Very few outdoor sports can match the thrill that a white-water rafting trip can bring. The adventure of not knowing what is coming up around the bend, and the spray of ice cold water to the face will keep people of all ages coming back for more. Obviously, you know that, which is why you’re shopping for the best white water raft so you can take on the rapids anytime.
Whether this is your first stop in your search for the best white water craft, or you’ve been tirelessly searching, our list of the 11 best white water rafts will be your final guide.
We’ve scouted the market and poured over reviews and ratings to bring you the curated list of the top rated white water rafts you can buy for your next rafting adventure. As you very well may know when it comes to white water rafts choosing a good raft could mean the difference in staying alive on the water, but we feel confident that you won’t be disappointed in any of the best ones below.
The Best White Water Rafts
Otter Livery 106
Sometimes simple is better. This standard floor raft might seem familiar because it’s timeless two-chamber tube design has been mainstream for decades. This enduring raft is a great choice to introduce you to the sport of rafting affordably. NRS uses unrivaled Pennel Orca material and Leafield C7 valves. The Otter Livery comes in many sizes, but we like the Livery 106 because NRS added an extra foot of space. At 10’6″ long and almost 5′ wide you can add more cargo or a passenger with a standard boat frame. The classic BAT (Batten Attachment Thwart) system converts easily to a 6-person paddleboat. It’s easy to maneuver and moves well into tight eddies behind holes or down a fish ladder. Hopefully Outdoorplay & NRS will make this model raft for decades to come.
Saturn Light River Raft Ducky
Who knows who first started calling fun inflatable rafts “duckies.” Duckies don’t have to be yellow, but they do have to be small. This rubber ducky is light and lots of fun. Saturn certainly makes the top of the list for this 2-person whitewater raft. It’s mid-range priced with industry standard valves, detachable thwarts. What makes it unique are the tubes’ high rocker curves and that it comes with paddles. The floor is stable enough to stand on but not self-bailing. Many convert the high-pressure dropt-stitch air deck floor to be self-bailing though. The raft material is heavy duty PVC coated fabric formulated to be puncture proof and abrasion resistant. As a 1 to 2-person paddleboat the front and rear splash guards are great. There is an extra layer of PVC on top of tubes, so that you can throw a rowing frame on and go down some rapids.
Intex Mariner 4
The latest version of the Intext Mariner is the greatest for durability. If you are looking for a well-made durable boat for a great price, this boat boasts nearly 400 brilliant reviews. With a maximum cargo weight of 880 lbs this boat is definetly in the heavy-weight class. The super-tough laminated vinyl raft can definitely rough it. This rugged river raft is great for family fun. The raft is UV ray damage proof and stays cool to the touch. Often most important, the Mariner inflates and deflates fast. The valves and quick-fills are well designed. The strong plastic flooring makes it stable in the water and all-around nylon grab line make it a versatile recreational boat.
13′ Saturn Inflatable
Ready for big water and big rapids? This season is going to be good. This model has been popular for over a decade for good reason. That’s why it has to make the list of best whitewater rafts. It’s has flawless design. Float on by without a splash because of the tracking the 7 air chambers and air floor. It has self-bailing drop-stitch floor, Leafield C-7 valves, rubberized handles for easy carrying. Without cargo, take 8 Passengers down class 3 or 4 rapids with chaffing protection on the top sides of the exterior tubes. Or use the 16 exterior D-rings for frame strapping and spend a week camping and exploring.
Some boatmen like to fish and some fisherman like to boat. The Colorado XT’s can handle serious white water but is the one of best fishing whitewater boats on the water. The higher ride for improved visibility are great safety features. We like all the customizable features on this boat. The non-slip footrests adjust for any height, and the rod holder can be mounted in six different positions. The modifiable storage includes 20 pockets and two insulated drink holders. You can easily remove the gear bags and two detachable foam fly patches. Slip into a little eddy and use the anchor system with cleat and pulley controls. The XT’s unique dual-side stripping apron with fish ruler that allows easy entry and exit without unclipping. It even comes with a free trial membership to Trout Unlimited.
HydroForce Voyager 1000
We put this on the list as one of the best “starter” binoculars at an incredibly affordable price. These binoculars do not have as many high-end functions for the more experienced hunters and bird watchers. However, these binoculars are compact, easy to carry, and come with a carrying bag and strap. The lenses make it great for environments with weak lighting, and the picture is so sharp and clear that you can see the individual hairs on a fox. This is great for adults taking their kids on a camping trip or tourist adventure, because they are easy to carry and easily adjustable (with the center hand wheel) for everyone in the family to share.
Everything about this raft is spot on for group trips. This boat can fit 10 adults comfortably. One of the top rafts out there, we like that this 14-footer only weighs 119 pounds. Your group can definitely win a race to the water! As a paddle raft the 20-inch diameter tubes are comfortable to sit on. The floor is five inches thick and has 4 individual air chambers and pressure release. That means that even the biggest guy can stand up and point to the rapid coming up around the bend. So, if you need a raft that is a little larger than most self-bailers out there, this is the boat build for party people.
BRIS’s 12-foot White Water River Raft might be the perfect size. Not too big, not too small. This raft makes our list because it is one of the best rafts for paddling. The built-in foot holders are much appreciated by passengers. The shape is great for safety with an enlarged bow, huge 20 inch tubes, and minimal seams on it’s made with PVC material. But the feature we love the most is the self-bailing I-Beam inflatable floor with pressure release valve. The floor is 5 inches thick and the extra floatation feels bouncer and is more forgiving on flat water.
Don’t underestimate this little raft. It’s tough and can take on some big white water. Like a little racing car, it’s size makes it a speedster. Still, this raft can carry cargo and passengers and a cooler full of refreshments. Saturn offers all the same specs as the big boats. The abrasion resistant PVC is durable and has no problem bouncing off a boulder or two. The biggest bonus to being a mini raft is that it easily can fit inside a car. So, owners can speed to the put-in past all the boat trailers.
If you haven’t noticed AIRE rafts on the front of adventure sport magazines, take another look. Maybe you’ve seen a whole fleet of them go by on a commercial trip. AIRE is one of the most recognized outdoors raft brands. Tributaries have been around for decades. AIRE decided to redesign their well-made boats. They are aptly named the HD series for good reason. The High Definition rafts are for the biggest whitewater conditions. The welded PVC outer shell seams is high-end and the internal urethane bladders are for serious boatmen. They come in all sizes. Whether you opt for this Tributary Twelve or go for a Nine Five, these rafts are built for technical rivers and trip leaders.
16′ Kodiak Cataraft
Boats come in all shapes and sizes. Many boatmen find that catarafts offer higher performance and more fun in white water. The NRS Kodiak cataraft definitively makes the list for best white water rafts for this reason. If you were already thinking about trying a cat, there are a lot of little catarafts out there. This big cat can maneuver with the kayaks and take a lot of cargo and a passenger too. NRS pulled out all the stops with three air chambers in each huge 28 inch tube. This means going down the Grand Canyon with the highest safety in emergency so that the tubes give performance on water. It may be pricey but it has a lot to offer.
Last update on 2019-03-19 at 15:30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API