How do you pack your portage packs in a solo canoe on a river camping trip with rapids?
On a recent trip, I used 48" float bags on each end, followed by face-down, tied-in Duluth-style packs. This is in a 14’ solo canoe. I think most people don’t use extra flotation on camping trips.
My boat was nicely filled except for a little but sufficiently large cockpit area, but having the portage packs face-down also meant they wouldn’t stick out and snag.
However, I found it difficult and time consuming to load and unload them: Both needed to be stuffed under a thwart and in addition, the stern portage pack needed to be threaded between seat back edge and stern thwart. Those packs want to assume a sphere shape the more you pack them and their waist lines no longer fit in those tighter spaces. Punching them in the stomach to make them fit with much squeezing may be OK for loading and unloading once a day, but what if you have portages or you have to get to or release packs when your canoe is pinned in a rapid? Another boat in our party was that unlucky.
Alternatively, you can have them upright as they were designed to be used. I tried that for the latter days of the trip and found loading much easier, but they stuck out above the gunwales and left more open spaces.