|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – May 2008
Some of the country's best wilderness is accessible only by boat. To help you get there, our testers picked the top canoes in six key categories.
One problem with canoes: They don't fit in a bushplane's luggage compartment–or in condos. The solution: A boat that packs into a suitcase, making it perfect for far-flung paddling trips and New York walk-ups. Made of a canvas and PVC skin that stretches over a tubular aluminum frame, the PakCanoe downsizes into a 35-by-17-by-13-inch bag, and two people can assemble it in 30 minutes. Better yet, it gives up nothing in speed, maneuverability, or durability. During testing, it survived five weeks in the Canadian Arctic and a two-week trip down Alaska's Yukon River unblemished. In both moving and flat water the PakCanoe performed on par with the Yukon Clipper, and paddlers stayed drier because the boat flexes a bit from bow to stern, allowing it to coast over waves rather than slamming into them. Air-filled chambers (a small hand pump is included) add rigidity and flotation. Tip: Load heavy gear in the center to enhance rocker and maneuverability, or distribute weight evenly for easier cruising (760-pound capacity). A foam-reinforced floor increases insulation and durability. Gripe: The seats are hard and flat; don't forget a butt pad. $1,695; 16'; 50 lbs. (888) 863-9500; pakboats.com.