Thwart bags

I need a waterproof thwart bag for my new canoe and would appreciate recommendations from any of you canoe folks (duckheads?)

thwart bags
I’ve found the term “waterproof” to be a relative term when it comes to dry bags. If you are planning to go into the bag more than very occasionally, I would consider a non-waterproof bag big enough to hold a dry box, or dry boxes for the stuff that really does need to be kept dry (camera, cell phone, GPS, wallet), or a non-waterproof thwart bag and a good-sized separate dry box.

I would think that fumbling with the closure would get old if you use the bag for frequently accessed items like sunblock, glasses, etc. but then, I have never used a waterproof thwart bag (I’ve used plenty of “dry” bags).

Granite Gear makes some nice nylon thwart bags in a couple different sizes, if you choose to go that route.

Do you really need “waterproof”?
Or will “water resistant” suffice? The Granite Gear ones are indeed nice. I like their design (wedge-shaped) and they have water-resistant zippers.

I am a fan of Cooke Custom Sewing, but I believe the GG thwart bags have them beat.


Granite Gear
The Granite Gear wedge thwart bags are suspended well above the bottom of the boat. If it is pouring down rain, you could cover it with a little waterproof ground cloth or tarp material. The contents would only get wet if you dumped.

I have not yet owned a dry bag that I would consider completely waterproof in the event of total immersion. If I have stuff that absolutely needs to stay completely dry, it goes in a dry box anyway.

If you don’t really need waterproof
… you might consider rigging fannie pack you already have.

Fer sheer class…

– Last Updated: May-07-09 8:11 AM EST –

it be de Duluth Pack Thwart Bag.... (zoytenlee not waterproof)


Thanks everyone
Very good suggestions and resources. Thank you.

Thwart Bags
The issue[s] with standard thwart bags for a pack canoe are that the reduced height of the pack canoe generally drops the thwart bag into bilge water, and that one generally cannot reach a bag on the front thwart from the pack canoe seat.

The BagLady will have a pack canoe thwart bag that solves these problems by mid summer.

You are right
The front thwart of my Tupper isn’t very high off the bottom, plus my feet have to go there, too.

I look forward to seeing what the Bag Lady comes up with.

Do you have an opinion of which would be better for my Tupper, a cover from the Bag Lady or one from Danuu? I want to protect her from the Florida sun and lovebugs.


I’m not particularly familiar w/ Danu, but have known the BagLady, Sue Audette, for years.

She is sewing various products for my old Company, Placid boatworks, and I’m sending her several new designs this summer, so I’m kinda biased on the basis of fine performance over years.

yes you can reach
even I can get ahold of the bag that the portage yoke came in from Bag Lady whilst I paddle RapidFire.

Its a good stretching excercise. However any improvements are welcome for a true thwart bag…my main issue with standard thwart bags in the Rapid/Spit configuration is they block access to anything (like the errant water bladder) that manages to roost foreships of the thwart bag. This is due to the thwart bags width…can be solved by putting feet over each side.

well again

– Last Updated: May-08-09 10:29 PM EST –

Most folks find that reach awkward. I've a new design going to Sue next week that is triangular and attached to the seat and twice to the thwart to tension it up out of the bilge slop.

She does need waterproof, if it’s the
front thwart, because she’ll be using a double blade paddle.

OT Pack
In my OT Pack, the thwart is right there in front of you…in very easy reach so a bag hung there is no problem for me. It’s also quite high, so if it were to get wet from too much water being in the canoe…you have other problems to deal with, such as why is there 5" plus of water in your canoe? I guess it all depends on where the thwart is, height, etc. Remember you can very easily reposition the thwart, or add a second one. I wouldn’t hesitate to do either if it help with convenience and comfort.

You can move thwarts?
Is that true of all canoes?

Anyone can move a thwart - easier to move further towards the stems than towards center because it is easier to cut the old unit down. Pick a position, swing an arc to both rails from the nearest stem, drill both holes, shorten the thwart to fit and redrill and bolt it in.

That said, the rails now are somewhat weakened by additional holes, and, if the rails are wood, those holes need be plugged and sealed to resist degradation.

In a pack canoe with fixed seat, we want the aft thwart close enough to serve as a back rest of support an adjustable back band. The further behind the seat that thwart is, the worse job it does in that function.

The front thwart spacing in a pack canoe needs to be far enough forward so the paddler’s knees clear getting in and out, and reachable so the paddler can lock paddle to thwart to brace the boat and use the thwart like arms on a chair to pull against for egress.

Lastly, in any hull, we want the forward thwart to be reachable when the boat is being portaged so the carrier can control pitch.

Not all pack manufactures think all that through, but most do, so take personal responsibility when moving thwarts.

Thank you
for explaining that. I think my Tupper was pretty well thought out, though, so I won’t be reconfiguring anythng.

thinking outside (er, inside) the box

Dry bags are cool tools for carrying water-sensitive gear in boats, but they have a number of downsides. They cost a lot, they’re difficult to organize, they do in fact sometimes let water in, and they don’t have much use outside the world of paddling. If you plan to do much overnight tripping, and especially if you frequent challenging whitewater streams, you definitely need to invest in a full set of quality dry bags. However, for day trips and for gear you tend to keep at hand, there are a number of other types of containers that may be superior.

Foremost among these are clear plastic boxes. Shop your big box retailer in the hardware, kitchen goods and sports sections, and you’ll find a wide variety of boxes that are superior to dry bags for certain applications. Trial and error and creativity will help you find the right choices over time. Add in some imaginative thinking with small ropes and carbiniers and Velcro and other fasteners, and in time you can personalize and make useful your boat’s cockpit even more than you do your daily driver’s.

thwart bags
Cabela’s makes a nice waterproof thwart bag…good value.

I’ve also used a zippered bag from REI…kind of like a big bucket, and the whole bottom half is waterproof…easy to attach to thwart and would ride on the boat floor but totally waterproof and roomier than a true thwart bag.

There are lots of good options! I’ve also got a nice Granite Gear bag and an old bag from Grade VI that I’ve used a lot. You could use a cheap soft-sided cooler and it would work just fine.

I highly recommend…
Lock N Lock containers… Walmart has them for a few bucks each, and they have many different sizes and styles. I use them for geocaching and they are absolutely waterproof. I plan on using one for my absolutely dry gear like wallet, camera, etc. I expect they will float too, just in case they need to :wink: