Portaging: 101

When going on a canoe trip, portaging is one of those things that makes many beginners nervous. It’s not that it’s hard to do, it is simply burdensome. Many veteran canoers enjoy portaging because the gives them a great chance to stretch their legs, do some exploring, and have a meal.

Your personal fitness level is the main factor that determines the difficulty of portaging. Other things to consider are the weight of your packs and canoe and the trail conditions. Of course, there’s nothing you can do about condition trail, but there are things you can always do to portaging easier on yourself. For instance, the weight of the packs and canoe is something you must simply accept, but you can make them more comfortable by purchasing a canoe with a good yoke and yoke pads and packs that come with padded straps. Only bring the items that you need without ever packing and try to limit anything you will have to carry by hand such as water bottles, sunscreen, cameras, and other things. It is best to use a small backpack to hold those extra items.

Always lift with your legs when portaging. You any to squat low, grasp the canoe, and stand back up while keeping your back straight. It is best to have a canoe that has a yoke and yoke pads centered. Even if your canoe is heavy, one person can carry it easier in the center because the weight will be more balance than for two people to carry it at the end. The trick to this is to balance the new on your shoulders, get yourself used to the pressure, then switch caring the canoe with someone else once you need a break.

Once you have learned to portage correctly, you may find it to be a great break from the boat, a chance to get out and stretch a bit. You may want to try portaging before you take your first canoe trip since practice makes perfect.