I live in NC and have little access to any canoes of decent quality to test or even lift. I’m trying to get an idea of what a 60lb canoe is like to handle and portage. Back in 2006 I portaged an Alumacraft 17’ and it was quite a beast. Not pleasurable to say the least. I thought I remember them saying it weighed in at around 80lb. I looked at their website and their current models are at 64lb. Could their weight have been reduced that drastically in the last 5 years? The canoe I want is either the NC Bob or Pal. They are both around 60 and I am just trying to get an idea of what 60lb is like. Silly question I know, any input would be appreciated.
Aluminum Canoe Weights
Aluminum canoes come in several weights depending on the usage. Grumman & Michicraft make lightweight canoes for the retail trade and heavier livery models to take the pounding of the rental trade. Heavy weight in a livery model also makes it less atrractive to steal. Livery models are constructed of a heavier gauge aluminum and have heavier ribs, thwarts, and keel. And may have more ribs to reinforce the hull.
The low to mid 60’s would be typical for a retail model in 0.040" thickness. For a fit person a 60# hull is manageable. Get a good carry yoke for it and it will feel another 10# lighter.
In composite canoes, a 50# tandem is good, a 40# tandem is great. For comparison i have a 64# Kevlar 4 Person Canoe that is 23’ long. It is manageable by one person, but not any fun over 1/4 mile distance. The 40# tandem is a joy to carry over long portages.
Its all relative,
Not a silly question at all
I don’t canoe (I kayak) but I can comment generally on weight. What you consider a manageable weight will be pretty personal and will depend on your age, gender, fitness, how far you have to carry the boat, how much you’re willing to suffer, whether you have a paddling partner to help carry the canoe, what kind of cart you have if any, how you load the canoe on your vehicle, whether you can afford a very light canoe, and so on.
My personal weight standards are:
60 lbs: No way. Likely to cause bodily injury.
55 lbs: Nope. Not fun.
50 lbs: Tolerable for short distances, like garage to car.
45 lbs: Better. Pretty tolerable, actually.
40 lbs: Ahhh . . . a kayak I’m willing to load and unload on a daily basis . . . but probably can’t afford.
35 lbs: Heavenly.
Your standards will surely be different. For me personally, weight is a major criterion for selecting a boat, because it determines how often I paddle. Heavy boats end up spending a lot of time in the garage.
Depends on your size and strength.
I am a big guy, 6’3" and about 250. I used to paddle a canoe often in WW. After hauling my Dagger Legend 16, nominally around 75# (and with full float bags adding more) up the hill at The Loop on the Yough a few times, I decided enough of that, I need a kayak!!
To me, 60# would be a fine. My Nighthawk 175 kayak weighs 55# and is easy to carry by comparison.
You won’t be portaging a whole lot in NC. But I’m big and strong and young, but I still want a boat in the fifties. Sixty even ok.
on at least one factor I can think of…Portage thwart design. Example. I have a Dagger Reflection 15 with a center seat, 53 pounds I believe. Royal PITA to handle solo. My Swift Dumoine, 74 pounds, with a rounded portage thwart is a sweetheart to handle solo. Got a few boats in the 50-57 pound class with saddles, and they’re alright to carry on level ground, but sometimes a pain climbing rocks and ducking under trees. The 27 pound Millbrook rests on a shoulder or gets shown off by being thrown in the air over my head.
Personal opinion, 60 pounds with a good portage thwart should be no problem.
My next boats are going to be Millbrooks however, because boats in the 35-40 pound range really get me drooling, and my buddy with the Blackgold Chestnut Prospector says it added 10 years to his poling life.
NC will not be my permanent state of residence. I’m only here because I am stationed at Camp Lejeune. It is my intent to get out in 2 years and head up to the north woods to reside. So lots of portaging is definitely in the cards. While i’m here weight certainly isn’t much of an issue, except having to get it on and off the car by myself.
For loading and unloading -no problem
but for portaging any distance it won’t be much fun.
I wish you were out in the western part of NC, and I could let you pick up some of my many canoes.
I have them from 19 pounds all the way up to 80 pounds and a bunch in between
If you are young and strong you could handle that 60 pounder on a flat portage, but I would want a fifty pounder or less since I am over the hill.
My canoe is about 60 lbs and it is no trouble at all to cartop and carry to put-ins. I have not portaged it in the “hiking on trails between lakes” sense. But with a little more padding on my yoke, I think I’d be just fine for a mile or two.
Since you are a Marine, surely you are acustomed to humping through the woods with 60 lbs on your shoulders. Frankly, I find a canoe easier to carry than a ruck as the weight is nicely balanced. Unless your vehicle is crazy tall, and therefore very difficult to put things on top of, you’ll be fine with a 60 lbs canoe.
50 lbs or less
should be your goal. Not a problem with most single canoes, but you'll have to get one of Kevlar versions (sandwiched with glass and/or polyester or whatever that brand is cooking). Pure fiberglass will likely be heavier, not to mention ABS or aluminumn. From the original post it sounds like you don't want to consider anything but aluminum. Tough luck, then.
As to the question "how it feels" - this is individual. I'm with Waterbird here: 60 lbs - no way, 55 - not fun, 50 - tolerable on short distances. Canoeists can comfortably carry heavier boats than kayakers because of better weight distribution, BUT... 60 lbs is still 60 lbs on your bones and joints. If it won't cause you a hernia or knee injury, it will hasten the arthritis onset. If you read carefully, proponents of portages with 60 lbs canoe wish it were 40 lbs because this would add years to their life...
When cartoping, it doesn't matter whether it's 60 lbs kayak or canoe - lifting that much weight is a pain in any event.
The lighter - the better, your body will thank you. Not a problem to get a fairly wide 15ft long composite canoe @37-40 lbs.
want anything BUT aluminum. I was just using my experience portaging one to have some comparison for weight. I am leaning toward NC kev/spec or Wenonah's Tuf-Weave. Thanks for all the help so far folks. I know it is kind of a difficult question to answer.
If you are planning on lots of portaging up in the northwoods, I think you will really be glad you went with a composite layup.
For a Texan I’ve had a fair amount of portage experience up in the BWCAW. Even when in my 20’s a big 70+ lb royalex canoe was a beast to handle on relatively tame portages. In my mid to late forties a 50+ lb composite canoe was manageable on some fairly grueling portages up in Ontario. A few years later a kevlite Bell Northwind (low 40’s in weight) was like a dream to portage even on some pretty long trails. At 50 years old a 50+ lb kevlar Wenonah 20’ 3 man canoe was doable for me on some really long and challenging portages up in the BWCAW.
My personal boats rarely get carried more that 100 yards and mostly much less than that. Still the 55 lb. Kevlar Explorer is tremendously easier to carry, store and load than the 80 lb. Royalex Revelation.
I’ve got a NC Pal in Royalex and it weighs in the low 60’s. The NC portage yoke is outstanding. The boat is easy to handle for what I do here in Texas and I think I could still handle it on short portages up in the Northwoods. Still, I’d take the Explorer to save a few pounds, or better yet rent an ultra light kevlar boat from an outfitter.
Enjoy whatever you get!
And thanks for what you do!!!
Love my 30# KevUL Wen Solo and
looking at a similar tandem like the Escapade in the 40’s. Bang mine around a lot and lots of scuffs, scratches, and fuzzies, but no breaks yet. Lot easier to handle for this old dog than my 50+# RX 15’ tandem Dagger Legend rocky river ride. R
How long is your portage?
I don’t have any problems, at 54, carrying my 75lb NC Prospector a couple hundred yards at a time - largely due to it’s excellent yoke. But getting it up on my shoulders is a bit of work - although it isn’t so much trouble once you get over trying not to scratch the boat.
OTOH - lifting the 62lb OT Penobscot isn’t a problem. I think a 60lb canoe like the Pal would be reasonable, so long as your portages are not very long or difficult or numerous, and you are not trying to keep the gun’ls pretty.
But I’m saying this as one who has a 44lb composite on the way, even though I don’t often do much in the way of portaging. I am absolutely certain that I will use the lightweight boat more often than I would any of my 60-75lb boats.
Old man’s lift
I was about finished with heavy boats (70 lbs and more) until I discovered the “old man’s lift.” Instead of picking the boat up amidship by the gunwale and flipping it onto your shoulders, you start at the stern. Lay the boat upside down on the ground and put one hand under each gunwale, reaching forward a foot or so. Pick the stern of the boat up over your head - the bow is resting on the ground. Now walk yourself and your hands forward until you can duck under the portaging yoke. Then just rock the boat onto your shoulders. Reverse the process to set it down.
This technique takes care of what I considered the most dangerous part of portaging. I was always afraid of losing my balance/footing while flipping the boat onto my shoulders and ending up in heap under the boat, possibly with injuries.
A variation of the technique can be used to load and unload. Just picture putting one end on the car and then sliding the boat on.
I don’t use the heavy boats more than I have to, but with this technique I’m still able to use my heavy royalex whitewater boat thus avoiding damage to my lighter hulls.
And, as others have mentioned, with a comfortable yoke once the boat is on your shoulders the rest is not too bad.
Don’t pass up the boat you really want just for a few pounds.
That is how I do it. Minor scratches on vinyl are no big deal. If I had a heavy boat with wood gun’ls, I would do the same and put a pad or something under the end opposite from the one I am lifting first.
I reverted to the Old Man Lift for my 85
pound Moore when I portaged it in Quetico back in '73. Boats that heavy are hard to “throw”, although Maine Guides do it routinely.
After getting into whitewater, where pedestal seating usually prevents use of a portage yoke, I learned to carry all my boats on my head. This has had the side benefit of preserving my full height, while high school classmates at the 50 year reunion had all lost 1-2 inches. I can “throw” my 65 pound Mad River Synergy up on my head in a single motion, and carrying it 100 yards is no problem. For longer carries, I put on an old Kelty pack frame with extension bar, and I throw the Synergy up to rest on the extension bar. A rockered WW boat actually rests steadier on one’s head or the pack frame than a straight hull.
For camping we have a 48 pound Bluewater tandem with portage yoke. The yoke bounces a bit, which is annoying. If I went to Quetico again, I would do some pre-conditioning, just getting more used to the pressure on my shoulders. The leg effort is OK with such a light canoe.
It is much harder to lift and carry my 60 pound touring kayak than it is to carry the Synergy, because there is no way to “throw” it, and no way to balance it on my head or shoulders. Some whitewater kayaks I can rest on my head, on the front foam wall, with the back sides of the cockpit on my shoulders. Works pretty well for a short carry.