Canoe lifting

OK help me out here. I need to learn how to properly lift and carry my approx. 50 lb. 15 ft. canoe without killing myself.

Somehow lifting my 65 lb. kayak seemed easier. I’m doing something wrong, so tell me how it’s done, please?

help is on the way

Pictures Worth a 1000 Words
Take a look at this explanation from our friends at Red Rock Outfitting. It’s a lot harder to learn from a description than it is from a demonstration or this series of photos.

Thanks, good visuals
Now I just need to take the computer onto the front lawn with me while I try this, lol.

Many thanks, I’ll try this.

Download, print the pictures.

lift one end
I think the Red-Rock method might work better for the guys than for us females. I can lift a 35 pound canoe like that, but don’t do it the Red-Rock way with my 52 lb canoe. What I do is lift the bow end like Eric described and get it turned over and my head underneath near the bow with the stern resting on the ground. It is a bit unstable as you first turn it over as it is balancing on a single point at the stem that is on the ground. Once you get it over and onto your shoulders it is easier to manage. I face towards the bow then work my way backwards until I get to the balance point. With my 52 lb mohawk challenger I use a clamp-on yoke to carry it on my shoulders. On another canoe with a wenonah sliding floor seat I position the canoe with the seat or slider bars resting on my head and carry it for short distances with some weight on my head and some held with my arms.

Exactly !
Your method is also the one I prefer even though I’m male and fairly strong. The Red Rock method is OK for 40 lb. or less solo canoes but the larger heaver hulls should use the method you suggest. An 80 or even 50 lb. canoe lifted the RR way makes my back hurt just thinking about it. Why not let the ground support half the weight until the lifter can get to the balance point?

Mohawk Canoes produced a video showing this method several years ago. I don’t know if these are still available but they had many good suggestions about hefting, loading and tieing down hulls.


And if all else fails,
try this:


Redrock’s technique is certainly safest
for getting a light canoe up on your shoulders. When I deal with my heavier canoes, I either do the lift-one-end-and-back-in method, or I modify the Redrock approach. Once I have my hands in place and the canoe on my thighs, I dip my thighs, and then push the boat sharply outward with my thighs, using my arms to control it as it arcs up and over. I can “throw” my near 70 pound Mad River Synergy up high enough that I can catch it with my arms and lower it onto my head.

My only problem is that, being 64 and kind of gray, I have to make sure onlookers are at a safe distance. They’re always saying, “D’you need help with that?” amd stepping in to get a hand on the boat.

Solo lifting
I do it pretty much like the redrock page shows. Except with a solo you don’t have the portage thwart and IMO using a sliding seat to lift or balance the boat is asking for trouble. So I lift the boat to my knees by the closer gunnel, then reach one hand across to the far gunnel and swing the boat up overhead where I support it with my hands only.

The hardest part is getting the balance point right with airbags and leeboard thwarts etc. in and out of the boat. I always end up doing a little overhead back and forth getting it balanced.

Can you put a yoke in it.
or even a clamped removable one?

Here is how I carry my 80 pound OT Disco and also all my other lighter weight canoes

  1. Have the canoe upside down with the bow against either a rock, tree or some other immovable object.
  2. Pick up the canoe from the stern
  3. With one hand on each side of the rear gunnels walk forward raising the canoe as you would raise a large extension ladder, (naturally shifting your hands forward as you go) The bow stays on the ground “footed” against the immovable object.

    4 Once you have the canoe high enough so you are under the portage yoke or fulcrum point, lower it onto your sholders.
  4. When it is on your shoulders, take a step back and let the bow swing up into the air so the whole canoe is balanced, and you are good to go.
  5. Taking it off is done in just the reverse, or you can slide it right onto your vehicle roof.

    Naturally I don’t need to do this with my 19 pound J-190, but it sure makes it easy for the heavy boats, and I am a over the hill, 163 pound weakling.

    You’ll never strain your back doing it this way.



Wind A Factor Too
I usually use the Method JackL describes for my tandems and more the Redrock method with my solos. In a risky wind situation which is pretty common for me, I use the JackL method with my solo too just because I feel more in control. With the Redrock method in a strong or gusty wind I’m afraid the wind will take her from me before I’ve really gotten control and have the bow facing the right direction.

Once upon a time
I routinely humped Blue Hole OCA’s and MR RX Explorers down the put-in trail.

I was so much studlier then - now I carry 35# boats only.

One-shoulder carrys of heavy canoes cannot be good for spine alignment. We (collectively) will be happy to coach you at Raystown. Waddaya say, maybe 50-60 lifts to get her in shape?


A variation on the Red Rock.
I find it convenient to have my hands on the gunnels instead of the yoke. One forward of the balance point, one aft. That keep the boat from wanting to tip forward or back.

Canoe lift
Ness, Ness, Here you’ve talked about paddling the length and breadth of Lake Erie and routinely cruising over Niagara Falls with your canoe and you can’t even LIFT it?! What would the folks at the Niagara casino think if they saw you?

Why I had a 40 foot sailboat I used to routinely car top. Used the Redrock method except I had to be careful to duck out of the way of the mast. Damn thing hit me in the head so much I got a bit addled. But that’s all over with now that I discovered canoes.

One thing not mentioned in above posts is to sort of take a step sideways towards the boat as you lift it. That places you directly under the center of weight of the canoe. In my earlier tries I used to get the canoe most of the way up, then have it start to drop as my arms were not vertical. Try getting your whole body under the boat by stepping towards it so as you swing it up, so you wind up directly under it and your arms are in their best supporting position - vertical.


Marty, I can lift it BUT
I haven’t gotten the balance right. By “lift” I mean I can get it on my shoulder and carry sideways. But, I can’t get it up over my head (yet), so I can’t load it on the truck rack by myself either. That’s key: I have to learn to do these things myself.

After four years of lugging an even heavier 16 ft. rotomolded kayak around, and heaving it up onto the rack on my car unassisted, I never once had to balance it upside down with my head in the cockpit.

It’s a whole new learning curve here!

Oh Jim
I agree, one-shoulder carries of 50 lb. canoes cannot be good for spine alignment, and I am a already a steady customer at the local chiropractor.

I’m asking this now, because I want to experiment with technique at home BEFORE I get to Raystown.

I’ll save the 50-60 lifts for lifting the beverages I’ll be drinking at Raystown.

P.S. You’re still studly. But in a mature kind of way. :wink:

When McCrea tithed me with…

– Last Updated: Sep-27-07 6:12 PM EST –

...the Uberbot, I immediately seized-up in spinal trepidations just observing the shag-carpeted contours of those massive kevlar/resin patches along that Royalex beast's bottom.

Fortunately, a youth spent observing Wide World of Sports' spanning the globe and panning the spandex of the amazing Vasiliy Alekseyev, as he hoisted thwart-like bars bending at ends to the near-tonnage of behemoth metal plates, during which Chris Schenkel gasped near-agog in explanation, taught me the value of a quick snatch-n-jerk technique.

So Ness, like I did from time-to-time when attempting to deploy myself beneath weighty considerations of canoeing overhead, I suggest you snatch up McCrea at Raystown and get him to help jerk aloft the beast!

Or you could just chime-in with the DougD School of Hoisting Hunches, now enrolling new students midst the gargoyle-encircled sacred tower of some noted lady's edifice.

Quasi Mode O'Liftin

So Ness, I had better eat my Wheaties before canoeing with you tomorrow? I’m looking forward to my first try at a solo canoe, should be fun. See you at 8!

Ness, I will buy YOU a beer if
you lift my Green Monster of a canoe onto your shoulders and safely return it to the ground. Before you do it, just make sure that I am ready to go with my movie camera so that I can properly document the event. :slight_smile: