Kayaking has taken an interesting trend over the years by classifying boats. Given the crossover of many paddlers between these sports it is surprising that rafting hasn’t picked up the stratification of boat classes into broad categories. As we get more experienced with a topic we require greater degrees of specificity to describe similar yet functionally different concepts. So, we thought we would take a crack at some boat classification for rafts.

How does classifying rafts help?

We get a ton of questions about what boat to take out in which river. Different boats have very different performance characteristics. Everyone has their preference for style of boat and different regions will see greater popularity from different designs due to local conditions.

One of the more particular parts of our industry is that boat design and popularity varies regionally since rivers in different geological zones are slightly different despite the fact that water tends to create similarly predictable features in general. A good thing to pay particular attention to is how the locals boat and customize their boats.

Raft classifications

It’s important to note that not every raft fits perfectly in each category. While you can certainly get down a big water section of river in a play boat, it may not be the most enjoyable experience as something like that can leave you pretty exposed. Here are our thoughts on how to categorize rafts generally. You can click the links below to take you to the gear shed to see more about what’s out there on the market.

  • Play boats
  • Creek Boats
  • River Runners
  • Big water boats
  • Gear boats

Outside of these categories there are a few specialty categories that we haven’t covered like J-rigs and sweep boats as they tend to be less common, especially for the average boater. Also we are not covering catarafts in this piece as we would like to cover those crafts in a separate article. Continue reading Should We Classify Rafts?


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