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PostPosted: March 5th, 2018, 9:57 pm 
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Hello all! I'm a newbie to this site and a newbie to the portaging scene. Me and 3 other friends decided to give portaging a try last summer in Algonquin and we loved it! We rented everything except the food. This year we've decided to invest and buy most of our gear as we will be trying to go at least once or twice every year.

My question is about our set up. When we rented last year, we got two large packs, I believe they were probably about 110-120 L packs. They were the really wide ones which I don't see around often (the tall long packs i see often in stores). Along with the two packs, we had a 60 L barrel.

When browsing online and in stores for backpacks, I notice that it's not very common to see many that are over 100L. Which makes me think, do we really need that large of a pack? I'm not sure if what size pack would be best. I know it's hard to say because every group/person/couple will be different in terms of their needs and what they bring.

But assuming there's 4 of us, if we're getting two packs, going for 4 days 3 nights, what size packs do you think we should target? Also, I was reading a thread on here about barrel vs packs and the pros and cons of using a barrel vs just using packs to carry food and such. Do you think 2 larger packs + barrel is a decent setup? Or should we explore the use of 3 packs instead or 4 smaller packs (each person carries their own)?

Sorry for the long post, any information regarding any of this or suggestions would greatly be appreciated!


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 12:40 am 
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There is no "answer"! So many variables but I'll make a few comments...

Packs specifically for canoe tripping don't sell in big numbers so generally not a big selection at retail. Packs designed for backpacking or alpine don't work well for canoeing although they are nice when you have a long portage.

In the vinyl dry bag style the 115L is pretty much the standard, I wouldn't want one any bigger, it would weigh a ton, be hard to pack in a boat and a pain to get at anything if you filled it up. There is no requirement to fill them up and you need enough empty space to get a good seal on the roll-top.

Your post mentions "give portaging a try", how about less portaging and adding in a little paddling!!!!! :rofl:

I'd recommend one 115L drybag per boat, one smaller 60L food barrel/bag, two more (1 per person) for clothing, sleeping bag personal items. Use the 115L as a gear bag, tent, sleeping pads, kitchen etc.

If you are doing routes where the portages are long you would want to rethink that plan, maybe eliminate the 4th pack. Of course you could always go semi-ultralight and do single carries but unless that's really your thing you should probably take a nice selection of "comfort items" (functional or edible), double carry and pick routes that are not too brutal.

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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 7:18 am 
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Big packs are a PITA but as mentioned above if you are committed to making the portage in one trip (single carry) you are committed to a big pack. Even the 115 is big but it is not unwieldy.

I don't have much to add to what has already been said above.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 8:13 am 
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As Recped said, there is no best setup any more than there is a best canoe. I think it's a good idea to vary your method to suit the particular trip. e.g. on a short port trip I have taken a 2-burner Coleman---takes more fuel but makes cooking more convenient.

I have a 115 L drybag for clothes etc but we put the kitchen stuff in a reg knapsack---no prob getting the pots and pans etc wet. Also in the big pack---stove, water filter, jug(s) and anything else that doesn't need to be kept dry. We take a 30L barrel as my wife cannot manage a 60 L. These days we do little portaging as we love paddling on G Bay so we take 2-30L barrels for 1 week.

We don't hang our barrels but we put them well back from the tents. Some others hang them, but many don't. Trippers tend to hang packs.

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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 10:24 am 
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Location: Ringwood, NJ
Wide packs at 110-120L are for canoe tripping (manufactured by CCS, Duluth, Granite Gear etc.) . Smaller and taller packs (usually under 60-80L) that you find in outdoor stores are for hiking. For 14 day trip for two people you can fit all your gear in 1 canoe pack (the gear - except for fuel - is mostly the same regardless of the length of the trip), that is if your gear is light and compact enough (i.e. expensive). You might also fit the food for such trip in one 60L barrel, depending on what kind of food you like to have. If you are fit enough you can portage such setup
in one carry. Smaller packs in bigger numbers will most likely require 2 carries or more. Single-carry portages open tons of possibilities, especially in such portage-heavy places like Algonquin. Of course there is some paddling required between the portages, but eventually one get used to it.

If you are going to hang your food then the barrel is probably not necessary; it's also heavy. My 60L barrel with harness weighs 4lb more than 120L Granite Gear pack (waterproofed). If you keep the food in the bush away from campsite, than the barrel is obviously safer from wildlife (though not bear proof) and also provides more efficient barrier for odors.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 11:17 am 
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wotrock wrote:
As Recped said, there is no best setup any more than there is a best canoe.


Sacrilege! Of course there is a best canoe - Prospector 16!


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 3:16 pm 
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Location: Eganville, ON
When we were younger we took a 150L (Blackfeather 120L plus 2 15L tubes attached to it) pack with all the gear and food and a daypack (prob 30L) with raingear, snacks, filter etc. With this setup we could single carry portages: 1 guy takes the megapack, the other takes the daypack and canoe. The downside to this method is the megapack would start out around 90 pounds with all the food in it; quite a haul to get up!

Now as I'm getting older and wiser, we've stopped treating canoe trips as an eco-challenge, and more as a vacation. We still use the monster pack, but it is full of all the lighter bulkier items: tent, sleeping bags, clothes, chairs etc. For food we use 30 or 60L barrels, and eat like kings! The downside to this method is having to double carry all the portages.

Either way is worth it in the end just to get out there.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 3:20 pm 
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sbaillie wrote:
Now as I'm getting older and wiser, we've stopped treating canoe trips as an eco-challenge, and more as a vacation.


FTW!


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 7:20 pm 
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thanks everyone for all the useful info!

For those of you who use one pack for two people, what type of pack are you using (brand and size)?


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 7:43 pm 
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Location: HFX, Nova Scotia canada
When I am tripping with my wife we use the following:
1 115L Boundary Pack that has a 3 person tent, 2 sleeping bags( crush sacks), 2 sleeping pads, night kit( sleeping clothes, books) and 2 senate seats. Pack is maybe 3/4 full. Notice everything needed for the tent is in this bag.
1 50L with clothes and a couple of small packs for personal items.
1 60 L barrel for food, axe, saw, pots, high test drinks. Is always heavier than the big pack, has a really good harness to handle the weight. Everything in here goes by the fire.
Sealline Pro Packs last forever but we use Boundary Packs( both 15 years old) with no issues at $100 less.

https://www.cabelas.ca/product/404/seal ... roof-packs

As i get older I'm ok with double carrying portages. We don't do without. Tripping is a treat, enjoy it.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 8:02 pm 
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The MEC brand packs are really good IMO.

Also for a bigger pack especially if you are sharing it make sure to have some smaller bags inside it to sort your gear in there. Sail carries a variety of sizes of Coughlan brand bags with a draw string. They are missing a toggle on the string but you can buy those for 35 cents each or something like that from MEC.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 9:02 pm 
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I have a Eureka 115 that's served us well---2 people, clothes, thermarests, sleep bags in comp. sacks, TP, tent, tarp(sometimes)

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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 9:06 pm 
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scoops wrote:
When I am tripping with my wife we use the following:
1 115L Boundary Pack that has a 3 person tent, 2 sleeping bags( crush sacks), 2 sleeping pads, night kit( sleeping clothes, books) and 2 senate seats. Pack is maybe 3/4 full. Notice everything needed for the tent is in this bag.
1 50L with clothes and a couple of small packs for personal items.
1 60 L barrel for food, axe, saw, pots, high test drinks. Is always heavier than the big pack, has a really good harness to handle the weight. Everything in here goes by the fire.
Sealline Pro Packs last forever but we use Boundary Packs( both 15 years old) with no issues at $100 less.

https://www.cabelas.ca/product/404/seal ... roof-packs

As i get older I'm ok with double carrying portages. We don't do without. Tripping is a treat, enjoy it.


the 50L with your clothes and personal items, does that also go in your 115L pack? or do you carry that separately?

Thanks again for this info. It really helps!


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 9:09 pm 
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Prospector16 wrote:
The MEC brand packs are really good IMO.

Also for a bigger pack especially if you are sharing it make sure to have some smaller bags inside it to sort your gear in there. Sail carries a variety of sizes of Coughlan brand bags with a draw string. They are missing a toggle on the string but you can buy those for 35 cents each or something like that from MEC.


The MEC packs I see look like the usual hiking packs. Do you think they would be useful for portaging or stick with the Eureka 115L or Boundary packs like others have mentioned?
Great tips too. I'll keep that in mind!


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2018, 9:30 pm 
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NightShark welcome to the best hobby ever. Im a gear addict so I've tried everything.

My mentality starts with adding all the gear weight, dividing by how many ppl you are.
Then those that carry the canoe, get a 10lbs reduction because its uncomfortable.
After 115L Eurekas, or only barrels (in kick ass harnesses) or back packs, I am of the opinion that backpacks are the way to go.
I goose neck an industrial garbage bag, and make the most comfortable hiking pack waterproof.
Good packs also allow the strapping of things, so nothing is ever in my hands during the hike.
I also like sliding the yoke slightly back, so that it rest on the strap as it joins the back. Making the canoe mucho relaxo.
Food for 4 is usually 40-45lbs in a 60L barrel.

I'll pm you my OCD pre trip prep google doc.

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