Canoe Cart Advice

I am in the market for a portage cart that will allow me to move my Mad River Explorer 16’. Many of my paddles are solo and it is difficult to pack my boat by myself. Most of my launches are from a boat ramp, so a “cross country” portage is rare. Also, I might become even more lazy, will it work on a 12’ Tsunami?

Would appreciate some feedback and advice!



First things first

– Last Updated: Jun-23-13 10:31 AM EST –

My first question is why you need a portage cart. To you it might sound like a dumb question, but I often see people who don't know how to carry a canoe, so until we know more, that seems like a possibility here. A canoe that weighs 75 to 85 pounds is fairly easy to carry if you know how, but darn near impossible if you don't. On the other hand, you could be getting on in years, or you could be dealing with an injury that never healed properly, in which case a portage cart would make perfect sense. I thought it would be good to know whether applying the right carrying technique MIGHT be a simple solution. And if not, let's talk about carts!

Wat Guideboatguy said…

– Last Updated: Jun-23-13 11:43 AM EST –

But iffin' yer go fer a cart, dis be wat ah' rarely use (ah's still mostly carry usin' a yoke). It wuz called de Canadian Boat Walker back in de day.


The right cart
FE is pointing you toward the right cart. Its been sold in many versions over the last 30 years starting as the Swedish Boat Cart. The LL Bean version has a nice flat prop to keep the cart upright and from rolling away while you place the canoe or kayak or lumber on it. I have an earlier version and it has a simple kickstand that folds down for loading: not nearly as nice as the flat bar. Mine has almost 100 miles on it carrying everything from 35# Kevlar boats with gear to a 100+lb Grumman War Canoe.

If you are really lazy, you can wheel right into the water loaded and just take the straps off with the canoe floating and pull the cart out from under the canoe. Regrease the wheel bearings with marine trailer wheel grease if you submerge the wheels.

Elmo probably uses secret grease from the grey thing.


center mount carts are easiest to
handle… end mounts still have you holding almost all the weight on the other end.

That cart everyone loves is fine for around town portaging. It does OK on rocks and roots. Yes I have one.

But it’s wheels are too far apart for boardwalks and bog bridges and that’s where I resort to simply carrying the boat as Guideboatguy alludes too.

That “Swedish cart” also bogs down in sand; probably that is self evident.

So yes, tell us more.

Light duty and cheap
If you’re mainly going to be on smooth surfaces you can get by with the cheaper one shown in the link below. It comes with small tires ( 12" ) and they will hang up on roots and rocks if you take it on a trail. All of them need to be securely fastened for trail towing.


LL Bean boat cart
I have the same cart that Fat Elmo linked. I bought mine from LL Bean also, paid a few dollars more than other places, but you get Bean’s lifetime warranty. I’ve been using it for a year and it works great. I live about 200 yards from a boat dock, so that’s mainly how mine gets used. Just load up the gear and the 3 year old kiddo and wheel it all down to the lake. I use a bike lock and lock the cart to a power pole near the dock.

My experience
I have used 2 borrowed centermount carts and had trouble with both. I was difficult to make them stay securly in place particularly on anything but smooth going. Even when secure they balked at tree roots ect. They would have been great on roads or paved paehs,but I don’t canoe where carrys are like that.I bought an end mount one with tall fattish tires and it does fine in the rough. You do have to support one end of the canoe,but I carry the heavy stuff in a backpack and put the rest in the end the cart is on. I also use a shoulder strap fastened to the front end so my arms arn’t supporting the weight.


Paddleboy Nemo
works for me:

I use it for my Vermont Tupper solo canoe and also my Hurricane Phoenix and Hurricane Skimmer SOTs.

Loading on land: sit the cart next to the boat just aft of the center at an angle, and lift the boat stern first onto it.

Loading from the water: put the cart with the front end at water’s edge. Pull the stern of the boat onto the cart until it is sitting with the cart just aft of center.

If you try to load it bow first, the cart will roll and you will swear at it instead of by it.

Put a strap (I use just one) around the front bars of the cart and boat and tighten it securely. Some people use two. I use a long strap and tie the end around the front thwart of the canoe to keep it from slipping off.

I just now got back from hauling my canoe up the trail from the canoe launch at Wekiwa Springs State Park up the hill to the parking lot. Washed out, uneven path, soft sand, some roots, no problem.

The cart is supposed to come apart, and it does, but I don’t do that anymore because it pinches the heck out of my fingers. I just throw it in the back of the canoe or SOT and it’s ready to go when the paddle is over.

Thanks everyone!
Great advice and I shall begin my search.