Kayak portaging.

One of my Canoecopia targets is checking out ideas for kayak portaging, whether for BWCA or dealing with detours around dams on river trips. Have found some info re mesh backpacks, duluth packs, canoe-style portage pads, and even an interesting tumpline idea in old PNet posts. Hoping someone might share some of their most recent experiences and successes. I have some experience with the mesh decoy bags with shoulder straps, and while they would be easy to load/unload, compact, and light, they would seem to lack the structure to effectively deal with any significant weight of food and gear. In other words, you’d end up with a stretched-out bag bouncing around below your butt. Better ideas?

more details

– Last Updated: Mar-05-07 4:55 PM EST –

your boat? Your length of trip? Your packing style? (personally, I can't do long trips because I pack too much food)

so let me go hypothetical (can anyone tell I am off work all day? I have posted all over these boards).
you are on a 6 day trip.
You are carrying three gallons of fresh water.
a water purifier of some sort.
18 meals (12 of them are ramen noodles).
Two pounds of GORP.
Small tent.
Back pack stove.
the paddle clothes you are wearing, your bad weather gear at the ready, and had to pack two clean outfits

I am sure I am missing things, but that is the fun of this game. if you have everything in little drybags, food, clothes, cooking, camping and the water, you can easily trim the boat, and when needed put into a large canoe-style portaging backpack. The pack will hold up for a few miles I am sure. (hey I forgot the sleeping bag) and If you could pack in a folding cart for the boat you would have it made in the shade!

I am sorry if I said anything WAY too obvious, but I have only gone camping in canoes, so converting my lack of experience there into kayaks might not have been too helpful. But I feel an average canoepack would do you just fine for the ocational portage.



organization is key

– Last Updated: Mar-05-07 8:26 PM EST –

I'm an open boater and spend lots of time in the BWCA. I've only seen kayaks in the last few years except on some of the big lakes. Last trip I saw a woman with a kayak way back in Quetico(lots of portages to get there). Here was her routine at the portage.

Exited kayak into water, had good wet shoes
Opened hatch and took out a nylon military duffle that had shoulder straps.
Shook it open, rested it on deck and pulled stuff sacks out of hatch and put them into duffle. Did same at back hatch. Very organized, nothing loose.
Buttoned up duffle and tossed it on shore.
Mounted clamp-on portage yoke on cockpit rim
Pick kayak up out of the water and portaged, returning for duffle.
Reversed at end of portage.

The yoke was always last thing out and first thing in, the duffle first thing out last thing in.

It didn't take her much longer to portage than most canoe travelers, just a very organized packing and unpacking. All other kayakers I've seen at portages were slow and disorganized with loose gear all over the place.

i may be wrong here
but at BWCA there are no wheels allowed,right? that’s why she used a yoke eh?

how long was her kayak? I did 2 portages in Massassauga Provincial Park but I used the CD hybrid kestrel at only 29 pounds and all my overnight gear was less than 20 pounds…i dont know the portages in BWCA but in the Massassauga some where darned steep and rocky.

Got a great idea
Swap the kayak for a canoe.


When we did Voyageurs
There was only one 1/2 mi portage. We used the military duffel and a mesh bag. One guy took the duffel with a heavy load the other took his kayak on a homemade yoke and a light load in the mesh bag. The second trip we swapped, it worked well. We lived good each of us had close to 80 pounds of food and gear. Handy tip eat the heavy stuff first!

Good Luck


no wheels
wheels would be worthless on the portages. If I recall right the kayak was a Swift, about 16 feet and kevlar. Probably less than 50 lbs.

canoes weigh half as much
My brother has a 44# 18ft 6in kevlar sundowner cnaoe. You might fasten heavy cooler to a golf pull cart with big wheels. Ask what locals use.