Hyside Rafts & why you should consider them
If you’re looking for a quality raft that is built to last, Hyside Rafts should be on your shortlist. Hyside has been making rafts and other watercraft since 1978, and they have a reputation for producing some of the best gear on the market. This article will provide an in-depth review of all Hyside rafts, and offerings and see why their products are so popular among whitewater enthusiasts.
I have guided with a Hyside, and I have known many outfitters using the same Hyside raft for over 20 years. I’ve also used their inflatable kayaks on several Class III/IV excursions, and they’ve performed wonderfully!
Hyside offers three different models of whitewater rafts: the Hyside Mini, Hyside Outfitter, and Hyside Pro. They also provide Catarafts and Inflatable Kayaks (IKs.)
What are Hyside rafts made of?
Hyside rafts are constructed of a braided nylon base fabric called a double denier, making them highly durable. They then add a neoprene base coated with Hypalon.
Hypalon is durable and waterproof, and it can resist abrasion, chemicals, high temperatures, and UV rays. It’s well-known for its toughness, and you may leave it in the sun without worrying about too much damage as well.
How do Hyside rafts compare price-wise to others?
When shopping for rafts, you will notice that the price varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some of the price differences come down to the Brand, and the warranty offered, but a lot of it comes down to the materials they use.
There are three materials that are used to make rafts: Urethane, Hypalon, and Poly Vinyl Chloride or PVC.
I won’t do a deep-dive into each of those for this article, but here is a summary:
Urethane: Most expensive
Pros: slides over rocks, most durable material, lightest fabric with the highest puncture and tear resistance, long-lasting. They utilize a tougher welding process to construct these boats.
Cons: The most expensive, difficult to roll and transport, and hard to field repair.
Hypalon: Less Expensive
Pros: Incredibly durable, easy to fix in the field and longevity.
Cons: The downside of this material is that, unlike urethane or PVC, it must be glued together (instead of welded) and can come undone on occasion. It has greater resistance to abrasion and puncture than PVC but less than urethane.
PVC: Least Expensive
Pro: inexpensive, so it is an easy entry into whitewater rafting.
Cons: quality can be a concern, and they don’t last nearly as long as other boats.
Where do Hyside boats rank price-wise?
For example, the NRS Otter 14′–which is their mid-level model–and the Hyside Outfitter 14.0 are about the same price. The Hyside also comes with 3 thwarts as opposed to the Otter that only comes with 2. That is definitely an added bonus!
Hyside Mini series
The Hyside Mini-Series rafts are the newest addition to their lineup. It has a smaller footprint than Hyside’s other rafts and they are designed for R2-R4 rafting. These rafts are made for running whitewater. You can run massive drops, technical creeks, and other runs that were otherwise unrunnable to whitewater rafts.
There are some great Youtube videos of people running steep waterfalls in R2 rafts. My favorite is Moser Creek Falls in Oregon. You have to check that out.
The Hyside Mini series is a great pack raft for those overland trips you have always wanted to do. I have a buddy that took his into the Bob Marshal Wilderness in Northern Montana. He was able to run some impressive rapids on the North Fork of the Flathead River.
Hyside Outfitter Series Rafts
The Hyside Outfitter is their mid-level or consumer line. It is a great raft, and I know plenty of whitewater rafting guides that use it in their commercial fleet. They use 19″ tubes on most of their rafts in this series–which is a little small for me–but that really is a preference thing.
The only other difference is the Outfitter Series uses a slightly thinner material, but again, many people use these rafts for years. If you take care of your raft it will take care of you!
Hyside Pro Series Rafts
The Hyside Pro Series is their flagship model. You can get a Pro Series raft from a 13′ raft to a 20′ one! Hyside uses its thickest membranes, and long floors, and offers 20″ tubes.
I prefer paddle boats with taller tubes, in my opinion. They’re a little more difficult to flip in rapids. They also add an extra inch of depth for my ice chests and dry boxes.
The Pro XT is a great multi-day raft. The longer floors and taller tubes provide ample space to store gear.
The price difference between their Pro and Outfitter series is about $1000. If I was in the market for a multi-day gear boat, I would spend the extra money and purchase a Pro XT over an Outfitter.
Hyside also makes Catrarafts. I personally haven’t used one of their Catarafts before, and I don’t typically don’t review gear I, or other whitewater rafting guides I know, haven’t used. I also, don’t run Catarafts much because I am either taking clients and gear or running kayaks.
However, I can say that their comparable in price to other manufacturers, such as NRS, AIRE, and Maravia. I also can say I have seen plenty of Hyside Catrafts on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Rogue River, and Deschutes. So that’s saying something, right?
How is that for an in-depth review of Hyside rafts? Que the uproar!
Hyside Inflatable Kayaks
I have used plenty of Hyside Kayaks, and have used them on many different guide trips. They are just as durable as their rafts and handle Class III and some Class IV rapids just fine.
They do offer a two-person IK and a large 10.5′ single-person IK that is great for multi-day trips where you need to pack your gear in.
I will typically swap out the thwart backrest for a seat because the thwart gets uncomfortable on longer trips.
They’re a bit pricey, similar to the AIRE Lynx, but are worth it and will last you a long time.
Final thoughts on Hyside Rafts
To me, Hyside Rafts are similar to NRS rafts. They both have great warranties, customer service, and offer a good Hypalon boat.
Hyside offers a few more size selections, and I do think they have a tendency to last a little bit longer. I had an old NRS that went the distance with me, but I have seen much older Hysides on the river.
I hope you have enjoyed this In-depth review of Hyside rafts. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to get more information on Hysides, other gear, or river information.