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RoundRiver
distinguished member (393)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/16/2022 09:11PM  
Hi. I have done many solo canoe trips and usually double portage. I almost never double portage on a tandem trip and have considered trying to do single portaging on a solo trip, but often that is in May or October and I have a few bulkier clothes items making this a bit more difficult.

Got me wondering how many people on BWCA.com who do solo canoe trips single portage and how many double portage? Feel free share reasons why.

Thank you for helping with my curiosity on this.
 
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05/16/2022 10:05PM  
The Solo tripping subforum has plenty of fodder on this subject. But yes - lots of soloists single the portages. Most pay close attention to weight & bulk with their gear. I single because: I do plenty of slow-moving group trips; I'm still capable (barely) of moving at speed, and I like doing so. Soloing is my chance to cover ground.
sedges
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05/16/2022 10:12PM  
Double portager. My trips are 10 days or more, so food volume is a factor. My solo outfit, including canoe, runs about 80 pounds for 10 days. I'm an old guy, so I am not interested in slipping up with 80 pounds. I might have done it when I was younger.

I really enjoy the walking time. My ankles get stiff in the canoe. I carry my camera on the return trip and take my time. I'm always looking for birds and plants and bugs. Portages get me into habitats I don't see from the canoe, at least not close-up.

I am still capable of covering some ground starting early, moving steadily. In my old age I am also more capable of being still. I enjoy finding a comfortable spot in a habitat of interest and letting critters come to me.
tumblehome
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05/16/2022 10:13PM  
I've been solo tripping for a few decades. I can say that after many years of many trips that it is not practical to solo portage. This is based on five days worth of gear and food.

40 pound canoe
30 pounds of gear and clothing
15 pounds of food which includes the pack
Paddle
Fishing pole
PFD

It adds up to a heavy load that is not practical for a trip with many portages.
If you go in one or two lakes then sure. I travel every day and like to put on miles. It's safer to take two trips over a portage.

Can it be done? Sure but it ain't fun and can be unsafe.

Tom
IowaGuy
senior member (100)senior membersenior member
 
05/16/2022 10:54PM  
Double portage on my 7-10 day solo trips.

If you're bringing fishing gear (one of my favorite pastimes in the BWCA), or any other kind of extra gear for a hobby besides paddling, it's hard to get your weight down low enough to single-portage comfortably.

Plus, I do some lightweight backpacking also, and I'm constantly trying to cut pounds in that pursuit. It's nice to go into the BWCA and actually bring along some fun things like fishing gear, binocs, real food, a book, camp shoes, a hammock to lounge in, a decadent sleeping pad, etc.

As Stu Ostoff says, nobody has solo portaged into a lake that he hasn't been able to double-portage into...
05/16/2022 11:13PM  
I double portage unless it's a daytrip. It's safer and I feel my energy level is actually more stable even though I'm covering more ground. I fantasize about single portaging, and may try it on part of my July or August trips. I typically carry my big pack, paddle and PFD on first trip in order to scout mud holes etc., then my Northwind solo along with food pack on 2nd trip.
05/17/2022 07:09AM  

Single
MagicPaddler
distinguished member(1442)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 07:29AM  
I normally double portage but like SNS I like to cover ground. I have done the border challenge 2 times and I needed to single portage to do that. On the second challenge on day one I did 55 miles. The second day I had much easier portages but only did 37 miles. No cooking gear no fishing gear no change of clothes. I did have a hammock + tarp, summer sleeping bag, rain coat and pants, bars and trail mix for food. Total load was about 50 LB by the time I got to the Grand Portage.
Tony
distinguished member(2135)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 08:02AM  
I have never been able to single portage. Most my solos are centered around fishing for Lakers and therefore I carry a lot of fishing stuff. Probably way more fishing stuff than I need. Usually double portage sometimes triple.

Tony
05/17/2022 08:04AM  
Different folks for different strokes...

I'm carrying about 53-55 pounds (starting weight - less at the end). Pretty reasonable to single...
That number includes:
Canoe
Single Blade
Double Blade
UL Solo Yoke (DIY)
PFD
Fishing rod/gear
Portage Pack (DIY)
All clothing
Rain gear
Canister stove/cook kit
Food for a week
Stuff for fish fry
Chair
Hammock/Tarp/Quilt/Pad
Saw & Knife
Maps
Binocs
Bug shelter (DIY)
Phone/power bank/SPOT
water filter
Bear Hang kit
First aid/toiletries/misc gear tidbits
Headlamp
Swim Goggles

Like Blatz (great photos!) it's two packages...Canoe with paddles & Rod attached, and the Pack. My hands are free.
05/17/2022 08:51AM  
Double portage. My gear is suited for me to paddle with one or two dogs, so my paddling a small tandem canoe and sleeping in a 3p tent. Add to that dog food and some other dog specific gear, plus my some comforts like a chair and bug shelter for May- July trips, cold weather gear for shoulder season, camera gear, and so on, and I’m just not even going to be close to single portaging. I’m impressed by those who can do it, but it’s just not for me. I also do like the walk back. I’ll also admit that on some longer trips in colder weather I’ve had to triple portage at least at the beginning of the trip.

I also love Blatz’s photo.
Bearpath9
distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 10:32AM  
My first solo was last year. I double portaged on that when I could probably singled. This year I will try to single portage as far as I can, with a 195 rod to start, then a 57, the last one that I am planning on doing before I get to where I want is 130 rods.

My pack goes about 45 lbs., the canoe a little less. The pack contains 2 bear vaults, pants, shorts, 3 pair socks, one pair sandals, small stove and propane for same, tent and sleeping bag. Food goes in the bear vaults, freeze dried. I use one bear vault for garbage after I empty it of food. Oh yeah, two pair of skivvies.

I'm 63, and in reasonable shape. I usually fill the pack about 1/2 full and go on my daily hike with it a month or so before I leave. My hikes are usually a mile, give or take. I do bring a pole and some tackle.

Curious as to how far I'm gonna get, but that's my goal.
05/17/2022 12:01PM  
I would love to be able to single carry, but I love stuff more. Chair, 3 books, two tarps, more elaborate meals (= larger cook kit), over size sleep system, weather radio, camera etc all add up to a 44# main pack. Food pack for 14 days is 19#. Old beater canoe is 50# with fishing gear, spare paddle, repair kit and pfd. With the clothes on my back we are at about 120#; damn near impossible to single carry for a guy staring at 72!
I do pack ultra light for hiking but canoe tripping allows me to indulge my gear fetish. So if you see a fat old guy huffing and puffing on the portage don't feel sorry for him. ( he will, however, allow you to carry his stuff for him if you insist.)
WaveRunner
member (16)member
 
05/17/2022 05:06PM  
I double portage. I travel light, but as others have mentioned, the weight can add up, even packing carefully. My main concern is safety. On a solo trip, I don’t want to risk tripping, spraining an ankle, etc. I do a lot of tandem trips as well, often single portaging. However, on solos, I find that I enjoy the hiking aspect of double portaging with light, manageable loads.
05/17/2022 07:14PM  
I double portage. Single is just not feasible for me. Late fall, 2-3 weeks food, 71 years old, post heart attack. I think I may have to start tripling some.
05/17/2022 07:14PM  
I double portage. Single is just not feasible for me. Late fall, 2-3 weeks food, 71 years old, post heart attack. I think I may have to start tripling some.
Paddle4Hike
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
 
05/17/2022 07:20PM  
Not a single portager. I like to bring too much gear that I might need or want. When I switched from backpacking to solo tripping, I went overboard on adding to the gear I bring along. I sometimes regret my decision while on a particularly challenging portage, but never regret it while paddling or when in camp.
MacCamper
distinguished member(556)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 07:23PM  
Double. Perhaps if I had a lighter boat (cedar strip, 49#’s) and didn’t bring my dog (food) and traveled for shorter periods of time (currently 10-14 days, food) I could single. Portaging is a part of the trip and I don’t mind crossing a couple times.
Mac
beanpole
member (37)member
 
05/17/2022 07:26PM  
I tried to single portage when I had my solo boat in 2020, but my knees couldn't handle the weight of my 50 (ish) pound back pack and my 30 (ish) pound canoe when I tried to step up. Since the portages are not flat and require stepping up, I opted to double portage the rest of the trip. My natural pace is usually quick enough to double portage in the time it took the rest of my group to single portage - if I was the 1st off the water and the last in the water - so it wasn't a huge issue.

I'm not a gram counter. I enjoy my luxuries and my camera gear and I generally carry the food for me and my partner.
RoundRiver
distinguished member (393)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 09:09PM  
THANK YOU all for your responses and indulging my curiosity on the topic. I thought it would be closer to 50:50, but at least in this relatively small sample size it is heavily favored toward double portaging - and for good reasons. As I said I have done mostly double portaging when on solo trips but would like to single (at least desire the idea of single portaging). However, I just do not see how to cut enough weight and space (especially in May and October) to make it viable. And I came out of backpacking so I do not take the kitchen sink, but as I passed mid forties years ago a chair and warmer clothes became something I wanted to bring, as well as a small axe (started enjoying simple fires), small book, and a frying pan. I have learned not to take so much fishing gear! My main concern is that my legs are not as strong as they used to be even though I walk regularly. Up and down steps/rocks is challenging enough with one or the other load, let alone all together. Do not want to injure my ankle or knee while trying to enjoy time in the wilderness.

To those single portaging and doing so with such focused packing on essentials only and keeping it simple, I applaud and respect your discipline. There is certainly freedom in keeping it simple.

To those who responded soloing in your 70's - congrats, you are an inspiration!

Happy paddling!
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 08:43AM  
When I started soloing a few years ago, I doubled portage. As a mid-50's woman, I just didn't think it was feasible to safely single portage. However, I started weighing my gear and planning more carefully. I upgraded to a light canoe as well. Last year, I experimented with single portaging and loved it!

Here is a link to my gear list for a 1 week trip: Solo trip 2021 packing list

Quick summary:
Base weight = <23 lbs.
Canoe gear = 38.5 lbs.
Daytime clothing = <5 lbs.
Consumables = 10 lbs (mostly food)
Voyager
distinguished member (334)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 09:43AM  
I've been singling ever since I ditched using aluminum and Royalex canoes. When I first went to the boundry waters in 1968 a lot of people were single portaging
#75 canoes and a heavy pack. As Calvin Rutstrum used to say, " making the portage in 1 trip is a genteel necessity."












375
tumblehome
distinguished member(2419)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 11:43AM  
I think the single portage guys are not being honest.
Where is the food?
In the picture by Blatz,
No PFD. Ounces= pounds
Unless it is 70' day and night, no jacket or other clothes.

And trip duration changes things.

Just sayin. Be honest here!!
cburton103
distinguished member (461)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 02:47PM  
tumblehome: "I think the single portage guys are not being honest.
Where is the food?
In the picture by Blatz,
No PFD. Ounces= pounds
Unless it is 70' day and night, no jacket or other clothes.

And trip duration changes things.

Just sayin. Be honest here!!"


I don't see why they wouldn't be honest here. In the world of lightweight backpacking, it's very feasible to only have a 10-15 pound baseweight (everything except consumables. Say you're doing a 7 day trip with 1.5-2 pounds of food per day, so that adds 10-14 pounds. Add let's say 5 pounds of extra canoeing related stuff (two carbon fiber paddles, a fishing rod and light tackle box, and PFD). That puts total weight of non-canoe gear and food to somewhere between 25-34 pounds. Add a 35 pound canoe, and that's doable for many fit paddlers who are so inclined. You could certainly go a bit lighter than this too, but this probably approaches a reasonable lower end weight wise.
EddyTurn
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 03:22PM  
cburton103: "I don't see why they wouldn't be honest here. In the world of lightweight backpacking, it's very feasible to only have a 10-15 pound baseweight (everything except consumables. Say you're doing a 7 day trip with 1.5-2 pounds of food per day, so that adds 10-14 pounds. Add let's say 5 pounds of extra canoeing related stuff (two carbon fiber paddles, a fishing rod and light tackle box, and PFD). That puts total weight of non-canoe gear and food to somewhere between 25-34 pounds. Add a 35 pound canoe, and that's doable for many fit paddlers who are so inclined. You could certainly go a bit lighter than this too, but this probably approaches a reasonable lower end weight wise."

For a trip that takes longer than few days over some challenging territory I'd add to the essentials: repair kit (2lbs); first aid kit (1); rain gear (2); warm clothing (2); extra gas (1lbs/10 days); spacious tarp and a chair for a rainy day (3-4lbs); sun hat, rain hat... a big pack to carry all this gear. My single-carry load is about 40lbs of equipment plus food, scotch, photo and canoe gear.
05/18/2022 04:35PM  
cburton103: "I don't see why they wouldn't be honest here. In the world of lightweight backpacking, it's very feasible to only have a 10-15 pound baseweight "

Exactly this. I describe myself as a UL backpacker with a 24 pound Canoe for a hat.
05/18/2022 05:26PM  
tumblehome: "I think the single portage guys are not being honest.
Where is the food?
In the picture by Blatz,
No PFD. Ounces= pounds
Unless it is 70' day and night, no jacket or other clothes.

And trip duration changes things.


Just sayin. Be honest here!!"


Straighthairedcurly provided specific weights for her single portaging. Seems pretty reasonable to me...

This isn't in reply to the poster I quoted anymore but when someone posts they want help/ideas for single portaging why does it always devolve into people spouting off about how they double portage? How does that answer the question? How is that helpful? Why is there a need to even comment?

Why would someone want to single portage? Who cares...it's their trip...but most likely answer is to see if they can. Some people like a challenge or a change not a testament of why they shouldn't do it :)

Good luck RoundRIver.
05/18/2022 06:01PM  
tumblehome: "I think the single portage guys are not being honest.
Where is the food?
In the picture by Blatz,
No PFD. Ounces= pounds
Unless it is 70' day and night, no jacket or other clothes.

And trip duration changes things.


Just sayin. Be honest here!!"
That's my pack base weight stuff in that picture. There's a change of clothes , polypro long underwear ,a fleece and a rain coat in a stuff sack there. There's even a chair and pillow in that picture. My Tarptent,quilt, and pad weigh very little. Did I give a weight? I think it was around 14 lbs
05/18/2022 06:06PM  
timatkn: "…This isn't in reply to the poster I quoted anymore but when someone posts they want help/ideas for single portaging why does it always devolve into people spouting off about how they double portage? How does that answer the question? How is that helpful? Why is there a need to even comment? …. "
Many of us do veer off topic pretty easily, but in this case Roundriver’s original question was “who singles and who doubles, and why”. Later in the post he expressed interest in single portaging.

I’ll say again, I’m impressed by all who can single portage. I’m never going to be in that camp, but I’m always interested to see how you all do it. And any single-portaging BWCA.com member paddling by my camp is welcome to come sit in my bug shelter and have a glass of wine and some charcuterie anytime.
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 06:35PM  
tumblehome: "I think the single portage guys are not being honest.
Where is the food?
In the picture by Blatz,
No PFD. Ounces= pounds
Unless it is 70' day and night, no jacket or other clothes.

And trip duration changes things.


Just sayin. Be honest here!!"


My linked list is 100% complete and accurate. I weigh everything myself because I don't even trust published weights. I still have places I could shave weight if I researched lighter boots (but I need good ankle support), a lighter paddle, a lighter pack (but I like the bombproofness of my EarthPack), and left the tarp at home (but I like the security of bringing it). My rule is that nothing goes in the pack without being weighed and added to the list.

For the Border Route Challenge that I didn't get to do last summer, I had a lower total weight because I planned "no cook" foods (so no stove or pot or fuel) and left off the book. Shaved 3 lbs.

This year, I bought a new cell phone and based my choice partly on saving weight...lol. It can become an obsession.
tumblehome
distinguished member(2419)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 07:33PM  
OK fair enough. But in the picture there is either stuff missing or it’s in the pack.
I assume no fishing.
I assume the food is in the pack too.
I assume no jacket or rain fly
I assume the PFD is somewhere else.
No rope to hang pack
No maps.
The Granite Gear pack in the picture.
No portage yoke.


I know people can pack very light which is awesome! Kudos.
I see a picture of a pack, canoe, and two paddles but not sure if the picture is also the whole scope of things or not.

For me, it doesn’t look like fun if the only thing a canoeist is worried about is how light everything is. But that’s just me. I do 100 mile trips in a week but I still carry fun stuff.

A saw
A little tackle.
Water purifier
Some bourbon
Food that is tasty

My total pack weight is probably 55 pounds plus my canoe/yoke
Still puts me under 100# but more than I wish to do on a single portage.
But I don’t rush it out there either. I used to when I was in my 20’s.


Cheers,

Tom
05/18/2022 07:49PM  
tumblehome: "OK fair enough. But in the picture there is either stuff missing or it’s in the pack.
I assume no fishing.
I assume the food is in the pack too.
I assume no jacket or rain fly
I assume the PFD is somewhere else.
No rope to hang pack
No maps.
No water bottle other than the little thing that gets filled every hour.


I know people can pack very light which is awesome! Kudos.
I see a picture of a pack, canoe, and two paddles but not sure if the picture is also the whole scope of things or not.


For me, it doesn’t look like fun if the only thing a canoeist is worried about is how light everything is. But that’s just me. I do 100 mile trips in a week but I still carry fun stuff.


Cheers,


Tom"
I have a blast in the BW and don't worry about the weight.It just evolved that way. Everything you see in the canoe is ALL of my stuff. I just got out of the canoe before starting the portage.Like I said before, that's my pack base weight. It's a common measurement for everything but food. My map and PFD stay in the canoe. My BeFree is a perfect water bottle. . I'm 63 and do mile long single portages with that gear. I don't fish. I'm a wilderness traveler. I'd like to add that I come from a Bikepacking background. They tend to be the most weight conscious of all human powered traveling because of the extreme limitations for space to carry things Honest
05/19/2022 12:11AM  
Jaywalker: "timatkn: "…This isn't in reply to the poster I quoted anymore but when someone posts they want help/ideas for single portaging why does it always devolve into people spouting off about how they double portage? How does that answer the question? How is that helpful? Why is there a need to even comment? …. "
Many of us do veer off topic pretty easily, but in this case Roundriver’s original question was “who singles and who doubles, and why”. Later in the post he expressed interest in single portaging.


I’ll say again, I’m impressed by all who can single portage. I’m never going to be in that camp, but I’m always interested to see how you all do it. And any single-portaging BWCA.com member paddling by my camp is welcome to come sit in my bug shelter and have a glass of wine and some charcuterie anytime.
"


Okay I stand corrected, maybe my own baggage here :)

T
Kermit
member (42)member
 
05/19/2022 09:04AM  
It can certainly be done, but nearly every gear/food consideration has to be working towards said goal. For me, honestly, I hate portages. Loathe them really. So single portaging solo trips is paramount.

To accomplish this: my solo canoe has full carbon gunwales/thwarts/seat and my paddles are all carbon to shave off a few pounds. My tent and tarp are both made of Dyneema so incredibly light and they don't absorb moisture/weight. My Therm-a-rest inflatable sleeping pad and down quilt are both the lightest versions within an acceptable R value range. My cook system is incredibly simple with just a small gas can, power burner, and titanium cup and spoon. All my meals and half my snacks are dehydrated in a Dyneema food bag. I use a small Silky F180 saw, Platypus gravity filter, Garmin InReach Mini, and a Heilnox Chair Zero. I take audio books on my iPhone (that stays on airplane mode) to listen to at night and small power bank to charge it when it does eventually die. I even researched weights of PFDs before buying.

None of these things are inexpensive. Hell, some are downright stupidly expensive. But I've tried to use annual sales and 20% off codes to piece together a kit that lets me get to a portage, throw my pack on my shoulders, clip my paddle in, flip the canoe, and go.

Best of luck! Be forewarned, if you do start playing the ounce shaving game, it's highly addictive.
TreeBear
distinguished member (219)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/19/2022 12:15PM  
I'm late to this discussion, but I echo what so many others have said. It's all about your trip.

For me, so many of my solos are only one night or two nights. There's not that much food and I am trying to get the most out of that experience so, for that reason, I single portage. Now, that may change mid-trip depending on what canoe is along. I do not have an ultralight canoe. I currently own an '82 Mad River Kevlar, Beaver 17, and a Grumman LW 18. I also have taken solo trips with different canoes from the outfitters and camps I have worked for. None of my canoes at least are below 50 pounds so tack on 30 pounds of gear (or more depending on how much camera stuff I bring along) and the portages can be pushing 90. That's a lot I have found. I even have taken some solos with old aluminum (desperate times, my canoes were elsewhere and I had what my outfitter had available) and then the portages were closer to 120 pounds for single portaging (and I have seen that number go well past 150 pounds while guiding.) What I have learned? The injuries hurt worse than the pride and they keep reminding you about them long after the trip is over. I've taken some good falls solo and it's a long limp out of the woods.
05/19/2022 02:25PM  
Kermit: "It can certainly be done, but nearly every gear/food consideration has to be working towards said goal. For me, honestly, I hate portages. Loathe them really. So single portaging solo trips is paramount.


To accomplish this: my solo canoe has full carbon gunwales/thwarts/seat and my paddles are all carbon to shave off a few pounds. My tent and tarp are both made of Dyneema so incredibly light and they don't absorb moisture/weight. My Therm-a-rest inflatable sleeping pad and down quilt are both the lightest versions within an acceptable R value range. My cook system is incredibly simple with just a small gas can, power burner, and titanium cup and spoon. All my meals and half my snacks are dehydrated in a Dyneema food bag. I use a small Silky F180 saw, Platypus gravity filter, Garmin InReach Mini, and a Heilnox Chair Zero. I take audio books on my iPhone (that stays on airplane mode) to listen to at night and small power bank to charge it when it does eventually die. I even researched weights of PFDs before buying.


None of these things are inexpensive. Hell, some are downright stupidly expensive. But I've tried to use annual sales and 20% off codes to piece together a kit that lets me get to a portage, throw my pack on my shoulders, clip my paddle in, flip the canoe, and go.


Best of luck! Be forewarned, if you do start playing the ounce shaving game, it's highly addictive."



Reading this was like looking in a mirror...
Kermit
member (42)member
 
05/22/2022 08:50PM  
Ha! We should compare notes sometime.
 
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