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marrowoflife
member (9)member
 
07/12/2020 04:27PM
Have toured in the Boundary waters with canoe. I'm very interested and have been experimenting with ideas for use of a kayak. My current single weighs 45lbs and is 14ft long. Any specific recommendations of kayaks to look into? Looking for large compartment lids, decent payload capacity, 14ft+ size, and good stability for larger lakes as an intermediate to advanced paddler.
 
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Jackfish
Moderator
 
07/12/2020 05:37PM
As you probably know, this is a very pro-canoeing board. Kayaks are not recommended for long trips through the BW or Q simply due to the fact that portaging the yaks and gear becomes a major pain. Having to unload the compartments at each portage, then carrying the kayak through the rocky portage is the main reason.

With that said, if you plan your trip right, you can have a very enjoyable trip in your kayak by doing the majority of your paddling on the larger lakes, then doing minimal portaging.

What are the goals of your trip?
 
HangLoose
distinguished member(780)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/12/2020 05:51PM
Kayaks and portages don't mix very well in my opinion. I have yet to see anybody efficiently portage a kayak in the BWCAW. I'll never forget a group of three kayaks that we passed on a portage one time. They had dry bags in every compartment on their 3 kayaks. I couldn't stick around to watch them try to portage all those dry bags and kayaks across the portage. They were still 5 portages from the nearest campsite. I can't imagine that was a fun day. I'm guessing they wished they had canoes and canoe packs. Even if you do manage to find some sort of portage yoke that works with your kayak, how do you plan to pack and portage your gear? The standard method of packing in the BWCAW is of course the Duluth Pack style canoe pack. With a kayak, you will be undoubtedly using multiple dry bags in multiple compartments. I can't imagine portaging that many dry bags across a portage. It just isn't efficient.

With that said, if you still want a kayak trip then look for a large body of water with zero portaging. You'll be happier I promise.
 
ashlandjack
distinguished member (103)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/12/2020 06:32PM
Phoenix Poke Boat. Kevlar weigh about 20 pounds, 12" rated for 400 pounds. Spray skirts are warm and dry. Lots of room for storage in front and back. Here is a old fiber grass https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/ram/boa/d/saint-paul-poke-boat-camo-version/7141230161.html I use small air bags for flotation and have epoxied eyelet on the inside for rods and paddles. Seat are a little uncomfortable but with a little imagination you will figure it out.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxwnDom3mEw
I love my it is 1993 model.
 
Northwoodsman
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07/12/2020 06:51PM
Please read the OP's first sentence. "He has toured the BWCA by canoe". He also has a kayak and would like to try that in the BWCA. I'm sure he knows the pros and cons. I don't think he is looking for people to talk him out of it, he is looking for tips and suggestions. Let's be supportive.
 
ashlandjack
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07/12/2020 07:12PM
Northwoodsman: "Please read the OP's first sentence. "He has toured the BWCA by canoe". He also has a kayak and would like to try that in the BWCA. I'm sure he knows the pros and cons. I don't think he is looking for people to talk him out of it, he is looking for tips and suggestions. Let's be supportive." Well said go for it.
 
andym
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07/12/2020 07:12PM
Do you want the kayak for a low seat and double paddle experience but are willing to have an open hull for ease of loading, unloading and portaging? If that is the case then I would consider some of the pack canoes by companies such as Hornbeck. You could add a cover to keep out waves and spray for large water (such as by CCS). If you want a true covered sea kayak for big water then I don't have a specific recommendation. Fortunately, big water means fewer portages.

The poke boat posted above, a Rob Roy, or a Wenonah Canak are also possibilities to consider.
 
07/12/2020 07:47PM
This kayak probably has most of the features you require.


 
andym
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07/12/2020 08:06PM
Those tool holding magnets on the boat fadersup suggested might hurt your compass readings.

On the good side, that price made me feel better about suggesting a Hornbeck plus a CCS cover.

 
07/12/2020 08:56PM
marrowoflife,

I took my Current Designs Solstice GT fiberglass sea/touring kayak 17 ' 7", 54 lbs. on a solo trip to Kawnipi back in 1995 during the Kawnipi/Bird Lake fire. I was 41 yrs old at the time and I have to say it was a bit on the heavy side doing the portages from Prairie Portage thru Agnes to Kawnipi. And it was a bit on the slow side taking items in and out of the cock pits at portage time.

However, on the plus side the kayak had an outstanding glide, tracked perfectly, and allowed me to cover long distances in a hurry. I particularly enjoyed walleye and smallie fishing out of a kayak. In fact, there were a couple of days when all other groups were sitting in their campsites and not out fishing due to windy weather ... and I was out on the water playing in the big rollers and having a ball catching big walleye. I felt it was worth the hard work to get my kayak up to Kawnipi.

But that was 24 years ago and In was in great shape and had no problem carrying the heavier kayak.

Fast forward to 2020 and I am not so sure I would want to go that far into Quetico with my kayak. At 65 years old ... I think I will stick to my 16 ft. 34 lb. Bell Magic when I go into the Q and fish.

I just got back from a 2 week paddle to Lac La Croix with no portaging ( I used Andersons tow from Crane Lake to Snow Bay). I ran into 2 guys at Fish Stake Narrows fishing out of Wilderness Systems Sit On Kayaks and they were having a great time.

After seeing them paddling and fishing in rough Big Water of LLC , I am thinking about getting my kayak out again on a solo or group trip. I would stick closer to the Quetico entry points, so I would not have to do much portaging. Beaverhouse entry and do Cirrus and Quetico lakes. Or perhaps Saganagons or Basswood. I like to fish "big water" for "big fish" ... but you always run the risk of not being able to fish a big water lake if the winds pick up. A kayak would allow you to fish a big water lake when its windy. With little to no portaging ... I would not have to worry about stowing my gear in storage hatches.

Marrowoflife, let us know if you do a kayak trip.

I know this is primarily a canoe site but it is "BWCA.com" ... and I like to hear about paddlers adventures into Quetico/BWCA, no matter what type of watercraft they are paddling.



 
marrowoflife
member (9)member
 
07/12/2020 09:19PM
Northwoodsman: "Please read the OP's first sentence. "He has toured the BWCA by canoe". He also has a kayak and would like to try that in the BWCA. I'm sure he knows the pros and cons. I don't think he is looking for people to talk him out of it, he is looking for tips and suggestions. Let's be supportive."

Thank you, you are spot on. I am very aware of the hurdles present. I have seen others Kayak while in the BWCA and some portage some of the worst there is and seemed to do it successfully. I should have talked to them more when I ran into them and got more tips. I'm simply looking for more knowledge from similar people who have done this and who are lurking on the forum. Thank you to everyone so far who has done just that.
 
andym
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07/13/2020 12:00AM
I looked around a bit and didn't see any sea kayaks that have what I would call large hatches.

When we have kayak camped with our sea kayak (a tandem NW Kayaks Seascape Point 5) we packed everything in small drybags that we can take in and out easily even if the hatches are just normal in size. We have not needed to portage. If we needed to do that then I would also take a pack big enough to throw everything in easily at portages. You could probably stick a pack behind the seats. A CCS light hiker is definitely very compact and could fit anywhere but doesn't hold a ton on BWCA standards. I use one of those for trips when I need to toss in a backpack for occasional use. And I would put the food in Ursacks for ease in loading and unloading but then I like Ursacks anyway.

Our Seascape also has a big open area between the cockpits where you can put bigger things. That isn't so good for capsize and self-rescue if it floods but is a handy place to put our MSR Dromedary bags when camping on salt water with no access to fresh water at the camp site.

My experience traveling near kayakers in the BW is that they crushed us on the water and we easily passed them on every portage. The result was playing leapfrog for a few hours until we hit a series of really small lakes and got ahead of them for good. If we had hit a really big lake the opposite would have happened.

I hope my comments have been somewhat helpful. I really do think that a long pack canoe would be an awesome tripping boat for people who like double blades. And I bet a surfski and a good paddler would break the record on the border route.
 
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2654)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/13/2020 06:31AM
Intriguing idea. I have an older sit-on-top, 14', Malibu "Explorer" that is 14" deep --with hatch access allowing plenty of room for gear. It's heavy at 54 lbs and not much glide. I'm toying with the notion of using it on my upcoming trip since my route options have been recently reduced to no portaging. Definitely would be a wet affair with it's scupper holes much less the spray on windy days. Quite stable--almost impossible to flip which is a great fishing platform.
This response is more of a commentary than your sought-after suggestions but hopefully, someday I'll read a trip report(s) of your BWCA kayaking adventure(s).
Good Luck with your search!
 
HappyHuskies
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07/13/2020 06:55AM
I've done a handful of BW trips by kayak and enjoyed all of them. None of them involved a lot of portaging. One trip started on Moose and finished on Fall Lake. I've done the Number chain over to Hudson. A quick trip into Wind and a late October trip on Sag.

To be honest, I don't find portaging a kayak to be all that difficult. My kayaks do weigh more than my solo canoes, but they're still in the 45 to 50 pound range, so manageable. I will admit that I've always worried about damaging the cockpit combing with the portage yoke, but so far they've held up.

For the portages I carry a rucksack, usually a Granite Gear 3.5, but have used a Frost River Kitchen pack too. Anyway, all of the gear that is packed in dry bags goes into the pack at the beginning of the portage and then back into the boat at the end of the portage. Not an awful process, but definitely more time consuming than just grabbing the pack out of the canoe and heading over the portage. If I was planning a route with a lot of portages, this would get old fast. For trips with just a handful of portages, not a big deal.

I will say that while I generally single portage when solo canoeing, but when kayaking I usually double portage, unless the portage is very short (like the portages on the Numbered Lakes).

For the last 20 years I've been paddling a Current Designs Caribou S and a Current Designs Slipstream. I like both, but the Slipstream is much more playful, while the Caribou is faster and has more capacity. I've done two week trip on Superior in the Caribou and had extra space. Neither of these boats is still in production, so not sure it helps much. Definitely paddle before you buy. I think this is true with canoes as well, but especially true of kayaks where the fit is very important.

I'm afraid I haven't added much new here, but do think you can travel in the BW by kayak and have a good time. Having said that I usually take the kayaks for day trips or take them out when it's windy and I want to play. For longer trips with lots of portages I lean toward a canoe.

The kayaks are fun though. I even enjoy just going out and practicing rolls and braces without going anywhere. If you want to kayak in the BW I'd say go for it ...you know what to expect and will have a great time.
 
SevenofNine
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07/13/2020 08:16AM
I have a Chesapeake 18 for touring the BWCA. It has large holds but even then I had some stuff strapped on the back. It's a big boat for touring and I would go with a 17' the next time. I really enjoyed times where I paddled the kayak in the BWCA. It's a different experience for me.

I only went thru the wheeled portages on Fall up to Basswood or went in to Moose lake and just paddled up to Birch so I really didn't hump it over a portage. I have a small cart for the wheeled portages and it works fine.

To portage you really have to get your system down and have it ready to all fit in one bag with the rest lighter stuff strapped to the kayak. I used an Army duffel bag with my important stuff in waterproof bags and my buddy used a water proof pack.

Hope you find what you are looking for. Both types of boats be it canoe or kayak offer their own experience.
 
printing
member (47)member
 
07/13/2020 08:03PM
Sounds like a fun challenge.

I would suggest finding a kayak that will be easy for you to portage, and also pack an empty canoe pack in your yak to put all your gear in before you portage. I bet you could be successful to travel by kayak in the bwcaw as long as you have it planned out.

Good luck!

Haha now you got me on the search for a good bwcaw yak, down the hole I go!

Edit: Found this link in my search: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Kayak-Portage-Yoke/

Removable yoke makes perfect sense!
 
marrowoflife
member (9)member
 
07/13/2020 08:34PM
Wow, this is way more info than I thought I would get. Thank you guys! I definitely see the idea of having one big bag to toss all the smaller punches into at each portage, and potentially leaving some light objects attached.

Now I'm curious how people have portaged their yak. The removable yoke looks promising. To those who have portage experience, how have you gone about carrying it? Did you shoulder the kayak, make a yoke, or I've even read some people just put a pad between their head and the seat and carry it.
 
mjmkjun
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07/15/2020 12:48PM
printing: "Sounds like a fun challenge.


I would suggest finding a kayak that will be easy for you to portage, and also pack an empty canoe pack in your yak to put all your gear in before you portage. I bet you could be successful to travel by kayak in the bwcaw as long as you have it planned out.


Good luck!


Haha now you got me on the search for a good bwcaw yak, down the hole I go!

Edit: Found this link in my search: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Kayak-Portage-Yoke/

Removable yoke makes perfect sense!"


NICE!
 
CoyoteKid72
member (8)member
 
07/15/2020 02:28PM
Less is more! (sometimes ;-) With a low volume kayak you can't take as much so you don't have to carry as much, nor fuss as much with gear when you should be fishing. I found that out when I took my 17' homemade canvas kayak and still had a great solo experience. It tracked well and for fishing I strapped on foam water 'noodles' for extra stability. It weighs 40 pounds so while not heavy, was awkward to carry.
I also have a Prijon plastic 14' that holds a bit more (but no compartments). Loading and unloading at portages is not a big deal- I use nylon gear bags that slide easy and all bags the farthest in have ropes attached; just pull all the gear bags forward and throw in a big pack. Carrying is REALLY awkward- Am thinking of a carry system of nylon straps attached to the cowling and a shoulder strap.

The Prijon is a combination boat (no keel) that can run rivers with ease and also has a rudder for big water. Recently got back into backpacking so have been downsizing gear to reduce weight and bulk, which will come in handy if I get a chance to do a bwca trip again. I'm down to a 35# pack, not including fishing gear. Can fit that in the back of the kayak with room to spare. I like fishing out of the Prijon, can fish in the rain without getting wet.
 
BobTheRaven
member (7)member
 
07/15/2020 10:24PM
marrowoflife: "Wow, this is way more info than I thought I would get. Thank you guys! I definitely see the idea of having one big bag to toss all the smaller punches into at each portage, and potentially leaving some light objects attached.

Now I'm curious how people have portaged their yak. The removable yoke looks promising. To those who have portage experience, how have you gone about carrying it? Did you shoulder the kayak, make a yoke, or I've even read some people just put a pad between their head and the seat and carry it."


A friend and I are going in at Fall Lake in mid August with kayaks. I have a Dagger Axis 12(50-ish pounds) and he has a WS Tsunami 140. I made a portage yoke and he bought one. Tested mine on a 1.2 mile hike with a fairly significant hill in the first half. I did it at a 2.6 mph average (took my GPS with me). 1.2 miles with the hill was very close to my limit... definitely needed to take a break at that point but after 10 minutes, could have gone further. Unsure how much testing he has done but he said the purchased yoke "worked well".
 
justpaddlin
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07/16/2020 09:50AM
Perhaps something like this?

I don't consider it a canoe and you may not consider it a kayak. I just wanted to make you aware of this option. The 15.8 is a new design and looks to be their highest performance model. Their boats are well-made, light and quite strong/tough.

Cruiser 15.8
 
HappyHuskies
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07/16/2020 10:00AM
marrowoflife: "Wow, this is way more info than I thought I would get. Thank you guys! I definitely see the idea of having one big bag to toss all the smaller punches into at each portage, and potentially leaving some light objects attached.

Now I'm curious how people have portaged their yak. The removable yoke looks promising. To those who have portage experience, how have you gone about carrying it? Did you shoulder the kayak, make a yoke, or I've even read some people just put a pad between their head and the seat and carry it."


I highly recommend using a yoke. The one I have was purchased quite a few years ago. Not sure it's still in production and I don't know the brand, but I know Piragis used to sell one that looked similar to mine.

I did a shoulder carry into Wind Lake once and can't say that it was much fun. Offhand I don't know the length of the portage, maybe 150 rods and the portage was in very good shap, but my shoulder was not happy. Maybe it would have been better if I'd had a little extra padding on my shoulder. I think a yoke is the way to go.
 
mschi772
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07/16/2020 05:34PM
If you already had multiple kayaks (and no canoe(s)) and were asking which of your kayaks would be best for the BWCA, I'd understand the question, but you're talking about seeking-out a new [to you] kayak for the purpose of BWCA travel. That's like saying, "I've already mowed my lawn with a lawn mower, but I'd like to get a pair of scissors to try cutting my lawn with. Which scissors would you recommend?" I wouldn't recommend any despite the fact that, yes, scissors would also cut your lawn. Use the lawn mower; it's the more appropriate cutting tool for that task. Similarly, use a canoe; it's the more appropriate boat for the task of traveling in the BWCA, and unlike my analogy, canoes and kayaks are so similar, that there isn't even the novelty of that great of a difference in the operation of one compared to the other as there is with "lawn mower vs scissors." The question shouldn't be, "What's the ideal BWCA kayak?" but, "What's the ideal BWCA boat [for someone seeking to travel a sizable distance and camp within the BWCA]?"

Now if you use the kayak you already have or you choose some other one, I would definitely have a way of aggregating all the small packs/pouches into something you can more easily carry and using a removable yoke so that you can portage the yak more easily.
 
em8260
distinguished member (136)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/16/2020 05:44PM
The ideal kayak for the bwca is a canoe....
 
PowerLizard
senior member (60)senior membersenior member
 
07/16/2020 11:00PM
Look for a 17’ ocean kayak made of Kevlar.
Either build the yoke shown above or cut a pool noodle in half and then cut a slit down the side so you can slip it over the kayak seat opening and carry it on your shoulder.
 
ZaraSp00k
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07/17/2020 08:00AM
marrowoflife: "Wow, this is way more info than I thought I would get. Thank you guys! I definitely see the idea of having one big bag to toss all the smaller punches into at each portage, and potentially leaving some light objects attached.

Now I'm curious how people have portaged their yak. The removable yoke looks promising. To those who have portage experience, how have you gone about carrying it? Did you shoulder the kayak, make a yoke, or I've even read some people just put a pad between their head and the seat and carry it."


as someone who has done it, if the trip only has short portages, on shoulder, preferably with a pad of some sort, even pipe insulation helps

but IMO, the way to go is find someone else, don't bother emptying kayak, just one person grab each end and portage, I prefer this to anything including canoes
 
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