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10/18/2017 11:03PM
New Trip Report posted by 30Smoke

Trip Name: First Solo - EP 27 Amitious trip.

Entry Point: 27

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distinguished member(1102)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/19/2017 07:57AM
Thanks for the report. I'm glad you are hoping to give it another shot. Ditch the aluminum canoe and go with Kevlar. Make it a goal to get your gear down to no more than 70 lbs. Try an easier route with less portaging. Unless you are a fanatic about fishing, leave that gear behind. Once you get a pleasurable trip behind you, you will get more and more eager to figure out how to improve your experience by cutting back on weight, deciding what you really need to bring with vs. what you want to bring with for those "just in case" moments that usually never happen. I'm not a minimalist by any means but 3 years ago 2 of us took close to 150 lbs. of gear + canoe on an a moderate route but moved every day; it was doable but not too enjoyable. Last year 4 of us took around 250 lbs. + canoe on a semi hard route but base camped. It was enjoyable but the 2 travel days were a full 7 hours of paddling and tough portaging. It was okay. This year 2 of us took 135 lbs. of gear + canoe on an easier route; we base camped but we still had 4 portages in and 4 out. The week was extremely relaxing and fun. Next year I already have it down to 100 lbs. for 2 people + canoe. Can't wait to portage with no pack weighing more than 40 lbs.

Easy places to cut weight and bulk - canoe, clothes, food, sleeping pad, sleeping pad, tent, and luxury items. All of these can most likely be cut back while not giving up comfort or compromising safety. When I got back into paddling after a 25 year hiatus I purchased equipment based on the luxury factor; I have since replaced it all based on the weight and bulk factor. If you want to send me a message I will send you my packing list for each year to show you where I cut back.

There is another site that you can join (it's free, but the paid version is worth it for the extra details) that you can use to calculate your route based on your paddling speed, portage speed, loading/unloading time, and # of trips across a portage. It will also provide you a graph for each portage to show the altitude change along the way and it provides you with a difficulty index. Many people have posted campsite reports, portage reports, and photo's of both. is still superior for conversing with others and catching up on a variety of topics. In my opinion you won't find a better group of people to learn from and share your experiences with. The other site is great for gathering details about your route or planning/calculating your route.
distinguished member (472)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/19/2017 12:18PM
Go again. You will not regret it. Learn from others about gear. I still bring everything I want to but by talking to hikers and reading the message boards here I have really learned how to lighten my packs. My main pack weighs around 22 pounds and my food pack weighs less than 15 pounds. Rent a Kevlar solo canoe too. So much easier to carry and most good solo's handle wind with no problem.
Food is just a matter of preference. I carry a stove though even if I don't plan on cooking. When its cold the best way to warm up is to have a cup of hot cocoa or tea or whatever.
10/19/2017 01:14PM
Thanks for the report, 30smoke. I think you had mentioned after the trip that it didn't go as planned . . . ?

I know it can be hard to do one about a trip that just didn't work out positively, but it's a great opportunity to learn from your experience and get input from others. It also will serve to help others planning their first solo.

I've done about a dozen solo canoe trips now (not counting some short solo backpacking trips before that), some as long as 12 days. A lot of things have been changed in that time ;). I'll echo what's already been said by Northwoodsman and jeepgirl, and maybe add a little.

What you already know:

You must cut weight. A lot of weight. How much? And how? Be realistic about how much you can COMFORTABLY carry across the longest, toughest portage. Multiply by 2 (you know you don't want to triple or quadruple portage). Subtract the weight of the canoe and associated items - paddles (yes, take a spare), yoke, PFD, painters - from that total. I agree that you should rent the kevlar solo; you can drop 40 lbs. right there.

Next, subtract what you must take - shelter, sleeping bag/pad, stove, fuel, food, clothes, first aid, etc. Try to keep each as light and simple as possible.

The easiest way to drop weight (and cheapest, too :) is just to not take something you don't really need or can get by without. There are a lot of things I no longer take that I once considered necessary. I don't take a saw, ax, chair. I rarely have a fire these days after a couple of trips under fire bans; and it's easy enough to have a small one without any other tools. I don't take a lot of excess food or fuel. After a while I figured out how much I eat and how to minimize my "kitchen" and the time and effort of fixing and cleaning up meals. You found out like me that sometimes you're just too tired to want to do anything complicated or time-consuming. Nor do I take a lot of extra clothes. I no longer fish - even the minimal gear weighed 5-6 lbs. - and it's hard to fish solo, especially when it's windy.

I'd encourage you to cut as much weight as possible before the next trip. My total weight (canoe and everything except what I'm wearing) for a 1-week solo in Sept. would be less than 100 lbs. Even if you just get close to that, you'll find it a lot more manageable.

One of the other benefits of cutting weight (and bulk) is smaller, lighter packs that easier to handle at portage landings. They are also easier to lift again after you put them down ;). I got in the habit a couple of years ago of minimizing the number of times I lift a thing. Saves time, too. You can spend a lot of time at portage landings messing around with things, or you can be out of there quickly with a little preparation. Travel time/speed was another of the things it took me a while to figure out.

If you want any additional information on any of this as you get ready for the 2nd solo, feel free to ask.
10/21/2017 07:54PM
Thanks Northwoodsman, Jeepgirl, and Boonie. I have 5 total trips of experience now, and look forward to trying this hard route one more time. I think I can realistically get down to two portage packs, hoping to keep food & cooking at 30lbs or less and the second pack with tent/tarp/pad/bag and other gear at 40lbs. so a 35-40 lb canoe would be great, but I worry about the solo canoes stability as I am 6' and 240 lbs. any suggestions or thoughts? I daytripped out of sawbill on a Wenonah Adirondack that seemed pretty stable, but not sure if it was the Kev UL or Flex 37/49 lbs. all I know is it felt really light on the carry down to the water!
10/21/2017 11:05PM

Getting down to two portage packs is realistic and at a weight no more than that with a lightweight solo canoe you'll be ready to go.

I have a small pack that I carry with the canoe and a larger one for the second load.

You are much larger than I am, but many people your size use solo canoes. They also come in smaller and larger sizes ;). It will only take you a little while to get used to a solo.

I'll send you an email in the near future with a little more detailed information about what I take (and don't take) as far as food and equipment. It will give you a better idea for comparison and planning. It might end up being too long winded for here :).

I'll also include some other information that may be helpful in planning, packing, and travel.

senior member (83)senior membersenior member
10/22/2017 01:21PM
Boonie If you don’t mind I’d like to see your list also. I always enjoy reading your trip reports I didn’t see one for this year,are you going to do one?
10/22/2017 02:13PM
How much detail are you looking for, Steve? I wasn't going to do a really detailed list for 30smoke, just general with general weight, but . . .

And how much of the other information are you interested in?
10/22/2017 02:20PM
And, the trip report - Steve (inspector13) did a report of the trip he and I did, and I'll probably get around to the solo trip I did after that, although there's not a whole lot to report. If you go with us, you'll have to use a different name :).
senior member (83)senior membersenior member
10/22/2017 05:22PM
I just figured if you sent 30smoke an email you could just forward it to me. I started going solo a couple years ago and I just like to see what other people do. I did a six day solo this year but I would like to add a couple days next year.
10/22/2017 07:57PM
quote SteveF: " I just figured if you sent 30smoke an email you could just forward it to me. I started going solo a couple years ago and I just like to see what other people do. I did a six day solo this year but I would like to add a couple days next year. "

OK, Steve, I just sent 30smoke a long-winded email, which I copied to you. It's more than you need, probably more than he needs, but you can wade through it. If you've got any questions, just email me. I'm sure 30smoke would appreciate any advice you have to offer from your experience.

I'm the same way - I just love hearing about what others do on their solos and why, wondering whether I'd like it, thinking if I should try it.

Doing longer solos was one of those things I worked toward and am still working on an even longer one. 12 days is my longest so far, but I'd like to do one of about 3 weeks.

I think you'll like the longer solo, even just 2 more days. My experience is that the extra time gives you more freedom and flexibility, and allows you to get into the flow for a longer period. It seems to take me a couple of days or more to get into the rhythm of the trip and relax and enjoy it. Then I start to think about the exit a day or two before. I really enjoy the longer trips for that longer time in between those two things.
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