DIY Cataraft & Catamaran Projects You Can Build at Home


For rafting aficionados who want to go on multi-day floats downriver, a traditional raft might not be the best choice. One option to consider is a cataraft. A cataraft has a large inflatable tube on each side with a frame connecting the two, which gives it a couple of advantages for long-haul trips.

While the design may look unusual for floating down a river, catarafts have actually been around almost as long as rafting itself. Their sturdy frame and lifted profile are ideal for carrying more gear, and some cataraft lovers say that having less rubber in the water makes them more maneuverable than traditional flat-bottomed rafts.

However, catarafts can be pricey, with some running well over $1,500 for the tubes alone. Cody from Colorado Springs, CO decided to get the best of both worlds by building his own. When he wanted to spend less time in the workshop and more time on the water, he chose to build his cataraft using Kee Lite fittings and pipe.

In addition to being easy to assemble, Kee Lite fittings are a great choice for this project because they’re made of anodized aluminum. They’re about half the weight of Kee Klamp fittings -- which are made of galvanized steel -- while still being corrosion resistant. Having the right finish is a trait you can’t afford to skimp on when building a project for the water.

In this article, we’ll cover in full detail how Cody built his cataraft and how you can build your own. We’ll also help get you started with a list of fittings for this project and a few suggestions for other boat designs. Before you know it, your watercraft dreams will be a reality.

Let’s get to it:

DIY Cataraft Fittings and Project Details

As we mentioned above, catarafts can hold more gear for those who want to make longer trips downriver. This is exactly the reason why Cody decided to go with a cataraft frame over a round raft with a flat, inflatable bottom.

Cody says he became interested in the idea of using Kee Lite fittings after receiving a recommendation from a friend. In the end, he chose to use the fittings in order to make the cataraft frame as easy as possible to build.

While we don’t have the exact number of fittings that Cody used to build his cataraft frame, the following are essential to the project:

  • Single Socket Tee fittings secure the supports that run perpendicular to the tubes.
  • 90° Elbow fittings form the corners of the frame’s top half.
  • Side Outlet Elbow fittings form the corners of the frame’s bottom half and connect it to the top half.

A cataraft also requires two large inflatable tubes. New tubes can cost around $1,500 or more, so we suggest searching for used tubes in areas where rafting is popular. Craigslist, swap meets, or any outfitter that sells used gear are good places to start.

You will also need a chair to attach to the top of your frame. Although Cody’s chair appears to be unattached to the frame in the above photo, we recommend securing your chair to the frame using Single Socket Tee fittings.

The diameter and length of your tubes will have a big impact on the fittings and length of pipe that you’ll need. We recommend getting in touch with our team for free design assistance before placing your order. They provided Cody with great customer service to help him complete his project, and they’ll be happy to do the same for you.

DIY Cataraft Project Variations

Cody’s cataraft isn’t the only twin-hulled watercraft that’s been featured on our site. From small but fun additions to full on restorations, Kee Lite fittings have made a number of boat projects that much easier.boat railing 003

Satisfied customer Scott resurrected a pontoon boat that he found on Craigslist using Kee Lite fittings and pipe for the deck railing.

Thanks to the anodized aluminium, galvanized cross members, treated under deck lumber, PVC decking, marine wire, and stainless steel fasteners, Scott considers the entire boat to be maintenance free.

The best part? The entire build not only saved a perfectly good twin hull from the scrap yard, but saved Scott’s budget.

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Another option is to upgrade your existing boat using Kee Lite fittings.

David of South Carolina decided to elevate the functionality of his catamaran by building a cooking station off the back of his sailboat. In addition to being corrosion resistant, the Kee Lite fittings made it easy to build a project customized to his boat’s unique dimensions.

In each case, Kee Lite fittings make great building materials due to their corrosion resistant finish and durable design. They provide the same versatility as the heavier Kee Klamp line, while being lightweight enough for any boat construction.

Start Building Your Own Boat Project

In the end, Cody was pleased with how his cataraft turned out. When asked what his favorite part was about using Kee Klamp fittings, he responded, “How easy they were to use, the customer service, and quick shipping.”

Catarafts and pontoon boats aren’t the only watersport equipment our customers have built using Kee Klamp fittings. Check out this guide on how to build a kayak trailer, or this one on how to upgrade your boat with a fishing tower and wakeboarding rack.

In each instance, Kee Klamp customers were able to create a unique, perfectly tailored project for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought product.

Unsure about how to bring your own boat project to life? Don’t let that stop you from getting out on the water. Our experienced team has helped countless customers by offering free design assistance. They can make sure you get the exact parts you need and a plan to bring it all together.

Our Team is Here to Help

Simplified Building Team

Our experts will help you select the items you need to create your project.

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