'72 Old Town Rushton pack canoe - installing a seat, where to paddle?

Hi everyone! First post here…

I was just given a strange little boat, a 1972 Old Town Rushton pack canoe. It’s a super lightweight fiberglass 10’ canoe. I’ve only ever paddled big metal tandem canoes, and don’t know much about canoeing in general. This is an old ad for the Rushton:

Has anyone paddled such a thing? I’m assuming it’s for small ponds and flatwater, but does anyone have any input or experience? It’s also currently missing a seat. Can anyone recommend a type of seat to install and how to do it? It’s possible that it never had a seat, looking at some of the old pictures - maybe it’s so small, a paddler would just sit on the bottom with a pad of some kind?


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Interesting. I never knew Old Town ever made a pack canoe… Invented in the Adirondacks in the late 1800s they remained a regional boat until about twenty years ago when Placid Boat Works resurrected it in a high tech layup and Hornbeck Boats in a more affordable layup some years prior.

It is a classic design and with many different ones now being made by Hemlock, the above two works,Slipstream and actually Old Town with their considerably heavier Next
Swift Canoe and Kayak has a dizzying array of pack canoes in their line.
Check out the makers websites; they all have one

Most pack canoes come in at sub 25 lbs and range from 10-15 feet long. No seat is installed. You sit on the floor. Of course it is warmer and more comfortable to put a seat in… You can make one out of minicell.

Most of these pack canoes do best with a double blade and I find the ad very interesting because it clearly is a single blade in hand… Carrying the canoe like that is standard.

Pack canoes actually predated ( a little) the larger canoes with standard high seats that we think of.

The little ones were generally meant for smaller paddlers and smaller waters… But my RapidFire is one of the big pack canoes and it does well on large bodies of water and can carry quite a bit.

You could kneel in it or maybe add a kayak seat.

I hope you enjoy the Old Town Rushton pack.

Pack canoes have an interesting history. You’ll find a few illustrated in this old 1907 catalogue.


The nearest models, similar to yours, might be H. Rushton’s Bucktail or Vaux.

Present day versions of those designs are built by Northstar Canoes (the ADK, in 12 and 10 1/2 foot versions, and previously - the Bell Canoe: ‘Bucktail’, 12 ft loa, designed by D. Yost).

I installed a GRBNewman sliding tractor style seat and pedestal (4.25 inch height) in my Bell Bucktail. And yes, yes - one must pay attention if elevated that far above the bottom while paddling an Adirondack canoe. Single blade is fun and comfortable enough while double blade is more comfortable, adding safety and performance efficiency as well.

Online sources are available for all of the George Washington Sears (pen name Nessmuk) articles (many about pack canoes) written for Forest and Stream magazine during the late 1800s.

What a terrific little canoe. My mother bought mine in 1977 and I have been paddling it since 2000. Mine has a foam seat that was glued to the bottom. There is also one at the Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake, NY (the old Adirondack Museum) and it has a seat (pad) just like mine. It seems very possible that your earlier boat did not have a seat and that feature was added in the newer canoes. Mine was made in 1976. The ‘foam’ in mine has pretty much solidified over the 44 years. I usually use a Crazy Creek canoe seat on it. It also gives my back some protection as there is no padding on the thwart. I also like the Crazy Creek for tripping since it doubles as a camp chair and is just long enough (shoulder to hip) to serve as a sleeping pad. I also prefer a full back PFD for my back although those are hard to find and mine is pretty worn.
Slipstream offers a foam seat for their Wee Lassie. Where are you located?