Need Gnarwhal Advice

After 40 yrs of hard shelling, I’m transitioning to pack rafting. I’ve decided the SB Gnarwhal Large is the right boat for me. 65yrs old, class 4 skills, 200lbs, 5’11". For various reasons, I’ve eliminated the Wolverine, Valkyrie, and Ranger as a 1st choice. I’m sure the Gnar will meet my WW needs. HOWEVER, I have a 70lb Golden Retriever and would love to take him on flat water, up to class 2. He does well on rafts, in IKs and even sea kayaks.

QUESTION: Will my dog fit between my knees, with his butt on the floor and front paws on the tube?

OR, is there a better boat to meet my WW goals (class 3/4-) AND carry the dog on easy water?

Thanks for any positive feedback!

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It may be a bit tight but it should work. I’m similar size to you, and have had a 45# dog in my SB Classic a ton - and that’s a slightly smaller boat than the Gnar. Our dog seems to like sitting between our legs with her paws up on the bow. I think there would be room for a larger dog than ours.

Thanks. I tend to agree, but have never actually sat in the Gnar, so was looking for this feedback.

Hey @Pete,

Alternatively, Alpacka just came out with the GnarMule, essentialy the Mule (larger than the Gnarwhal), with whitewater accessories included. So it’s designed to run serious whitewater, while also giving one the option to have a bit more space and weight in the boat.

Perhaps, for what you’re doing, this might be a great fit?

And you gotta love their new Slush Puppy colorway for this + other new models!

I’ve been paddling Class IV with my dog Z for 8+ years, trust me, very few packrafts actually work for whitewater application with a dog. The Gnarwhal, Mule, etc. are all too small, the list (in order) is very short - 1) Aire Backraft Expedition is the best, but no longer made, 2) Alpacka Ranger, 3) MRS Barracuda Pro SB, 4) CDOutdoors tandem, 5) Robfin XL Maxxim, 6) Alpacka Forager, and 7) MRS Viking SB - a tad cramped, but is a 269 cm sportier self-bailing packraft that weighs less than 10 lbs., 8) Gnarmule SB.

That said, you can paddle any boat on Class I-II with a dog, provided the weight capacity is adequate and your dog is well-trained, but why? Why not paddle an IK with your dog? If you really need the whitewater performance and smaller nimble size of a solo WW packraft and for some reason can have only 1 boat for all that you described, the list is even smaller: 1) Alpacka Ranger, 2) Robfin XL Maxxim or L Bro, 3) MRS Viking, or 4) Gnarmule - sorry the L or XL Gnarwahl doesn’t even make my list.

Best I’ve been able to calculate, assuming you want both the dog and paddler to be safe and enjoy the experience, general cockpit (interior) dimensions guidelines are: Miniature (tiny dogs under 20 lbs.). = almost any packraft will work, Small (20-35 lbs.) = 120 - 135 cm, Medium (35-50 lbs.) = 135 - 150 cm, Large (50-80 lbs.) = 150+. Obviously, these can be tweaked or ignored, if a) your dog is super obedient and will lay flat between your legs the entire time. Note: most dogs won’t lay in water of SB packraft floor for very long regardless of training, b) you don’t paddle very often with your dog and/or c) you don’t paddle very lengthy runs or periods of time on the water with your dog.

Thanks for the suggestions. I won’t paddle class 3 or more with my bud in the boat.

Why one boat for both purposes?

On some road trips i just don’t have room for mine and my wife’s bikes and IKs, not to mention our raft, canoe, sea kayak or my creek boat. Life is rough.

I can image long road trips with a little WW, a little flat water, some biking and some hiking. Therefore looking for the most versatile, single boat option.

ZDog, been watching you adventures for years. Part of the inspiration for packrafting, just at a more relaxed level. I am looking at the Ranger, but WW performance is a higher priority than dog and me comfort. Is the Ranger comparable to the Gnar for performance? The GnarMule seems even… bigger.

Say hi to Greg H.