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 Post subject: Portage Pack Preference
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2020, 10:01 pm 
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Hello all,

Just home from ten days on the Kopka River and I got to thinking about packs.

We had two with us - a 115L dry bag and another non-dry pack loaded with stuff organized in small dry sacks. Both will do the job, and I have no real bias – I like to be super organized either way, so things tend to end up in smaller dry sacks no matter which bag they go into.

Thinking about things like the Duluth Pack, or the late Ostrom pack, these require a dry-bag insert to keep things 100% secure. Seems maybe redundant. So I guess my question is, do folks have a reason to love one style over the other?

Cheers,
James


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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2020, 10:20 am 
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For the past decade, two 115-liter nylon versions of the Duluth (aka Woods)-style packs complete with 115-liter waterproof liners have made up the core of our tripping baggage. I like them more than a dry bag because of the extra protection that the nylon outer gives to the liner; it makes for less worry about possible punctures. We still do pack the contents in large freezer bags. We use other nylon bags to organize food and other gear.

Our packs were made in China for Hooligan, a now-defunct company operating out of Barrie, ON. MEC used to sell them for $115. They've been into the Sports Gear Repair shop once to get stitching and straps reinforced or repaired. The Ostrom Wabakimi pack pictured below is what it was modeled on. I'd love to have an actual Ostom pack! I keep checking kijiji for a possible score. They cost about three times what the Hooligan did.

Image

The really essential gear - down sleeping bags, a second set of clothes, batteries and electronic stuff - goes into a Watershed bag - the Colorado size. After the first trip tossing that out of the canoe at awkward portage landings, we ended up putting it inside a 115-liter MEC nylon duffel bag - an extra two pounds of weight but also more peace of mind.

Not ever contemplated is moving on to four or five 60-liter barrels!

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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2020, 12:36 pm 
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Those are nice looking packs True North. You just got more competition on kijiji.
My system is always evolving, right now it uses barrels for food, 70 or 110 L sealines for clothes, sleeping bags and sleeping pads and Duluth packs for tents, cooking gear and basically everything else. In the Duluth packs most everything is in either drysacks or pelican boxes for floatation. I wish I could get away from the barrels too, and am thinking more about wanigans. Yeti makes a cool looking 30L box that I might mess with for this, 2 should fit inside a Duluth.

MC


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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2020, 1:11 pm 
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I LOVE my Hooligan canoe pack. The lid is great, fits well, holds a ton and has some strategically placed loops which is helpful pulling the pack out of the canoe.

Too bad they're out of business now.

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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2020, 1:49 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Bobby Hull wrote:
We had two with us - a 115L dry bag and another non-dry pack loaded with stuff organized in small dry sacks. Both will do the job, and I have no real bias – I like to be super organized either way, so things tend to end up in smaller dry sacks no matter which bag they go into.

Thinking about things like the Duluth Pack, or the late Ostrom pack, these require a dry-bag insert to keep things 100% secure. Seems maybe redundant. So I guess my question is, do folks have a reason to love one style over the other?


We have multiple reasons, and multiple bags & packs, with preferences more for size and shape than style.

All four family members paddle, usually together. First, years ago, in two tandems, now in four solo canoes, or in four decked canoes. We have accumulated an embarrassment of packs and dry bags, so the answer to preferring one pack or bag or style over another is “Because it fits”.

The “it fits” is not just it-fits a certain way in a particular boat, or for various gear loads on differing styles/seasons of trip, but also, just as important, that the pack fits our very different physiques.

I want (we all want) well padded shoulder straps and waist belt. I am large in several dimensions; broad shouldered and thick of neck, so the shoulder straps work best with adequate, non Vulcan nerve pinch spacing. And equally large bellied, so I need an adequate waist belt.

Dry bag/pack fit may be akin to buying shoes. My size 12 EE or EEE flipper-toed feet have specific needs. One son is a Gumby (his un-pinnable wrestling nickname in fact), lanky and tall of torso. My wife is more petite, with a shorter torso. Each of us has preferred packs and bags that fit our bodies most comfortably. The missus loves one weird, short, squat, kinda horizontal-duffle shaped dry bag that is a literal pain in the neck (and shoulder blades) for me to carry.

In general we are fine using blue barrels for food and well constructed, reinforced bottom, roll-top dry bags, and often use waterproof (eh, ok, “water repellent”) compression stuff sacks for critical gear in those bags. I do love compression stuff bags for volume reduction with squish-able things.

More critically the packs or bags need to fit how and where we want them positioned in solo boats for trim, often space constrained below sheerline with spray covers, or in decked canoes.

That “each our own” preferred dry bag selection helps organizationally when breaking camp on family trips. But, some of those are same color bags and are confusingly close in volume. I am profoundly color blind and need some additional “That’s mine” hint before I am packing up wondering why shit won’t fit in the dry bag this morning.

Adding to that challenge, we occasionally use shuttle services; think an 8 - 10 boat trailer and 15 passenger van, hauling several different parties upriver, or a 20-person jet boat with a dozen canoes on top and a mountain of dry bags piled in the stern. All transported at the same time. There are typically a lot on indistinct, same brand/color dry bags to disgorge at the put in. Or worse, (think about the oops consequences), to drop off along the way upriver at different put ins.

Most of our bags are marked in some way, but to make them instantly distinctive, and the dark ones more visible if bobbing downriver in a capsize, I used enamel paint pens and added high contrast color stripes around the bags to make them easier to spot in either guise.

https://www.canoetripping.net/forums/fo ... k-dry-bags

The enamel paint has held up well, and had zero effect on the dry bag vinyl. OK, I went a little beyond stripes stencil crazy; Lucky Charms pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers had additional benefits.

ImageP4010029 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those bags are definitely, quite distinctly ours, and high-vis easily spotted. Plus I can easier remember what goes in which dry bag pattern, without needing color reference. “Crescent moon” equals tent, sleeping bag, pad and bedtime gear. Of course when a smaller dry bag with summer bedtime gear is stencil marked with frou-frou flower petals I need to learn a new trick, but it is easier for me to remember “flowers” than, eh, was that green?

ImageP4010048 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Yadda, yadda, yadda; if it is always the same stuff, in the same hull, same-ish season/ same-ish venue, just find bags that comfortably fit both you and the boat.


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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2020, 8:43 pm 
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Thanks guys. Good food for thought.

I have a SealLine 115L and I like its simplicity and robustness, and the security of its waterproofness. At the same time, it is lacking a few things:
- a canoe pack needs a grab handle at bottom as well as top. Sides too for that matter.
- the webbing is shite.
- the shoulder strap placement and design is weak.
- I could use maybe one pocket somewhere for fast access things.

So I can't help but wonder if an integrally waterproof version of an Ostrom/Hooligan/Duluth wouldn't be the ticket. Built for hauling in and out of canoes, built for comfortable carrying and built for sloshing around in an often wet bilge. As far as I know, it doesn't really exist? Am I overlooking anything?

@true_north - what liners do you use with those packs? Do they fit well?
@Mollicollie - you're idea of Yetis as a Barrel alternative is interesting. I have a barrel, but to be truthful, sometimes I am unsure of why.
@ Mike McCrae - I like your stencil idea! I colour coded all of our little organizer units - Orange first aid, blue headlamps, black utility and tools, green pots and stove, etc. My wife says there are too many bags everywhere. Me, I like a sport for everything!


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 6:58 am 
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I have and have had an unhealthy collection of packs. starting at the cheapest ones money can buy to the most expansive. At the moment there are about 15 of them in my stash, and i have bought and passed on more then I can count. Personally I like a nylon (cordura) pack with a pack liner. I have used a couple of they vynal sealine style water proof pack and they just arnt for me. I dont like how it can be hard to shove stuff in them as some times the material likes to stick to others. I have never picked one up and though wow this carrys well. There harnesses just arnt as good. And lastly, i always have this underlying concern that i will punch a hole in it and it will leak.

it is unfortunate that some of the better pack makers are no longer with is, as they did have some great design and very good quality.

But there are still some other great pack makers out there still. Cooks Custom, Kondos, granite gear, Duluth, frost river, etc. that still do make amazing packs. I have first hand experience using most of these and i would with out hesitation grab one.

With out question my preference is a cordua pack with a strong well built harness for comfort that supports the load.


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 7:03 am 
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Bobby, the liners were also sold by Hooligan and made specifically for the pack so the fit was perfect.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 8:57 am 
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would love it if someone came out with a portage pack made out of dyneema.....

EDIT: Like this pack: https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/c ... prism-pack


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 11:49 am 
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I have used all kinds over the years, now my preference is either two 75L or one 75L and one 115L Eureka Stormshield canoe pack. I find them very comfortable with nice straps and waist belt and the cost was very good at around $50 for the small ones. If I am solo, it is one 75L. I use to just use a regular backpack. I do have a 60L barrel but I have always found barrels to be uncomfortable when portaging them so now it is extra storage for my gear in the basement or a spare for tripping friends.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 12:41 pm 
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Bobby Hull wrote:
@ Mike McCrae - I like your stencil idea! I colour coded all of our little organizer units - Orange first aid, blue headlamps, black utility and tools, green pots and stove, etc. My wife says there are too many bags everywhere. Me, I like a sport for everything!


Too many little dry bags becomes an issue. A friend had a dozens of 20L Watershed dry bags. Awesome little dry bags, unawesome time carrying his gear into camp. That said, I have three small dry bags that stay packed, two of them year round.

ImageP3240001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The large First Aid and Spares & Repairs kits come on longer multi-person trips; I have a personal 1st aid kit and my own wee spares and repairs on every trip, enough, I hope, for me to get by.

On group trips that boldly identified paint pen ID on both sides 1st aid kit gets hung unmistakably visible off a branch in camp, not stuffed in my tent vestibule where no one can find it if I am off and about.

The little “Clothes” bag is the waterproofie-est of any dry bag I carry; a compression dry bag, containing a compression stuff sack, containing a full set of off-season duds in a garbage bag. Three layers of water-proofieness, with old long underwear, fleece tops & bottoms, insulated vest, worn but semi-dry wind-barrier raingear tops and bottoms, wool socks, wool gloves, wool hat.

Plus a garbage bag to stand on while changing, and to carry my sodden clothes home in after a swim. Not that I myself have ever needed anything like that ;-)

(BTW, an empty Zip-lock in the 1st aid kit for “trash” is a good post-trip reminder of what you need to replace in the way of bandaids, gauze pads, tape or etc)

I have plenty of old, worn tripping duds. XL sized, so they will, sometimes comically, “fit” anyone if the sleeves and pant legs are rolled up. I pack that dry bag with a full set of excess paddling garb each Fall, and empty & wash it come (late) Spring. When packing for off-season day trips I don’t even need to think about spare clothes, just grab the marked bag and toss it in the truck.

Actually, I don’t even take it out of the truck come winter; wet and muddy from being stuck in a frozen ditch in February a bag of dry clothes in the truck is a blessing, even if I look like a hobo.

I’d guess everyone has a set of old winter weather duds in their closet to dedicate to a small dry bag. Just sayin’


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 2:33 pm 
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ameaney wrote:
would love it if someone came out with a portage pack made out of dyneema.....

EDIT: Like this pack: https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/c ... prism-pack


Like this,
https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/collections/portage-pack

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 2:37 pm 
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I recently returned from a canoe trip with Uber barrels—7 of them. I add stickers to each barrel and lid—matching stickers—to keep the lids paired up to its barrel but also to identify barrels.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 2:55 pm 
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Paddle Power wrote:
I recently returned from a canoe trip with Uber barrels—7 of them. I add stickers to each barrel and lid—matching stickers—to keep the lids paired up to its barrel but also to identify barrels.


@Paddle Power - what is an Uber barrel?


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2020, 3:13 pm 
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Paddle Power wrote:
ameaney wrote:
would love it if someone came out with a portage pack made out of dyneema.....

EDIT: Like this pack: https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/c ... prism-pack


Like this,
https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/collections/portage-pack


Great find but not Dyneema - it's nylon so it isn't waterproof like dyneema and needs a dry bag as a liner.
The pack is 54 oz which is really heavy if you're looking for UL portage pack.

Dyneema in the same pattern would easily be half the weight (which is my obsession :-? )


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