We have our first folding canoe! Thanks to Tamarack Outdoors, UK, and Bergans of Norway!

She’s a beauty! Ally Folding Canoe by Bergans of Norway – from Tamarack Outdoors, UK. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

We got up even before next door’s cockerel had a chance to start its crowing yesterday morning, for the long drive, ‘Up North, to pick up our first canoe from Tamarack Outdoors – a gem of a place out in the middle of nowhere…well, not exactly nowhere. They are actually based in a picturesque village not too far north of Preston, in Lancashire. Tamarack, by the way, is a North American Indian word that means – ‘the tree that makes snow shoes’.

And a very warm welcome indeed. Tamarack Outdoors. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

And a very warm welcome we received indeed, from the one of the owners, Tony, and his wife, Trudie. They may be Southerners originally (from Portsmouth), but a great Northern-style brew was also in the offing (thanks, Trudie!).

Florio and I were like were like kids in a sweetshop – except without the pocket money! Tamarack Outdoors is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of all things well, erm… outdoors – camping, climbing, canoeing and trekking.

‘At Tamarack Outdoors we are committed to offering outdoors clothing and equipment from specialist brands from around the world, often difficult to find in the UK. The range we carry caters primarily for the campcraft and outdoors person as well as the hill walker and camper. We have found that whilst there are some good items in the UK market, to find a range of quality clothing , that will stand up to the job in hand you often, unfortunately, need to look outside the UK’ . Tamarack Outdoors

Florio gets his first glimpse of the Ally Folding Canoe in the flesh – so to speak © Helen Jones-Florio

When we could contain our excitement a minute longer, Tony took us to the back of their cavernous warehouse to show us what we were about to take home with us, and what we will eventually be paddling down the River Gambia in: the 811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe

‘The canoe for those who need large volume combined with high stability on plain waters and in rivers. For years the 16,5’ DR has been the no. 1 choice of expeditions all over the world. It is suitable for 2-3 persons with gear, or 2 grown-ups and 2 children. ALLY 16,5’ DR has the same shape as 15’ DR but a longer, less rockered keel line, which increases directional stability. This canoe has been paddled in heavy white water and on rivers with great technical difficulties with splendid success – making it the optimal choice under all conditions’ Ally Canoes – Bergans of Norway

Florio & ‘Tamarack’ Tony talk buoyancy aids. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

On first glance, I’m thinking ‘bloody hell, it’s long!’ However, its actually 1/2″ shorter than the canoe’s we’ve been practicing in (and we had one each the other day!) with the top trainers from the Surrey Canoe Club But, the Ally is most definitely wider than those canoes – we need a much space as possible to carry our camping and camera gear, when we are on the River Gambia Expedition 2012. The folding capacity will also come in very handy when we have to portage them, and our gear, in the eventuality of sections of the river being impassable.

Bergans of Norway, Tamarack Outdoors, UK – Image ˙© Helen Jones-Florio

After whiling away a good 2-3 hours, and another cracking cuppa, along with some great advice on canoes, camping, packing etc. from Tony, reluctantly, we had to bid au voir and begin the long drive back to Surrey – and it was…lengthy, rainy and rush hour traffic logged. But, well worth it. To have our first canoe on board – boxed up and ready to assemble (the fun bit!).

Trudie, H & Tony – Tamarack Outdoors. Image © Jason Florio

Its a BIG thank you to Tony and his business partner (Mike) at Tamarack Outdoors for persuading the powers that be at ‘Bergans of Norway’ to help us out, when they were at a recent trade fair in Germany. They succeeded where we didn’t on that score. So MEGA THANKS Tamarack Outdoor!! We’ll hopefully be back for the second canoe as soon as.

Now, where is that instructions video from Bergans, Florio?! YouTube footage coming soon, me thinks!!

Thanks for stopping by and supporting. More updates as and when.

The Florios (H & Flo)



About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) www.floriophoto.com (under 'Projects') http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km https://rivergambiaexpedition2012.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to We have our first folding canoe! Thanks to Tamarack Outdoors, UK, and Bergans of Norway!

  1. Erin says:

    I’m fascinated by the idea of a folding canoe, having never paddled or portaged one, though I do a lot of canoe travel. Can’t wait to hear how it works for you! Also, seeing all the gear loaded on the cart for your “Short Walk” expedition, I am curious to see how/if the packing changes, and how the portages go! I’m filled with anticipation for you!!

    • We’ve never paddled this far before so it will be an experience and adventure!I think the Green & Blacks will be in my pack again…its just a matter of it not going too soggy 😉
      Thanks so much for your message and interest in what we’re doing. Stay tuned for more updates. Helen & Flo

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