what the heck kinda unit is "rod"??

a 15 rod portage.

a 39 rod portage, etc.

where does this come from?


old saxon term
about 16 1/2 feet, or the length of the left feet of the first 16 men to leave church on Sunday. I kid you not. Google is scary:


spare the rod
I once read a rod was the average length of a canoe(16.5 feet at the time).

one quarter of a chain
A chain is the basic surveying unit in the old English system and is 66 feet. A rod is 1/4 of a chain or 16.5 feet or 5.5 yards. Easy to remember that 80 rods is 1/4 mile, 320 is a mile for judging portages.

alrighty then…
next question.

how is it that there are folks on this forum who use it as part of their regular vernacular with the expectation that others know what the heck they are talking about? i’m being rhetorical here…

is this serious insiders lingo or am i just completely new?

or perhaps it has regular use in some regions…


Rod is the portage unit of measurement the the BWCAW. In Canada it is meters. I prefer meters.

It’s Funny
I have become so ingrained with “rods” from so many years of travel in the BW and Quetico that when a portage expressed in meters I have to do a mental conversion to rods to get a feel for how long it will be!

Just the opposite for me. The last 5 years I have been doing Canadian trips and I found meters to be a much more natural method of measurement. For me, 70 paces (each time the right foot hits the ground) equals 100 meters.

Long Stride!!??
100 meters in 70 paces is about 56 inches per stride.

Maybe 70M in 100 paces?

Or is my math all wrong?


Sorry difference of opinion. To me a PACE is each time my right foot hits the ground. A stride is each time each foot hits the ground.

I did some research

– Last Updated: Jan-26-05 5:46 PM EST –

How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement
© Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:


another name for a pace.

pace [1]
a traditional unit of distance equal to the length of a person's "full" pace, that is, the distance between two successive falls of the same foot. Thus one pace equals two steps. The Romans counted 1000 paces in a mile with each pace being a little over 58 inches (or about 148 centimeters). In English speaking countries, the pace is usually defined to be exactly 5 feet (or 152.4 centimeters); this unit is also called the great pace or geometrical pace. Obviously, a good metric version of the pace is exactly 1.5 meters.

They are the same. Mayhap you are referring to a "step"?

step [1]
a traditional unit of distance, equal to 1/2 pace. The step is traditionally equal to 30 inches or 76.2 centimeters. However, U.S. marching bands often use a shorter step of 22.5 inches (57.15 centimeters), so that 8 steps are made every 5 yards; this works well on American football fields, which have a chalkline every 5 yards. Using this shorter step is called marching "8 by 5."

All I know is I have paced it off stride by stride, with a GPS and I average 100 meters in 70 strides or paces on level ground with a light pack.

Now I’ve got it!!
Should have seen your explanation (pace) in the original post. My mistake.