Portaging hurts!

a lot of you know the boat I currently have. It’s a 1994 royalex dagger reflection 15. Great boat, and I absolutely love it. It’s easy to lift and get on my shoulders…but man does it hurt my arms to carry. I’ve watched Kevin’s videos and heeded his advice.

My yoke is actually a combination seat/yoke from eds canoe. It’s placed in the center of the canoe and is slanted downward to help me kneel in wind/waves.

I don’t need to carry it on portaging trails, as we don’t have any where I live, but occasionally need to park farther away from put ins and would just enjoy the boat even more if I could carry it with confidence.

Are there any tips and tricks I could use to make this easier? I’ve heard you can tie a rope to the bow and hold onto it. Willing to try anything!

Legend has it that the French-Canadian voyageurs would run across their portages fully loaded with packs and gear, the theory being that the increase in discomfort is worth the shorter duration of the carry. I’ve tried it a few times. Let’s just say those voyageurs must have been in excellent shape. I found it very hard on the knees.

Cliff Jacobson has written about a tumpline rig for carrying canoes. I haven’t tried it, but I’d love to hear a report:

Sure I use a line that runs from bow to stern with a quick release buckle in the middle to avoid hanging myself when I put the canoe down

Its about two feet longer than the distance between stems. That way I can adjust the trim of the boat on my shoulders without tensing up the trapezius which is what you do when you hang on to the gunwales. Weight on a tense muscle is painful. I carry my hands at my sides by my hips when portaging… Only have to grab a gunwale when making a rocky stream crossing.

Strong neck muscles are a requirement for a tump… Some cultures start young with carrying weights on their heads with increasing weight as in training. If you have a desk jockey neck it takes time to do this.
And BTW voyageurs were expendable and sometimes died… Its spooky to find a grave in the woods.

“portaging hurts”…yes it is a pain.

Sounds like something for Myth Busters to test, similar to the “do you get more/less wet running versus walking in the rain…”

IIRC, the answer was to carry an umbrella, and wear proper gear. :slight_smile:

Alright, so I made a discovery today. I was at a consignment shop and noticed a mad river st croix. It had a nice yoke on it, so I decided to heft it up and carry it around. To my astonishment, this heavier-than-my-own canoe was a breeze to carry.

So far as I can tell, the only difference b/t carrying this canoe and my own is the yoke and its placement.

Is there a way to modify this setup so I can portage it more easily? The yoke in my boat (pictured) doesn’t seem to be working for me, but the center seat really helps my paddling.

I’m going to attach some pictures of my canoe so you can see the set up:

buy a set of wheels are use those to get to the water.

Here is an option:

but it is probably too short for your canoe. You may be able to come up with something similar.

Wenonah sells hardware to make the yoke removable. On 2 solos and my 3 seat Reflection 15 I use a Mohawk web yoke.https://www.mohawkcanoes.com/collections/seats-yokes-and-thwarts/products/webbing-yoke I’ve used one of these for about 30 years with no issue. Unbuckle it, roll it up and it’s out of the way. By the way, the front of my center seat is 11" back from the canoe center line. Not sure if was factory installed or by a previous owner.

Forgotten Voyageur

Forgotten voyageur,
laying in bayberry,
his weary mes amis,
wiped hands of dirt, continued carry,

pelt bundles on a tumpline,
portage birchbark overhead,
run or walk no longer matters,
you’re late delivery when you’re dead.

Great news! I ordered a removable yoke from northstar canoes and it’s a gem. I’ve taken my canoe to places I couldn’t go before and it’s wayyyyy easier to lift. I’m sure if I did it on an actual trail it would still require some breaks and it would still suck on longer treks, because Portaging isn’t supposed to be easy. But now at least I know I could do it!