Review: Rocky Mountain Rafts’ Latest Design, the PEAK 16

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The RMR PEAK 16: Peak performance at a not-peak price.

Christmas came early to the love-to-get-drenched De Feyter family last June in the form of Rocky Mountain Rafts’ (RMR) latest design, the PEAK 16 (https://www.rockymountainrafts.com/product/pk-160-16-peak/). Touted as the “ultimate performance paddle raft,” and at a price point that still let us put food on the table for the kids, we were eager to put it through its paces.

First stop: the Colorado near our home for a quick day float. The immediate response was this is a large raft that doesn’t feel like one. With four thwarts and foot cups up front included, it felt both nimble and beefy, as at home in tight Class IV as the Grand.

Our first outing in the new PK 16 took full advantage of its size with eight paddlers plus a guide on the Upper Colorado. We found the boat to feel spacious, as that’s a lot of paddlers for any craft  Even with a cooler packed in the rear, the guide, yours truly, had plenty of room.

Made with durable PVC the Peak weighs in at a hefty 199 lbs, which, I’ll admit is a bit beefy; it’s hard to move and roll by yourself. So it came as a surprise how maneuverable and agile the Peak 16 felt. The diminishing tube design (23” to  20”) and aggressive 29” rise paired with the I-beam floor hold it high on the water — which makes it spin and move easily. We found it took little effort to finesse the raft through the desired river line, whether it was chasing down an errant Frisbee or hitting the slot in Eye of the Needle.

In short, the RMR Peak 16 performs great as a paddle raft — any private boater or outfitter would be happy to have it in his or her fleet.

But what about an oar rig?With our friends at Down River Equipment (https://www.downriverequip.com/) we outfitted the RMR Peak 16 with a custom double rail, four bay frame, turning it into an instant gear-hauler for longer trips. This time, we headed out to the Colorado River for a three-day family float on Ruby Horsethief canyon. Once again the Peak 16 offered peak performance. It had plenty of room for gear plus a family of five. And we could have loaded it up even more. And the same nimbleness it offered as a paddle raft continued as an oar rig.

Not content that our testing was complete, we then headed out to Westwater Canyon at a robust 7,000 cfs, again using it as an oar boat. At the put-in, it gobbled up gear like it wasn’t there (especially with DRE’s Gear Bag), kept its momentum and angle ferrying, and bashed through waves thanks to its ample rocker and tube design. Its diminished tubes also helped it stay nimble and quick — nice for the lefthand move to avoid the hole at Skull.

In short, it’s a highly capable raft that handles well and will give any guide the confidence to take the harder line. The PVC construction makes it a little heavy, but that’s negligible once you’re on the water. There, it handles like a much shorter raft at a great price point.

And I can’t wait to see what Santa leaves under the tree for it accessory-wise.

—Miles De Feyter

For more information, visit www.rockymountainrafts.com