The AIRE Tributary Twelve HD Raft self bailer is an import from AIRE's Asian factory, a production facility set up by and solely for them. Tributary rafts are built with the same urethane bladders as the American AIRE's. We don't always hear back from customers post-sale, but those we have talked with have been delighted as they have put the miles on their Tributaries. We are no longer in the raft rental business, but if we were we would use nothing but Tributary's.
A few years back there were some changes to AIRE’s imported Tributary whitewater raft line. Measurements on the current Twelve HD, which replaced the Tributary "12.0 SB", will remain the same but the weight has increased somewhat. This is due to a new hull material with a thicker coating on the outside. The new Twelve HD is roughly 118 pounds with both thwarts, and the thwarts are another area where a change has been made. Up to now all the Tributary river rafts 12’ and up came with knuckle-mounted thwarts. The thing was, many people remove their thwarts for a rowing frame anyway. Therefore the new edition comes with repositionable lace-in style like the American AIRE rafts. A third thwart, should you want it, is $179. If you remove both thwarts, the Twelve HD drops to 107 pounds.
The current Tributary line uses alternating colors. These are either dark blue for most of the side section and thwarts, and dark gray for the floor top, bow, and stern sections, or vice versa depending on size. The base fabric of this new material is beefy 2000 denier polyester, so as with the older Trib’s, nearly impossible to tear. It also has more abrasion resistance because of the thicker outside coating. There have been some minor changes to the taper and floors, but you would have to look close to notice these. Tributaries have decreased in price for the second time in three years, and remain an excellent value – one of the very best in fact. And though these new ones are a bit heavier than prior Trib models, they still roll up much smaller than almost any other Asian pvc raft. They are one of the very few that we can get back into the factory box in fact!
One thing that stands out with the new Tributary rafts is how easy they are to roll up. The new material inflates very stiff, much like the older Ferrari pvc (Ferrari is a brand name unrelated to the car company), yet the suppleness of it when deflated is amazing. It is actually softer and easier to roll than many of the hypalon boats. We had no problem getting a 14' Tributary back in it's box. So if you are not using a trailer with one of the bigger sizes of Trib rafts, getting one into the back of an SUV, truck, or even a mid size hatch back wagon is very do-able.
There are cheaper pvc import rafts to be sure, but whereas the lifespan on a Tributary is essentially unlimited, most other brands are glued instead of being welded and range from having 3 to 15 year lifespans, whereafter their seams will fail. This means you will be putting all that toxin-laden poly vinyl chloride into a landfill somewhere rather that keeping it the raft use. With a welded, bladderized raft like a Twelve HD, you can keep it virtually forever.
These days, since all rafts brands are overbuilt in terms of toughness, what you are really buying is handling and lifespan. And along with their longevity, Tributary rafts score high in the handling department. Add to this that they tend to roll up smaller and weigh less than many competing brands, including the American made AIREs, and the Trib's stand as an obvious first choice for veterans and first time boat owners alike.
All Trib inflatable rafts come with the large bore, reliable B-7 Leafield valves. It is worth noting that AIRE does not really have an equivalent to this model in their American made line. The closest comparison is the Super Puma, but that boat is much narrower and a foot longer, and has way more rocker on the ends. The AIRE Tributary Twelve HD is 12'3" (AIRE says 12' but our tape measure says it's a bit more) by 6'1" wide, with a fairly ample 37" inside width. It has 18" tubes. Unlike the larger models, the tubes do not taper at the ends on the 12'. This boat work equally well for rowers or paddle crews. You can jam six smaller folks in the Twelve, but it paddles best as a four or five person vehicle.
The inflatable floor mounts the same way all AIRE raft floors do, with a laced piano hinge system that drains very quickly. Unlike the American AIRE rafts though, the Tributary floors come laced in from the factory. This is significant since it takes one person 2-1/2 hours to lace a 12' raft.
The Tributary warranty is five years but it is not a "no-fault" warranty like the U.S made AIREs have. In other words AIRE still fixes anything that is their fault, but if you damage the boat, that won't be covered. If you don't want to deal with a repair yourself you can still ship the boat off to Idaho where AIRE is located, but many repairs can be effected on a Tributary in less time than it will take you to box up your raft and drive to UPS. Remember too that five years is the same warranty you get on many other high quality brands like Hyside, Achilles, and Incept, all of which are far more expensive that the Trib's.
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