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Thread: Anyone using an Ally pack canoe?

  1. #1
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Anyone using an Ally pack canoe?

    got one of these three years ago for bush canoe trip. 16.5 ft canoe, carries 900 lbs, weighs 46lbs and fits in a large backpack. Anyone else used these, i would like to hear your thoughts and hear what kind of water you have had it on. I got into some class 3 stuff after lots of rain on the kugururok river (up in the noatak preserve) this past august with the boat loaded heavy on a 13 day trip and was amazed with how well it handled. Planning a trip on the Kobuk next august for sheefish. Anyone been on that river? We are going to put in at Walker Lake and float down to the village of Kobuk.

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default I have not used one

    That being said,, it sounds like you have given it a pretty good test so far..
    I would like to have 50 lb inflatable canoe or kayak that was tough enough for my rental business. Something that can be used by novice fisherman that want to hike to a lake and then blow it up and fish or explore..
    It would be nice to hear if anyone has used this craft.
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  3. #3
    New member Buck Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Heard nothing but good about them.

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    got one of these three years ago for bush canoe trip. 16.5 ft canoe, carries 900 lbs, weighs 46lbs and fits in a large backpack.
    Unfortunately, I haven't used one myself. How long does it take to put them together? How tough are they?

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    I have a Pak Canoe, which is very similar to the Ally Pak. I really enjoy mine.
    http://www.pakboats.com/

  5. #5
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Ally Canoe

    The Boats Can Be Put Together In About 30 Minutes. Took About An Hour The First Time. But After A Time Or Two, It Is Very Easy To Assemble. Comes With A Rubber Malet To Put The Rib Sections In Place. These Canoes Are Made Of Tarpulon. Similar To The Hypalon That Zodiak Rafts Are Made Of. But It Is Lighter Than The Hypalon. Super Tough Stuff. I Was Amazed On The First Canoe Trip I Took Up In The Noatak Preserve. Drug The Boat Over Rocks For The First Two Days As The Water Was Low. I Checked The Bottom Each Evening Looking For Signs Of Wear. Nothing. The Boat Comes With A Repair Kit And An Expedition Repair Kit Is Available As An Accessory. It Has Replacements For Anything That Could Go Wrong. But After A 7 Day And 13 Day Trip In The Noatak Preserve, I Can Safely Say This Boat Will Have To Be Seriously Abused To Need Repair. My Buddy From Nc Who Joined Me On The First Trip Bought The Same Boat For Our Second Trip (the 13 Day Trip This Past August) We Are Planning On Going Down The Kobuk Next August. These Boats Are Made In 15, 16.5, And 18 Foot Models. The Red Models Are For Lakes Etc... The Green Models (down River) Models Are For Rivers An Capable Of Class 3 Plus Water. I Found This Out Just A Few Months Ago By Accident. They Are Imported To Us From Norway By Cascade Crags In Washington State. Ask For Mike. He Handles All The Sales/service Of These Boats There And Is A Great Guy.

  6. #6

    Default I've had an 18' ally for over 20 years

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskacanoe View Post
    Now this looks like a great boat, and you have tested it on some great expeditions. The fact that you can pack it up and ship it on the airplane makes it really attractive.
    Sounds like the material is tough and it looks like it should paddle and respond well, as it looks to have a conventional canoe shape.
    For Alaska,, this may be one of the best ideas going, the take down canoes have advantages...

    Back in about 1978 or so we use to sell Ally Canoes in the old Gary King Sporting goods store. That's when I got my 18' Ally Canoe. Iíve done several long canoe trips with it through out the 1980s. Mostly long river trips in class I and class II water. Back then there wasnít much to choose from when it came to break down canoes. It hasn't been out of the bag the past 10 years though.

    In general the good points were:
    The 18í Ally Canoe held a good size load
    Itís only about 45 pounds
    It folded up to a large duffel bag size.

    The bad points were:
    It was very slow paddling,
    It was very flexible and doesnít hold its hull shape very well, which affects performance.
    You had to load it while it was in about 4-5 inches of water
    The framework was somewhat fragile especially the ribs.
    The framework was not repairable in the field
    The seats have a lot to be desired.

    I now use the Alaska Series 17í Tripper inflatable canoe


    Good boating

    Jim King

    Alaska Series Inflatable Boats, Commercial quality at Wholesale prices River Rafts, Catarafts, Inflatable Kayaks, Inflatable Canoes, Inflatable Sport Boats, Inflatable Jet Boats, Tenders and Dinghies. WWW.alaskaseries.com
    (907) 248-2900

  7. #7
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    Hello all...

    Noticed the first post with regards to taking the Ally "pack Canoe" from Walker Lake on down the Kobuk.

    I am making this post on the notion of clear thinking and bona-fide safety on this “big river through the forest”… it is enormously foolhardy to trust this type of lightweight construction and materials for the rapids just below Walker Lake and the Lower Kobuk Canyon at “all” water levels!!!!!!!!!

    Believe me!!! the trip will be over in minutes just as the mirror-like glassy calm meets a complete drop of the horizon line... you and a trashed "pack"-age will be bobbing among surfacing circles and swirls of Arctic Grayling feeding just below a earsplitting bubble train of bad-tempered violence and walled-in razor-sharp bedrock… yet 7-10 days of trip lying ahead. You'll be without one single doubt cast into frigid waters instead of playfully casting to the phenomenal fish!!!

    Ok... so the good news is if you make your mind up to portage - it is not excessively demanding.

    Next --- however are the more big-water canyon obstacles of the lower Kobuk Canyon --- both river left and right alternatives and only one (river left @ super low waters). This is too long an obstacle "logistics-wise" to portage and would be a mistake of grave consequence/s should you screw up by any extensions of you or your equipment.

    I have been running these stretches of water since my teens --- Back in the bucket-bailer boat days on up to today’s high-tech cats and kayaks…. This translates into experience at both ends of the spectrum and knowing fitting gear for the river taken as a whole during any part of the season. Tho’ personally or professionally never any existent catastrophe or dire mistakes to the resume on the Kobuk it would be a gross oversight not to recognize that those that have and those that will have tribulations. We are talking “you” physically and mentally prepared plus having your best gear when you’re a long way from home. Your boat is the second piece of survival gear to your brain. Hence the key to all this stuff I’m relating up front is using your head to acquire the appropriate boat from get go!

    If you sort of not take no for an answer on a pack canoe-type watercraft… please consider a hybrid inflatable canoe/raft type boat. Framework with stretched fabric watercraft have very little forgiveness on the upper Kobuk. Toward the raft end would be a narrow beam inflatable like the AIRE Pumas, or SOTAR, Maravia, reasonable quality copies/knock-offs, etc. of similar geometry. Could go narrow beam or Paddle Cats on this line of approach. On the canoe end of things could be anything from bridging or “Catting” canoes together (later separating if you like) to AIRE Travelers, Pro Pioneer, Jack’s Dragonfly, or some of the various Asian knock-offs again of rational quality.

    Have fun on the trip. I wish you safe & well. Do be careful in the upper and lower rapids. The upper part of the Kobuk from Walker to Kobuk Village is something exceptional. Sheefishing is so cool!!! In addition Big Char and Lakers in Walker Lake also the Grayling will be some 22”!!! Get in on it sooner than later as these golden days are in rapid decline of opportunities.

    Brian Richardson
    http://www.northernrim.com

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the warnings. I am sure you are correct on most accounts. I had planned on portaging around the upper canyon and lining the lower. My wife and I are going and will be carrying all of our gear in two waterproof backpacks. All we do is put on our backpacks and pick up the canoe and walk. Much simpler than most people make it. Portaging is part of canoeing. Only difference is, I will be doing it with a 46 lb canoe that is completely empty. I have used this canoe on two prior trips on lower Noatak tribs. We got into some light class III stuff on the Kugururok after heavy rains and bounced it off a canyon wall once and rode through stretches of 3 foot standing waves. The Ally canoes are amazing. I didnt buy it yesterday and decide to float the Kobuk the next. It is more of an incremental thing. I have developed more and more confidence in the canoe with each trip. It is an unusual idea, a canoe that fits in a large backpack, weighs 46 lbs, carries 830 lbs,handles whitewater, and can be checked at the airport as regular luggage. I am with you on this one. I bought it with great skepticism. But after the first trip dragging it down the first ten miles of shallow water on the Kelly River in the dry summer of 2004 I started to see its potential. Not a scratch. The material is tarpulon. A lighter version of hypaulon that the zodiac rafts are made out of. An amazing material that I know nothing about except.. it is tough as nails. This boat was designed and built in Norway. And all I can say is, they know what they are doing. Everything about it is top notch. It is perfect for bush trips and it is a real bonus to be able to check your canoe as regular luggage at the airports. As long as I keep the expedition repair kit in another bag, it stays under 50 lbs and no overcharges either. The repair kit will fix anything that could break or give way on the boat. This includes the aluminum ribs and poles. Mulitiples of everything and enough tarpulon rolls to cover any hole you could put in it. But I can not imagine what you would have to do to need it. You would have to use some seriously bad judgement to damage this canoe. You may find some people ready and willing to put down the idea of a "pack" canoe. But it wont be from anyone who bought one.

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    When I phrased not taking no for an answer in my earlier reply - I felt I might see some justification for the product.

    1. In general. – Top skin over frame is rarely if ever more puncture, tear, or rub resistant to an air supported fabric inflatable of the same variety material.

    2. Fold up frame boats have a tendency to swamp (unless airbagged), fold up, sink, and fall to pieces under stresses they are not meant to endure. An inflatable of high quality will not undergo these types of design shortcomings.

    I also see confirmations that you are vastly underestimating the Upper-Kobuk. Not that either rapid is so difficult or utterly severe, but more mind-set of ”All we do is put on our backpacks and pick up the canoe and walk. Much simpler than most people make it.” Another declaration or two like “We got into some light class III stuff on the Kugururok after heavy rains and bounced it off a canyon wall once and rode through stretches of 3 foot standing waves… AND “I had planned on portaging around the upper canyon and lining the lower.”

    Believe me when I say I am not putting down your boat made in Norway… nevertheless we are not talking something as strong as a Viking Warrior ship that crossed the North Atlantic either. The Ally is a relatively reasonably priced packable lake boat for the most part that can double duty if need be as an easy-class moving water boat.

    For folks interested and at the moment not specific to the boat of choosing --- On the upper-Kobuk if a portage looks like your necessary alternative to running the rapids… absolutely NONE of the portaging will be pick up & walk, simple. True the first one is unproblematic and short enough… but NOT the second, and lining is a really poor choice on the second as well. On the lower Kobuk canyon one needs to reflect on the dominating landscape feature/size/perspective of this stretch.

    Furthermore, we are not addressing bouncing down a class three! A safe captain needs to exhibit reasonable skills, good judgment, with proper equipment, and a bounce or two with a wall hit here and there will end up badly!!! Both canyons have a great deal of hydraulic energy… the first has gradient and technical features like a very attention getting suction toward one particular boulder from either side you wish to pass and at any ferry angle. The second is packing CFS through two routes – a quick left chute or a right lane staircase.

    The upper Kobuk is a breathtaking experience. I’ve been down it many times and had the whole wilderness to myself and float party for multiple days without seeing a soul – true wilderness. This is written as not meant in any way to frighten anyone off or discourage… just please value and comprehend that it should in no way be underestimated or should I say, taken too lightly - in an Ally Pack boat.

    Best wishes -

    Brian Richardson
    http://www.northernrim.com

  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Upper Kobuk

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    ...All we do is put on our backpacks and pick up the canoe and walk. Much simpler than most people make it. Portaging is part of canoeing. ... I am with you on this one. I bought it with great skepticism. But after the first trip dragging it down the first ten miles of shallow water on the Kelly River in the dry summer of 2004 I started to see its potential. ...The repair kit will fix anything that could break or give way on the boat. This includes the aluminum ribs and poles. ..
    Dan,

    The lower canyon cannot be lined. You either have to run it or portage. The portage is no picnic either; it will take you a couple of very hard days to do that portage. You're better off just getting dropped off below the lower canyon, in my opinion.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  11. #11
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Smile ojdjfdsa

    Brian Thanks again for your open and unbiased opinion towards my Ally pack canoe. That was totally unexpected from someone who has a rafting business as yourself. I feel very confident in the abilities of my canoe and if I didnt I would have sold it and bought the biggest, heaviest raft I could find. That just has not been the case. These Ally canoes were not designed for lakes as you suggest or easy paddling .... They are designed for whitewater use. I have used this boat with great success and would not dare waste several thousand dollars on a heavy raft unless I were traveling waters that neccesitated it. And I dont. I go fly fishing and canoe camping. What ever got you on the rant you made earlier, I dont know. Take it easy. People are not going to stop renting your rafts because a guy says he loves his Ally pack canoe. I am not saying that they are in the class with a raft in heavy whitewater, but if you will remember, I never said I was going to be paddling the canoe in a class v river. That was something you assumed. Anywhere I can walk, I can carry my 46 lb canoe. Would you like to argue this point as well??? Makes me want to go out and buy another one. Just like two of my friends have done since using mine. Best wishes to you too!!

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