Pack Canoe

Long-time kayaker, but new to canoes. What’s the definition of a “pack” canoe? How is it different from any other canoe?


the original SOT
Compared to other canoes, “pack” canoes are smaller and lighter and optimized for using a double-bladed paddle from a sitting position. Sort of like a SOT. But much much lighter. The seat is usually on the floor, like a kayak, which allows very low freeboard, and thus low weight. Originally, they were designed to be portaged deep into the woods and were used to access remote ponds and lakes in the Adirondack Mountains.

usually a small canoe
somewhat shallower mid section so that it can be paddled seated on the bottom with a double blade. Essentially a deckless kayak

Historically light and short enough to wear while tramping pond to pond on unmaintained mountain trails.

Modern pack canoes come in at sub 30 lbs. Often in the Adirondacks they are found perched on top of the wearers backpack.

15 foot is a long length for a pack canoe.

Its interesting that there is mystery today about this oldest form of recreational canoe.

Yes, but also . . .
I agree with the above - small, light, solo canoe. However, there are also folding canoes, made by Pak-Boat and Bergens of Norway that are also sometimes called pack canoes (because, well, they actually go in a pack).

Pack Canoe
Thanks for your feedback, and it certainly seems consistent with the boat I’m looking at - a Placid Boatworks RapidFire. As a long-time kayaker (both SOT and Sink) it seemed like an easier transition than some other canoes that I looked at. And, it’s also consistent with my primary intended use - small lakes and salt marshes. I just wasn’t sure if there was something I was missing in the term “pack”.

PS: Given the right length, would a Werner Kalliste paddle be appropriate for the RapidFire?

Thanks again.

The RF is a pack canoe design
but its length makes it suitable for bigger waters than small ponds and streams.

Made for those wanting more speed, needing to cover longer distances and for those like me that take extended two week solo trips.

Ergo it can be used both for daytripping exercise and extended tripping.

Any low angle blade ought to work. I don’t have experience with the one you seek info for.

If you have the low seat in the RF you can get a higher seat that nests over it and expand your horizons. Placid carries a FoxWorx single blade bent shaft that is short shafted for use in the RapidFire.

I hope you have many happy water miles in the future.

Kalliste and Ikelos are two of the carbon paddles Pb stocks; the K usually in 230cm length, but 220 works fine if you use a more vertical stroke.

New Rp owner
Just bought a rapidfire from Joe. Only used it 2 times so far for varried reasons but I love it! I’ve used it here on Long Island and in a few weeks I’ll be back up in the ADK’s for a weekend trip. I have knee issues and I took the high seat option and am very happy. I also plan on carrying the boat and the weight was an important factor. My friends who are veteran paddlers were very impressed when they demoed the boat. Last comment, very easy to get on and off the car rack and carry to the put in. I figured why wait a few more years so I went for it now. I’m still using my poly 17ft touring boat but much less. Once you try the boat you’ll be back very shortly to buy it. Enjoy and Joe is very helpful.

Yeah and he scratched it first time out

– Last Updated: Sep-09-11 5:02 PM EST –

Lucky for me, David put a few scratches on the RF, practicing exits and re-entries, before I paddled it or he would still be bitc*ing at me for getting it dirty. But you should have seen the look on his face when another paddler tried it and started to run it up onto the beach like she does with her poly boat. Fastest I ever saw those old "coldfeet" move.

Great boat but try the various seat heights out if you're interested in buying one. I prefer the low seat with the option to strap in the mid-height seat, since I'm not very good with a single blade paddle.

Again, thanks for all the help. I’m settled on the RF (see how quickly I pick up the lingo), and I’m thinking the higher seat would be better for my paddling style. But, since they can be stacked, I guess it would make sense to try the lower one first.

Has anyone actually tried stacking these seats? Is it a secure setup?

Test paddled with the stacked seat
I did a quick test paddle with the stacked seat and it felt OK; but I lean towards the low seat as I’m primarily a kayaker so my opinion might be skewed. My thinking is you can always add higher seats on top of the low one but you can’t go the other way. The seat pans are also angled differently if I remember correctly

I’d give Joe at Placid Boat Works a call and talk to him about your paddling style and how you’re going to use the boat.

Yes I own a Rapid Fire and both
high and low seats.Not the medium

The high seat fits over the low and is held in place by a modified bungee cord system that does not hit your body and hold the seat securely. The low seat is Plexused in and that is a very strong adhesive. The bungee is used not to hold the seat in place when paddling but to hold the seat in place while portaging so the high seat does not fall off.

Now a word on seat angles. The low seat is canted a little bit backward so your back engages the back band.

The high seat is canted a little less backward and throws your body forward so that your back won’t even touch the backband. This seat is meant mainly for single bladers.

and of course there are sliding seats available. Here is a page with pictures and dimensions


– Last Updated: Sep-10-11 4:24 PM EST –

RF buyers select the low seat with a 12 dg back angle. It throws one, restfully, back into the backband and keeps one's CG as low as possible but....That is probably a mistake. The medium had an 8dg and the high a 4dg back angle. Three thoughts.

It's harder to get out of the boat from the full lounge low seat.

The low seat inhibits paddling. because the torso is more bent over. Bird watching? cool; paddling? sit up and drive the boat.

Lastly, particularly as we age, it becomes less comfortable to have legs higher than our sitz bones.

Best to try all three, but remember, you'll get comfortable in the boat and probably prefer a more upright stance over time. The medium may be the best choice for most.

maybe the next iteration
will have the “Old Persons Ejection Seat”(aka lift chair)

I remember one malfunctioning and throwing its 88 year old occupant into the air and into a wall.

I like both seats for different reasons and different environments. I doubt I would have been happy on Lake Superior rollers with the high seat, and the low seat on my lake makes me fall asleep. I pay attention more to exercise with the high seat.

RF Seats
The message seems clear. I need to test paddle both high and low, which is a good excuse to go up to that beautiful part of the country anyway.

Thanks again for all your help.

PS: Kayamedic - kidding aside, I had to employ my ejection seat from a plane once and don’t want to ever go through anything like that again.

sorry it was just a variation
on what DY said once… paraphrased “the older you get the more phone books you need on the seat to get out of it”

Ejection seats

– Last Updated: Sep-10-11 9:29 PM EST –

Dear jen,

As an old F4 fire control system mechanic I'm sure you don't ever want to eject again but I'd like to thank you for your service.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

Rapidfire seats
If my old brain recalls correctly, I bought my Rapidfire in Fall '07. I also purchased both a low and a medium seat. The high seat wasn’t being produced at that time. The low seat tilts me back against the backband. It’s comfortable when my back is feeling tweaked a bit, but at a clear cost in paddling efficiency. The medium seat positions me more erect and off the backband. This positioning is clearly more efficient. The high seat makes the canoe slightly bow heavy. If one is a racer like Joe, this bow heavy tendency somewhat balances the rear squatting his powerful stroke induces.

It’s great that PB has three interchangeable seat choices, as well as the new sliding seat. No manufacturer has ever developed a seat that everyone likes.


Thank You Goobs
It was, in fact, an F4 with an H-7 seat. But I didn’t mean to stray from my original post.