When shopping for a life raft you're going to choose between two storage options- a container (canister) or a valise. To make this decision, you will need to take a few factors into consideration.
The first thing you should know is how a container or valise should be stored. A Valise is designed to be kept out of the elements, this means that it must be kept either below deck in dry storage or a watertight chest on deck. Container life rafts are designed to be kept on deck in a steel cradle that are either mounted to the deck or transom. They are extremely well equipped to handle the elements due to their design. For Example, The 6 person Superior Coastal Surge Life Raft in a container is lined inside with a UV resistance foil and foam to provide insulation from cold and protection from sunlight.
The second thing to keep in mind is space. All captains know that utilizing all storage is especially important on a boat, because there is always a shortage of space. The need for space varies significantly based on the size of your boat. The captain operating a 28' Contender has significantly less space to utilize than the captain on a 60' Hatteras. If space is still a struggle for you as a coastal boater, a compact life raft may better suit your needs. The Superior Halo Compact Life Raft or Revere Coastal Compact Life Raft are some of the lightest, most compact life rafts on the market today.
The third consideration is cost. Life rafts in a valise typically cost less than those in a container due to differences in materials costs. Additionally if you choose to purchase a container, you will also need to purchase a cradle - increasing your cost another few dollars!
Note: Please keep in mind that a container and valise are not easily interchangeable. If you purchase a valise and later decide you’d rather have a container to keep on deck, you can't just order a container and repack it yourself. You will need to take your life raft to a service station to be repacked by a professional into a container designed for that specific life raft model. This can get costly when you have to purchase a container and pay for the services of a life raft service station.Just like every large purchase, it’s best to do your research prior to placing your order. If you have any further questions feel free to reach out to our team of professionals at email@example.com or give us a call at 888-551-7238. May you have fair winds and calm seas!