Ally Canoes Model 811 16.5' DR
Anyone who travels, but loves canoeing, knows how hard it is to transport your favourite canoe, especially in Alaska, with so few roads and so much plane-accessible wilderness. Federal aviation laws prohibit the carrying of hardshell boats strapped to the plane struts if there are passengers. It can make for an expensive trip. The Ally 811 solves the problem.
- Durable neoprene fabric and aluminum parts
- Made in Norway so excellent quality
- Flexes and moves gracefully in white water
- Carry bag is too snug
Like so many boats made in Europe, the attention to design has resulted in a product that has not had to change in many years. It's still a good design. The boat comes in a big box and you can buy a bag to carry it in. The carry bag has backpack straps and while it holds all the aluminium parts, I'll be damned if I can easy get the entire boat, including foam and skin in the bag. I wish the company would provide instructions on how to pack it.
That aside, the instructions for assembling the boat are complicated and it really takes one to read and use the visual provided, while the second person gathers up the correct pieces. Lay all the pieces out first and if you are smart, you will assemble the boat at least once before you head out in the field. The pieces have small die-stamped codes, but these are not easy to see. I took fingernail polish and marked each piece in bold letters to see and identify easily.
Don't leave home without the rubber mallet that comes with it. Without it, you won't assemble the boat. You will quickly get the knack of how hard to smack the ribs as you work your way along them, snapping them into place. On a good day, you can assemble an Ally in 20 minutes and it gets easy over time. But make a couple photocopies of the directions (they are also in the colour catalog) as without them, you're unlikely to make any headway.
I have used my boat for 10 years; it is still practically flawless. I think one of the snap pieces broke. The hull looks nearly new. The foam floor will pack down some in the bow and stern, but the floor itself is still as new.
I love the way the boat will go as baggage, weighing only 44 lb. It has gone with me on countless Alaskan rivers, and it will be going strong for a long time.
It handles as well as a hardshell. The hull flex makes it more responsive than a hardshell in whitewater. I haven't ever tested it going bang on into a rock, but people say it is quite resilient. The seats are super comfy and adjustable. I did find I wanted to sit further back in the stern, and accomplished that by putting some gear bags in the stern to match the height of the stern seat, and then you can scootch yourself back.
For hardcore whitewater canoeists, a spray skirt is an option. I haven't tried one, but they look incredibly functional and well-made. The 811 has enough rocker to satisfy whitewater paddlers, yet it does well on flat water as well. I really think it is the best folding canoe on the market!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $1750
Excellent folding canoe, good for rivers.
- Easily stored
I have a very old model of this boat, late seventies, I think. So mine has a few differences, and it doesn't assemble as well as the new ones. That said, even with most plastic pieces broken, and all the poles bent out of shape it still floats!
It looks like a death trap, but it works like a charm: easy to steer, stable, and lightweight. And the foam mat in the bottom makes it warm on your knees, even when it's really cold outside.
If I could afford it, I would buy a new one in a heartbeat. As it is, the old thing is good enough, and does exactly what you'd expect out of a canoe.
Source: received it as a personal gift
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