Due to medical reasons at the time of this article, I’m not able to do hikes with heavy backpacks, so I’m planning a longer boat tour. A light packraft is probably the best choice since I can just take it with me on a hike.
To not buy a pig in a poke, I rented the Anfibio Rebel 2K for one weekend. Regarding my experiences with the rental service, there might be a separate article coming.
I planned this tour for a while now and it’s a round trip over the Dove and Gose Elbe near Hamburg, Germany. Those are two closed anabranches of the river Elbe which have been manually separated from the main stream about 600 years ago.1 Therefore those parts of the Elbe are not part of the federal waterway system and thus are ideal for paddling and boat drivers.
The Dove Elbe however has nothing to do with the bird but the name comes from the Low German word dov for deaf and Gose is also Low German and means dry or shallow.
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I started at the red marker near the road Allermöher Deich and first paddled down the Dove Elbe (so towards west). From the natural reserve area Die Reit I paddled the Gose Elbe upstream, through the canal Neuengammer Durchstich back to my starting point.
The tour is about 18km / 11mi long and without wind, without current and including breaks it took me about eight hours.
Some parts are under nature protection and only non-motorized boats are allowed there (so SUP, kanoe, kayak, packraft, etc.) and even that not during the entire year. But more about that later.
I wanted to start early, so I stood up at 4am and went to my starting point by bus and train so that I arrived there at around 5:45 am. The starting point has a very nice pier that’s unrestrictedly accessible and is perfect to start a tour.
This is the first time ever I go paddling and therefore it was the first time ever I set up a packraft. To be honest, I tried it earlier at home, so after about half an hour my packraft was ready.
Entering it was really easy, it’s very stable thanks to the wide design of the boat.
The first paddle moves were ok but after a few minutes I noticed: I’m not trained for paddling. Not trained at all, this will give severe muscle soreness tomorrow and I only traveled the first 100m. Greeeeeat…
At least it was incredibly relaxing and very silent on the water, especially when I stopped paddling for a while it was completely silent. Awesome!
Break and the first people
After a while I met the first rowers passing by very quickly and during my first break at the rowing course the first boaters arrived.
Once I moved on, I was alone, except one fisherman near the nature protection area Die Reit. 2 The name comes from the city district Reitbrook and in Low German reit means reed and there must have been a lot of it growing here 850 years ago, when Reitbrook was first documentary mentioned.
Next to the Reit, the Gose Elbe enters the Dove Elbe, so from here on I paddled up the Gose Elbe. Luckily the current is – if present at all – very weak.
Important: Driving with motorized boats is forbidden here! The river is – as the name says – quite shallow and often less than 1m / 3ft deep.
After I passed some canoeists and a yoga group, who did their exercises on SUP-board for an extra training of their sense of balance, the Gose Elbe became more and more narrow. Two paddlers could still pass but it became tricky later on.
And then just a small path was passable through all the pond roses. Paddling didn’t became easier by that, the paddle constandly got stuck in all the roses and the fin of my boat collected a lot of branches and leafs.
After a while I reached the entrance to the Neuengamme breakthrough (Neuengammer Durchstich) but don’t get confused with the Neuengamme branch canal (Neuengammer Stichkanal), which leads to the former concentration camp Neuengamme. The breakthrough is an artificial and former drainage canal between Dove and Gose Elbe and it’s forbidden (even for paddling boats) to drive there between April and June to protect nature.
Every once in a while a paddling group or some stand up paddler came towards me. Due to the narrowness of the breakthrough, I had to kind of pull over to let them through.
In the middle of the breakthrough there are a lot of quite pristine areas of wetland, this was in the middle of the nature protection area Kirchwerder Wiesen (which translates to meadows of Kirchwerder and yes, there are a lot of meadows).
Unfortunately there was a construction site shortly after the beautiful wetlands, where the breakthrough was interrupted. Luckily there were good entry and exit points on both sides of the construction site.
I also met a kayak paddler again, with whom I talked before about my packraft during a break. He quickly moved on but here I catched up.
We carried our boates together to the other side of the construction site and we also had a little chat with two stand up paddlers.
After that I quickly moved on to the Dove Elbe and after a short while back to my starting point. In the meanwhile a lot of people went outside with their boats, SUPs, canoes and even some touristic excursion boats were driving around.
Conclusion about the route
The Dove and Gose Elbe are wonderful rivers for paddling! Even with sometimes nearby roads, the route is very beautiful, has a lot of shade, is quite, calm and very relaxing.
Every now and then you’ll find some good spots for a break (see some of the marking on the map above), the pond roses however are a bit tricky and made the paddling more difficult.
Definitely worth a recommendation!
Conclusion to the Anfibio Rebel 2K
I currently don’t have any comparison, but I like the Rebel 2K in general.
- Very stable, entering and getting out is no problem
- The floor and the spray deck are thicker and more resistant then I initially thought
- The spray deck is very useful, opening and closing is very easy thanks to the velcro fastening
- I was able to easily attach/tighten my – to be honest quite empty – 45+10L backpack plus a pack sack to the bow of the boat
- Setup and dismantling is very easy
- It’s very light (approx. 2.4kg / 5.3lbs): Lifting it out of the water? No problem!
- While paddling, the boat moves a lot to the left and right ahem starboard and port side
- The seat is quite low, so for paddling you have to strike out quite far (s. below)
- The backrest might displace when moving
- The rented paddle was too short: It was only 220cm / 86.6in long but on a packraft you probably need something like 230-240cm / 90.5-95.5in
More in the wikipedia articles about the Dove and Gose Elbe (however the German articles are much more detailed). ↩︎
Here the wikipedia (unfortunately German only) offers a lot of interesing information: Did you know there’s a hiking trail through the Reit area? Well, me neither. What would we just do without wikipedia? ↩︎