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   Group Forum: Canoeing with kids
      Canoe for tripping with young kids: Seating     
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member (19)member
08/20/2018 10:29AM  
HI All,

I am curious if it is recomended to have young kids 4/5, and 6/7 years old, sit on a pad in the bottom of a big tandem tripping canoe, or if most folks use a canoe with a seat for each child, like Wenonah's Minnesota 3/4 boats. I am starting to plan a trip with my nieces, and wondered what seating strategies others have found effective. We will be renting canoes from an outfitter.


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distinguished member(2457)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/20/2018 01:12PM  
08/20/2018 01:20PM  
Last week I had myself, a 13 year old, and a 6 year old in a Spirit II plus a 30L barrel and 3 canoe packs. The barrel went into the bow, the two most rigid canoe packs went into the compartment between yoke and bow seat, and the roll top dry pack went into the compartment in front of the stern. The 6 year old sat on top of the bag. It was easier to do this than to try to get the 13 year old to tolerate little brother directly behind, possibly occasionally splashing or banging paddles.
08/21/2018 09:29AM  
Since you are renting either way I would get either a 3 or 4 seater instead of a tandem. The kids will be happier and the bigger canoe will be more stable. If you owned a tandem it would work, but since you're renting you mind as well rent the bigger canoe. Depending on how well the 2 kids get along can determine whether you get a 3 seater or a 4 seater ;)

For years we used a Souris River Quetico 18.5 three seater with our 2 girls..... starting when they were 4 and 2 they sat side by side and the last time was last fall at 12 and 10. They are now too big to sit side by side in the 3rd seat.

distinguished member (243)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/21/2018 09:34AM  
There is a section in Cliff Jacobson's book Boundary Waters Canoe Camping about kids seating, I think it even had a diagram. Its funny and cute at the same time, but practical. Showed how to place two "cooperating" kids and how to place two "bickering" kids. I'll see if I can find the book tonight.
member (19)member
08/21/2018 01:05PM  
Thanks for the input! I actually just got the Cliff Jacobson book, and found the diagram. As to how well the 2 get along, that varies minute by minute.
08/22/2018 07:48AM  
snakeybird: "Thanks for the input! I actually just got the Cliff Jacobson book, and found the diagram. As to how well the 2 get along, that varies minute by minute. "

sounds like my ducklings ;)
member (19)member
08/22/2018 01:27PM  
"sounds like my ducklings ;)"

Yeah, I think a bit of squabbling when they are 2 years apart is pretty typical. I am the strict Auntie, too. But we have fun!
08/25/2018 09:33PM  
Our SR Q18.5 has a 3rd seat in it which has always worked well to put the 2 boys on. This year we made it a little more personable for them and added the double kid seat that they got last year for X-mas. It's the one that Piragis sells and it gave them a small sense of ownership having their "own" spot. I realize your renting and don't have your own canoe your tinkering with so I would opt for one of the 3 seaters and have them sit side by side.
distinguished member (282)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/26/2018 09:08AM  
We have done two family BWCA trips with my wife, and my now 14 year old and 6 year old sons. We go for 4 nights/5 days and have increased the portaging as the little one gets more capable. My sons are of the age and temperment that they both need their own ‘space.’ Long car trips can be a test of patience with these two!

Last year we carried 3 CCS Pioneer Packs and a 60L food barrel. We rented a Wenonah MNIII three seater and the then 5 year old sat on a float cushion. It was a very tight squeeze with the gear and family! Luckily we did only one short portage and base camped so it worked but it was barely acceptable. We also tried sitting the 5 year old on a flat laying pack but he didn’t like the tippy feeling as he was relatively high and it was his first time in a canoe. Low and less ‘ tippy’ on a float cushion helped him get more comfortable with canoe travel.

This year we rented a Northwind 20 four seater. We also swapped one of the CCS Pioner Packs for two CCS Rucksacks for more flexibility in how we arranged the packs in the canoes. This was a much, much better arrangement than the previous year! Having separate seats was appreciated by all and the additional flexibility to stow the rucksacks in the stern and bow areas made a lot of difference is leg room and canoe trim. We had six loads on portages so my wife, teen age son and I could easily double portage while the five year old carried the fishing rod case and his paddle. On a short portage he could handle the rucksack with his sleeping bag, air matress and clothes. On the portages I ended up carrying the canoe and a rucksack on a single trip, then loaded/prepped the canoe and watched the five year old while my wife and older son did a second portage trip.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the relative ease of portaging and maneuverability of the Northwind 20. We got through the twists and turns of the Kawishiwi River between EP37 and Lake Polly with ease and even paddled right over several small beaver dams to avoid a couple short portages and pull overs between Kawishiwi Lake and Kawasachong Lake. It also handled high winds and wave chop very well as we could lay all the bags flat and/or below the gunwale edges.

The Northwind 20 with four seats will be our canoe ‘minivan’ of choice for the next several years until the youngest is big enough to be a good bow paddler.
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