Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Future of Fly-In Trips: PakCanoes!

When our buddy, master canoeist and guide, Cliff Jacobson scoops news that we haven't heard before, we generally give him a good listen.  With both ears.  He has long been a proponent of folding canoes, especially those made by our friend Alv at PAKBOATS.  For that matter, so have we.  They perform great on northern rivers and, need we say more, Boundary Waters lakes.  Oh, how many other canoes can you pack up and put in a duffel bag?  Put it back together in less than 30 minutes?  Yeah, we didn't think so.  PakCanoes rule!

Well, now for the news.  Regulations are always changing in the aviation world.  Here's what Cliff found out:


I recently spoke with Bob O'Hara and Alex Hall.  Things are changing fast in the north.  Air Tindi, a big float plane operation based in Yellowknife, will no longer take passengers and canoes together on their twin otter. Alex said this is a trend.  What this means, of course, is that the days of rigid boats are coming to an end.  Folks who want to paddle Canadian rivers will have to use folding canoes.  This has been the case in Alaska for some time.  All this bodes well for Alv Elvestad and his pakboats.  Cliff

Well, we could blog it up until we're blue in the face about how much we like Alv's folding and packable canoes, but we thought you'd much rather hear from someone who owns one.  Someone who wondered just how well they would hold up and decided to put them to the test.

"I admit I was skeptical about this folding canoe's durability, especially on longer trips where you shouldn't need to baby your boat. I was also skeptical about performance. Finally, I doubted my ability to deal with the "easy" assembly. But you can't argue with the advantage of a transportable, expedition-worthy canoe for remote locations. I took the 160 for two weeks on the Yukon River, followed by a month in northern Saskatchewan, then six weeks in Nunavut.

The initial assembly, under insect duress, took less than 30 minutes (kudos to the instructions). I found that despite the inherent vulnerability of fabric hulls and exposed aluminum tubing, the 160 is nearly maintenance-free (I patched the hull once in all those weeks of hard paddling), and it performs on par with hardshell canoes. Pakboats is committed to tweaking design features, from improving seat comfort, abrasion resistance at wear points, and fabric stiffness in the gunwales, to beefing up the foam layer. Inflated tubes line the sides of the hull under the aluminum ribs, adding buoyancy and cushioning at wear points where the skin and frame contact. And there are some advantages to a slightly flexible hull - gliding through waves rather than slamming into them. The hull bends over rocks, and by shifting the load you can adjust its rocker. The 160 defines versatility - it can carry the load for weeks on the trail, tuck into a tight eddy, and downsize for the weekend outing."

Canoe & Kayak Magazine, July 2010, PakCanoe 160 Review, Alan Kesselheim

Just in case you need another endorsement.  Who can better attest to the need for reliable transportation than the Jolly Fat Man himself!

Call Steve Schon or Steve Piragis to get more information about PakCanoes and inflatable kayaks today.  1-800-223-6565.  Check out our selection online here:

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