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My wife, Linda and I started Pakboats in 1984, primarily to distribute folding canoes imported from Norway. But my involvement with folding boats started a few years earlier. In 1977 I got together with three friends and bought two folding canoes to follow some interesting looking blue lines on a map of Lapland. The trip took us through the northern tip of Finland and into Norway, and since we were all new to canoeing, it turned into an epic adventure. In spite of our tough introduction to canoe tripping, we picked another river the next year and did it again (after a bit more research). I was hooked, and we have been on many canoe trips in the same general area since.

After a few years as distributors we started getting frustrated that it was so hard to get any product improvements done. The boats were mostly used as recreational canoes in Europe, and they worked just fine. But our market was expedition paddlers. So, I started tinkering - and the first PakCanoe was sold in 1995. The first PakCanoes were remarkably similar to the ones we sell now, but there have been many refinements over the years to adapt the PakCanoes even better to wilderness expeditions.

We started development of recreational kayaks almost as soon as we started making canoes. The first one was just a scaled down PakCanoe with all the same structural parts, and is was greatly overbuilt. So we started simplifying. The first Puffin came on the market in 1998 and was received with enthusiasm by those who tried it. It was extremely light, and it performed well. For many years the Puffin Sport has been used by US Fish and Wildlife to do surveys in Alaska. Puffins have seen quite a few refinements over the years, and  we have introduced two new models - the Saco and the Saranac (see information on the Puffin pages).

Mike Jones came on board from the start of Pakboats production, and he has been our production supervisor all along. Mike has also been an invaluable part of our product development effort and often acts as a "reality check" on new design ideas. If it is not easy to manufacture, it is probably not a good idea. Mike's role became even more crucial when Ralph Hoehn came on board - not because Ralph has impractical ideas, but because his arrival marked the start of development for the XT touring kayaks. The XTs presented new engineering challenges that we had not faced before, and a completely new frame structure had to be developed. Ralph grew up with folding kayaks in Germany, and his encyclopedic knowledge of folding boats has been very helpful. His engineering skills are even more crucial - for the XT, and whatever else we will get into!

Greetings to you all,

Alv Elvestad


Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 11:34