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WhiskeyCreek
member (14)member
 
05/23/2018 10:01AM
What are your best tactics to fit everything in your packs?

Over the years I am seeing groups in the BWCA portage once while my groups are portaging twice. Usually we cant fit everything in our packs which leads to carrying a few items by hand and not on our backs. Then we go back for the canoe, or vice versa. How do people fit all their food, kitchen equip, clothes, sleeping pad, tent, fishing gear, in one single pack (per person)! I envy you all.
 
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Aldy1
senior member (62)senior membersenior member
 
05/23/2018 10:25AM
I've only ever single portaged with my group of four. I guess we're able to do it by packing light. But also we have the two guys that aren't carrying a canoe carry either the food bag or whatever other extra bag/cooler we have. So you've either got your bag +canoe or your bag + something else.

What does each person carry on your trips? Are you able to double up? or lighten up?
andym
distinguished member(4207)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/23/2018 10:28AM
My wife and I can fit everything in two large packs and two small day packs and single portage. With a control line to control canoe tilt, I can hand carry a daypack while portaging the canoe.

Packs are one pack for everything that goes inside the tent (clothes, sleeping bags and pads) and one for the tent and all food and kitchen gear, tarp, and anything else that doesn’t go inside the tent. But that’s mostly organization.

Maybe the strategy is big packs and/or less stuff and/or smaller versions of things.

But honestly, I think we may be switching to double portaging. I’m getting older and the unburdened trip through the woods is pretty enjoyable. Last trip, I took the canoe and my wife took her packs on the first trip. Then we could put the canoe down in the water and the packs went right into it. Then she could mind it in case someone came by and for longer portage’s she often took a quick swim while I went back for the other pack. So, sort of a 1.5 portage, only one pack was picked up twice, and we could assure that no other groups were impeded by our plan.
05/23/2018 10:41AM
I think it's 10% how you pack and 90% how much stuff you bring.

First trip with my 9 year old we had to triple portage due to his inability to carry any significant weight.

This year's trip, we'll have a lot of portages, but most only in the 25-45 rod range, with a final portage of 100 rods on the last day. We'll have 3 people, (2 kids now 12 and 16 years old, and capable of carrying their own weight), one canoe, and we'll be down to double portaging.

We could probably get down to single portaging, but some unnecessary stuff I won't do without for a full week. We could eliminate 3 Helinox camp chairs, too many fishing lures, 1 extra spinning rod, a fly rod, bow drill for fire-starting, paperback books, camp shower, dromedary bag, fresh steaks for first meal, smoked bratz for 2nd meal, Nemo Bugout, (we also bring a tarp and tent), etc. etc..but my sherpa's will earn their keep. I figure it'll build character.



anthonyp007
distinguished member (238)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/23/2018 12:56PM
Our group of 5 will be single portaging mostly because we’ve got two portages that are over a mile. I’ve always felt like the secret is threefold.

1. Carry ultralight gear... yes, it’s more spendy but well worth it in that weight is super low and the footprint of each item in your pack is greatly reduced. We’re backpacking with canoes. This keeps weight down, but luxury up.

2. Try not to carry much in hand: most everything should have a spot in a pack. The only things we carry in hand are the bait container and occasionally a paddle (if not lashed to the canoe).

3. Leave Questionable Items behind: I’m not taking a chair for the first time in a while. We’ll see if I regret it. I’ve drastically reduced the weight and size of my tackle box and most food is dehydrated to save weight and space.

There’s good and bad to singling, you cover way more ground in far less time, but you also don’t get to enjoy the scenery of each portage as much because you’ve usually got a canoe over your head and you only make one trip. I’ve done trips where we only singled the really long portages, that’s what I’m thinking we might end up doing on our way back this June.
mutz
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05/23/2018 01:37PM
I think a lot has to do with whether you base camp or move every day. We base camp so we take a lot of luxury items ( fresh food and vegetables, chairs and bigger tents). We go to fish, relax and fish some more, I am sure some would say the amount of fishing equipment we take is excessive and they would be right. I think if we didn’t fish or basecamp we could probably single portage. But that’s never going to happen so we will just live with double portage’s.
schweady
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05/23/2018 01:55PM
On our trips, all personal items of two guys go into one large shared pack. So, if that were all, it would be easy to go over in one move: one takes the pack of personal items, one takes the canoe with the paddles attached or tucked in. Fishing rods are BDB'd in and not used along the route. No loose items.

Oops, there is an equipment pack, a dry foods pack, and a refrigerated foods pack. If three guys would be willing to carry two packs, or a pack and canoe, we could hump it. Not to mention the basecamp trips with larger tents and chairs... Single portaging would definitely speed things up, but at our age, it just doesn't seem worth it.
treehorn
distinguished member (224)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/23/2018 03:04PM
There are a few key items that can either take up a lot of space....or much less. My group is learning all this as we go.

Sleeping bag is a big one. Some compress down to the size of a football or smaller, others might not get smaller than one of those work out balls the gals use at the gym...it depends on what temp it's rated for and if it's meant to compress well.

Sleeping pad is another one...for years we carried those green thermorests, where the best you can do is roll them up and strap them to the outside of your pack. Pain in the butt...we've recently upgraded to the Klymit ones that deflate and fold up so you can almost fit them in your pocket.

Stove used to be one of the traditional double burner coleman units (probably 8-9lbs?)...now, even though we sometimes do still want 2 burners going, we have two JetBoil style individual burners - saves space and weight.

Tackles boxes used to be handheld bags or boxes, but have gotten trimmed down to the point everyone throws them in their own packs without a problem.

Shoes can take up space if you're not being thoughtful...wear whatever you like for portaging/traveling, but the other pair(s) you keep in your pack to put on at camp should be sandals or some other type of minimalist shoe to save space.

Note that we still do double portage - we are not an "ultralight" group. But there is an easy way to double portage and a hard way. The easy way features full, heavy packs, but limited loose/hand held items. These things add hassle every time you load and unload the canoe. The hard way features a bunch of packs, plus a cooler, a bait bucket, a tackle box, someone's sleeping bag, three pairs of shoes hanging from a pack by carbiners, 5 gallons of water, and fishing poles with hooks on them. You get the picture.
4keys
distinguished member(548)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/23/2018 03:05PM
We have singled...when I used an external frame pack and could lash the tent, pad, and bag to the outside. Unfortunately externals don't fit nicely in a canoe, so I switched to internal frame and it's harder to lash to the outside. Now things go inside the pack except the tent, so I no longer have room for food. So we carry a second food pack and double portage. And we added chairs, tarp, wine- all the necessities.
mastertangler
distinguished member(5425)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/23/2018 03:14PM
I hate everything stuffed into one large pack. I have a large pack but I also have several Watershed Duffels which I hand carry along with the big pack. Works great and keeps everything organized and accessible. But I am not averse to tripling and have even quadruple portaged but I go for at least 3 weeks at a time so that means more food. No sense in getting injured because you MUST get everything across in 1 or 2 trips.

More trips, lighter carries = health and safety and far less torture. I am, after all, on vacation. So I roll into my site at 5;30 instead of 4...........at least I am not destroyed. I might even go out fishing for a while ;-)
mc2mens
distinguished member(4154)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/23/2018 05:07PM
mutz: "I think a lot has to do with whether you base camp or move every day. We base camp so we take a lot of luxury items ( fresh food and vegetables, chairs and bigger tents). We go to fish, relax and fish some more, I am sure some would say the amount of fishing equipment we take is excessive and they would be right. I think if we didn’t fish or basecamp we could probably single portage. But that’s never going to happen so we will just live with double portage’s."

+1
05/23/2018 07:44PM
It sounds like you want to single portage, but it's not clear to me if it's the weight or bulk of everything that is preventing you from doing it. You either need to get bigger packs or smaller gear ;).

Like several of the others, I don't single portage. I'm usually solo and on a longer (~12-day) shoulder season trip which equates to more food/fuel weight and a little extra clothing. Nonetheless, I've benefitted from reducing pack weight and volume over the years. I double portage, but move pretty efficiently through it these days compared to the past. I have a canoe, small pack to put up front for trim that I carry with the canoe, larger pack, PFD, paddle (spare is lashed in canoe with NiteIze gear ties), and water bottle are the only loose items. The paddle can be lashed into the canoe. The water bottle has a carabiner and can be attached to the pack. I have all the small daily items in the pockets of my shirt and pants, ditch kit items in PFD pockets.

One of the first things I did was to quit carrying several pounds of food and fuel that didn't get eaten/used. There are a lot of things I don't take; not taking things also reduces weight and bulk. I also take lighter, smaller gear. I'm one of those who switched out the old Thermarest self-inflator for an air pad like the Klymit that is a little lighter and a whole lot smaller. I've got a smaller, lighter tent, sleeping bag, and stove too. Reducing bulk is important, so I compress the sleeping bag and clothes with a compression sack. Food, fuel, and "kitchen items" are things that can add a lot of weight and bulk.

Just start with reducing the food/fuel you didn't use and leaving behind things you didn't use and don't need. Do you really need that solar shower? Did you wear all the clothes you took? Look at what else you can reduce or replace with something lighter or smaller. Can you replace some food with dehydrated items?

I'm sure plenty of people here would give you more specific suggestions if you wanted to list the stuff you take and weights, etc.


Good luck!



GearJunkie
distinguished member (150)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/23/2018 07:48PM
I upgraded to a 80 liter Swiss Mountaineer Pack this year.

My tent, tarp, and rain suit will be kept under the rubberized top flap outside of the pack.

Purchased the optional bread bag that clips to the top flap. That will hold a majority of my kitchen utensils like small frying pan, plate, gas, and stove.

There’s a clip on the back of the bag that will hold my Pathfinder bottle, cup, and fire kit....and my Kershaw will be molle’d to pathfinder bag.

Those three options are what’s really going to save a ton of space inside the main compartment. Not bad for a 25+ year old waterproof bag.

bwcadan
distinguished member(1257)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/23/2018 08:27PM
The real time burner is getting into or out of the water. Walking over most portages can be a pleasurable activity and does not take that much time for most portages. Even a mile portage should take only 25 minutes max walking each way average. One of those trips is unavoidable. If you are so tight with your schedule that you need to single portage to keep a schedule or other artificial goal, just get up well before dawn to prepare to travel. Very few actually travel early dawn to late twilight, so you should be able to double portage and succeed with your goals.

Consider if possible practicing at home with the portage situation. This will cut your trip portage time. In addition, take walks on hilly ground if possible. You will get in shape for the actual portage.

If the goal is truly to single portage, then others have addressed this aspect already. Priorities will prevail. You have to decide.
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13128)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
05/23/2018 08:47PM
Waterproof compression bag are the ticket to getting all my gear in. You just fill the voids left with other gear.
john 800
distinguished member(973)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/23/2018 10:01PM
I am not set in stone on single portaging, but i will not put up with having loose items to carry, if it has to go and it doesnt fit in your pack get another pack or a bigger pack. Quite often we have part of the group double, take their pack out of the canoe and place it on them never setting it down and send them down the portage while the second member finishes unloading the canoe and gets his pack on and lifts the canoe, if you give the first member a head start it is almost as quick as simgle portaging
05/23/2018 10:43PM
To single portage there is really a lot of variables.

Number one is not bringing too much stuff. There is a trade off, of wants vs. needs vs. opportunity cost. That is if I give up the chair for example do I gain enough to make that decision worth it (I.e. get in deeper faster, more fishing time, better fishing). You have to do that for every item and really only each individual can answer the question. My answer will be different than yours.

Strength and stamina, it is harder to carry everything all at once. Is that even safe, could it end your trip early. Once again this answer is up to each individual.

Expense: cutting weight is expensive. For example my first sleeping bag was around 3#, the sleeping pad 2.5#, the tent wast 9#. Now I have a down bag at 1.5#, sleeping pad 1.5#, tent for 2 at 2.5#. I just saved 9# on just 3 items...then start doing that for every item in your pack. You can cut a lot of weight, but this lighter weight gear cost more too. Is that worth it?

The biggest area I cut weight was fishing gear, I go to fish don’t get me wrong, but keep refining what you bring. Early on I must of brought 10-15 pounds of fishing gear.

T
05/24/2018 03:31AM
timatkn: "To single portage there is really a lot of variables.


Number one is not bringing too much stuff. There is a trade off, of wants vs. needs vs. opportunity cost. That is if I give up the chair for example do I gain enough to make that decision worth it (I.e. get in deeper faster, more fishing time, better fishing). You have to do that for every item and really only each individual can answer the question. My answer will be different than yours.


Strength and stamina, it is harder to carry everything all at once. Is that even safe, could it end your trip early. Once again this answer is up to each individual.


Expense: cutting weight is expensive. For example my first sleeping bag was around 3#, the sleeping pad 2.5#, the tent wast 9#. Now I have a down bag at 1.5#, sleeping pad 1.5#, tent for 2 at 2.5#. I just saved 9# on just 3 items...then start doing that for every item in your pack. You can cut a lot of weight, but this lighter weight gear cost more too. Is that worth it?


The biggest area I cut weight was fishing gear, I go to fish don’t get me wrong, but keep refining what you bring. Early on I must of brought 10-15 pounds of fishing gear.


T"


+1 Ts got it. It’s way less of top end ultra light gear well organized, minimal lightweight food, two very large packs and two strong trippers. We single and double portage on different trips depending on how far we are going, how many/difficult the portages are and how much comfort we want. If traveling far on numerous portages it is amazing how much distance you can put behind you fast single portaging. Portaging technique (I.e. loading/unloading is very important also). Different topic.
TomT
distinguished member(5179)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/24/2018 06:21AM
Savage Voyageur: "Waterproof compression bag are the ticket to getting all my gear in. You just fill the voids left with other gear. "

+1
Put 'em in the pack and fill the holes and gaps. Packs can get heavy doing this. I'd opt for lighter packs and double portaging.

cyclones30
distinguished member(1341)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/24/2018 07:45AM
We're in our 20s and now 30s and only single portage the last few trips. I started going to the BW in boy scouts, tons of gear, aluminum canoe etc and double portaged. Now we have some nicer gear and have learned what we need and what we don't.

Have a plan of who gets to carry what before you even touch shore. Whoever has a double pack gets help with that, help getting canoe up on that person, last person grab anything loose (normally nothing) and head off. Rods are tied into canoe, paddles too normally. We try to be efficient but not to the point of insanity. If we absolutely can't do it, then someone goes back but haven't done that in years. My dad is almost 60, he is pro single portaging as well when he comes. Whoever carries canoe usually also carries lightest pack, canoe is Kevlar so it's not too bad.
BobDobbs
distinguished member (292)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/24/2018 08:11AM
Get fit - Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead pressing, high pulls, Farmer walks

Get lighter gear - extra $ spent on Kevlar canoes is well worth it.

Get the right pack - the difference between a Sealline or CCS pack and a cheap knock off from Amazon is night and day.
VaderStrom
distinguished member (402)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/24/2018 08:33AM
Over engineer everything so it's dummy proof.

Northwoodsman
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05/24/2018 12:12PM
I found that it was best to lighten and shrink my load gradually. The first step was to eliminate redundacy and extra gear. The second step was to reduce unnecessary "nice to have" and luxury gear and extra clothing. The third step was to move towards ultra-light gear which did allow me to add some luxury items back in. The 4th step was to reduce food weight by eliminating returning with food but allowing a minimal amount for an emergency reserve should we encounter an issue and have to delay exit by one day. This last step also eliminated fishing (which I know is important to many of you).

I paddled and camped a lot in the BWCA and the SNF until I moved from MN to TX in '94. My first overnight trip into the BWCA wasn't again until 2015 when I paddled the Lady Lake chain with my brother. I brought a lot of duplicates and I brought a fair amount of luxury and "just in case" gear. In 2016 when I base camped on Cherokee with 4 buddies, I had reduced a lot of my equipment weight, but again 4 guys had many duplicates (some guys even had spares of the duplicates). In 2017 when 2 of us base camped on Gaskin I had really narrowed the gear down and we brought zero duplicates. But we still had a lot of "just in case" gear and 12 lbs. of food (dried or freeze dried) that we returned with. For 2018 I cut out over 30 lbs. of gear and food for a 2 person trip. I found that we didn't eat lunch last year, and we barely snacked. Our goal is to return with a minimum reserve of food (about 1 lb.). I also eliminated fishing gear and the supplies and equipment needed to clean and cook it. I like to fish to kill the time and to relax, but I simply just don't want to mess with cleaning it and cooking it while on a canoe trip. After returning from 4 trips to the BWCA and telling myself that I'm not going to bring my fishing gear next time, I'm committed to not bringing it this year. I finally came to the realization that I only brought my fishing gear because it was a tradition, and not something I lived for. In the 24 years that I have lived in TX I have only ever planned one "fishing trip" up to MN and that was the year after I moved to TX, but I have planned and taken many camping, canoeing, and north shore trips to MN over the years since I moved away.
WhiskeyCreek
member (14)member
 
05/24/2018 01:04PM
VaderStrom: "Over engineer everything so it's dummy proof.


"


Wow!!! Now that's real preparation!!!
05/24/2018 05:43PM
WhiskeyCreek: "VaderStrom: "Over engineer everything so it's dummy proof.



"



Wow!!! Now that's real preparation!!!"



Those people you were talking about in your first post, the ones single portaging without a lot of loose gear . . .

They didn't get there by accident. I wouldn't consider his preparation out of the ordinary. I'd guess most of us responding have a very extensive packing checklist, and many can tell you the weight of each item as well.

Most of us started where you are and got to where we are now by listening to other people and starting the process. You just have to make progress gradually. Start with the big things, like "when we came out, we still had x pounds of uneaten food and x amount of unused fuel." "what did we not use or could have easily gotten by without?" "what could we leave behind next time?"
cyclones30
distinguished member(1341)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/24/2018 06:46PM
VaderStrom: "Over engineer everything so it's dummy proof.


"


You could really cut some weight if you didn't need ear plugs :)
TipsyPaddler
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
 
05/25/2018 06:20AM

“Those people you were talking about in your first post, the ones single portaging without a lot of loose gear . . .

They didn't get there by accident. I wouldn't consider his preparation out of the ordinary. I'd guess most of us responding have a very extensive packing checklist, and many can tell you the weight of each item as well.

Most of us started where you are and got to where we are now by listening to other people and starting the process. You just have to make progress gradually. Start with the big things, like "when we came out, we still had x pounds of uneaten food and x amount of unused fuel." "what did we not use or could have easily gotten by without?" "what could we leave behind next time?"

Quoted for truth/wisdom!

My firends and family used to gently mock my spreadsheet checklist with weights “disorder” but they have come to appreciate it as the trips get more enjoyable and less physically demanding. Over the last couple of years the members of this site have been incredibly helpful doing exactly what the last few folks have described.
05/25/2018 06:44AM
TipsyPaddler: "

Quoted for truth/wisdom!

My firends and family used to gently mock my spreadsheet checklist with weights “disorder” but they have come to appreciate it as the trips get more enjoyable and less physically demanding. Over the last couple of years the members of this site have been incredibly helpful doing exactly what the last few folks have described."

I'm going to quote TipsyPaddler for truth/wisdom!

Besides the fact that no matter how much you can lift/carry, it's always easier to carry less, there are added benefits to the process. Smaller packs are easier to get in and out of the canoe (especially at awkward landings), fewer things to pack and unpack and keep track of is simpler, a simpler process of camp setup/takedown takes less time (more time for other things). You will appreciate these things as you get them done!

I wasn't an immediate convert to everything and still don't go as far as some, but these incremental gains do add up. Thinking back to my first trips, I'd guess my pack weight for 5 days was around 65 lbs.! For my last 12-day solo it was less than 50 lbs. including food.


hobbydog
distinguished member(1988)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/25/2018 02:41PM
It is pretty simple. Leave stuff at home.
HappyHuskies
distinguished member (253)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/25/2018 03:50PM
Lots of variables to consider, but yes, at the root the easiest way to fit everything into one pack and keep the weight down is to take less stuff. Still you have to pack enough to be safe, keep fed, warm, dry, hydrated, and be able navigate successfully. The trick is to keep it all in balance. Even though I've been at this for more than a few years I'm still learning and still refining my kit.

A lot depends on how luxurious you want camp to be. Tough to have a truly luxurious camp and a truly light and compact pack. I want to be warm, dry and not hungry when in camp, but don't ask for much more than that. Your want's may be more involved and that's ok, it just comes at the price of more pack weight and bulk.

If I was just starting to look at reducing my pack size and weight I'd start by eliminating redundancy. For example, do you take backups of light sources, stoves etc? Then I'd look at the amount of food I bring (do I routinely bring excess food back out?). How about extra clothing? Do you really need a change of clothing? How many pairs of socks do you need? How about fuel? How much extra do you typically have at the end of the trip? Do you pack a lot of stuff in stuff sacks? Great for organizing, but not so great for stuffing things into nooks and crannies and all of those extra sacks weigh something. Teh nice thing is that you can make changes to all of the above without spending a dime and are definitely the place to start.

have
I'm an old guy and found that the older I get the more I value a light pack and a light canoe. Like most people on this site that have been doing this for a while I have gradually replaced older gear with lighter replacements and that definitely makes getting to ultralight weights easier, but to have a really light pack fancy gear is not enough. You really do have to take a hard look at everything you take and how much it weights. As others have mentioned, a written list or spreadsheet is invaluable for this.
If getting as light as possible is important to you itemize and weigh everything. In the end you'll find a balance that works for you and your tripping style.

Have fun and stay safe!


.


analyzer
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05/25/2018 05:54PM
We're primarily base campers, but have done the portaging thing a couple times. I prefer a few creature comforts, like camp chairs, so single portage doesn't work.

We've gotten so we 1.5 portage.

4 of us.

The boys grab a pack each, and fishing rods/paddles whatever in their hands and head across. My brother and I grab another set of bags, and hand carry items and follow.

The boys go all the way across, we drop our stuff at the mid point, and go back for the canoes.

The boys finish their full leg, and come back to the mid point for the 2nd set of bags, and hand carry items, and bring them the rest of the way.

We carry the canoes the full width.

So everyone does 1.5. and there is only half a portage not carrying anything. It seems to work pretty well.
analyzer
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05/25/2018 06:03PM
WhiskeyCreek: "What are your best tactics to fit everything in your packs?

Over the years I am seeing groups in the BWCA portage once while my groups are portaging twice. Usually we cant fit everything in our packs which leads to carrying a few items by hand and not on our backs. Then we go back for the canoe, or vice versa. How do people fit all their food, kitchen equip, clothes, sleeping pad, tent, fishing gear, in one single pack (per person)! I envy you all. "


It's funny how some questions get answered....

At work today, my co-worker said something about the "rum river"....

I half sarcastically said, "mmmm, rummmm river, that sounds nice"... "Do you think there is a "Vodka River" some place?, before he could answer, I said, " I would have to guess there's a 'Whiskey River' ".

Well, "WhiskeyCreek", that was answered quickly. LOL.
andym
distinguished member(4207)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/26/2018 01:03AM
Lightweight, waterproof compression stuff sacks definitely help. However, we didn’t add weight, but sometimes just space is the issue. With smaller stuff we can pack our “in the tent” bag really easily. Before that it took some work.
fishonfishoff
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05/26/2018 09:17AM
We have always single portaged. Even though most of us are in our 50's, we still want the adventure of going to many different lakes and trying to get away from the entry points. This means scrutinizing our gear for single portaging. This means no camp chairs, no big tents, showers, cast iron cooking equipment, etc... Instead we take aluminum cookwear, foam sitting cushions, etc... "You can cut down on some of your weight very cheaply"!

FISHONFISHOFF

We may splurge on clamp on rod holders for trolling this year with the intentions of who brings them, has to carry them.
murphylakejim
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05/26/2018 12:15PM
I was envious of a large group I passed on a portage this year. Being that they had 3 man canoes 1 could carry a canoe and the other 2 had large duluth packs. I didnt notice any loose gear or poles/paddles being carried by hand, they really had it down.

I was traveling solo and double portaged mostly. On some portages under 40 rods I was able to single portage. A 16'6" solo canoe (even kevlar) plus a large pack with gear/food, and 1 small backpack worn in front is really heavy and not fun at all to balance and pick your footing as you go.

If I had a lighter sleeping bag, less water and hadn't over packed food I would have been able to manage on somewhat longer portages (60-80) rods I imagine.
proepro
member (40)member
 
05/27/2018 02:46PM
I agree with the comments about sleeping bags. I started with a very bulky synthetic bag, 15 liters. I got a compression sack that cut that to around 10L. This year I bought a Marmot Ultra Elite 20 bag. Only 6.7 liters in compression sack it came with. Also weighs just 900 grams. Those are very close to down bag numbers. The 30 degree one is even smaller.

Another popular option is to use a hammock with bug net and fly instead of a tent. That can be much smaller and lighter. Personaly I sleep in a hammock and bring a small tent for rain and gear.

I will pay more attention to loose gear and tie padels to the canoe this year. That sounds like good advice.

I also want to reduce the amount of trash I have to pack out at the end.
Canoearoo
distinguished member(2222)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/28/2018 08:43AM
Family of 5 and we use 5 packs. We use to have to quadruple Portage but now that the girls are older they can help carry packs so we are down to tripple
Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (225)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/28/2018 04:58PM
I agree that having loose items really can slow you down. 4 guys 4 packs and one day tripping small 30L waterproof backpack equals single portaging for us.

I also bring an 80lb dog. I have a small foam pad for her to lay on in the canoe and that rolls up easy and fits on the side of a duluth pack. That is really the only loose item on our portages.

If you are going in a group make sure you guys dont bring the same things. You dont need 3 axes or 2 saws etc. We bring one hatchet, one small silky saw, one tarp, one camp water filter etc.

Tent, sleeping shit and clothes go into one pack for 2 ppl. 2 packs of this for 4 ppl. One CCS food pack does the trick. The last duluth pack is full of camp gear. Stove, tarp, chair, ax/saw kitchen cookware etc.

The key to lay your stuff out before you go. Take the time either at your house or the extra 30 min before you put in and make sure you arent taking double of what you dont need double of. Dont pack a 90lb pack either. Keep them manageable.

We use BDBS to secure rods and oars to the canoe during portage. I agree that if you can eliminate the loose items everything is easier.

This year I have a couple of small duffels that a buddy sewed similar to CCS duffels. This helps a lot when trying to keep misc small gear organized.

I keep my coffee press, camp towel, water filter, gloves etc in one of these small duffels. First aid kit is in another. I also have a small what I call "possibles pouch" which contains duct tape, extra bdbs, playing cards, sleeping pad repair kit and other very small gear that I might need. Having all of these very small items I may or may not use in one small pouch keeps everything organized instead of laying loose at the bottom of a pack and saves time trying to find things when you need them.

I find having a "spot" for all of you gear and being organized before you go can make you portage a lot faster.

What kind of trip you are doing and the experience level and stregnth of your fellow trippers has a lot to do with if you single or double portage. The more you go, the more you realize what you dont need to bring.

The last thing is to pack your bags with the lightest stuff on the bottom and heavier items on top. Easier on your back and easier to carry.

05/28/2018 09:03PM
To single portage, backpack. The only extra you have is a canoe, paddle, and pfd.
Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (225)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/28/2018 09:15PM
One thing that has really helped me personally is wearing this kind of life jacket. I dont see many other ppl with them and you dont even realize you are wearing it. I dont have to take it off to portage. It also doesnt have the bulk of a traditional life jacket.

I have never had to use mine, but I still always wear one. I got a similar one to this a couple of years ago on sale for $60. I use it every time I am I fish regardless if I am in the bdubs or not.

inflatable life jacket
05/28/2018 10:15PM
Three man trips in a 3-man canoe have been easy for me to single portage. Two medium heavy packs for 2 guys, 1 guy gets the light pack and the canoe. We then take turns on the canoe carry during the day. Usually just PFDs and paddles are hand carried. Rods are BDB’d in the canoe. 1 small daypack hand carried.

My family is getting close to a single portage setup. Last few trips have been a single for my wife/daughters and a double for me (canoe, 3 packs, 2 daypacks for daughters). Might try and do a 1.5 between my wife and myself this year. Daughters are at the point where I could take one of the larger packs and break it up between the two of them (15-20lbs each). Family still fits in one 4-man tent. Food is mostly dried which saves a fair amount of weight.

I will say my first trip was fully outfitted, then I made up my mind to outfit myself for future trips. That first trip provided tons of information on what we actually used vs what was packed. BWCA.com have tons of insight on gear selection and helped define what I consider necessary for a trip. I’m not ultralight by backpacking standards, but I do try and balance weight and cost where I can.
mastertangler
distinguished member(5425)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/29/2018 06:47AM
Birdknowsbest: "One thing that has really helped me personally is wearing this kind of life jacket. I dont see many other ppl with them and you dont even realize you are wearing it. I dont have to take it off to portage. It also doesnt have the bulk of a traditional life jacket.


I have never had to use mine, but I still always wear one. I got a similar one to this a couple of years ago on sale for $60. I use it every time I am I fish regardless if I am in the bdubs or not.


inflatable life jacket "


I cant imagine tripping without a hydrostatic self inflating PFD. Not so keen on the ones you have to pull by hand however.

And a bit of the weight / bulk savings is eaten up in having to have a replacement cartridge not to mention additional cost. But the convenience and comfort is so great that it is not even a thought I would consider.

Yes, if you don't bring a replacement cartridge you may very well end up with a bit of a hassle. I thought I would NEVER have an inflation event. I have head three........once when I rolled my boat, once when I slid into the water off a slick rock and dog paddled around until it went off and once when I gave the PFD a little toss and sure enough the thing went off. Not fun..........now you have a big huge yellow horse collar to wear the rest of your trip. The only way to deal with it is to deflate it until comfortable and then remember you must pop 3 or 4 breaths in manually. So now I just bring a replacement CO2 cartridge and yup, I will probably never need it ;-)
gsfisher13
distinguished member(1439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/01/2018 12:34AM
Best tactic for fitting everything in one pack:
1) learn from each trip, what did you take that you didn't need to take. what was really important. what can be left at home next trip.
2) buy a smaller pack, seriously when I bought a pack I avoided the largest CCS pack size because if I had the room i'd fill it with stuff. if your pack is smaller you'll think about buying smaller/lighter gear. for instance, tents left my pack years ago, hammock and rainfly are smaller lighter, take up less room and I sleep better, win/win.
3) the number of trips (single, double, or (gasp) triple portaging, none of them are bad. it's what you want to enjoy. if you like that solitude of the return trip without gear to enjoy the flowers and scenery and take pictures, why would you only want to do it once :)
4) avoid bad decisions - carrying loose articles in the hand increases risk of falling/tripping on the many rocks/roots. the less risk you take, the more enjoyable the trip and less likelihood your trip ends early due to a mistake.
mastertangler
distinguished member(5425)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
06/01/2018 06:11AM
One thing I have never fully understood is the aversion many have towards hand carrying anything. Yes some things which are cumbersome or awkward, fishing rods and PFD's come to mind, but a great many other things are perfectly fine for hand carrying.

Wether trapping ( I carried a small headed garden spade as a tool and a staff), hiking (hiking sticks, single or double), hunting (rifle) or in canoe country I have always hand carried items.

I portage with a modest main pack weighing somewhere in the 65lb/75 range but hand carry two Watershed duffels in addition. I rather find them an asset instead of a liability. Many has been the time when I started to have a bit of a miscue and the duffel helped prop me up.
AmarilloJim
distinguished member(1295)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/01/2018 07:27AM
mastertangler: "I portage with a modest main pack weighing somewhere in the 65lb/75 range but hand carry two Watershed duffels in addition."
I can see that. Both filled with tackle I assume?
Are your arms longer after each trip? LOL
MikeinMpls
distinguished member (352)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/01/2018 08:00AM
mastertangler: "One thing I have never fully understood is the aversion many have towards hand carrying anything. Yes some things which are cumbersome or awkward, fishing rods and PFD's come to mind, but a great many other things are perfectly fine for hand carrying.


Wether trapping ( I carried a small headed garden spade as a tool and a staff), hiking (hiking sticks, single or double), hunting (rifle) or in canoe country I have always hand carried items.


I portage with a modest main pack weighing somewhere in the 65lb/75 range but hand carry two Watershed duffels in addition. I rather find them an asset instead of a liability. Many has been the time when I started to have a bit of a miscue and the duffel helped prop me up. "


It's not that I don't want to hand carry anything, it's that I want to minimize all the junk that's loose in the canoe. A lot of time is wasted tying and hooking onto and wedging into places all the loose stuff that isn't in a pack. Also, the fewer amount of hand-carried items, the lesser chance of losing things.

Our PFDs are snap-linked onto the big packs. Fishing rods are broken down on days we move from one campsite to another. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Mike

MikeinMpls
distinguished member (352)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/01/2018 08:07AM
Birdknowsbest: "I agree that having loose items really can slow you down. 4 guys 4 packs and one day tripping small 30L waterproof backpack equals single portaging for us.


I also bring an 80lb dog. I have a small foam pad for her to lay on in the canoe and that rolls up easy and fits on the side of a duluth pack. That is really the only loose item on our portages.


If you are going in a group make sure you guys dont bring the same things. You dont need 3 axes or 2 saws etc. We bring one hatchet, one small silky saw, one tarp, one camp water filter etc.


Tent, sleeping shit and clothes go into one pack for 2 ppl. 2 packs of this for 4 ppl. One CCS food pack does the trick. The last duluth pack is full of camp gear. Stove, tarp, chair, ax/saw kitchen cookware etc.


The key to lay your stuff out before you go. Take the time either at your house or the extra 30 min before you put in and make sure you arent taking double of what you dont need double of. Dont pack a 90lb pack either. Keep them manageable.


We use BDBS to secure rods and oars to the canoe during portage. I agree that if you can eliminate the loose items everything is easier.


This year I have a couple of small duffels that a buddy sewed similar to CCS duffels. This helps a lot when trying to keep misc small gear organized.


I keep my coffee press, camp towel, water filter, gloves etc in one of these small duffels. First aid kit is in another. I also have a small what I call "possibles pouch" which contains duct tape, extra bdbs, playing cards, sleeping pad repair kit and other very small gear that I might need. Having all of these very small items I may or may not use in one small pouch keeps everything organized instead of laying loose at the bottom of a pack and saves time trying to find things when you need them.


I find having a "spot" for all of you gear and being organized before you go can make you portage a lot faster.


What kind of trip you are doing and the experience level and stregnth of your fellow trippers has a lot to do with if you single or double portage. The more you go, the more you realize what you dont need to bring.


The last thing is to pack your bags with the lightest stuff on the bottom and heavier items on top. Easier on your back and easier to carry.


"


I should have just said that my packing system mirrors this.

Mike
flopnfolds
distinguished member (466)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/01/2018 11:36AM
My opinion: food, clothes, and sleeping bags.

Our move to dehyrated food was a big space and weight saver. I do most of our dehydrating, rather than buying the packages to save money. Its pretty easy to do once you do it for the first time. It does take a time commitment since I only have a small, cheap dehydrator.

Do a packing list for all members. Especially if you have new people. I personally like wool t-shirt, which are pricey, but I can bring two t-shirts and thy can last the whole trip and don't get too nasty. Keep me warm and pack light. No cotton if you can get away with it. Hoodies are nice, but if you want to save space and weight, do a fleece.

If your group doesn't do much camping, you may have a sleeping bag which barely compresses. They take up so much room in your pack that its almost impossible to single portage. If you can find the cash, get a more compressible sleeping bag.
mastertangler
distinguished member(5425)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
06/01/2018 02:40PM
AmarilloJim: "mastertangler: "I portage with a modest main pack weighing somewhere in the 65lb/75 range but hand carry two Watershed duffels in addition."
I can see that. Both filled with tackle I assume?
Are your arms longer after each trip? LOL"


Ha! That was funny.

I am rather proud of myself. This year everything is back to normal. My fishing selection is incorporated into an Orvis pack which goes across with the boat. Nice set up. I still have a decent selection but way more focused. No emphasis on big pike which required big lures and lots of them in addition to the "Usual Suspects".

I am after Wally13's thirteen lb walleye this summer. But anything over 10 would be highly prized out of a canoe and be a new personal best while under paddle. We shall see.

I will keep singing the praises of the Watershed Duffels. Apparently they are located in Asheville NC. I am going to be there in July, I will have to check them out. I already have almost every size they offer but it would still be cool to check out their place.
06/02/2018 09:59PM
Good thread to keep an eye on for me as my next trip is the first one that I will not be at least partially outfitting other than a few miscellaneous items here and there. Thanks for all the tips!
BCA
Guest Paddler
 
07/06/2018 09:38AM
I don’t single portage.
I could. I’m middle aged, strong, use all ultralight gear, and pack very sparingly.
But I enjoy hiking the portages. The walk back, even to retrieve my day pack, is rewarding to me. I try to ensure I’m enjoying all my time in the BW, and turning the portages into an uncomfortable hump can definitely detract from the experience for me.
heavylunch
member (44)member
 
07/06/2018 02:00PM
I gave up double portaging a long time ago. I actually don't mind portaging but I like the idea of getting as far into the back-country as I can as quick as I can even better. I carry the clothing pack (with tent and tarp), paddles and canoe while the wife carries the gear/food pack, fishing poles and small fishing pack. My daughter carries her stuffed animals, blanket, and water.

It was mentioned in one earlier post but I will mention it again, volume can matter as much as weight. When you are lightening up your load, don't forget to consider how much physical space the items you are considering buying or bringing take up. Same goes with the breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Volume of gear items can add up and can cause you to spill over into another pack even if you could easily carry the weight all at once.

heavylunch
sns
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/06/2018 10:46PM
VaderStrom: "Over engineer everything so it's dummy proof.


"



Late to the party here...but...

A gear spreadsheet without weights? What the hell is that good for?!?!

:)
TrekScouter
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/07/2018 01:48PM
By minimizing hand-carried items, you also minimize the possibility that something will be accidentally left behind. How many of us have reported finding maps, compasses, water bottles, and other miscellaneous items on a portage? Had these been in a pack, they would never have been lost.
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1051)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/07/2018 10:45PM
Hand carrying items is also an injury waiting to happen. Slip and fall carrying a couple of a paddles, a PFD and a couple of fishing poles with a 50 lb. pack on your back and see what happens. One broken paddle, a broken fishing pole,and a broken arm. Now your paddling partner has to paddle you out, carry all your gear after you broke his $100 rod.

I took a trip once with a guy that traveled like this. It ruined the trip for everyone.
 
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