Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Towing kayak (portaging, sort of)

Does anyone have an idea for some kind of harness or other device to make towing a kayak easier?

I like to kayak camp in the off season when gates are closed on access roads. This can involve towing a loaded kayak up a steep hill 1/4 mile or more on the return trip.

I tried attaching two straps to a backpack hipbelt and clipping them to the kayak. Mixed results.

I have a C-Tug with inflatable tires mounted in the center of the kayak.


  • Rescue Vest w/ cowtail
    Some PFDs have quick-release belts, to which you can attach a short tow line (usually about 6 feet). Works great for dragging a boat long distances. The strap is around your PFD, providing padding, so it doesn't cut into you.
  • Great idea!
    Why didn't I think of that!

    Any advice about how to attach the tow line so that the kayak is balanced? My kayak is 15.5' and has a steel security loop about 1 foot from the bow.

    Also, should the bow be at your side or centered?

    I found with my hipbelt experiment that the bow was too low to the ground and interfering with walking.

    If I could have my hands free I would be able to use hiking poles to assist on a steep climb. I don't know if this is feasible.
  • pole
    Might want to attach your double blade paddle (or just half of it) to the kayak with it extending 2 or 3 feet forward of the bow, then just hold on to that in one hand next to you as you walk... Might not be the best for pulling the kayak up a hill, but a balanced boat would be easy to move along this way on a flat road. The idea of a harness just doesn't sound like it would work very well, especially when going downhill.
  • Webbing Strap?
    -- Last Updated: May-18-14 9:37 AM EST --

    I once towed a kayak on a portage cart across the Torea Saddle, between New Zealand's Queen Charlotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound. The Torea Saddle is only about a kilometer wide and it is 104 meters high. The road had switchbacks, so the length was more than a K and the grade less than the 20% it would take to go straight over, but it was still steep. The kayak was loaded for camping, so I was pulling over a hundred pounds.

    My towing rig was improvised--just a length of rope between me and the kayak. I took a couple wraps of rope around my waist and tied the other end to the bow toggle of the kayak. I tried using my pfd as a pad to reduce the pressure of the rope on my mid section. That was awkward but helped. Sort of dorky looking, but there was nobody to see it. http://chipwalsh.org/PaddlingTRs/MarlboroSound/Torea-Rd2.jpg

    Going downhill, I just reversed the set up, walking the kayak in front of me instead of behind, and shortened the rope distance so I could reach out and hold the kayak up when needed.

    If I had do it again I would try to find a wide piece of webbing strap to put around my waist, and then tie the rope onto the webbing strap. That's almost like a tow belt somebody suggested above, right? That should work for your needs.

    Good luck with it. Post back if you come up with a better solution.


  • Options
    pulling kayak on portage
    How about a deer pull harness...they're under $30 on Amazon...some are $8
Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!