Pack Canoe Durability?

I’m thinking about a pack canoe for use on twisty East Texas rivers and backwaters filled with downed trees, submerged logs etc.

In a race last month my nephew did really well going over, under, through and around fallen trees in a Pamlico 140. That got me thinking that a light, nimble sit on the bottom canoe might be a good fit for that kind of water. I’m wondering if the composite pack canoes can handle getting dragged over logs and hitting submerged logs, etc. Does anyone make a plastic pack canoe other than Old Town?

Two companies come to mind

– Last Updated: Sep-16-07 5:59 PM EST –

For modern day Pack canoes. Hemlock Canoe Co. that builds the Nessmuk and Nessmuk XL are pretty true in size and shape to the pack canoes that Ruston built for Author George Washington Sears whos pen name was Nessnuk. They are sit on the floor light weight at only 16 lbs. G.W. Sears would have loved the weight, his boats were wood and he only weighed 100 lb. himself. They are perfect for the stump jumping you mention.

The other Company is Placid Boat Works that makes a more modern high performance pack boats. The names are Spitfire 12' and Rapidfire 15' they are also sit on the floor ( seat optional )and light weight, 23 lb. and 28 lb. These are designed as fast open deck boats for use with a kayak paddle.

These are all composite and durable as you can get. If you want plastic....get a Swifty style kayak and a rubber ducky. Small, durable, and low cost. That's what the Texas Lady uses. She loves it.

You should be able to find plans for historic pack boats if you wanted to build one yourself.

I would not consider the Oldtown Pack a true pack boat because of its weight and the fact that it has a hanging caned seat.

Old Town Pack
The OT Pack is a great boat for creek bashing over logs, on rocks, etc.

The Old Town Pack is a nice canoe for small, twisty creeks. Having owned both, I thought the Wenonah Sandpiper was a little better than the OT Pack, but it’s discontinued, I believe. While both had seats and were in the 33 pound range, they have/had the advantage of being able to carry some gear, and the Royalex was durable and a whole lot quieter than any composite material, especially if you were scraping over rock and gravel in skinny water.

Yep, the Sandpiper was discontinued.
When looking at it next to the Vagabond, people went for the longer Vagabond, also a decent canoe for small venues.

Thanks and extras
Thanks for the mention, NT. Our weights have changed a little. CobraSox rails bring SpitFire is 21 lbs fully outfitted for tripping with backband, footpegs and a molded seat and 19 lbs with traditional pack canoe trim.

Other packcanoes to consider are manufactured by Bell, Hemlock, Heritage/Compass, Hornbeck, Vermont Canoe and WeNoNah has a new Wee Lassie, 12.6 by 29 if memory serves. In all cases, ther paddler sits on a low seat and uses a double blade, euro, kayak paddle. The obvious advantages in directional control, tracking, and cadence, speed, make the pack canoe a high tech, super light recreational kayak with a 150 year old heritage.

While some of these are 11 to 16 lb ultra lights and somewhat fragile, others are rugged tripping hulls in the 20-25 lb range. There is quite a lot of variation in size, features and construction.

Paddlers can project hiking time verse river/ rough water performance and make their choice, but all are pretty portable. ABS is a fine material for some uses, but the relatively heavy weight and poor performance pretty much preclude ABS as a hull material for pack boats. It doesn’t compare well with modern composites. Too heavy to carry and slow to paddle.


Some interesting photos, Rushton Boats

– Last Updated: Sep-17-07 6:46 PM EST –

Check out the war canoe being lowered for the second floor of the boat shop.

Note that there are 4 pages of historic photos here.

Also the 1881 boat catalog with prices

Comments and Questions
N.T., I don’t need no stinking kayak! :slight_smile: Seriously my wife’s Pamlico 14 did mighty good in that water, but it did have my gung ho army nephew motoring it.

I’d love to build a stripper and the pack canoe light really came on as I was admiring the Rob Roy in Ted Moore’s canoe craft book. Could I live with one of you guys when my wife kicks me out for starting a boat in the garage?

The Old Town Pack looks like fun, and at least you do see them for sale used in these parts occasionally. A brief paddle in one made me think of an Old Town Camper model scaled down, kind of bland. The primary stability seemed pretty fair but past that it looked iffy. I’d really like something pretty efficient.

I’ve looked at the suggested sites. Some I was pretty familiar with. I don’t think Dave Curtis makes a boat I wouldn’t love to own. And Placid just seems to be first class in innovation as well as quality. I’m going back to study the design page some more, lots of new terms to me.

Here is a question: It seems like there is a difference between say a Wenonah “Wee Lassie” which their web illustration suggests has straight sides and the Rob Roy shown in Ted Moore’s book which has lots of flare, almost looking like a little guideboat. Why the big difference in flare among boats designed for similar use? To my simple mind more flare is better as long as you can still reach the water :-). There are bound to be tradeoffs to what you can do with hull shape and still wind up with the desired width for gunwales at the paddler’s position. Do the boats of this type with more flare have less initial stability?

OK I’m thinking too much again, but when you’re stuck out here in the land of fewer canoe choices to test paddle you’re often left to puzzle more than paddle.

Awesome Photos
Thanks for sharing those links, N.T.! I love the war canoing being lowered. The shot of Remmingto trimmed bow light in the waves is a classic too! Going back to look some more…

you’re right
in thinking that continuous flare is a good thing as long as you can reach the water, which will be easy with a double bladed paddle. It becomes more problematic in a traditionally outfitted solo powered with a single blade. It will direct waves away from the hull and increase secondary stability greatly. Initial stability may be slightly less that a flat bottomed hull, but if you’re sitting as low as you will in a pack canoe you won’t notice a thing.

At the state park where I volunteer
we have a canoe for the guide (me). It’s a Tupelo and I believe it’s made by We-no-nah. About ten feet long, made of expanded foam plastic and definitely a sit-on-bottom. About zero in the primary stability department due to its almost semi-circular cross-section. Heels well though, and secondary stability is great. Great for paddling swamps, creeks and brush-busting but with its low freeboard I don’t recommend it for large open waters.

Use a double-blade or a shorter solo paddle than what you’re used to.

I’m gonna try paddling from the kneeling position Tuesday AM about a half-hour before the day’s tour.

I wouldn’t recommend it for poling…

Dagger made a Tupelo pack canoe