Solo Portage Yoke

I’m looking for a portage yoke to fit a Swift Shearwater for portaging in the BWCAW. So far I’ve seen the Bell and a similar looking one called the Superior Universal Yoke (its about half the price of the Bell).

I’m probably not going to have time to build and test one on my own. Any thoughts on a good solid yoke?

here are a few - spring creek

Cheap Idea
Depending on distance of the carry, you may not need a lot of yoke, just a little padding. I will assume your current thwart has a neck opening or keyhole, rather than being a straight stick.

Try the fabric shop for a chunk of closed cell foam. You can tie it on the thwart with a shoelace, then stuff the pads back in your pack when not need. As long as you don’t have the thwart digging into the back of your neck, this should be all you need.

Another way is to simply drape your PFD over your shoulders and let that cushion the thwart.

I’ve used both methods with my 72 lb Prospector for a number of years now with satisfactory results.

Ideally, I would like to find a carry yoke that mimics some old ones I saw at the Adirondack Museum at BLue Mtn. Lake. It was a box-like contraption that fitted over the thwart. The unpadded box sat squarely on your shoulders, while the boat could pitch on the box. This allows the canoe to tilt up or down without grinding into your shoulders. I did find something called a “Piv-Yoke,” that is allegedly available thru the CRCA, but all my inquiries have gone unanswered.

Sturdy and Comfy
Sturdy and comfy are the main goals. I anticipate doing some long portages.

If the stars align, the canoe will be waiting on me when I get to Northern MN. So I need to fit the yoke on the spot prior to taking to the waters. One thought is to by or make a conventional carry yoke of approximate size and fit some nice storebought pads to it, then just do a final cut to fit, balance check (with handy clamps) and hole drilling job on my pickup tailgate.

What would be the downside of a conventional carry yoke cut to fit and attached with four bolts and wing nuts (All bolts and wing nuts spray painted flourescent orange of course, with spares likewise). It wouldn’t take more than a couple of extra minutes at portage landings, and might actually save time if the set up was rock solid vs. a loosey goosey single bolt clamp set up which I – ever the skeptic – invision springing loose just as a wind gust tries to pry the canoe from my grasp as I straddlle a sharp bolder protruding from a thin sphagnum mat…oh heck, maybe I’ll just stay home :-).

Hey Osprey
What kind of boat are you picking up?


Its a Swift Shearwater, but lets keep it quiet so’s not to jinx the schedule :-).

Try Helock canoes
I saw a nice wooden one that they sold that could be removed with some thumb screws.

Thanks to all
Thanks, everyone, for all these ideas.

That example jon_l provided does look very good and easy enough to put together. I’ll try to report back on what I go with and how it works.