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04/18/2022 09:11AM  
Block or Sling

After all these years I've finally wore out my portage pads, block style. I ONLY use on my 17 foot Souris River canoe (less than 40 lbs) I've heard sling style are more comfortable on lighter canoes. I understand there's a LOT Of personal preference here but am curious as to what the experts say.
 
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YetiJedi
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04/18/2022 10:17AM  
Not an expert, but I have plenty of opinionated preferences!

I use blocks on my SR 18.5 and Wenenoh Boundary Waters. For my solo canoe, I have the sling but that's new and has only gone around the block in my neighborhood as a trial walk.
 
04/18/2022 11:30AM  
And what do you think if them? Better in any way?
 
04/18/2022 11:33AM  
I dumped the sling pads and replaced them with Bourquin yoke pads on all of my tandem canoes, and only use the sling pads on my solo Magic as it's light enough that they don't cut into my shoulders like they did on my SRQ 17 and Bell Northwoods.
 
YetiJedi
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04/18/2022 11:38AM  
campNgirl: "And what do you think if them? Better in any way?"


The block pads work great and I don't have any complaints. I got a used pair of sling pads from a friend and they were just fine on the brief walk around the block. It feels like the canoe is slightly higher so I have slightly better vision. If I didn't get them for next to nothing, I would have bought another pair of block pads. They always work well.

Since your canoe is light for a tandem, the sling option might work just fine for you as well. If it were up to me, I'd go with the blocks on anything 40 and up...which includes the paddles, fishing rods, seats, etc. that you would fasten to the canoe.
 
04/18/2022 11:58AM  
I used the sling pads quite a few times on rentals, but never liked them personally and bought the block pads for my own.
 
schweady
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04/18/2022 12:07PM  
I measured the ones clamped on our rental and made a couple of pair. More than a few patterns and suggestions will pop up with a search on this site. Key is finding very dense and thick foam for the pads.

Tried a sling once and didn't care for it.
 
04/18/2022 01:12PM  
Thanks everyone, kind of what I expected to hear. My old blocks are so worn it's torture, you feel the wood form not padding. Thanks!
 
portagedog09
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04/18/2022 03:41PM  
I'll agree with the group on ++ for block pads. Like boonie, I've used the sling pads on quite a few rental canoes and do not like them. They obviously go through more cycles than a personal set but I've had the sling pad frame come apart, the fabric loop on the frame fail and the pads slide out to the side and up the frame so the bolt head was on my shoulder. Not fun. The Bourquin's are good, the Superior Portage Pads are good too. I found some good firm but comfortable EVA foam block and now make my own pads on a yoke that is sturdy, yet weighs less that a pair of the heavy Superior (and I imagine Bourquin) pads. Nice thing about the EVA foam is that you can contour it to fit your shoulder and it doesn't slide around. Good luck with your next set.

pd
 
04/18/2022 04:12PM  
I use Superior on my near 80lb tandem and after 10 years they are still firm and comfortable. The cordura they use has some texture so they don’t slip around in wet or sweat. Highly recommended.
 
Northwoodsman
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04/18/2022 04:31PM  
I have sling pads on my Wenonah Boundary Waters and I could go either way. I have read plenty of reports of people having issues on the trail with the sling type coming undone and people and losing parts, not much to go wrong with the pad type, they are pretty much foolproof. I can't figure out what parts people are losing on the sling type however, perhaps they are different than mine.
 
Kermit
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04/18/2022 05:31PM  
Both! I use the block style from Superior Portage Pads (I like the vinyl over the fabric) for my tandem and the sling style CVCA pads for the clamp on yoke on my solo. The block style are more comfortable for the heavier weight of the tandem. But the sling style are lighter and totally fine for the less weight of the solo.
 
Jackfish
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04/18/2022 08:17PM  
Our group has the CVCA sling pads on all of our canoes. Personally, I have three canoes and they all have sling pads. I've always used them and like them just fine. They rarely give me trouble - only when the clamp-on models aren't clamped tight enough and they move. Could happen to any clamp-on portage pad.
 
04/19/2022 07:53AM  
Sling pads are terrible if you have wider (front to back) shoulders; the metal digs into your bones. I consider them an abomination.
 
04/19/2022 08:29AM  
I have the spring creek portage pads/seat. It is more of the sling style but very different compared to typical sling pads. I love it because of the shock absorption. I realized after using it that the canoe resting on my shoulders is not the problem, even with my canoe being aluminum. It's the jolt that gets you when you take a big step or go over a rock. Now my canoe just bounces, so that jolt is not going straight into my shoulders/neck. The height helps too since I don't have to lift the front as much to look ahead. It's those little things that add a little strain here and there that wear you out.

Before my current setup though, I used block pads. I tried a few different pads but ended up making my own to make them dense enough. My dad was refinishing his Skiff Craft and had some boat seat cushion left over. That stuff is high density, durable, and waterproof. I've made a few sets of pads with that and those pads are the next best thing to my spring creek setup. The big thing I've found is that it isn't how the canoe sits on your shoulders, it's how it bounces that hurts. If you bottom out the padding on on a bad step, you are going to have a rough time on longer portages.
 
MagicPaddler
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04/19/2022 08:33AM  
portagedog09: "I'll agree with the group on ++ for block pads. Like boonie, I've used the sling pads on quite a few rental canoes and do not like them. They obviously go through more cycles than a personal set but I've had the sling pad frame come apart, the fabric loop on the frame fail and the pads slide out to the side and up the frame so the bolt head was on my shoulder. Not fun. The Bourquin's are good, the Superior Portage Pads are good too. I found some good firm but comfortable EVA foam block and now make my own pads on a yoke that is sturdy, yet weighs less that a pair of the heavy Superior (and I imagine Bourquin) pads. Nice thing about the EVA foam is that you can contour it to fit your shoulder and it doesn't slide around. Good luck with your next set.


pd"


I have a set of portagedog’s EVA pads. The pads I use are cupped to fit shoulders and covered with fabric to increase toughness. They are much lighter than CVCA pads and much more comfortable. I have used about 30 different yoke pad combinations and these are the best!
 
04/20/2022 09:55AM  
MagicPaddler: "I have a set of portagedog’s EVA pads. The pads I use are cupped to fit shoulders and covered with fabric to increase toughness. They are much lighter than CVCA pads and much more comfortable. I have used about 30 different yoke pad combinations and these are the best! "


Interested to see a photo of these yoke pads; can you share?
 
Jackfish
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04/20/2022 02:54PM  
Banksiana: "Sling pads are terrible if you have wider (front to back) shoulders; the metal digs into your bones. I consider them an abomination."

Banks, you sound like the guy who goes to a 5-star restaurant and then after the meal, in spite of enjoying a fine meal, you blast it on Yelp because the salad forks weren't chilled. Abomination? C'mon... the pads don't fit your shoulders just right, but they're perfect for thousands of others. That doesn't make them an abomination.
 
04/20/2022 03:37PM  
I have superior portage pads blocks and older style cvca slings. I use the blocks on my tandems & slings on my solo as the solo's light enough the bolts don't dig into my shoulders.
 
HowardSprague
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04/20/2022 04:56PM  
Jackfish: "Our group has the CVCA sling pads on all of our canoes. Personally, I have three canoes and they all have sling pads. I've always used them and like them just fine. They rarely give me trouble - only when the clamp-on models aren't clamped tight enough and they move. Could happen to any clamp-on portage pad."

^


I have sling pads for my royalex Vagabond and I like them; don't know if this'll make sense, but I like that I can sort of bounce the canoe off my shoulders as I move along parts of a portage. Easy to reposition and give a second of relief here & there...hard to describe. But I like them. On my Grumman, I suspect I might not feel the same.

As far as metal digging in, maybe mine are different otherwise I’m missing something. I don’t understand how.
 
04/20/2022 06:11PM  
Jackfish: "
Banksiana: "Sling pads are terrible if you have wider (front to back) shoulders; the metal digs into your bones. I consider them an abomination."

Banks, you sound like the guy who goes to a 5-star restaurant and then after the meal, in spite of enjoying a fine meal, you blast it on Yelp because the salad forks weren't chilled. Abomination? C'mon... the pads don't fit your shoulders just right, but they're perfect for thousands of others. That doesn't make them an abomination. "


Criticism not apt. Its not a lack of chilled fork its a meal that causes suffering. Not a little thing- metal on bone. I wanted so much to like them but they cause me a ridiculous level of discomfort considering they were attached to a kevlar solo boat.
 
MagicPaddler
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04/21/2022 07:38AM  
sns: "
MagicPaddler: "I have a set of portagedog’s EVA pads. The pads I use are cupped to fit shoulders and covered with fabric to increase toughness. They are much lighter than CVCA pads and much more comfortable. I have used about 30 different yoke pad combinations and these are the best! "



Interested to see a photo of these yoke pads; can you share?"


Pads before I covered them and after.
With the covers this yoke weighs 40 ounces.
 
kconaway
member (12)member
  
04/21/2022 08:36AM  
MagicPaddler - May I ask where you purchased your foam?
 
MagicPaddler
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04/21/2022 11:51AM  
kconaway: "MagicPaddler - May I ask where you purchased your foam?"

ask PortageDog
Although I think this is the same material only narrower and not as pretty a color 3 inch
 
AdamXChicago
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04/21/2022 01:55PM  
After years of block, I tried the sling a while back and felt much more comfortable with the sling. I remove them for car transport, so that’s the only downside for me. No issues with material malfunction. I’m not a “thick” shouldered guy, so no experience with metal on bone comments. YMMV

AdamX
 
04/21/2022 06:29PM  
MagicPaddler: "
sns: "
MagicPaddler: "I have a set of portagedog’s EVA pads. The pads I use are cupped to fit shoulders and covered with fabric to increase toughness. They are much lighter than CVCA pads and much more comfortable. I have used about 30 different yoke pad combinations and these are the best! "


Interested to see a photo of these yoke pads; can you share?"


Pads before I covered them and after.
With the covers this yoke weighs 40 ounces."


Very cool. For some time, I have been mentally wrestling with how to shape & attach minicell foam for pads. This is excellent. Do you know how the wood is adhered (marine plywood, I assume?) to the foam? Rubber Cement? Epoxy? Vinylester? Chewing Gum? Are there bolts permanently fixed to the plywood to attach to the wood of the long clamp-on piece?

If I had known this was in your Rapidfire when we passed on the Kawishiwi River last July, I would have insisted you let me examine it. :-)
 
04/21/2022 09:34PM  
MagicPaddler: "
kconaway: "MagicPaddler - May I ask where you purchased your foam?"

ask PortageDog
Although I think this is the same material only narrower and not as pretty a color 3 inch "


I zoomed in to the first picture and I'm thinking these are made from one (or two) of those yoga blocks like they have in the sporting goods aisle at Target. They are such a nice chunk of foam I bought one once but still haven't used it for anything!

Target yoga blocks
 
MagicPaddler
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04/22/2022 07:21AM  
sns: "
MagicPaddler: "
sns: "
MagicPaddler: "I have a set of portagedog’s EVA pads. The pads I use are cupped to fit shoulders and covered with fabric to increase toughness. They are much lighter than CVCA pads and much more comfortable. I have used about 30 different yoke pad combinations and these are the best! "



Interested to see a photo of these yoke pads; can you share?"


Pads before I covered them and after.
With the covers this yoke weighs 40 ounces."



Very cool. For some time, I have been mentally wrestling with how to shape & attach minicell foam for pads. This is excellent. Do you know how the wood is adhered (marine plywood, I assume?) to the foam? Rubber Cement? Epoxy? Vinylester? Chewing Gum? Are there bolts permanently fixed to the plywood to attach to the wood of the long clamp-on piece?


If I had known this was in your Rapidfire when we passed on the Kawishiwi River last July, I would have insisted you let me examine it. :-)"


There is no plywood in it. PortageDog made it. He has make other custom yokes for outfitters. I like the fast on off with cams to tighten it up. Set the yoke on the canoe flip the 2 handles and go.
I think brulu may have found the product my pads were made out of.
 
04/22/2022 07:49AM  
MagicPaddler: "There is no plywood in it. "


Interesting.
So what is the ~1/4" (maybe 3/8"?) brown layer that has the exact same footprint as the purple foam, that looks to be somehow glued to the purple foam?
 
schweady
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04/22/2022 10:27AM  
brulu: "I zoomed in to the first picture and I'm thinking these are made from one (or two) of those yoga blocks like they have in the sporting goods aisle at Target. They are such a nice chunk of foam I bought one once but still haven't used it for anything!

Target yoga blocks "

Not a bad find, but at 6"x9"x4" might be slightly thinner than needed unless they're really dense. (I'm not a yogi, so I have no idea.) For comparison, the ones I built, I used blocks of foam that were 6"x10"x6".
 
MagicPaddler
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04/22/2022 11:43AM  
sns: "
MagicPaddler: "There is no plywood in it. "



Interesting.
So what is the ~1/4" (maybe 3/8"?) brown layer that has the exact same footprint as the purple foam, that looks to be somehow glued to the purple foam?"

Bottom View
Some pretty wood. I should have cleaned the dirt off before I took the picture.
 
portagedog09
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04/22/2022 05:00PM  
MagicPaddler: "
kconaway: "MagicPaddler - May I ask where you purchased your foam?"

ask PortageDog
Although I think this is the same material only narrower and not as pretty a color 3 inch "


So brulu hit it on the nose - the purple EVA was from a yoga block - came from Wally-world sports isle. And it was one single 6x9x4" block. The size fit within MP's specs for the height he wanted to have enough clearance with the Rapidfire's seat. The wood is ALL cherry, 5/16" thick because MP wanted it as light as I could make it. Thicker would have been more durable, but that's what he wanted. The pads are glued on the cherry baseplates with AquaSeal. There are inserts for the bolts to hold to when assembled. The whole yoke has been pretty solid on the several trips he's had it on. I thought it might have been a bit firm, but it has enough give to make it comfortable. I have since bought a block of the 3" thick stuff ('copia) that MP linked to. The wood is finished in marine polyurethane varnish.

sns - I was there with MP on the Kawishiwi last summer when we crossed paths, in the other solo - Magic's old Magic specifically. My yoke for that one was 3/8" ash and left over cherry, goes 28 ounces. The engineering is a lot simpler than the one for the Rapidfire. I had to pilfer the blue cam levers for another project, so this just has the star wheels now.

pd

 
04/22/2022 06:16PM  
pd, really solid craftsmanship!

I made a 4.5oz minicell yoke for my solo (build in the DIY forum), but that relies on having a double-bladed paddle with you in order to work. It carries wonderfully.


I'm going to use part of your engineering & will try to make blocks out of minicell, glue to a base piece of wood & bolt to my tandem yoke. Not happy with my strap yoke pads - don't find them comfortable.
 
portagedog09
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04/24/2022 07:08AM  
Thanks for noticing the craftsmanship sns! I've been accused of being CDO - OCD, but in the right order. Use T-nuts on the inside of the pad between the foam and baseplate. Press fit them in with a vice or something before gluing the foam on. Oh, and you might think the hardwood is heavier, but you can get away with thinner wood than say pine and plywood is actually fairly heavy. The weight per cubic inch is actually pretty comparable with the strength favoring the hardwoods.
If you decide you want some help with a project, let me know.

pd
 
04/24/2022 10:26AM  
The foam block (formerly known as a yoga block) that I got at Target (Gaiam brand) is very firm, but has just enough give that I think it would be great as a portage pad. I have no idea what its purpose is for yoga.

I'm happy enough with the pads themselves on my current yoke, but I think I might use that cam-lever idea to clamp the yoke to the gunwales. Portagedog, mind if I ask where you sourced those? And are those purple bands to hold the clamps in the right position rather than sliding around before they're tightened? The whole thing definitely looks well thought out and well made!

Anything to streamline the yoke attachment process would be be a welcome improvement for me. I'm still not over the fact that I have to install and uninstall that thing at every portage, by far my least favorite part of using a solo canoe. I always have to convince myself that it's worth the time and effort for all but the shortest of portages - just resting the hull or the seat on top of my head works fine for the first 5-10 rods...
 
portagedog09
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04/28/2022 04:05PM  
Brulu, the cam clamps are from PowerTec - pn 71165 for a pair, 5/16" bolt. There is a 1/4" bolt version too, so make sure of which on you want when ordering. I'd stay away from the smaller one. They are made for T-track products for wood working and the like.

I think you're right about the purple bands but you'll have to ask MP as he put those on. He likes to tinker and keeps messing with my engineering. (He calls it fine tuning...) That is what the extra D shaped wood block on the bottom of the yoke was supposed to be for. I had to make those for him because he threatened to put some plywood on there!!! Instead of sliding the blocks back/forth, he likes to rotate the whole yoke into place. There are actually small springs over the bolts between the yoke and clamping blocks to open them up when releasing the clamp and to take up the play to keep stuff from jingling around, possibly coming loose.

pd
 
04/28/2022 05:09PM  
I've always used Superior block style pads with either vinyl or Cordura covers. I prefer the Cordura. They work well for portaging but can be awkward on some roof racks.

To slightly change the topic, what do you think of the thinner pads that Velcro around the yoke? They do not seem to be popular in the BWCA or Quetico. However, they seem more popular in southern Ontario e.g. Algonquin. They always look to me to only be slightly better than wood on bone. Am I right or wrong about that?

 
MagicPaddler
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04/30/2022 05:55AM  
Those purple bands are silicone rubber bands. Just my tinkering to keep things lined up. Without them if you bump the moving part of the clamp wrong it will become misaligned requiring a 1 second realignment. The bands are sold as hair ties to keep hair out of little girl’s eyes. You will get some strange looks while shopping for them. Since I bought them I have not had any trouble with my hair getting in my eyes.
 
05/01/2022 09:02AM  
Awesome, thanks for the info PD and MP.
 
MossBack
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05/05/2022 03:03PM  
PD... looks like you are developing a following, and rightfully so.

Magic... I do have trouble with hair in my eyes, but at my age it is my beard blowing
up in my face.
 
PabloKabo
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05/05/2022 05:18PM  
Well done! Those look great!
We've got a store "Macs" that has upholstery materials. They've got various densities of foam.
 
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