The Norwegian outdoor manufacturer Bergans, which owns the Ally brand, promotes the Ally 16.5 DR as the world’s best-selling folding canoe. Anyone who has ever been paddling in Norway will certainly have seen an Ally boat on the water. There the Ally canoes are very popular. We had the chance to paddle an Ally canoe at a boat fair and can say in advance that we had a lot of fun paddling the canoe.
500 cm | 16’4”
90 cm | 3′
380 kg | 838 lbs
110 x 42,5 x 50 cm | 3’6” x 1’4” x 1’6”
fiberglass reinforced PVC (boat skin)
20 kg | 44.1 lbs
Which model has been reviewed?
Ally 16.5 DR from 2020
How did we organize the review?
The review was created in the context of an outdoor fair.
How intensively has the product been tested?
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)
Where have we tested the product?
First impressions and assembly
Since we have reviewed the boat in the context of a boat show, we could not assemble and disassemble it ourselves. Therefore, we can not provide our own experience here. The information about the assembly is based on research and the exchange with the manufacturer. According to the manufacturer, it takes about 25 minutes to set up. At the beginning, however, you will have to plan considerably more time. Especially with new Ally boats, the aluminum tubes do not yet go into each other so easily and that is why a rubber mallet is also included.
The Ally 16.5 consists of a total of 4 parts: Boat skin, foam floor, plug frame frame and seats. The boat skin is made of glass fiber reinforced PVC coated material. This is said to be particularly resistant and UV-resistant. Nevertheless, the boat skin can be damaged by razor-sharp stones or very sharp branches. In general, however, the material can withstand a relatively high level of stress. In the case of minor to medium damage, it can be repaired even with the included repair kit.
The foam floor, which is placed between the plug-in frame and the boat skin, provides the necessary buoyancy. The aluminum poles are simply plugged together using a rubber cord inside, just like tent poles. The cross braces are attached to the longitudinal poles via plastic click fasteners.
At the click fasteners then also come the seats. These are not only adjustable in height and inclination, but can also be flexibly placed inside the boat. They are not only hooked into the interior of the boat, but are firmly locked to the frame, which in any case provides more seating stability.
The boat is ideally paddled by 2 people, which makes it easiest to paddle and still leaves plenty of room for luggage. Experienced paddlers can also paddle canoes solo without any problems. For this, you simply mount one seat less in the boat. In the scope of delivery are only 2 seats, but by buying another seat it can also be paddled by 3 adults. For families, the canoe is also suitable, because it can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children without any problems. Even in this combination, enough luggage can still be taken along. It is amazing how much can be stowed in the bow and stern alone.
The keel line of the boat is only slightly curved, which allows the manufacturer to promise good straight running characteristics. It should always be taken into account that the boat with the best straight line cannot be the most maneuverable boat. Nevertheless, thanks to the collapsing bow and stern, the boat has a pretty good maneuverability.
Included with the boat is a backpack for transporting and storing the boat. The padded shoulder straps and chest strap definitely make it easier to carry. Nevertheless, the boat weighs 20 kg and at least paddles and life jackets must be added as equipment. This is a weight that should not be underestimated, as we also found out when we put it on for a test run. Short tours on foot should not be a problem. Longer walks with the backpack, however, would undoubtedly be quite energy-sapping and sweaty.
Review of the Ally 16.5 canoe on the water
Right from the start, we immediately noticed the low weight of the assembled boat, which is very comfortable to carry and also easy to put in the water from landing stages. Due to the frame of aluminum tubes in the interior, you can quickly ask yourself whether you have to be particularly careful when entering the boat, for example, not to step on the connectors. However, this concern is unjustified, because you can step anywhere in the boat without any problems.
We paddled the boat in good conditions, sunny and little wind, which is actually how you imagine the perfect day for a paddling trip.
We really enjoyed paddling the Ally 16.5 DR on the lake. You are immediately amazed at how good the handling characteristics of a folding boat can be. Thanks to the only slightly curved keel line, we also had no problem getting the boat in a good straight line. The big advantage over inflatable canoes, besides the better handling characteristics, is undoubtedly the better executability of the paddling technique. With classical inflatable canoes, you have the wide side tubes where you can’t use the paddle as close to the boat and accordingly have to adjust your paddling technique a bit.
After a few powerful paddle strokes, we were not only positively surprised at how quickly the boat picks up speed. Although the Ally Tour 16.5 is not the fastest model according to the manufacturer, we had the impression that we could travel faster with the boat than with a rigid hull canoe.
Even in small or larger waves, you are on the safe side with a folding canoe. Due to the flexibility of the hull, the boat literally winds over the waves without really losing shape. Especially in white water you would not have the classic impacts in the stern and bow. As a result, less water gets into the inside of the boat than in any solid hull variants, and it stays dry longer even in stronger swells. Another advantage that arises here is that strong movements in the boat are not immediately transferred completely to the end and the boat remains quite stable. This is especially advantageous if you have your dog or children to sit in front.
The Ally Tour 16.5 with a length of 5 m will never be as maneuverable as a 2 m whitewater kayak. When we paddled the Ally, we already noticed that the canoe takes a little time to react. Still, it is relatively maneuverable for a canoe. Since the maneuverability is largely determined by the keel jump, the folding boat can be influenced by the seating position and loading. In whitewater, you should therefore load the middle of the boat in order to have a stronger keel jump. When paddling on lakes, you should distribute the luggage evenly in the stern and bow in order to have a straight keel line and thus benefit from optimal straight running.
Since the maneuverability is largely determined by the keel jump, the folding boat can be influenced by the seating position and loading. In whitewater, you should therefore load the middle of the boat in order to have a stronger keel jump. When touring on lakes, you should distribute the luggage evenly in the stern and bow in order to have a straight keel line and thus benefit from optimal straight running.
Especially in stronger winds, the boat would offer a large attack surface and limit maneuverability and speed. It makes sense here to purchase spray covers that also protect you in the rain. Because just with a large Canadian you will probably undertake tours lasting several days, where you can not completely assess the weather beforehand.
The makers of Lappland-Tour.de are also on the road with an Ally Tour 16.5 and give in an article interesting tips to improve the durability. It is also positive that spare parts can be reordered from the manufacturer.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The great strength of the Ally Tour 16.5 are its driving characteristics and its flexible use. If you are willing to invest more for a high-quality folding boat and have patience for the assembly, especially in the beginning, you will not find many other disadvantages of the boat.
very good driving characteristics + suitable for both lakes and white water + stable construction + variable seating positions + plenty of space inside + also suitable for tours lasting several weeks + backpack already included in delivery
– high purchase price – time-consuming assembly – new Ally boats are tough to assemble – sharp tube ends – boat with little load is quite susceptible to wind
Conclusion on the Ally 16.5 Canoe
Ally canoe is exactly the right choice for those who have neither car for transportation nor enough space at home to buy a rigid hull boat, but still want to enjoy the canoeing hobby. Thanks to the folding technology, Ally canoes have very good stiffness and come very close to the driving characteristics of a rigid hull boat.
The boat is ideal for longer trips with a lot of luggage on lakes as well as on calm to wild rivers. Classical use cases of such a canoe are for example for tours in remote areas. For the small afternoon tour, however, certainly the more time-consuming assembly and disassembly is a disadvantage to consider. Here, potentially interested buyers should also inform themselves about the inflatable alternative of other manufacturers. These do not have quite as good driving characteristics as folding canoes, but they are much faster and easier to assemble.
In any case, the boat convinced us of its behavior on the water and we are sure that we would like to paddle it again in the future.