This summer with no expectation of paddling a different boat, I ended up in a 2012 Dagger Mamba 8.6. Now over 300 river miles later, I can confidently say that this boat kicks some tail.
A long summer road trip to many of the northwest classics between Bozeman and Portland provided me with some insight to strong points of the boat as well as weak ones.
On the road with the Dagger Mamba.
Speed. Going deep is not an issue. If you plug a hole, 9 times out of 10 you emerge without losing any speed. (especially important on the North Fork of the Payette)
- Edge Design. The edges are sharp from the front of the bow to just under the seat where they taper out to more of a displacement hull. This really gives you the ability to drive the boat with the nose and not worry about catching your stern on an eddy line.
Overnight storage. Massive amounts of space for gear. I loaded 3 extra pairs of shoes in my boat after I had loaded all of my gear because they wouldn’t fit in other people’s boats. Extremely easy to load this boat down without noticing a difference in performance. On the Ceseesh/ South Fork of the Salmon in Idaho, paddling class 5 big water with a loaded boat was no issue.
Stability. Since this boat is a little wider, stability is one of this boat’s many strong points. Although many argue it takes away some of the play, I had no trouble jumping from edge to edge on wave trains or transitioning edges on a boof.
Great single quiver boat. Great at creeking but not a full creek boat. Great at river running. Fun to surf big waves in, and I imagine it would be easy to learn in.
Chase Nobles bombing down Jacobs ladder on the North Fork in the new Mamba.
Not a full displacement hull. If you were to boof a large drop you might feel it a little more than if you were in a Nomad for example.
Chris Gragtmans warming up for the Homestake Race.
My first stop with this boat was Bozeman, Montucky, and my first run in this boat was the single track creek known as Hyalite Creek. This run is about as low volume as you can get with rapids that were continuous in nature. After two laps I was in love. I then started to get this thing on bigger volume rivers such as the Gallatin, North Fork of the Payette, Middle Fork of the Salmon, and Icicle Creek. What I noticed was that every run I did with that boat I started to understand it better and better. At first I thought it was a little more difficult to boof than the Nomad, but after some practice I realized that I just needed to reach a little farther forward because it is a longer boat. The verdict is that I love this boat, and I believe if you demo one you will be very tempted to buy it.
Check out more of Chase - here's his latest flick, "The Unlimiting Factor:
The Unlimiting Factor
Eddie Honea somewhere on Cheeseman / Wildcat Canyon.
from Chase Nobles