Canoe pack experiences?

I’m looking for a canoe pack from Santa and was wondering about the collective experience in terms of quality, price, etc.

It’s mostly for solo tripping so most likely one of the smaller sizes is what I’d be looking at (60-80L). It needs to be quick to open/close quickly so I can split gear to trim my boat properly (one barrel in either the front or the back isn’t doing it for me…) I’m looking for people’s experiences with both Cooke Custom Sewing and Ostrom packs. Ostrom seems pricier, but is it warranted, and if so, how?

consider Granite Gear Quetico
I have no experience with Ostrum or CCS packs. I’m sure they are nice.

The Granite Gear Quetico has been a popular pack among some pretty experienced canoe campers. It holds 82 L packed to the gills.

Doesn’t answer your brand questions
But I don’t use barrels. I have a Duluth #3 standard pack and a Duluth #3 Cruiser Combo pack. I like the latter better because it has two outside pockets.

I put everything including my food (in an Ursack) in the Duluth pack. I have a waterproof XL Granite Gear Airvent pack liner inside the Duluth pack.

My second pack is a 20L waterproof, rolltop backpack in which I keep a change of clothes, medical and emergency gear, snacks and other miscellaneous stuff.

The Duluth pack goes behind me and the backpack goes in front – at varying distances for trim. My 9 lb. chair, when I carry it, can go in front or back depending on what trim I want, and my Chinese Boat Cart goes in front when I carry that.

I have several canoe packs

– Last Updated: Oct-22-12 5:35 PM EST –

and the go to ones are the Ostrom and the CCS. For quality of worksmanship.

The Ostrom pack fits me far better. It seems to keep a pack shape better . The CCS one wants to go to round.

The Ostrom has a more secure drawstring top that closes the top bag..then three straps secure the load front to back and side to side so the shape stays secure. If you are going with a smaller pack this may not matter so much. Then the final top flap folds over.

The CCS pack top is open with two sets of straps that fold over flaps..but they seem not to give the pack integrity.

The Ostroms have a lot of lifting handles. Again perhaps not an issue with smaller packs.

And it is reinforced internally with aluminum stays that conform to your shape. The back is far more rigid. However check with Dan Cooke, he may be reinforcing the back of his newer packs. Again with a smaller pack this may be a non issue.

Both of course come with lateral compression straps but I believe there are more adjustments possible with the Ostrom (both packs are in the barn now)

Both Dan Cooke and Bill Ostrom are paddlers first and foremost. You cannot go wrong with either.

Someone once had a link to a portage pack that unbuckled into two packs for solo canoe trim. You really dont want to be unloading a single pack to trim up the boat. But I forgot the maker.

I’ve also been interested in CCS packs because of the value. I am a huge “made in the usa” guy and try to get as much stuff made here as possible. Camping equipment is one of the easiest categories of goods to do that with. But even though the CCS website says designed in USA, I was under the impression they were made in China. Is that true?


– Last Updated: Oct-22-12 9:11 PM EST –

They are made in Dan's sewing room in Lino Lakes MN. Hardly China.

Ostrom also makes their own in Thunder Bay.. IMO borders that are so close are artificial. What matters is that the packs are made for paddlers by paddlers.

There is no "they" as in big bad factory with grossly treated workers.

I use Duluth Packs and they are great. They also have many many sizes. Guaranteed for life now. I have seen Cooke stuff and they look like a nylon version of the Duluth. Frost River is another American pack maker and is a spin off from Duluth Pack. They use wax canvas exclusively.

canoe packs
I agree about Duluth Packs and have used them since the 1980s. I like 2 No. 2s and a kitchen pack for longer trips.

Not all of them are
The Hybrid line is quite Un Duluth;jsessionid=CC1A2CAB56AD023B341693A6C885F334.qscstrfrnt03?categoryId=2

Yes Dan does make Duluth type packs too.

CCS made in Minnesota
All CCS Sewing is done in Minnesota. Most Fabrics are of USA Origin, Velcro, and YKK Zippers Rope and Easton Poles and Stakes are made in the USA.

Call to be sure someone is home and come visit some evening or weekend.

I own and use

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Duluth, Ostrum, CCS and Granite Gear canoe packs. They are all excellent packs. Over the years you find yourself going on different trips with different needs and you gradually acquire a stable of packs that you call upon trip to trip as needed. Rather than the particular brand - the intended use, the type of pack, and the size, are really the more significant issues in my view. It ain't rocket science. Just a big rugged sack that you can throw on your back for a short walk with a lot of gear. The biggest thing is are they rugged enough to hold up to very severe use they are put to. You don't want a cheap pack. They will fail you every time at the worst possible moment. These are all rugged well made packs.

You gave me a chuckle
Some of my walks have involved 300 feet of ascent and there is always at least one mile walk over some dozen blowdowns. Like dear Temagami.

Kinda depends on where that "short walk " is how many suspension features that you find on packs is that you need.

The chief difference from a top end canoe pack and a top end backpack is height (canoe pack is lower at the top edge to facilitate portaging) width (canoe pack can be a little wider) , length…so they fit between the thwarts on their side.

You can also consider a hikers backpack if you do not anticipate single carries with the pack and the boat. I have two Lowe Contour IV’s that we bought used and used for years.

But we are probably digressing. I am still trying to remember the name of the pack that unspaps in half.

I haven’t tried the ccs packs, but Ostrom’s are great. I have three of them and enjoy them all. They are made in Thunder Bay, and one of mine was hand delivered by Bill Ostrom, so it’s obviously not the same sort of scale as Nike!

Incidentally, there was a fellow who worked at Ostrom’s shop named Joe O’Blenis - he makes a variety of interesting paddles and held (may still) the speed record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island in a kayak.

Tump strap
I have a lot of boats and paddles but have only needed my one Duluth pack for 30 years, even though I bought two.

I find the Duluth tump strap to be very effective in helping to carry loads, assuming you know how to use it properly and safely, which is a whole other subject. We had a very scholarly discussion about this issue on the defunct ST board.

Kayamedic, I think Ostrom used to make a double canoe pack called a Solo Pack that you could separate or join, which is now discontinued.

Paddling Perks
If you are a Paddling Perks member, Ostrom is one of the vendors. You get 20% discount on in stock packs. If you were going to buy direct it would pay for the cost of the Paddling Perks membership, and then some.

Very very true, but most people seem to hate tump. The other big big diffrence between Duluth and Frost River is material - these 2 still use cotton canvas and leather.

Short -
like in 300’ straight up and straight down!

What I mean is you are generally carrying a very heavy load over a short distance - not the same as through hiking. Which is why our packs are the way they are.

Uh sometimes

– Last Updated: Oct-26-12 7:08 PM EST –

there is an alternate portage between Attean and Holeb Ponds that goes over a shoulder of a mountain. Sometimes its easier than slogging the bog bridge when that is under two feet of water.
The portage is 1.25 miles.

I was thinking of Temagami..same distance same ascent and descent. I would not call either short.

And Wabakimi which does have an average port distance of 300 m often has 30 blowdowns over that distance. Climbing over trees you need a pack that hugs your body and won't swing. (I have done much hilarity..a Duluth Pack got to was loaded with tools. I had to jump from side to side along a flooded portage and the last swing launched me into the alders..face down)

Well you asked for experiences!