Canoe Pack questions

Hi, all. I’m switching over from kayaking to solo canoeing and need to find a more efficient way to haul gear. I’ve already got lots of dry bags which hold my gear. What I’m looking for is some way to hold them all and haul them on my back. What I don’t want is to have to haul a lot of small bags. So is there a good way to do this or should I start over with a canoe-specific pack? Let’s assume my total budget is about $200 and that I’ve got a dozen dry bags already. While we’re at it, should I be getting a food barrel or is a closed dry bag suspended between trees in the Adirondacks good enough? So far that’s worked for me.

Thanks for any ideas.


Step into my office
Get a “Daluth Pack”. they are specifically made for carrying all your gear, food etc, and the back pack straps are designed so it hangs low on your back and doesn’t get in the way of portaging your canoe.

Another option is the NRs larg “Bills Bag”.

It is a super large dry bag that has padded straps for back packing.

On the food barrel. A “Garcia” one is expensive but is well worth it. You don’t have to screw around with hanging bags between trees.

We have two of them, and even use them in Fla. to keep the food safe from the little critters.

They have no ridges at all and are made size wise so a bear cannot get it’s jaws around any part of them . the covers are recessed and there are three recessed screws that have to be turned to get the cover off.

A bear will toss them around, but there is no way they can carry one off, and when they get tired of nosing it around they will give up.

Up in Danali NP they are mandatory and the Park service supplies them.



Ah’ second de Duluth
Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Ah’s reecoomends de Duluth packs too.

Fat Elmo

3rd on the Duluth
After years of scoffing at them, I finally broke down and bought a Duluth Northwoods pack earlier this year. It’s a beast of a pack and will probably be the last canoe pack I will need to buy. I also bought a front portage pack that clips to the Duluth pack straps. It works out well because I can use the front portage pack as my food pack, which in turns allows me to split my load (food pack up front, northwoods behind) in order to properly trim the canoe, but not weigh down the front.

For food barrels, you might want to check out the Bear vault , they have a little more volume than the Garcia, can be used as a stool, don’t crack if dropped hard like a garcia can, and best of all fit perfectly in the front portage pack :slight_smile:

More on the Duluth
If you do decide to go with the Duluth, make sure you join the paddling perks program on this site, this gets you a nice discount on Duluth packs, not to mention a bunch of other stuff.


Weight on Shoulders or Hips?
My canoe tripping partner is female. She much prefers to have the weight on her hips. Her shoulders can power the paddle all day, but will not take a load over 20# for any distance. The Duluth Packs carry with the weight on your shoulders, their waist belts are more for keeping the pack from swaying than for support.

The Camp Trails Canoe Packs have a much better belt that really puts the weight on your hips.

I find this much better,I like to give my shoulders a rest when portaging. And with a fairly light pack, i can carry the canoe at the same time and eliminate the second round trip across the carry.

You can buy the packs at the factory store in Binghamton as repaired factory seconds for around $100 depending on the version.

good point
i’m with your partner. i carried duluth packs for many miles back in the old days and i’m not sure i’d want to do much of that again without transferring some of the weight to my hips. i’ll look into the camp trails pack. i think duluth pack makes a model with a hip belt, too.

I have never in my life seen or heard of
a Garcia crack or break.

Ours has taken a licken and keeps on ticking.

I would put it at the strength level of schedule 40 PVC.



how to join paddling perks?
i can’t find a link to it anywhere on the site. i’m an idiot. pointer please?

Cabelas German Surplus Pack
I bought one of these (Coffee would be proud) Check out this deluxe bargain.


Cabelas German Surplus Pack
I bought one of these (Coffee would be proud) Check out this deluxe bargain.


CCS Packs
You might also want to take a look at CCS packs. I use the Pioneer. They are a bit more money, but Dan’s construction methods are second to none, and they are all made in Minnesota.

Weight on shoulders, hips, or head
You guys that hate Duluth packs so much because of the lack of a weight-carrying hip belt really need to take a second look at the tump line. It’s there for a darned good reason, yet too many people ignore it completely. Get used to using the tump line, and you’ll be comfortable with a heavy pack that has very little weight on your shoulders, and I bet you’ll also stop wondering why primitive cultures all over the world have carried heavy loads supported with their heads, by one method or another (lots of variations on this around the world). Another nice thing about a tump line which was once common knowlege but is not anymore (just about EVERY old-time book on canoe camping general outdoors skills recommends this) is that when crossing really tricky terrain, carry the pack with the tump line and nothing else. If you slip, you can drop the load instantly and regain your footing, or at the very least you can fall to the ground unencumbered by your load, so you are a lot safer.

If you have your heart set on a good canoe pack available in standard canoe-pack sizes but with a good hip belt, get yourself a copy of “Boundary Waters Jounal” (it comes out four time per year) and order one of their packs. I’m sure they have a website too, but I don’t know the address off-hand.

I think the chance is past

– Last Updated: Aug-24-05 1:23 AM EST –

I saw a message on here recently that the chance to sign up for Paddling Perks was soon to end. There used to me a Paddling Perks Icon/Link at the upper left-hand corner of the screen, near the Buyers' Guide Link. It's no longer there.

Food Barrel

– Last Updated: Aug-24-05 9:18 AM EST –

I think these are now required for backcountry stays in the High Peaks areas. Probably a good idea for the rest of the Adirondacks, since they will also better protect your food stores from other smaller critters like squirrels, racoons, martins that would have little or no trouble getting to your hung food bag. I personally find it difficult to properly hang a food bag, both setting up the ropes, as well as finding suitable trees to do it with (not every campsite has nice large friendly trees). Food barrels do sound bulky, and will require some food repackaging and planning to pack well.

I think it is over for this year, but you should be able to sign up for 2006 soon. Maybe an e-mail to Brent?


scroll down to long term durability. I’m not trying to diminish the Garcia, it works fine for most people, but admittedly I prefer the bear vault because of its larger size and opening, plus the fact that I can see through it in order to dig things out. Makes a comfy stool too.

Tump Lines
the native peoples did develop and use tump lines for centuries, it solved a problem with the technology they had available. The same people plowed fields with a stick for the same amount of time. Do you still ride a horse everywhere you travel? Same use of traditional method.

The materials and technology that made comfortable hip belts possible did not exist till after WWII. It would be very difficult to make a good padded hipbelt with materials and sewing technology from the 1800’s.

To those who can stand the pressure on their necks from the load, enjoy your tumpline. I can’t carry a large load of firewood or jug of water on my head either, but the National Geographic shows native people all over the world still carrying goods that way.

Birchbark, canvas packs, and tumplines served their purpose, and still will do the job. There are just other ways to do the same things that suit my needs better.


Food Barrels
Dianne, I don’t know if a food barrel appeals to you or not, but other folks have mentioned them in this thread. So I thought I’d throw in my experiences: we have found them to be very practical.

We recently returned from a canoe trip in Ontario near Algonquin Provincial Park – it seemed like just about every canoe &/or camp we saw had a food barrel. For this trip we used a 60 liter (approx. 16 gallon) barrel with a Headstrong brand harness. With a family of three out for a week this barrel was more than adequate volume-wise, it was actually overkill, but at least we weren’t cramped for food storage space. We typically repackage our food in zip-lock type plastic bags regardless of what food pack we use. We do that more for convenience at meal time than to fit in the barrel – as I say those things are large. For a solo canoeist carrying food for one person the 30 liter might be a better fit. BTW, though we canoe trip as a family we all paddle solo canoes. The 60 liter barrel fits easily into a solo canoe.

I hadn’t previously owned or used a food barrel before this trip, so before I purchased this one I looked around quite a bit at various brands. It seemed to me that the Headstrong harness was the best designed. It’s actually comfortable to carry with its extra thick lumber padding and its self-tightening barrels straps. I also found its shoulder straps to be comfortable and the waist belt & sternum strap kept it from swinging around unmanageably. I bought the optional tumpline, but didn’t find myself using it much, perhaps on another trip I will.

I ordered my barrel and harness directly from Headstrong. They ship U.S. orders out of Michigan, so there were no shipping delays due to border-crossing red tape. I received it 3 days after I ordered it! I’ll be purchasing their 30 liter barrel and harness next for shorter trips. Randall

thanks, arkay. that barrel and harness look to be excellent. 30l should be a good size for my trips. me for a week or 3 of us for 3 days. thanks!