The AIRE Sabertooth 12 Frameless Cataraft is a no-frame 12-1/2’ pontoon paddle boat AIRE introduced a few years back. The Sabertooth is intended as an R2 (two person "raft"), but it has enough flotation for three smaller paddlers if one person sits on the rear thwart. The main tube diameter is 20.5”, and the bow & stern rise is about 8”. There are four lift handles, and the width is 5’6” like the AIRE Puma. The exact weight capacity is hard to carve in stone since it depends how much draft you are willing to have, but 600 pounds is probably a good upper number, and 550 would be better. Base fabric is 1670 denier like all AIRE rafts & cats, and the warranty is a full ten years. AIRE gives the weight at 80 pounds; our scale says about 83. Call it 81-1/2 !
AIRE Sabertooth Introduction
For many years whitewater manufacturers have produced frameless cataraft designs, starting with the original Airtight Shredder – a worthy boat built from durable mil spec neoprene that is probably still the king of compact rolled size. If you hike in to remote rivers, the package size and weight is an important consideration. Riken, Hyside, Star, and others have all produced knock-offs of the Shredder, though this new AIRE model is a tad different in tube and floor design from any other. We haven’t paddled the Sabertooth cataraft yet, but some impressions follow.
The Sabertooth cataraft has more rocker than the others mentioned above, and higher rigidity too due to the use of ultra-stiff Ferrari pvc. There are unusual features too, like built-in front foot cones (not very snug), and mesh panels that take up about half the floor surface. These panels create a floor that will drain instantly, unlike normal bail holes. Also, the entire floor is laced in and replaceable.
It is available in most of AIRE's standard colors, though this is one boat where it is always best to have a first and second color choice.
AIRE Sabertooth In Action
The thwart design is unique too, even if not at first glance, and important to the tortional stiffness. AIRE deliberately choose, after testing a few prototypes, to not use separate bladders in the two cross tubes but rather to make them part of the main four air chambers. This means each bladder is shaped like a short stubby upper case T. The “vertical” part of each T-bladder protrudes into a thwart halfway, so the thwarts integrate into the main tubes more rigidly than any paddlecat that came before, with a stronger connection than separate thwart bladders would have achieved. It also appears that these four bladders might be harder to change out, should the need arise, than they are on most AIRE’s. But we haven’t tried since there is no reason to, and frankly, AIRE’s bladders fail so infrequently that this is a minor issue.
Along with the bow & stern tip D-rings, there are three more along each side for those intent on rowing with a custom frame. However, if that was the entirety of your planned use, it would seem to make far more sense just to buy a 12’ or 13’ Wave Destroyer and use a conventional small cat frame. AIRE, along with the original Shredder designers many years back, really conceptualized this style of boat as a paddle craft, not an oar rig.
One other feature this boat has is a floor pocket in between the two mesh panels, which holds a 1” thickness of ethafoam. This is a pad for those who might want to stride or kneel with a third thwart in place. You can add another layer or two of ½” thick closed cell foam in the pocket if you wish, using more ethafoam or sleeping pad material. This pocket's top surface also provides a solid pvc area where additional & more secure foot cones could be added. As we mentioned up above, AIRE’s built in foot cones by the front thwart are not exactly snug unless you have size 16 feet.
Although it appears that the price took a big jump for 2018, $250 of the $400 increase is due to the fact that the Sabertooth now comes standard with the extra thwart. And frankly, it's almost mandatory because keeping your paddle position without it was tricky. You really need more than just footcones in the Sabertooth - you need a knee brace too, which the center thwart will provide. A third thwart will also provide a great spot to place one or two of the AIRE thwart grab loops, found in our Raft Accessory section.
Our lone experience with this style of paddle boat is limited to an old Riken copy of the Shredder, and it was hardly a great knock-off. That boat stuck badly on rocks because of sticky Riken neoprene bottom chafers, and refused to inflate as stiff as a real Shredder. And the Shredder isn’t close to the SaberTooth in rigidity, meaning the Riken paddlecat was too far off to compare it with this AIRE boat. All this said, we do have some feedback from a few Sabertooth owners, and it has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
Shaun from AIRE, who we’ve known a long time and trust emphatically, also had great things to say about his experience with the Sabertooth, beyond just what you would normally expect from someone who might be prejudiced toward the company they work for. He said the hull speed was excellent, and just sitting on the one we have here is impressive. The solid gray area (3rd image above) just behind the one thwart is the built in foot cone pair. The underside, as with all AIRE rafts & cats, is slightly thicker in coating than the orange part of the boat.
The K200 is just like a stretched out K-100 or EZ Pump. All three K-pumps we carry have a mushroom shaped plunger grip that is very comfy to grip. The K-200 is an excellent option for small to mid-size rafts and high volume oddities like AIRE's Traveler inflatable canoe, or many similar models from Grabner.
The model K-200 and K-100 have the most effortless action of any manual pumps made. This is due in part to them having no check valve, with the reasoning that almost all modern inflatables already have one-way valves for air inflation. If you need one equipped with a check valve, it's no problem, but you will need to phone us so we can order one for you. The K200 is just a bit over 2 pounds, measures 30", and it comes with a semi-waterproof stash bag like the EZ Pump and the other two K-pump models.
Each K-Pump has a two-year warranty and an extra O-ring hidden inside the front end of the main body. They also come with several tip adaptors. Any barrel style pump should be re-lubed once per season, or more often if your usage is heavy.
The K-Pump K200 is $89.
AIRE's beefy Sabertooth Catarft strap-in thwarts sit high in the raft so you can paddle with as much horsepower as possible. The piano hinge style of floor lacing, found in all AIRE rafts, provides a plethora of options for getting just the right placement of the thwarts.
Dirty Devil is an American manufacturer in Utah that produces heavy duty Kayaker's and Rafter's throwbags with the bottom halves reinforced with 1000 denier cordura. The Rafter's Throwbag has 70' of yellow 3/8" floating rope and is $45. This is one of the best deals you will ever find on throwbags, trust us!
We've discontinued our own throwbags for the most part. We simply can't make them for what we buy the Dirty Devil bags below for, and regular business and website maintenance eats too much time to leave leftover hours for playing on our trusty industrial sewing machine.
Reliable and quick inflation for you raft or kayaks
Rafter's Flip Line Bagsare sold in pairs only
Our Camlock Straps are made with 800 lb. webbing and Ancra buckles; colors vary on the two footer's
Loose Cam Buckles are also available thru us at $2.10 each for up to 25, $1.90 for 26 to 50, and just 1.70 each for more than 50. Call us with your order - these are not on the shopping cart.
Cam Straps for securing kayaks, paddles, gear to a car roof rack. Secure gear to rafts, catarafts and inflatable kayaks.
The cart may not accurately calculate shipping charges because of the varying quantities and lengths of the cam straps. Your charges may be lower than the cart shows. Best to call in cam strap orders.