PakCanoe vs Ally

Hi, I am getting ready to buy a canoe and am very attracted to folding canoes for a few reasons (very limited storage space, transportation ease, weight, etc.)

My main application I believe will be float fly fishing in Montana/Rocky Mountain rivers and lakes, as well as some multi-day backpacking trips.

Was wondering if anyone had any strong feelings on the two main brands I’ve seen, PakCanoe and Ally, which are similar in price, and design for the most part. Especially whether one may be better than the other in regards to durability and stability, as well as product support with PakBoats being American and Bergans a foreign brand.


Can’t compare them…
but I owned a Pakboat canoe for several years, 15 footer that could be configured for solo or tandem paddling. It was a nice watercraft, but you had to be careful how you loaded it. In tandem configuration, you really needed weight in the middle, because without it the ends would bow downwards with the weight of the people front and back. My wife and I floated the Yellowstone River near Livingston MT in it a couple of times, and it didn’t handle well at all the first time because we didn’t have enough weight in the middle. As a solo craft, though, it was very nice. I just didn’t use it enough, and finally sold it. And if you don’t put it together frequently, it takes every bit of the 25-30 minutes the manual says it does to get it ready to go.

another resource
You might get comparative feedback on the two models (as well as read reports on them) over at the forums. They have a category for each of the brands. Not as many participants as here and you might wait a while for many replies, though it does seem like there a a few more posters in the winter when people aren’t out paddling.

I’ve not used the Pakboat canoes but have owned two of their kayaks, one model of which (the XT-15) has a frame based on the canoe design. The guy we bought the XT from uses the PB canoes for guided fishing trips in the North American arctic regions and in Patagonia, and spoke well of them. I’ve been very impressed by the boats myself – there are some Youtube videos of Pakboat canoes being used in various places around the world, too, if you have not yet checked those out.

Though PB is an American company, most of their production is offshore. Alv Elvestad, the owner, is very helpful if you have questions about the boats.

Second the PakBoat
I have a 17 footer and Alv has been very quick to supply parts and advice on maintenance. No need to order from overseas.

No question is too small or dumb.

The Ally-Pak
I can’t compare them, but we used Ally’s on a 15 day trip on the Noatak river in the Arctic and they made a believer out of me.

If I were to purchase a folding canoe. I would get the Ally just on our experience with it.

We had two people per canoe and a bunch of weight in each boat and they handled the rapids with ease.

As much as we took care of ours, we saw others dragging them over rocks, and there were still no problems with them.

Jack L

How is the support service for Ally?
Pak Boats have been used for eons on similar trips like month long trips on the Thelon and Horton and Back.

As folders with frames handle water differently from hardshells they do quite well on rapids, especially with spray skirts.

Do assemble at home first for best results.

not really for backpacking
I don’t know that I would recommend a folding canoe for backpacking, but as they are lighter than most hard canoes they can be portaged more easily. They are still moderately heavy and bulky once dismantled and unless you are a really big brute of a Sherpa (and a little masochistic) I don’t think you will be happy lugging even half of a folder over ridges in Montana along with all your other camping kit.

Perhaps you should be looking into pack rafts, which are far lighter and more totable and designed for fishing. Alpacka is an excellent brand and there are others like NRS and the Feathercraft Baylee.

Lyle Hancock of Folding Kayak Adventures in Colorado is an Alpacka dealer (also sells folding kayaks) and would probably be able to answer questions about them – he has been helpful to me in the past.

If you are asking me…
I have no idea.

jack L

Wondering about history of folding canoe
I will have to check later in an old book of mine where there was a reference to a very lightweight folding canoe. The book included a wide range of outdoor topics, and had a chapter about backpacking. The author mentioned a guy he knew who’s complete summer backpacking kit was extremely light, even though it included a folding canoe. I seem to remember the total weight of his loaded pack was 20-some pounds. The brand of canoe was not mentioned, and being that this was in the 30s or 40s, it might very well have been custom built in a one-man shop somewhere. I’m thinking the boat must have been very tiny, like 8 feet or so, but I still have to wonder about the veracity of that figure of 20-something pounds for the whole kit.

Consider posting the same inquiry
at the CCR forum. (Canadian Canoe Routes) I expect there are a good number there with actual experience with both boats.

Thanks all for the feedback. Doesn’t seem like I can go wrong, heard a lot of good things about both makes here and elsewhere. I wish someone would trash one or the other to make the decision easier, but haven’t come across that yet. Oh well. I want to lean towards the pakcanoe, but I think I can get the Ally for a few hundred dollars less through REI, and my wallet will probably beat out my heart.

check with Pakboat
You might want to check the Pakboat website periodically. Alv often has specials and discounted demos., though more often for kayaks than canoes.

I have a PakCanoe 15’ - ditto to what people have already said. I would never consider backpacking it - I think spec weight for the soloized version is 45# - it’s certainly all of that and a huge package/giant duffle bag that would be awkward as hell on your back - its awkward to move in any case by myself.

It takes me a good hour start to finish to put the boat together - that’s just me working, it would be a lot quicker process with two people - pushing the gunnel poles through the sleeves, they seem to get hung up at almost every gap, and then I have to go up to that end and fix that, then continue - found that for disassembly, it works best to push the gunnel rods out rather than pull them - have a 4’ length of tent pole that I use to do that - makes it a lot easier process.

the thwarts/cross pieces are built in a modular fashion, so there are “extra” plastic snap things along the bottom - I bought some thin plastic conduit, or whatever it was for, from Home depot and some connectors, and set up two additional longitudinal poles to “fill up” those empty slots - adds a little bit of stiffening to the hull - don’t think I’d attempt standing in the boat if you had that in mind for fly fishing - it’s sorta “squishy” - everything flexes, the hulll and frame.

not backpacking per se
I guess I misspoke a bit, I guess I meant back country trips, paddling and portages, and not strapping the disassembled canoe to my back to lug around.

We’ve owned an Ally 17’ expedition canoe for three years. We’re retired and it it sees continual use around the country. Once the tricks are learned, it takes 30 minute solo to assemble. The first time took two of us almost an hour lol. When assembled the first time, leave it assembled for about a week. It seems to have a memory lol. When unassembled for a length of time, a month or so, it doesn’t remember as well and takes a little more effort to pop into place. Still not difficult. If you use it consistently, it’s very easy. Ours is the flat water design - they have a rockered version for river running and has an 850 pound capacity. They come in lengths from about 14 to 18 feet. While nicely scuffed, we’ve never had a rip or breakage - it’s been very durable, and we don’t baby it. It handles as well as any canoe we’ve used of any construction. REI sells these with an excellent return policy - one year - barring any damage. Bergan also sells an emergency repair kit with frame and skin components, and it has options such as extendable pontoons and a skirt; even for tandem use. We’ve considered buying a hard shell for local use, kayak or canoe, but have found nothing we like as well. We’re convinced. Can’t comment on the Pakboat. Oh - the Ally’s have excellent secondary stability., which is - for our usage - more important.