I am a 5’3" woman and would love to learn to passably portage a 65 lb., 17’ canoe – if possible, without breaking my neck/back/other parts. According to the Prophet, (i.e. Cliff Jacobson), “Nothing works as well as a curved wooden portage yoke with thick Minnesota-style pads.” What are Minnesota-style pads, and can someone recommend a yoke/pads of this type? Also, what do you p.netters think of using a tumpline in conjunction with a [padded] yoke? I want the portaging to be as painless as possible… Thanks!
Attached is a web address to Piragis' catalog. Choose canoeing accessories; then yokes and pads. The block Minnesota pads you referred to are the Deluxe portage pads on this page.
Whether they are the best or not for you is personal preference. I use the block pads attached to a contoured wood yoke on all my tandems and like them better than other types of pads for heavier canoes. The length of the block allows you to move the canoe forward or backward on your shoulders to shift the load when you need to - going uphill, going downhill, when you can't take the load anymore on a particular spot on your shoulder, etc. You can find the pad blocks in most any paddling shop in the lake states. They come with either a clamp bar and thumbscrew system to attach to the wood yoke OR with two anchored bolts that require you to drill holes in your yoke to attached. For the pads with anchor bolts I like to drill two sets of holes in the yoke; one set for skinny necks and slender shoulders and the other for gorilla's like myself. On my solo canoes the yokes I use are the sling type pad and I like them - but this is also used with a lighter load that I do not shift as often on a portage. I don't like the U shaped collar yoke. For me this one does not have long enough ends to adequately adjust the load forward or backward on my shoulders for best balance when portaging. Your experience may vary. As to a tumpline, I've never used one portaging a canoe. I don't like them on a pack. My normal portage load is a full size pack plus the canoe, so I don't ever see myself using one. I know Cliff swears by it and maybe it would be something you should try, but I would also advise you to get used to portaging first before you do. A fast fall with a tumpline in use could result in a nasty twist to your neck. Cliff is not much bigger than you are, and maybe the tump would give a smaller person a leverage advantage.