontoons with welded seams, D-rings, and bulkheads. Although the Maxxon tubes found in this section of our site cost even less than the RMR’s, Maxxons are a glued product with two main air chambers per side like most Chinese and Korean brands.

    In addition to the main seam overlaps, RMR also welds seam tape over both the interior and exterior side of each tube joint. This is something that a few pvc boat manufacturers don’t seem to bother with, yet the lack of seam tape quite often means their inflatables have air retention that is less than stellar, especially as those boats age. Not so with RMR – the extra step of adding seam tape to the interior prevents air wicking along the exterior edges, and the outside seam tape makes it even more reliable.

    The 2013 RMR cats have no chafer strip on the underside; instead Rocky Mountain has gone to an extra thick panel of material for the bottom. There is still a top side chafer for the rowing frame on each tube or course. The bottom of the blue tubes is gray, and at least up to now the bottom of the gray tubes has been black. This underside material has a very slick surface, good for sliding off rocks. These have almost no curvature along the top surface (only 3.5″ of rise at the very ends), but even so with their large diameter there is still two feet of rocker on the sixteen’s. This is not a high-rocker “Wave Destroyer” type design, but tubes that are radically curved at the bow tend to be slower on the flat stretches of river. The flat top also allows you to use frames up to 12’6″ if you wish. if you wish. For now, the photo above only looks good in thumbnail size. We will re-post a clearer image as soon as we can.

    Individual pieces of the Rocky Mountain cats are not cut out one at a time with hand-traced cookie cutter patterns and scissors. Instead they are sliced out en masse with computer controlled band cutters like the AIREs, and by foregoing much of the usual hand labor the cost to produce each cat tube goes down. We are glad to see someone has taken the reigns to provide an extremely economical alternative to glued pvc catarafts, as well as a strong competitor to the American made models.

    RM cats have three air chambers and eight stainless D-rings per tube. The base fabric inside the 33 ounce pvc is a very strong 2000 denier polyester that inflates quite stiff for high performance, and as we mentioned the underside of each tube is made with even beefier 64 ounce per sq. yard fabric now. RMR uses the low profile Leafield C-7 valves for all cats and rafts. The three chamber design is unique to RMR among cataraft brands. Though it would be hard to puncture an RMR tube, any cat that only has two chambers per side is difficult to row with half of one tube gone.

    Warranties on all RMR boats are five years. As mentioned at the top of this page, the standard color for 2013 is blue, with gray available sporadically. The top side frame chafers are glued even on the Rocky Mountain tubes, so there will come a day they may come loose in areas if you keep them long enough. Remember, you are getting a killer deal on this brand. If that low price comes with the prospect of re-gluing a pair of chafe strips down the road, that still seems very reasonable. Other websites won’t mention these details but we try to keep our clients happy, and fully informed regarding their prospective purchase.

    Rocky Mountain 16′ cat tubes are 24″ in diameter like the AIRE Jaguarundi. They weigh 81 pounds per pair, and have five D-rings per side. Three of the “outside” D’s on each side also incorporate lift handles. The D-rings that face toward the center are lower than those on the opposite side of the tube, allowing you to more effectively strap the 3:00/9:00 frame bars.

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