KnuPac - Oh YES!

This is totally unsolicited…

We are going on our first trip to the BWCA. In prep/research I stumbled onto the Knupac.

For those that do not know the Knupac is basically an external frame backpack which includes apparatus to portage a canoe or yak on top of the frame.

It is a BEAUTIFUL thing!

I didn’t get home from work until late tonight. When I did walk in the door I found that the pack was delivered today. I couldn’t wait to try it out. 'Tis Easy to use!

The equipment takes about (oh…) 5 or 10 minutes to figure out.

I ordered the equipment from The have great customer service and they ship quickly.

Good Luck
Let us know how it works for you. Things I have heard about them are not all good.

I am betting you did not get a chance to test it out before purchasing. Why do I say that? Because I know of no one who was able to test it before purchasing. I’ve been at canoe shows where they will demonstrate but won’t let you try it. They said because of liability reasons. Why are they concerned with liability? Other vendors aren’t. Why can’t you sign a waiver and try it.

I will say that I believe that the product works with small lightweight canoes such as adirondack pack type canoe (wee lassie, hornbeck, etc… I believe that is where the concept originates. But large tandem (or larger) canoes are different.

Let us know how it works.

Where & When?
Where and when are you going to the BWCA? Entry Point? Route? Duration?

I have been to a few shows where anyone could test this device.

I’ve never tried it myself. It just seems too high for all those blow downs and branches that I am usually bulling my way through.

Never been to BW so don’t know what the portages are like.

Good luck.


Tried It
I used the KnuPac the day after I received it. I portaged my Dagger Black Water 12.5 +/- 1 1/2 miles.

The equipment works as designed as far as I am concerned. However, I can tell you that the mile and a half trek was in suburbia.

Also, there is no magic involved. The idea is rather simple. Frankly there isn’t any reason that I can see that any external frame backpack (within reason) couldn’t be modified to do the same.

I used an old Kelty with extension loop
to carry a 65 pound Mad River Synergy WW tandem canoe. I was able to “throw” the boat into place using a method similar to that I use for carrying the boat on my head. (Minor signs of nerve damage are encouraging me not to keep carrying heavy boats on my head.) The Kelty extension loop rests against the foam triple saddle. I have not carried the boat very far, but it seemed quite stable. One advantage of WW banana boats is that the droop of the hull due to the high rocker makes it balance more easily than a straight lake boat.

Last year, about this time, a car pulled out in front of me on the highyay and I T-boned it sustaining fairly painful whiplash. We had our first trip to Isle Royale planed and I was very afraid I would not be able to make the 2.5 mile portage from Mosky Basin to lake Richie. (we are currently using a 52lb Bell northwind, and NOT being minimalists we required two trips each at any portage for the two of us) I inquired on this forum and was directed to the Knu-Pac. Except for my Yellow Lab it was the best money I ever spent. While we were at lake Richie my wife cracked a rib. I had to take on a substantially larger load coming out, part of which was on the Knu-Pak while I was hauling the canoe. I’m not going to try to pretend that the lake Richie portage is a man killer but it is a respectable workout. I’m not a big man and I fly a desk so at 50 I’m a LITTLE soft. I positively wouldn’t trade my Knu-Pack for anything. In fact this last winter when waterfowl hunting I relied on the Knu frame for all my haul-ins. It is by far the best frame I own. Maybe thats why the SEALS use it.

I did work out with it almost daily for a month or so before our trip, so I was very familiar with the system and fairly prepared for whatever, including sudden gusts of wind. Anyway I think you made a good investment and as you get older will be even more glad you did. Of corse you could always stay on locations that allow portage wheels…

I have had one for 4 years, and
I love it as a dry-pack, but find that canoes slide left-and-right too easily in the forks, which can throw you off-balance when on portages with poor footing. Foam pipe insulation and duct tape on the yoke will cure that problem for you.

The 2 canoes I regularly portage with camping gear are both under 50 lbs, and I generally plan on 2 trips across, so I tend to use my Knupac as a pack only. If the portages were a mile or more, I’d probably try to get through in one carry, but where I typically go, portages are a few hundred meters up to maybe 1 km. Also, portages viewed without a canoe overhead look considerably different. I even see wildlife when not wearing a 16’ hat. Which makes 2-carry portages worthwhile, except maybe when the flies are at their worst.

The control rope/buckle arrangement that KnuPac supplies is handy, regardless of whether one uses a Knupac for carrying one’s canoe.

eliminating wiggle in the cradle
Ah yes, the annoying squeek squeak of the thwart wiggling in the Y suports. My wife made quilted slip over pouches to fit on the Y peaces which eliminated the problem. One could also glue (or tape) Neoprene inside the Y peaces. My thwart was wide enough I didn’t really have a control problem, but the wood on fiberglass rub squeaked to high heaven until we applied the padding.

I never take the guide rope off of our canoe. We use it for minor holding and tie-ups etc and the bow and stern lines stay neatly coiled and tucked in except for when needed for heavier work.