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


– 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

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.

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

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.

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.