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Thread: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

  1. #1
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    Feb 2008
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    feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    Hello all...

    As I continue my research for the "perfect" jet boat I have recently been introduced to the Solar inflatable jet boats. I've watched a few YouTube videos and the boats seem to be very impressive but having said that I wanted to hear back from people who have actually used a Solar for "back-country" hunting to hear their reviews, experiences ect... I'm particularly interested in the boats performance when under load, like you would get with two guys, gear, and fuel, on a 10 day back-country hunting trip...

    If anyone out there in HBC world has actually used a Solar tunnel jet, please feel free to contribute to this discussion...

    Many thanks

    Mike

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  3. #2
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    PM Fuzzybiscuit, he’s your man for info.
    If you can pack it in, You can pack it out !!!

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  4. #3
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats


  5. #4
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    Quote Originally Posted by msawyer View Post
    Hello all...

    As I continue my research for the "perfect" jet boat I have recently been introduced to the Solar inflatable jet boats. I've watched a few YouTube videos and the boats seem to be very impressive but having said that I wanted to hear back from people who have actually used a Solar for "back-country" hunting to hear their reviews, experiences ect... I'm particularly interested in the boats performance when under load, like you would get with two guys, gear, and fuel, on a 10 day back-country hunting trip...

    If anyone out there in HBC world has actually used a Solar tunnel jet, please feel free to contribute to this discussion...

    Many thanks

    Mike
    They are lighter by ?? several hundred pounds maybe than aluminum? Planing surface, power, and overall weight are the absolutes that drive the equation. I posted in the other thread, 2 guys, fuel and food for 10 days means 2 loads out if you shoot any big game animal.

  6. #5
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    So I have a Solar 380 (12-1/2') and I've been in a 420 (13-1/2'). I just had another buddy buy a 420 a few weeks ago and he got what I thought was a good deal. The difference between the 380 and the 420 is night and day despite the 420 only being a foot longer.

    So, what do I know....

    All Solars are made of PVC and despite some people claiming they would only buy an inflatable made of Hypalon your choices are limited to none if looking for an inflatable with a jet tunnel. From what I've witnessed there are very few flat bottom jet boats, especially inflatables, that work well without a tunnel. They just suck in too much air by design and cavitate badly with the first ripple on the water. That cavitation not only causes you to lose thrust but in the case of a 4-strokes it can damage the motor by floating the valves.

    My 380 does not have the reinforced bottom. It has the jet tunnel though and factory trim tabs. It is rated for a 25hp jet and I have a Merc factory 20hp jet (25hp at the head) on it. With 2 guys, 10 gallons of fuel, a couple packs, seats, etc.. it plains in seconds and goes pretty well. I can cut back the throttle and go through a 3 inches of water without feeling anything. The design of the inflatable floor with the built in tunnel seems to create its own wave at slower speeds but still on step so I've gone through areas a big boat wouldn't easily make it without touching. Because it can be run at slower speeds you can also run between rocks in boulder patches where a bigger inboard would be bouncing off of them.

    This past fall I could launch my 380 at a spot that was 90 KM from the closest launch for a bigger boat. From there I went 50km up river to a point where there is about 5km of very shallow water. Rocks everywhere and being brown water its not easy to pick a route. I never saw another boat past this area and a large group that was camped where I launched (They drove in after launching 3 boats 90km downstream) said they had never been past the boulder patch and didn't know anyone who had in low water. We went another 30km up river and saw 3 bulls on one 250 yard section, dropping one of them. From the way the other 2 acted I don't think they had seen many people before. I drifted within 50 feet of one 45 incher. We did the gutless method and with the whole bull in the boat we could not get it up on step. We were 80km from the launch and tug-boating through the water it would have taken 10 hours to get back what was a 3-1/2 hour trip up stream. We ended up offloading half the bull and came back for it the next day with no issues. So ya, my 380 cannot pack a whole moose with two guys and gear. It will float that weight with no issues but it cannot get back up on step.

    That is where the 420 is nice. The one I was in had the heavy duty bottom, top gunnel tubes, transom brace and jet tunnel. It is rated for a 40hp jet, which is lots in this boat. The added hull planning surface with extra hp can get a whole moose with 2 guys and gear out of the water. The boat only weighs 20 pounds more than the 380 but the motor is quite a bit more, taking it almost out of the portable weight class. My 25/20hp merc 2-stroke jet is only 140 pounds so I can load it in the truck easily. A 25hp 4-stroke adds another 40 pounds or more and then when you get into the 40hp range it takes two guys to handle it around. So there is a trade off. Pack more but not as portable or make 2 trips with an animal.

    My 25/20 actually pushes the 420 better than it does my 380, so I wouldn't consider the 380 again. The added planning surface more than makes up for the extra 20 pounds the hull weighs. Would the difference have gotten all our gear and the bull out in one trip? It would be close either way but I'm thinking it would have still been 2 trips.

    The new hulls don't have trim tabs and after being in a new 420 it didn't need them. I'd like the reinforced bottom for piece of mind but after hitting a lot of rocks mine shows no damage. I've also got the aluminum intake and a poly one would be nice. So far no real damage and I've hit it hard. I have the shallow water drive removed from the leg so that when the motor kicks up in goes back down on its own.. A bungee cord across the back of the motor stops it from coming up violently when the pump hits a solid rock. The tunnel helps direct water into the intake but if you are not paying attention you can ride a rock right up it and hit the intake hard. I've had a dozen days on the river this past year where I traveled over a hundred km with a couple at close to 200km. 80 km up river with a 4-6km/hour flow and back down, so 160km round trip, and I'm burning about 10 gallons of gas total. I've modified the exhaust in my Merc to be free flowing and I have both a stainless impellor and stainless liner. Neither show any sign of wear and while the intake does get plugged up with weeds I've never sucked a rock up and jammed it. The small intake stops bigger rocks from going by and tiny ones go right through the pump.

    If you want an inflatable tunnel hull jet your choices are the Solar or Alaskan Jet Ranger. The Jet Ranger has smaller tubes and is a bit narrower. From what I've seen on the Alaskan forums the Solar seems to be the choice most get now.

    Jetech LLC in Alaska imports them and that is where most I've seen have come from. Mine was bought used in Mission last fall but it was basically new and a 2019 model. The guy I bought it off of was the original owner and he bought it through a gut in Alberta that was importing them for a bit. He stopped bringing them in over a year ago. Your best bet though if you want one is through NR Motors in Prince George. They have been bringing them in for a bit and seem to be pricing them less than what it would take getting one from Alaska. For a 420 tunnel hull jet with top tubes, transom brace and heavy-duty bottom you are looking in the $6,000 range. A new 25hp 4-stroke Merc is another $6,000. So for $12,000 you can have a portable jet boat that could be packed around in a SUV and still get you out for a lot of fun on the water and into places most guys with the bigger boats would not go. Would they make it? Sure, but replacing UHMW gets to be very expensive and takes the fun out of it.

    At the end of the day every boat is a trade-off.

    Not me and I've never met the guy in person but I've sent a couple guys his way who have ended up purchasing a boat from him and they seemed to be treated pretty good and the price was right:

    Darren Bell
    NR Motors
    https://www.nrmotors.ca/
    Dbell@nrmotors.ca
    Last edited by fuzzybiscuit; 12-11-2020 at 02:37 PM.
    You find it offensive, but I find it funny... Thatís why Iím happier than you.

  7. #6
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    Feb 2008
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    Hello all...

    Great insights Fuzzybuiscits...

    For everyone's information, I just got a quote today from Darren at NR Motors in PG for a Solar 520 Super Jet Expedition with the polyurethane bottom for $ 8,299.00 plus tax. I'm not sure what the smaller models sell for...

  8. #7
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    It’s always better to be on the water than wishing you were. I would love to travel with 2 of these boats and maybe 3 guys. A lot more flexibility and less load concern.

  9. #8
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    That would be ideal Emerson.

    I’m in the early stages of planning a moose hunt for next year with a buddy who just bought a 420 tunnel jet. We’re looking at taking the two boats and going a couple hundred Kms up river then setting up camp and hunting out of just 1 boat. We figure that we could get 2 moose out in 1 trip that way.

    If it doesn’t work out I’ll be doing a solo hunt on my own but keeping the distance to half of that. One guy packing lightly and you can sleep in the boat with a makeshift ridge pole and a tarp. It sounds pretty bush, but actually pretty comfortable with the inflatable floor.
    You find it offensive, but I find it funny... Thatís why Iím happier than you.

  10. #9
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    All loaded up but as mentioned, it was way too much for this little boat...



    A second load with the other half of the bull...

    You find it offensive, but I find it funny... Thatís why Iím happier than you.

  11. #10
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    Re: feedback on Solar inflatable jet boats

    Why doesnít it ever go down like this in bow season...

    You find it offensive, but I find it funny... Thatís why Iím happier than you.

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