Canoe Cart

The thread about canoe cart recommendations started me wondering how many trips are suitable for portaging with a canoe cart. From what I hear, in most places a canoe cart is more trouble than it’s worth.

Also, can you damage a light kevlar boat by loading it up with gear while it is on a canoe cart?


Depends on…
1. the cart?

2. the boat?

3. the amount and type of gear?

4. the type of terrain?

With the canoe/kayak cart that I showed in the other post, we loaded our kayak with all the gear and used it to go up and down a steep grade at Lake Jocassee.

During the 90 mile race we used it with the canoe for some “goat path” type portages, one of which was a mile long over roots, rocks and other impediments.

Our gear was just our PFD,s, paddles and spares, and a bunch our water.

It held up just fine, and sure beat carrying all the stuff and boats.



I was sold on JackL’s cart at Lake Jocassee. We used his cart to trundle several boats up and down a fairly steep incline covered with rocks and roots. His cart did great and made getting the boats up and down a lot easier.

I made a cart several years ago that works well on fairly level and smooth surfaces but the smaller tires would not have begun to work on the Jocassee path.

Happy Paddling,


Bowron Provincial Park near Quesnel, British Columbia is a 72 mile paddle route set up for portage cart use. But most wilderness canoeing parks do not allow them.

if you have to ask, you don’t need one

– Last Updated: Nov-21-06 7:41 AM EST –

It takes a fairly miserable trek with gear to make them worth the bother. Kayakers maybe not so much, since they are more difficult to carry in the first place.


Canoe Carts
It depends…

Canoe carts are impractical most places I like to canoe trip up in the Canadian Shield. In much of that terrain the trails are often too steep, too rocky, too muddy, too “rooty” and too uneven to use them effectively. Many Provincial Parks (like Algonquin) have restrictions placed on carts – they may be banned outright or limited to certain trails only. In Algonquin they are illegal on most portage trails, due to erosion issues. While certainly not as bad as a deer hunter in a mud slingin’ camo ATV the darn things can rut up a trail almost on par with an adrenaline junky mountain biker. EeeeeeeeHaaaahhhhh!

As to damaging a Kevlar canoe fully loaded in a cart… I could see how damage could ensue buy loading a Kevlar canoe “to the gills” with gear and then supporting all that weight on a cart – especially with an ultra-lite Kevlar tripping canoe. It probably wouldn’t hurt an ABS or poly canoe a bit.

I think the trick is simply learning to take less (weight) while tripping and/or take more trips over the portage trail as needed. When canoe tripping just pretend you’re a backpacker. If you trip into the backcountry everything ends up on your back – plus a 45 lbs handicap – your boat. From what I’ve seen of them the first thing to leave at home to reduce trail weight is… the cart. At least in the North Country.

Having said all that – I’d still like to build some sort of simple cart to lug a canoe from the boathouse down to my pond… (over the smooth mown trails that I maintain on the farm). I’d never spend much money buying a ready-to-go cart, but building one for “pond use only” might be an interesting diversion some afternoon.

A cart could also be quite useful for carrying coffee into camp and of course for lugging all the grounds back out for proper disposal at the end of the journey. ;^) - Randall

I never considered owning one
but was planning a trip to the Bowron with my solo canoe. The carts you rent can’t be folded and take up quite a bit of space. Anyhow, I picked one up at REI for the trip up north but changed plans and went with my wife on the the trip so we brought our 18ft canoe plus the solo canoe for paddling at lakes on the way up north. We spent a week car camping at our favorite lake before heading north. Having the cart sure made a difference. We camped probably a half mile from the put-in, but instead of struggling with the gear and canoe, we simply strapped the canoe to the cart and walked to the put-in with the gear inside the canoe. If I wanted to go canoeing with my solo canoe I could easily wheel it to the put-in. When we drove to another lake, we didn’t have to drive up to the dock to unload because we had the cart. I remember a couple of years ago paddling at some lakes in the Canadian Rockies where we had to haul the canoe through big parking lots.

Think of all your paddling trips that you struggled hauling the canoe/yak plus all your gear to the put-in. Wouldn’t it have been easier just to wheel the craft with the gear inside to the put-in? How many times have you left your canoe by the water’s edge because you didn’t want to haul it back to the camping area but worried about the canoe getting stolen because you couldn’t watch it?

The cart can’t be used for most portages, but if you plan to paddle parts or the whole Northern Forest Canoe Route you definately would want a cart.

We were amazed how many people commented on the cart being a good idea when we were wheeling our canoe and gear through a campground. It’s a really handy thing for a paddler to own.

I build my own
collapsible carts and see whether I find some pics to post somewhere.

One use that wasn’t mentioned yet: we frequently load a canoe up with all the gear on a campground, walk it to the boat launch and roll the fully laden canoe right into the water. Saves a lot of lifting, carrying and we can sort our things without hassle near the car/tent.

When our kids where little, they used to ride in the canoe while on the cart and enjoyed that almost more than on the water…

I never thought of that.
A coffee grounds cart. I’d better look into that, but please, let’s not start that up again.


Carts do come in handy
I use my cart a lot. If you’ve got to carry your boat and gear any distance to the put-in, put the canoe (or kayak) on top of the cart, load your gear in, and go. Beats making several trips back and forth.

On a recent trip around the Bowron Lakes circuit I used a Western Canoeing and Kayaking Expedition Kayak Cart (a scaled down version of their Expedition Canoe Cart) – it’s a tough cart and it worked very, very well. And yes, both the canoe and kayak carts break down to be stowed in the boat. Both Expedition carts can be found here:

I wouldn’t be able to take my youngest daughter kayaking in my double kayak without the cart. I slide the boat off the rear of my mini van, rest the stern on the ground and then swing the bow over my cart and head to the water. Since my daughter isn’t strong enough to carry the boat, the cart is absolutely necessary.

I also use my cart when paddling in the Gulf Islands, instead of taking my vehicle on the ferry, I load the boat on my cart and walk on the ferry – it costs a fraction of taking my car and I never have to wait for a ferry this way. Once I disembark the ferry, it’s only a short walk to put the boat in the water and go.

A cart would certainly come in handy if a person lived within walking distance of a put-in spot.

I’m definitely a fan of the cart.