The stretch of the Nahanni River has everything; whitewater, long flat slow moving bits, shallow rocky bits, and we will be portaging. So the decision on what kind of boat to select was a difficult one and we consulted with what you would call obsessive experts on the matter.
In my opinion this is what I find to be the advantages in our selection:
- First and foremost, the boats had to take the beating from sharp rocks and inevitably wrapping around those rocks.
There is a big advantage to being able to deflate a boat if it gets wrapped (though I don’t know if this is standard practice), since you can just peel it off like a wet blanket then. In addition, to my understanding it is easier to patch up a soft boat than a rigid one.
- We will be portaging, that means carrying everything over land.
It definitely helps then to be able to deflate, roll up, and carry the boats on your bag like a pack. Imagine climbing mountains with a canoe – it’s been done, but if we don’t need to, we’re not going to. This also means a smaller boat is better than a bigger one; so instead of choosing a full sized raft, we’ll take the matchstick.
- Shallow water.
With shallow water, the most buoyant boats help even if it’s just millimeters. Inflatable means we maximize in that department.
As much as I’d love the space and stability on larger rafts, I also want a jacuzzi waiting for me with a hot meal everywhere we stop. This was the recommended boat that the experts in the group agreed on and I’m looking forward to taking a ride, a 20 day ride!
All images by http://www.robfin.cz, pretty much the boats we hope for.