In our 35+ years in business, we’ve seen a lot of raft designs and brands in pretty intimate detail. We’ve also done repairs on a lot of rafts. All of this experience has led us to what we think are the best boats in the industry in AIRE Rafts, Catarafts & IKs. Here’s why:
10 Year No Fault Warranty
Hands down, AIRE has the best warranty in the business. 10 years, transferrable, No-Fault Warranty. Seriously. We deal with AIRE on a daily basis, and out of all the companies we deal with, they are one of (if not the) best to deal with in terms of warranties. Here’s the exact warranty from AIRE’s website (which can also be found here):
What this Warranty Covers: The Ten (10) year no fault warranty covers retail purchases on all AIRE branded rafts, catarafts and kayaks against defects in materials, workmanship and user damage. This warranty covers the tubes, fabric, D-ring patches, AIREcells, valves and zippers to be functional and water worthy with the following stipulations: This warranty can be void if the boat is structurally altered, used commercially or is subject to stress beyond the physical limits of the fabric and/or accessories. This warranty does not cover cosmetic wear, abrasion, excessive UV damage, abnormal abuse, neglect and/or inappropriate storage.
The Period of Coverage: The boat is covered from the original purchase date for a period of ten years. When original proof of purchase is not available or if a warranty registration was never submitted, the date of manufacturing will be used.
At the heart of what makes AIREs so special, warranty aside, is the AIRECell construction. Think of it like a bike tube inside of a bike tire. While all other PVC raft manufacturers are using just a single layer of heavy-duty PVC fabric, AIRE is taking that same fabric, welding it together just like everyone else, but then putting a urethane bladder inside as the actual air holding membrane.
What advantages does this give? It makes them extremely easy to repair. Blow a baffle? Simply unzip the heavy-duty dual zipper and replace the bladder. Got a giant gash from running over something sharp? Replace the bladder, patch the shell and its effectively as good as new in regards to air holding capabilities! Need to do a small, simple riverside patch? Get to the bladder and tape it up with TearAid or AIRE’s repair tape, zip it back up, inflate and go! No waiting for glue to dry! Its a very versatile system from a repair standpoint.
Another advantage is the ballast floor. By design, the AIRE Cell system allows the floor to take on river water between the shell and the bladder to act as ballast for the boat. This aids in tracking and stability when things get rough by allowing the boat to “stick” to the water. It also helps on windy flat water days by allowing to boat to catch more of the sub-surface current and keep momentum. We often see AIRE’s passing other rafts on windy days.
The (very slight) disadvantages to this system are the minimal maintenance of the zippers, the occasional need to clean the floor out after lots of silty desert trips (still nothing compared to other manufacturers drop stitch floor designs…), and having to let the floor drain for a few minutes before loading it on a trailer. All that considered, we still think the gains far outweigh the setbacks of the AIRECell system.
Made in the USA
AIRE Rafts, IKs and Catarafts are 100% constructed in the USA in AIRE’s factory in Meridian, Idaho. AIRE also sources as many products as possible from US sources.
Looking for a boat with the AIRECell system but without the price? Check out AIRE’s Tributary line! Tributary boats use the same AIRECell design, using Vinyl instead of Urethane. Tribs are also made over seas, come with a 1 to 5 year manufacturers warranty depending on the boat, and come in one color choice. We’ve been using these boats in our rental fleet for years, and while not quite as quality as a full AIRE brand boat, they work and hold up pretty darned well. Definitely a great choice for the boater on a budget! Some of our favorites are the Tomcat and Strike IKs, Trib 14′ raft and the little Trib 9.5′ paddle raft.