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canoe cart portage?

I often go on canoe camping trips and portage is a real pain. We usually hire one of those fibre glass canoes and because I'm carrying it with my partner, I end up holding most of the weight and it's pretty tough for her to carry.
Would one of those canoe carts help and which ones are decent? They seem pretty expensive for what is just a bit of aluminium and wheels.


  • If you want to play, you got to pay!
    yes the canoe portage carts are great.
    Make sure to get one that goes under the center of the canoe. The rear ones are useless, and will pull off during a rugged rocky portage.
    If you are doing smooth portages, the ones with small wheels are fine, but if there is logs and rocks to go over the ones with larger 15" wheels are much better.
    If you are handy, you can make one.
    I bought an old baby jogger($12) at a thrift store. I stripped all the junk off it, and cut the front wheel off. Then I added an aluminum tube across where I had cut the wheel off. I added some padding with pool noodles slightly curved to conform with the canoe hull. It folds in half an lies right in the middle of the canoe.
    I have used it in three Adirondack 90 milers, and the portages don't get any tougher then the ones in it.

    Jack L
  • Useless
    -- Last Updated: Jun-06-13 9:01 PM EST --

    on most portages in Canada and the Adirondacks and Maine.

    Get a lighter well balanced boat and one person can carry it well. Rocks and climbing and single plank bridges will never again be a problem.

    I am going to La Verendrye next week and doing the same.

  • ...
    La Verendrye is where we go canoe camping.
    You can rent green fibre glass canoes there and those are impossible to carry with just one person. They have the crossbar in the middle and are balanced but I tried this once as my partner could not lift the canoe for too long, I carried it about 50metres or so but it was difficult after that.
    They have the kevlar ones but apparently they are less stable...they are also more expensive to rent.
  • You paddle a lightweight solo canoe
    The OP is paddling a heavier tanderm canoe.
    Try carrying the OPs canoe in "the Adirondacks" on the long Raquette Falls carry and you'll change your tune unless you are a super women.
    Half the paddlers use portage carts, and the other half are the young studs.

    Jack L
  • price
    thing is that these carts are $100+ and the ones reviewed as good are $260
    Guess I could make one from an old pram but not sure how sturdy the axle would be.
  • Options
    Carts are sort of a joke
    and especially on any challenging portage. Even a 100 pound canoe can be easily carried off of the center thwart. Once you find the balance point and get over the trauma you can go pretty much anywhere that you could go with a backpack. I have carried my 20 foot WC canoe 2 plus miles with only modest suffering.
    It's more a case of mind over matter than brain over brawn. Suck it up and have at it. If you can't make it 50 yards....DUDE!
    Two people trying to carry a canoe is a recipe for disaster and if it's a couple it's a fine way to insure a miserable time.
    Hoist it up and carry it away. Let your partner carry the paddles and fishing poles.
  • not possible
    I'm telling you it is not possible without a lot of pain.
    These 2 person fibreglass canoes are like bricks!
    Have you tried carrying one of those? They might even be 3 man not sure. Now I can carry a lot of weight on my back, I'm fairly athletic but I couldn't carry that canoe last time round more than 50 yards and some of the portages are a few hundred metres long.
  • how wide?
    -- Last Updated: Jun-08-13 10:03 AM EST --

    If I make my own cart, how wide would it need to be to carry a Prospector 16ft canoe...about 90cm?
    So, make the wheels about 40-70cm apart?

  • I see by your profile that you are .....
    " advanced".
    The rest of us are intermediates, and have no desire or strength to portage a 100 pound canoe.
    I'll gladly portage my 39 pound kevlar canoe, but when it comes to a 100 pound beast, I'll take all the help I can get, and that includes my friend, the portage cart which is no joke to me

    Good luck to you and happy paddling and portaging

    Jack L
  • Options
    We have a saying.....
    -- Last Updated: Jun-09-13 4:19 AM EST --

    No whining.
    Carrying is part of canoeing. Carrying a canoe is not an "advanced" skill. It's a basic skill, as basic as knowing where to sit in the boat.
    It baffles me to see people out on a portage struggling to get the wheels and a kevlar craft over a log, or a couple on the verge of meltdown trying to carry a boat from the bow and stern.
    Glass canoes run 65 to 80 pounds. A scrawny 14 year old can carry that..... once they understand how to shoulder it and gut it out.
    In all seriousness, folks should simply give it a try and not give up at the first hint of discomfort. It is really not hard to do.

    Last summer my wife and I did a route where we did 23 miles of paddling and 12 miles of carries carrying a 17 foot royalex.
    Wheels and ultralight gear are a luxury, often a hindrance and not a necessity. IMHO

  • We have a saying
    don't paddle with a braggard, it won't be a fun day!

    Jack L
  • No need to prove anything.
    Forget the response where "real men carry their boats." Do what works for you, use a cart where it makes sense.

    For those who think carts are a waste of time give the Op a break not everyone wants to prove they are super humans.

    Look up the river, its a paddler... its a voyageur... No Its Super-paddler. Faster than a speeding canoe cart, more powerful than the average paddler, able to portage tall mountains in a single bound.

    and at certain times and places super-paddler may be dumb as a rock for carrying his/her boat instead of using a cart..

  • It depends
    -- Last Updated: Jun-10-13 10:20 PM EST --

    is really the key phrase. Some trails are easily portaged, of course depending on boat, person carrying, and trail conditions. Others, not so much. For example, the 3 mile carry from Lows Lake to the Oswegatchie is tempting to cart, but ends up as a toss up, due to a number of blow down logs that were not cut wide enough for most carts, as well as being rather rough overall. But it is long, so a lightweight canoe with no cart is really the best option.

    On the 3-day Adirondack 90-miler, there are 5 total miles of carries. If you use a cart on any one carry or day, you must take the cart with you on all 3 days according to the rules. For the brutal day-2 1.1 mile Raquette Falls carry, most lighter boats would do better without the weight of the cart, but the convenience on several carries on day 1 dictate having the cart. On day 3 the carries are minimal, but the same rule applies.

    If you do the unofficial unsupported cannonball-90 that many of us like to do, (the 90 miler in a single day with no support or intermediate transport), there are 10 miles of carries in the 20-ish hours it takes to complete the 90 miles. Not taking a cart of some kind would be insane and superhuman without a lightweight boat, as there is one 3.75 mile carry along a smooth road.

  • The portage trail condition is the thing
    In England, many portages involve just a short drag over grass or carting the canoe down a canal towpath. In the States, portage trails in wilderness areas are too rough to make a paddle cart worthwhile.

    I sympathize about the weight issue. On our inaugural Quetico trip, I had to portage our 85 pound FG canoe, and it was no picnic. We shortened the trip when it became apparent that our original route was far too ambitious for even young folks.

    Now we're old. If we tried the same thing again, I would rent an ultralight canoe and take the lightest equipment possible. Maybe you need to re-enter the canoe market. Or rent a light one.
  • Rent the kevlar canoe
    and who said they are less stable? Hogwash. With gear you can dance in them.

    I wish you luck with a cart on anything more remote than Jean Pere. The one from Whiskey to Dozois would kill you with a cart. And most of Circuit 16 would too.
  • Cart & Yoke
    To answer your cart questions. The width of the cart is less than the width of the canoe. The wheels are under the cart. Like JackL said the best carts for rough trails are those with bicycle wheels. Google Swedish Boat Cart. Narrow trails, rocky trails, single plank bridges will all dictate carrying the canoe. Tree trunks down across the trail can be lifted over with the cart unless the trunk is thick and the limbs still attached. Rocks often can be straddled. It really helps to know the condition of the carry in advance.
    A good yoke makes any canoe feel lighter. Rental canoes with just a thwart are neck killers. A standard flat yoke is better, but they tend to slide off your wet sweaty shoulders and require a constant push forward on the gunwales to keep on your shoulders. A contoured yoke or yoke pads make a big difference. If the rental canoes you use have a flat yoke, buy a set of clamp-on yoke pads to take along. If the canoes only have a thwart in the middle, rent from someone else. Most fiberglass canoes from good manufacturers are in the 55-65# range for a 16foot hull. In Canada there are many low volume canoe builders that supply canoes on a local basis and they are heavier. 65-75# for a 16foot hull is common. For me 40# and under is a joy to carry. 50-60# is ok, 65-75# is a pain, and 75#+ calls for someone else to carry it. Some heavy lifters can walk a mile with a heavy canoe, but its not me and I feel no shame in staying with lighter canoes.
    Hope this helps,
  • jack it doesn't matter
    -- Last Updated: Jun-11-13 12:59 PM EST --

    The OP and I are paddling in the same La Verendrye park. Carts just do not work on the rough terrain. I will be taking my twelfth canoe trip there next week and I have yet to see anyone using a cart with all the rocks and roots and steep esker sides. Plus there are a number of Grand Barrages..made by Le Castor that are also portages..they are that old.

    Carts are a struggle. So are the old FG beasts they rent at Le Domaine. But lighter craft are possible and they do have them there also.

    Depending on the circuit, some are cleared every three years and others every five, and some never. Blowdowns across the portage are a given. Not so the Raquette Falls portage. That is well travelled.

  • Options
    No yoke
    on any of my canoes but I agree that they make life easier. I do carry off of the straight thwart but to make it more bearable I do a couple things. I duct tape a sleeve of foam pipe insulation over the thwart. That cushions it nicely and makes carrying a relative pleasure. It's a really cheap and easy fix. I also put a towel over my shoulders and around my neck to take some of the pressure off of it. I have also worn my PFD for the same purpose.
  • Yoke cost
    The price of the really nice laminated Wenonah Yoke with the cupped pads is less than a trip to the chiropractor. Two of my tandems came with flat yokes and I have a pair of bolt on contour pads that make it so much nicer. I just switch them to whichever boat we are using. Once its up, the 23'Minnesota IV is no worse than a Penobscot and a lot lighter on the shoulders than a Discovery or any other polyethylene canoe. With a standard yoke its a battle to keep the long boat on your shoulders. A straight thwart, even padded with pipe insulation, puts pressure on the back of your neck and you have to walk with your head craned forward.
  • Options
    Yes if...
    IF your portages are mostly flat and if you have space in your canoe for the Canoe Caddy, it can save you multiple trip portages.

    Most of the time, I don't have space in the canoe for a Canoe Caddy. Also, many of the portages we have here are rocky, swampy, and stump-filled - not wheel-freindly.
  • mgc is strong as an ox & tough as nails
    Now that we've got that out of the way....

    The Swedish cart runs about $100. There are lighter and stronger carts for a lot more money, but that cart will haul a loaded 16' fiberglass Prospector anywhere a cart can go.

    The problem, as already mentioned, is that carts just don't work everywhere. In fact, they don't work many places outside of civilization. Trails are rough, narrow, steep, soft, impeded by deadfall, etc.

    I use one of those carts when it is convenient, but it is rarely so. In those cases, I can leave all my gear in the boat and roll it all on the cart. Usually, pavement is involved. Always at least a wide-open and flat-ish trail with well-compacted surface.

    But for wilderness trips, a lightweight canoe with a comfy yoke is the way to go. IMO, such a trip is special enough that it is worth the cost of a light canoe to ensure that you enjoy the experience. Kevlar hulls and mini-cell padding are your friends. Narrower hulls are easier to lift to shoulder, and lack of excessive shear also saves weight and effort.

    Your only other option is to hire mgc for the portage.
  • You can make a nice one
    from one of those old baby joggers.
    I did a lot of portages of the Racquette Falls carry in the 90 miler with one I got from a thrift store for $12.
    I stripped it and cut the front wheel off and bolted an aluminum tube across it. Used some foam noodles to make a cradle, and then used two cam lock buckle straps each cut in half with the ends bolted to the frame to cinch down the canoe.
    If you want, I can send you a few pictures

    Jack L
  • Options
    here is strong cart
    trY this one---strong and heavY. ive put on two canoes on top at once plus gear.....
  • unicart
    A single wheel roller held at either end ? Or does the hull roll away from control ?

  • Same exact cart...
    ...as the one marketed as the "Swedish Cart". It is sold under a variety of brands. And, BTW, there is even a kit available that turns it into a bicycle trailer.
  • yep, I got two of them carts
    and use both sets- one on each end of the poly canoe. Hard to steer that way, but rolls real easy-nothing heavy to lift need a lot of straps to secure it to boat but that's what worked the best for my wife and I with our poly canoe on some of the "90 miler" terrain .
    I hate portaging- but recognize its a necessary evil to get to some wild places. I find that many times you can shorten or eliminate portages if you have some ww skills, and lining can often be done as well but I've never met any portage I've liked.
  • Its good but hardly indestructible
    I've seen pics of the wheels folded in half.. Not the way they are supposed to fold for storage but entirely twisted.

    I have one but don't think it would hold up in Algonquin. BWCA doesn't allow carts.
  • Taco Wheel
    We did that on the trail from Umbagog to Rangley.
    The cart was quite similar to the Paddleboy ATC and the load (canoe and two guys gear) was no where near 300 lbs.
    But I expect most any bicycle wheel would taco when the cart is tilted some 45 degrees over on one wheel and dropping a foot off of a small boulder.
    That trail is a very rutted, rocky jeep track. And it's about as rugged as anything I would want to use a portage cart on though the Raquette Falls carry is a close second.
    I was surprised that the owner was able to hammer the wheel back straight enough to use the cart for the paved road portage between Mooslookmaguntic and Rangely.
  • cart
    I use a canoe cart. Payed $60 for it. My canoe weighs 80 lbs. I can carry it, but im not 30 yrs old anymore. Why not make the job easier.....


    Some tips I've learned:
    1. Set the cart toward the end of the canoe instead of center.
    2. Use two straps or rope to secure.
    3. Push the canoe instead of pulling.
    4. Put your gear close to the cart, not on the end your lifting.
  • I disagree with step "1"
    it is much easier with a canoe or kayak balanced on the portage buggy.
    Let the buggy carry all the weight. All you have to do is push

    Jack L
  • Single wheeled cart
    Had a Scout leader construct a "buck bike" similar to the single wheel cart shown and he used it to transport canoes and chuck boxes. It was great for hauling heavy, but compack gear like the chuck boxes, over single track trails into camp. it was not good at hauling canoes. The cart could not be steered using its handles since they were under the canoe. And the long canoe on the cart had a very high center of gravity above the wheel. Strapping the canoe to the mostly flat cart was a chore and it was never very secure on the cart.
    I would not try two single wheeled carts under a canoe. How would you pivot a single cart under the canoe to steer it? And maintain balance with the cart skewed under the canoe. Would be tough on the people at each end. And were do you put a cart like that when you are on the water?
  • Push not pull??
    On smooth ground pushing might work, but run the wheel against an obstacle and the canoe located above the wheel will tip forward. A wheelbarrow is pushed, but the handles go straight to the wheel axle. A cart is much easier pulled over an obstacle than pushed over it.
  • You are thinking of Raquette Falls
    I am thinking of the mile long camp ground carry and 99 percent of the carries in the south that are flat
    I agree on rough carries, but most down here in "god's Land" just require being in the back with a finger or two on the top of the stern to keep it balanced, and the whole system basically goes by itself with no work.

    Jack L

  • Smooth carries
    I'm thinking about every carry i know except 8th Lake Campground and 5th Lake to 6th Lake thru Inlet on the highway.
    If your portages are so flat and smooth, why not trench a canal and eliminate the portage?
    You don't push your canoe anyway, you just follow Nanci who is pulling from the front.
  • Hey, I'm not like you wimpy C-4's
    I carried the past two years and will never use a buggy up there again!

    Although it is in the truck awaiting our Florida sojurn

    Jack L
  • happy trails
    I C4'd the past two 90 milers without wheels, just two people carrying the big boat overhead. However, the Cannonball-90 (the unsupported unofficial 90-miler done all in one day) has twice the portage miles, 10 miles worth. The longest is 3.7 miles on a smooth dirt/paved road around Buttermilk Falls. We take wheels on the Cannonball.

    Pushing works for a nice changeout of methods, but only on the very smooth flat road portions. Pulling works better going uphill regardless of the terrain. Most portages are wheelable with more or less difficulty, but however you do it it is a suffering time through the Raquette Falls 1.1 mile carry.
  • Nanci put her foot down
    We know the real reason you can't use a cart anymore is that Nanci got tired of pulling the canoe and you over the carries while you waved at all the young girls in spandex in the war canoes.
    You should have 'pulled'your share of the load instead of being 'pushy'from the stern.
  • wimpy C-4s
    My memory of the year you went C-4 in a Minnesota III was that you sold the boat shortly after the 90 Miler and said it was the hardest paddling you had ever done to paddle stern in the C-4 and you would never torture yourself like that again.
    Last year was our 10th year in C-4 and both Browns Tract and Raquette Falls beat me up more each year. When I am as old as you I might have to slow down and paddle Super Veterans in another class. Next year is number 20 for me, if I make it.
  • Just getting back to this post
    If you do give up the C-4 and go in a different class, (maybe C-2 ?) try carrying.
    I had always used wheels with the C-2 until two years ago, and each year the carries got worse.
    Then when I switched to carrying, we had our best portages every, and once again this year the Browns tract and Raquette Falls carry was a piece of cake with me carrying the boat and she the gear.
    We past our competition, (two guys who on the water are faster then us) on the Raquette Falls carry where they were using wheels and beat them for the day.

    Jack L
  • C4 carry
    -- Last Updated: Nov-23-14 9:35 PM EST --

    I've paddled the Adirondack 90-miler race in all sorts of canoe craft, from C1 to voyageur. In 18 years of paddling the 90 I've gone back and forth with or without wheels. The problem is, according to the rules, if you use wheels on any one day, you must carry them on all three days of the race. The carries are wheel friendly on day one, but not at all on day two, and wheels are really not needed on day three. Carry miles total about five miles during the 3-day staged race.

    For the previous two years I have paddled the 90 in a C4 and done the portages by carrying the canoe overhead, with two paddlers bearing the load just as they would carry a C2. In the bow I attach short lengths of tubular foam "noodles" to rest on shoulders. In the stern I use a clamp-in yoke on shoulders. The noodles do not work n the stern because the seat is in the way of your head at the gunwale width where the noodles would fit on shoulders. Mostly just two of us carry the canoe on each carry, but the other two of the crew can switch out on the run if needed for break.

    I've done the same carries the same way with a lightweight C6 voyageur canoe, a single person in the bow with the padded deck on one shoulder, and two more people shouldering on the gunwales a few feet from the stern. Three others carry paddles and extra gear.

    On the other hand, when we paddle the Cannonball-90, (the unofficial and unsupported all in one day 90 mile route), the carry mileage expands to ten miles. Done that six times so far. We do use wheels in almost all cases on that continuously moving very long day.

  • Pushing vs. Pulling
    I've got a lot of experience now guiding canoes through all sorts of portages and carries, and as I've gained experience I find myself pushing from the rear at least 90% of the time. Why? Let me count the reasons (there aren't that many, so don't panic)

    1) Pulling the canoe is usually the best way to get over a tough obstacle, sometimes a small log, but usually rocks, ditches, soft sand, roots, etc. BUT, I find that the best way to get over obstacles is to avoid them in the first place, and I am best able to do that by guiding the boat from the rear, and steering it around obstacles, as opposed to guiding from the front and then constantly looking back to adjust the orientation of the wheels if necessary (and it is often necessary). If necessary, it is simple to go to the front of the canoe, get over an obstacle, and then carry on from the rear.

    2) I find it easier to push a canoe up a hill than to pull it. It is easier on my back, and I seem to get more leverage. Especially if I am also dodging obstacles.

    3) it is also easier to slow and guide a canoe down a hill from the rear.

    4) During horsefly and deerfly season, I have found that when they are attracted by movement, they go to the head of whatever is moving. Most of the time, I can push the canoe along from the rear while watching a holding pattern of flies at the bow of my canoe looking for something to bite, seemingly unaware of the tasty treat 16 feet to their rear.

    5. Finally, while maneuvering in tight corners, it is easier to control my end of the canoe while simultaneously guiding the other end if I can keep that other end in my sight without having to turn around.

    Your mileage may vary, but I honestly shake my head when I see companions pulling their load when it would be easier pushing.

  • Thank you
    I agree whole heartedly

    Jack L
  • canoe portage carts
    In really rough county here in Wyoming some hunters use what is called a "meat cart" - basically a hard-bottomed stretcher with a single heavy duty wheel with a cable-operated disc brake centered underneath. you can put all four quarters of a bull elk on one of these so they are tough, tough.

    These meat carts are unbelievably expensive, but a cheaper substitute could be built around a single 29" disc-braked off-road touring bicycle wheel on a square base and some STRONG sectional aluminum poles (or even H-Beams) with a brake lever on one or both ends. The canoe sits upright with the base centered over the load.

    Years ago I made a one-wheeled cart (20" wheel, no brake) controlled by two guys with an aluminum crossbar at the back, but couldn't get it through the timber. The "meat cart" design works better in tight quarters. Give me your e-mail and I'll send a photo of my seldom-used one-wheeler as a start.
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