Gear Review: Outcast Drifter 13.0 Fishing Raft
Updated: Jan 16
Overview: I like to fish. A lot. While I have primarily been a "wade" fisherman besides those times I could bum floats from buddies, I had always wanted a drift boat of my own - a way to explore more water and harder to reach places. But traditional drift boats can be a little clunky, not to mention expensive. That's when I started really exploring rafts. The beauty of a raft is it's less expensive, far lighter (can be carried by two guys), easier to get in to more remote locations (doesn't require a boat launch), can be used in big and small water and is stable yet very forgiving. Another big criteria for me was that I wanted a three-person raft (some are really made for two people).
After all my research I landed on the Outcast Drifter 13.0. The Drifter is a self-bailing fishing raft package designed to hit an entry-level price point. The raft is constructed with heavy-duty PVC and a Urethane AIREcell inside. It comes with a functional three-person NRS fishing frame, a front casting brace, an anchor pulley system, 9' oars and a 5-year warranty.
Since April I have been putting the Drifter through it's paces on multiple rivers in Michigan both large and small - the Muskegon, Pere Marquette, Manistee and Au Sable. Here are my thoughts.
What I like: First off one of the biggest factors (and the reason for selecting a raft in the first place) is the maneuverability both on and off the water. I bought an old snowmobile trailer to pull the raft but you could, if deflated some, fit this in the back of your pick up. I can carry the raft with two guys. Three is better, but two works. That means I can get into some pretty crazy spots. The raft draws little water and can go through tight and shallow areas with no problems. And it can handle the big water - it is after all born from a whitewater raft. And the damn thing is so forgiving - rocks and downed trees are not really an issue, you simply bump off them. A tree across the whole river? No worries, get out and drag the raft over. Need to portage around it? You can. No need to worry about gouging your fiberglass.
Beyond that, the raft is surprisingly stable. You can stand up and move around in it pretty easily. And it can carry a TON of weight - somewhere in the range of 1,300 pounds. With four air chambers plus the floor the Drifter is sturdy and virtually unsinkable - not that I want to try.
Price. You can get into this whole outfit for about $4,500 and while that might seem like a lot of money, it's really not compared to a drift boat and considering the features it provides and the new water it opens up to you.
What I don’t like: One thing you give up with a raft is storage - and the Drifter is no exception. I've remedied some of this by adding a Rod Dog rod holder that attaches to my frame and holds two rods, some cup holders, a seat saddle bag, and a dry bag. Still, gear management is a little more tricky than in a drift boat.
Second, while the raft is light enough to be carried, it still weighs in at around 250 pounds so you aren't exactly going to throw it over your shoulder. But considering it's a 3-person raft with a carry capacity of around 1,300 pounds I guess that should be expected.
Last, while the raft is extremely stable, the back position does not include a casting brace. It sits high enough that you can fish it seated, and you can fish it standing as well, but a back brace would make it rock solid.
Perfect for: For me, the Drifter 13.0 is a perfect Michigan fishing set up (would do well out West too) and strikes a nice balance between portability, maneuverability, durability and stability and it is relatively affordable – especially considering the features. With a few small additions to improve storage, there's really not much this versatile raft can't tackle. Plus the 5-year warranty gives an added peace of mind.
Stars: 4.5 out of 5