Nessmuk XL, Bucktail, Hornbeck, etc.

I would very much like to hear about the experiences the Nessmuk XL, Bucktail, Hornbeck, etc. (“pack” style) canoe paddlers have had and why they have chosen that style.

Thanks in advance,


Recent Thread
Don’t know if you saw it but there was a recent thread on pack type canoes that might have some of what you’re looking for.

Those boats look like a ton of fun. I started looking at CLC stitch and glue Sassafrass 12’ kit the other day.

Good luck

Ultra light kayak as well
You may also be interested in Hornbeck’s new ultra light

kayak, 24 lbs. they say. It is 16 something feet long and one

fellow who got the first one really felt it to be quite excellent.

Lightweight pack canoes

That recent thread started with my inquiry, and I did get some good tips.

May I ask, what are you looking for in a pack? How light do you want to go? What is your weight with expected gear?

I ask because I am working through these questions myself.

My current plan is to spend a day in the Adirondacks test paddling all of the candidates, then hopefully take one of them home.

Thanks much each of you.

I hadn’t heard about the 16’ Hornbeck. I hope that it appears on their web site.

Al, I weigh 265# and would like to use one for quiet water paddling - no portages - no gear. My 6 year old grand daughter may be accompanying me on a regular basis though and she currently weighs 42#, but I suspect that will increase over time. :wink:

I have been intrigued by the few things I have read about the paddling experiene of that style of boat. Several have stated thar there is a much closer “intimacy” with the water while paddling because of the low seat position.


Nessmuk experience
I had a chance to try the Nessmuk at the Raystown gathering a couple weekends ago. I can see the notch it fits but frankly I didn’t like it. Keep in mind I am primarily a seakayaker and I found that sitting on the floor of this boat paddling a double blade I had to use a stroke that kept my elbows really high to avoid whacking the gunnels. It behaved well behaved, stable, heeled nicely and would be ideal for small ponds interspersed with numerous portages, but as my primary calm water only boat I would personally look elsewhere.


P.S. I also had a chance to retry the Bell Rob Roy and found myself really lukewarm on this boat too.

Thanks Pyker. I very appreciate your input.


I am #240, and when I tried to get my big ass into a small Hemlock, Nesmuck type, the gunnels flexed so much I did not get in. I did not want to break this nice boat.

Thanks Mad
I weigh 265#.

Placid Boatworks
Check out their Spitfire at

Not so Wee Lassie…
Since you will use it unloaded on quiet water, I can see why one of these pack canoes is attractive to you. But given your size and plans for your grand-daughter to accompany you, I think you will need to consider one of the larger versions of these boats. Peter Hornbeck’s 12 ft version has a variety of interchangeable seating and paddling options, and has an advertised capacity that should accomodate you and your grand-daughter. I’m not sure if the other “super-sized” pack boats would have this seating versatility, even though they might be able to carry the weight.

That probably tells you something… the design of these little pack boats is generally for one person. If your grand-daughter is going to regularly accompany you, perhaps a true tandem design is a better choice (especially in a few years when she has grown)? But if she will only paddle with you once in a while, and if you are really “stuck” on the pack canoe design, then perhaps the Hornbeck might work.

One more option (are you sitting down?) – get one for you and another for your grand-daughter. Doesn’t Mohawk make a small pack-style canoe (less $$)? – I think they advertise it as a children’s boat. You have to dig a bit on their website to find it, though.

Lastly, I think I might be guilty of describing paddling one of these little pack boats as “intimate”. Well, it is. But you should definitely try paddling one yourself to decide if this is the design for you. As you can see from some of the earlier postings, it doesn’t work for everyone.