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      Portaging 2 packs vs 1 pack     
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A1t2o
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02/20/2020 09:46AM
I'm used to taking a main pack and a day pack with me. The CCS Pioneer on my back and a cheap 15L backpack/day pack that holds my tackle and easy access gear like snacks and pliers on my front. To speed things up on portages, my tripping buddy wants to get rid of everything outside of our main gear packs, rods, and paddles. I completely get his point, but I'm more concerned about weight distribution and which one is going to wear you down faster.

My question is this. Is it better to split up the weight with some in front and most on your back, or is it better to put the extra 5lbs or so in the main pack? The reason I'm torn is because shifting that weight forward would balance you better, but also put a little weight on your chest, possibly affecting your breathing. Is one better than the other? Personal preference?

 
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Blatz
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02/20/2020 10:26AM
Not an advocate of wearing a pack on my chest. Tried it didn't like it. I like to be able to see my footing. Put it all in one pack. You'll be plenty balanced with that Pioneer.
 
Tomcat
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02/20/2020 10:32AM
Often carry backpack on back and food pack on front. It works very well for me. Never had an issue with seeing footing. The only issue is some difficulty lifting canoe over the front food pack to put on shoulders.

 
CCBBSpeckled
member (32)member
 
02/20/2020 11:11AM
First trip we took was pack on the front and pack on the back. It was hard to see foot placement wearing a pack on the front. From that point forward, we pack everything in one bag.

The two packs we had were a gear pack and food pack. Today the food pack still exists, it's just packed inside the other pack and now it's a cinch sack vs an actual pack.

You could just pack your day bag in the big bag. Weight distribution isn't really an issue. Out packs, including the food pack generally weigh around 40 lbs...it's completley comfortable.
 
02/20/2020 11:55AM
Put the loaded pack on your chest and take a walk. If you can't see your feet as they hit the trail, find a different option. It's too risky to step blindly on a portage or landing.
 
treehorn
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02/20/2020 12:01PM
Blatz: " I like to be able to see my footing. "

This is my problem with a pack in front.

If you can fit everything into one pack on your back, that's the way to go imo. Make sure you have the straps adjusted for a proper fit and use the waist strap. It should distribute the weight properly and you'll be good to go.
 
MikeinMpls
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02/20/2020 12:26PM
When I was much younger, stronger, and more nimble, I often carried a Duluth pack (real Duluth pack...heavy, green, canvas, leather straps) on my back and my front. Straps pulling from the back and the front strained shoulders and were heavy, of course, but I thought I was tough and impressing the girls. I was not.

I found footing to be the hardest part of carrying two packs. One simply can't see their next step, which could be a root or mud or rock to trip you up. I think the notion of having a smaller bag, if even five or 10 pounds, carried on the front makes intuitive sense.... it would better balance what are often unbalanced canoe gear packs, and would allow you better access to stuff you might want. But I think it would be hard to avoid the vision issue.

What we've merged into is a system of two Battle Lake Grand Portage packs (they are big) with everything in them. We have absolutely no loose stuff on a portage. PFDs are snap-linked onto the packs, paddles slide on the side of the packs, and fishing poles are disassembled and BDB'd to the thwarts. My thwart bag stays attached to the canoe. In this system, we make 1 and 1/2 portages.... my wife takes one pack, I take the canoe, and go back for the second pack. This eliminates the yard-sale approach others take to portaging, and reduces the risk of losing things.

Our packs are too tall to carry the canoe and a pack simultaneously. Besides, I'm older, and I don't have a problem going back for a second pack.

Mike
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
02/20/2020 12:28PM
Think of yourself and the potential for a misstep and injury if you’re portaging when you can’t see your feet. If you don’t want to think about yourself, then think of your crew mates and how your injury could affect everyone’s trip and long-awaited vacation.
 
A1t2o
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02/20/2020 01:00PM
I see your point, but I've done it this way already for several years now and I don't recall ever having a problem seeing my feet. A 5 pound tackle box/day pack, doesn't counter the full weight of a ~40 pound pack. You are still leaning forward. Plus the majority of the bulk in my pack is a Plano box with some odds and ends down at the bottom. So it doesn't stick out very much. If I couldn't see my feet then I would agree with you. I don't like to walk through the mud and puddles on portages so I am always watching where I step.
 
cyclones30
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02/20/2020 02:34PM
We tend to portage a lot with a small pack or small barrel on the front. Sometimes a smaller pack or sometimes as big as a 30L barrel in harness. You can still see your feet pretty well, and also get used to just looking one step ahead.

I wouldn't like to carry a full size pack on the front just for lack of visibility. Anything smaller and I'm game and so is my wife. If it's the 2 of us....one of us has a pack on back and canoe on top and the other has a pack on back and small food barrel on front and do it in one trip.

We strap/bungie everything else in the boat (paddles, rods, etc) so we don't have anything in our hands on portages.
 
bapabear
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02/20/2020 04:42PM
Find a buddy that will go along with double portaging. :)
 
A1t2o
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02/20/2020 06:02PM
bapabear: "Find a buddy that will go along with double portaging. :)"

We do double portage. Kinda hard to single portage with an aluminum canoe. This is just for our tackle boxes/ day packs.
 
02/20/2020 07:14PM
I’d stick with what works best for ya. Then first you carry the canoe half ways... go get your load and your partner return and carry the canoe the rest of the way after he carried his load.
 
gopher2307
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02/20/2020 07:19PM
If your big portage pack has a chest strap, it will distribute a heavy weight just fine. Even without that, weight distribution on a heavy single pack is off, but not that big of a deal. Lean a little forward. I've retrofitted one of my packs with a chest strap which I clip on for portages over about 70 rods.
 
GopherAdventure
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02/20/2020 08:27PM
I have done both approaches that you are suggesting when I portage. I tend to carry my small food pack on my front side when solo along with my medium size pack on my back and the canoe overhead. That gives me a nice balance. However, on group trips, I try not to carry anything on my front side and load everything in the big Granite Gear packs.

Tony
 
02/20/2020 11:08PM
I am more with your buddy on this, but overall I think it is a personal comfort thing.

T
 
x2jmorris
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02/21/2020 06:29AM
I'm with the others. I want to see my feet. So I'd easily say put it all in one pack.
 
arm2008
distinguished member (164)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/21/2020 07:57AM
A1t2o: "I'm used to taking a main pack and a day pack with me. The CCS Pioneer on my back and a cheap 15L backpack/day pack that holds my tackle and easy access gear like snacks and pliers on my front. To speed things up on portages, my tripping buddy wants to get rid of everything outside of our main gear packs, rods, and paddles. I completely get his point, but I'm more concerned about weight distribution and which one is going to wear you down faster.
"


If you have a routine down with your current pack system, I don't see how changing it will save a lot of time. If you don't have a routine, or the routine is inefficient, or if you're chasing all over the canoe to pack stuff into your day pack, then you've got a lot of room for improvement.

I personally prefer 2 packs, but I double portage. My day pack is worn when I carry the canoe.
 
DanCooke
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02/21/2020 08:15AM
I prefer never to have a pack in front of me. If I double pack portage; I put the second pack on top of the one worn on my back. That way I can drop it off if i need to and it dos not keep me from watching my foot placements. Stumbling with packs can lead to serious issues.
 
Tomcat
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02/21/2020 09:19AM
Front carry packs are used by people every day. There are advantages and disatvatages, it is a choice, it is neiher right or wrong .

I often carry a front pack and it works well. With two smaller more manageable packs I can easly distribute the load while on portages and in the canoe. ZERO!!! issue with seeing my footing. My front pack is my food so it is convenient and readily available.
 
sedges
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02/21/2020 09:40AM
I agree with Dan. My solution is a pack and a duffel. On recent 10 day solos I used a #2 Duluth pack with two bear vaults side by side with room for more inside on top of the vaults. That is matched with an old canvas military duffel. Just a handle, no shoulder straps. Its got sleeping bag and clothes, etc, all soft stuff. It rest comfortably on top of the pack resting against my neck and head. No hands needed to keep it there. The narrow duffel also fits up in the bow of the solo real well. The parcels together weigh 40-45 pounds.

It is real easy to carry that way. Easy to load up and set down for sure. Used the arrangement on tandem tours as well with the duffel riding on a large pack basket.
 
riverrunner
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02/21/2020 09:43AM
one pack or the canoe double portage

We might even triple now that we are getting older
 
gkimball
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02/21/2020 09:54AM
I carried 2 packs (main gear pack day pack) for years. It worked well because the smaller size and shape of the day pack allowed me to see the trail and my feet well enough. I also felt the front pack balanced the weight so the gear pack didn't ride so heavy on the shoulders. Never had a serious stumble or fall.


Then I changed day packs to one that is water proof. It doesn't work as well (obscures too much of the trail and shoulder straps don't hold it in place as well) for the 2 pack method so I don't do it anymore, but I will if I ever go back to using the pack that worked.

So my thought is try it because it does make portaging more efficient, but a large pack in front doesn't sound very workable.
 
THEGrandRapids
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02/21/2020 10:13AM
I carry a large pack by itself, maybe with the fishing rods or paddles if they are bungeed to the canoe. Then I carry a "half pack" with the canoe- I make sure the half pack sits low on my back so it doesn't interfere with the canoe. I'm a strong advocate of the double portage. Now with portaging a child that doesn't walk yet, We have three bags, toddler, and canoe- 5 items- which equate to a single portage for the spouse and kid and a double portage for me- sometimes we do the leap frog and meet in the middle. I don't like to front pack- but I've historically portaged in chaco sandals- which I'm changing to an ankle type of boot now after a cut and bad infection.
 
nofish
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02/21/2020 10:34AM
What does your total portage load look like? I assume you've got 2 large packs, 1 small pack, and then the canoe?

Personally I do like having a small pack for day trips so that I can pack some fishing gear, food, water, etc. What I often do is on travel days the bulk of the gear goes in the larger packs and the day pack remains very light with minimal gear. That way it can be worn on the front and its not bulky enough to be an issue. Then on day trips it can be fully loaded and carried on the back of the person not carrying the canoe.

I can understand wanting to ditch the small pack but if by doing so you're just adding more weight to the larger packs I don't see how its much of a benefit. If you are trying to make portages easier and faster then ditch the small pack but do so by ditching all the weight the pack carried as well. If you don't I don't think you're gaining much.

If you do keep carrying the small pack make sure to use one that fits well on your front and don't over pack it on travel days when it will be on your chest.
 
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