NRS Clearwater Drifter Review
On our latest exploration we had the pleasure of testing out the new inflatable drift boat from NRS. The Clearwater Drifter is on the leading edge of boat technology from a versatility standpoint. The boat stretches out to seventeen roomy feet, yet packs down small enough to fit on the back of a horse or a cargo hold of a bush plane. For our current voyage we chose to leave the back seat and diamond plated casting platforms at home, making our all around package lighter for our 12 day backcountry mission in search of voracious bull trout. The boat assembles easily and takes about an hour from start to finish.
With three separate air chambers, self bailing capabilities, and rugged double reinforced PVC coating, the Clearwater Drifter ensures that your trip will continue on course even if you encounter unexpected obstacles. We put the boat through the ringer over the course of our twelve day backcountry trip. A 5 mile drag through a canyon full of boulders was the start of our trip and left us with our first bully, a fully functioning boat, and sore backs and legs. Additionally we banged it off of canyon walls and dragged it over brush choked shorelines and log jams multiple times. This boat took a hell of a beating and just kept on carrying us downstream.
At 17’ and packable, the Drifter gives off the grid travelers a new option in waterway transportation. The comfort and gear carrying capacity of a drift boat combined with the durability and safety of a raft made it an obvious choice for us. With high walls and rockers, the boat tracks surprising well for a boat of its size. We had it loaded down with over 300 hundred pounds of gear and still were able to maneuver around obstacles with ease.
This particular boat was a demo NRS boat that we borrowed from the Grizzly Hackle fly shop. Prior to our trip the boat had seen some solid use and had developed two small pinhole leaks. In the back of the boat, the frame touches the floor in two areas. These areas would accumulate gravel over time and with the drain located just above the floor of the boat it’s almost impossible to get all the debris out of your boat without tipping it on it’s side. After time, two small leaks developed. The leaks were patched and over the course of our 12 days we never had any major issues with these hot spots. The only other negatives were the fact that some bubbling did occur along the top of the raft wall by the left oar lock and fly line tangles around the front casting brace too easily when lots of line is out.
Overall the NRS Clearwater Drifter surpassed all expectations and performed flawlessly for us on our twelve day backcountry float. We received plenty of looks during the trip and it really is a great looking and great functioning boat. For more information check out nrs.com and feel free to leave questions in the comments section below.