Buy or Borrow: the Raft

Etiquette of asking a friend.

“Before borrowing something from a friend, decide which you need most.” —AMERICAN PROVERB

All outdoor enthusiasts have gear closets, many have gear rooms, some have gear sheds, and a few even convert their entire garages into gear storage. All of this is to say that our toys take up a lot of room. So, if an activity is more of a passing interest than a passion, it may be best to borrow. This is often the case with rafting, a huge item and a sizeable financial investment. Just remember that there is an art to the ask.

Don’t: Ask the night before a multi-day trip on the Smith.
Do: Ask at least a few days before a half-day float on the lower Madison. 

Don’t: Expect a yes if the loaner hasn’t seen you row.
Do: Get the ball rolling by showing what you got before you ask. 

Don’t: Ask for the raft, and the PFDs, coolers, and dry boxes.
Do: Bring something to the table to up your chances. 

Don’t: Expect to pick up the raft without getting a tutorial on setup.
Do: Pay attention during the tutorial. If the raft is on a trailer, note how the owner likes it strapped down. 

Don’t: Run House Rock or the Kitchen Sink.
Do: Keep the objective within reason to establish some trust. 

Don’t: Take glass or other sharp objects into the raft.
Do: Partially deflate the raft on hot days to avoid damage to the tubes and/or air valves.

Don’t: Return the raft slathered in mud, chunky salsa, and fish slime.
Do: Clean it thoroughly, plus the trailer if you borrowed that, too. 

Once you fine-tune your pitch, you’ll need a willing party. Consider these:
The Roommate: At this point, she’s gotta owe you something.
The Guide Friend: He’s got access to the goods, and is probably used to sharing amenities.
Your “Never-Summer” Pal: Someone with winter on the brain doesn’t have much use for a raft.
The Trust-Funder: He’ll have a nice one and probably enjoys spreading the stoke. Plus, if you destroy the thing, you can replace him instead of the raft. 

When to Buy
Eventually, if the interest becomes a passion, you’ll need to make the purchase for yourself. It’ll be time if:
You develop a Chaco tan.
You start using a koozie at your desk.
You’re quoting Huck Finn on a regular basis.