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Thread: Portaging your canoe

  1. #1
    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Default Portaging your canoe

    I'll be officially old this month at 57 and as an antique Alaskan that generally travels alone and carries all the gear...I was thinking recently on ways to improve portaging a canoe for next summer. I can't use a wheeled device like a canoe cart where I go on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge so thats out. Now I looked for an old used Knupac, external frame backpack that distributes some of the weight of the canoe onto your hips, but I can't find one anywhere. So I'm thinking of making one to try out of an external frame pack myself. Have any of you guys ever tried something like this and what did you think about it ?

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    I have carried/portaged a number of canoes but had never heard of the Knupac until I read your post. I Googled them and watched the video- looks like a great idea and may be simple to make a similar pack. To me it seems that much of the success of it is having a decent pack to support the weight and the correct balance point (I liked the simple universal bar they have) as well as the use of paracord to pull whichever end is too high for balance while walking. I am interested!
    Good paddling.
    BEE

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Lot's of portaging styles. Tumpline/yoke. pivoting yoke with custom dimensions to fit the entire length of your shoulders, and taller more aggressively built canoe carriers with pack straps and harnesses. PM me with what type of conditions you are portaging and I could certainly help.

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    Member cristancanoe's Avatar
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    A good carrying yoke that is positioned correctly is key for an easy portage. There are techniques to picking up the canoe that make it easier on the body as well.

    I am sure Mainer can help, those yanks from Maine know how to portage!

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    I suppose you could adapt an ALICE (All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) pack frame to haul a canoe. It was designed for a pack but they used a "load shelf" to haul two 5.56x45mm ammo cans which probably weight 35 pounds each. The frame is al tube and strap and they come with pretty good shoulder straps with chest strap and waist belt, both pretty well padded. May not be the perfect solution but it might work. I saw them at Coleman Surplus (colemans.com) recently for $30....check em out if you think that might work.

    Even with a yoke pad, the yoke hurts my shoulders after about 10 minutes so you may be on to something with modifying a pack frame. I'm only 62 with recent shoulder surgery so I am using the trailer on my truck a lot now. I have an old freighter frame I may look at with that in mind. I use an ALICE pack and frame for short trips and it works pretty well even though sometimes I will refer to it as a "female dog in heat".

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    it looks neat for portages, it will get the weight off your sholders , you can get a bracket made an put it on just about any frighter frame at least the one's I own, some of the portages down on the Keni are long an any thing that makes it easyer I am for it
    SID

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    it has been said that anyone who enjoys portaging is a Liar or Crazy..
    I think that might be true..
    the Knupac system is a great idea,, but the folks that put the idea together over priced themselves .. in a very niche market.
    I thought about buying several of there pacs years ago, but the price point made it difficult to swallow for a rental company to get the returns vs purchase prices..
    folks like me were just not interested in spending almost $400 for a back pack with extended tubes and a attachment clamp..
    The idea is a good one,, and hopefully if someone is interested in buying out the knupac company ( they are for sale) they can figure out a way to get the price point down to a level folks are willing to swallow..
    for me.. I portage no more than half a mile at a time but usually 200 to 400 yds.. before I set down my canoe and go back and get my backpack..
    I use a leapfrog system to portage.. I do not carry a canoe and backpack at the same time.. I dont believe it is or would ever be recommended to carry a 100 lbs on your back...... Sure you can.. yes the macho guys do it all the time.. and then years later or even earlier,, they pay for the act of overloading the body, with bad backs, knees , hips , shoulders etc..
    Comfort in the yoke is important... and padded yokes and such can help..
    All my canoes have standard yokes with no padding...
    I have been asked by folks over the years as to why I dont get the fancy padded yokes etc..
    my answer is this...
    carry the canoe 200 to 400 yds.. then set the canoe down...
    go back and get your back pack,,
    bring your backpack to the canoe,,
    carry the canoe anouther 200 to 400 yds and do it again..
    it makes the portage experience much nicer,, and less of a pain..
    do not overload yourself.. a 60 lb is more than enough and maybe too much for some..
    take care of your body.. your spine and joints were not designed to carry huge loads,, they will give out no matter how muscled up you are..
    unless you are in race.. take your time on portages,, watch your foot placement with extreme attention as you go.. do not overload .
    take a different view of the portage experience..
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Well...a much less expensive, more traditional and very versatile idea is to put in a canoe tumpline to take some of the weight off the shoulders. 5.00 instead of 400.00! 6 extra oz instead of a 12 pound frame.

    You don't need to be Canadian to use a Tump!

    http://www.porchlight.ca/~aferg/home_htpac.html

  9. #9

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    First of all, sorry but 57 isn't nearly officially old yet!

    When I reached a certain age, I sadly gave in and replaced my favorite 87 lb. canoe with a tumped thwart, with a new 52 lb. one, and added a custom molded yoke that changed my whole portaging experience. I never liked the new canoe as much, it was too expensive, felt ugly or "fake" to me, and carried far less weight. Yet I have to admit that it was the right decision, it was suddenly easy to portage (and I also lightened my gear at the same time), the paddling position was better, and the new canoe was MUCH faster on the water. I still miss the old one but the new one was better for most uses.

    If you do decide to go with the pack, be sure you can remove or drop the canoe instantly if necessary. If there's any chance at all that it could get hung up on the brackets, that seems like a big risk around cliffs, falling branches, animal encounters, or especially in case of a slip or a fall.

    I miss my old canoe but I certainly don't miss the tumplines on my thwart or my old Duluth pack! They're quite useful -- for the young.
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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    Ok..I am 51. It now takes a bit of training between seasons to use a tump. But it's such a traditional and beautifully simple idea that it's worth getting a few neck muscles over.

    The pack is certainly worth a try however.

  11. #11

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    Tumpline? No thanks. Recently broke a neck bone so I'll just stick with inviting strong friends to go with me. The canoe does make a difference. The Esquif Cargo is a bear to hoist and carry on my own. The Mac 18 is the same size but is easy as pie. There's about a 15 pound difference but it feels more like 40. Maybe that's why the Esquif is made of Roylex for dragging. (grin) If I had to portage the cargo a long distance then I'd attempt to strap it on a couple poles and drag it Sioux style.

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    A tumpline won't work for every-one but it can be an elegant solution. At 4:00 this fellow puts one on a thwart and demos it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKmZYdKoYX8

  13. #13

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    Hey North61, I don't think anyone is doubting the tradition, elegance, or utility of the tumpline. Don't take it personally, some of us are just feeling our age is all! I'm a big fan of tumplines, I've tumped heavy canoes, packs and wanigans over miles and miles of trail, and over many long trail-less stretches, with great results. I still own both leather and synthetic tumplines, but I'm simply no longer willing or able to pack 1/2 to 2/3 of my body weight, by ANY method. What was once fun now hurts!
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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    Ditto Serahina!!

    Interestingly enough, when I turned 60 or so I also developed a "balance issue" which makes carrying stuff on my back really challenging...especially on uneven ground. I also found that using a fly rod for a walking stick is NOT a good idea!

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    I hear you brother! I am probably just trying to convince myself not to give up quite yet. The day is coming though!


    Quote Originally Posted by Seraphina View Post
    Hey North61, I don't think anyone is doubting the tradition, elegance, or utility of the tumpline. Don't take it personally, some of us are just feeling our age is all! I'm a big fan of tumplines, I've tumped heavy canoes, packs and wanigans over miles and miles of trail, and over many long trail-less stretches, with great results. I still own both leather and synthetic tumplines, but I'm simply no longer willing or able to pack 1/2 to 2/3 of my body weight, by ANY method. What was once fun now hurts!

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