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Old 03-13-2021, 10:32 AM   #1
Swamp Booger
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Pack canoe question

I'm considering buying a light weight pack canoe. After watching some videos on how to get in and out of them, I'm wondering how does one do that in order to lift over beaver dams or other locations, such as steep banks, where the water is more than knee deep? I currently have a solo canoe with a hung seat and in those situations I sometimes just kind of crawl out of it.
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Old 03-13-2021, 01:47 PM   #2
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Here's how my late buddy hickoryskier did it...I don't recommend this method.



MDB has a Swift packboat, she generally steps in and out with her paddle as support, set on the far side of entry/exit. One foot on shore, other foot on the seat, one hand on the paddle, other hand on the nearside gunnel, then both feet on the seat, then both hands on the gunnels, finally plopping down to the seat.
She usually pulls up parallel to a dam, deadfall, whatever, and exits to the side, again, with her paddle on the farside for support.
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Old 03-13-2021, 01:51 PM   #3
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This may not be applicable since my canoe is not terribly lightweight, but I have found that I can put my paddle across the gunwales and grab the thwart behind the seat with my other hand, put my feet in the water and use my arms to sort of hop over the side without putting the gunwale underwater. This works in water up to about waist deep, I haven't tried it in deeper water. My seat is about 3" off the bottom of the canoe.

For beaver dams I have always so far been able to find a spot where the water is not much more than knee deep, sometimes by landing on the submerged part of the dam or sometimes off to the side. Once I get out I can wade to the place where I want to go over the dam, and the canoe walks along easily.

I sometimes find getting in to be harder than getting out. Knee deep or less is fine, but more than that I just have to wade to a shallower spot. Do you have particular brands or models of canoe that you're considering?
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Old 03-13-2021, 01:54 PM   #4
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I did a maneuver once that seemed very similar to Hickoryskier's situation in the photo, except there was no canoe under me at the time. I had just stepped out, not realizing what happens when both of your legs have gone to sleep and you try to get out of a canoe in a foot of water without letting them wake up first. Luckily it was summer so getting wet didn't matter.
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Old 03-13-2021, 03:56 PM   #5
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It depends a lot on the exact situation. Solo pack boat or large, the technique doesn't vary very much. One method is to come up parallel to the dam, remove any obviously troublesome sticks to one side, use paddle across the gunwales to stabilize myself, gert one foot out on a firm part of the dam and then push off with my hand from teh offside gunwale. In a C2 or larger, my seat is usually high enough to get one foot under me first. Alternatively, in a solo boat, with the paddle across one or both gunwales, rest teh paddle blade on a relatively solid part of the dam or shore, tip the boat in that direction slightly, and simply step out. If you are going downstream, allow the current to keep the boat against the dam, swing both legs out and push yourself up from the gunwales, taking care to keep balanced pressure on both sides. Easier to see than to explain.

Getting back in is just the reverse process. You can either just to the opposite one leg in at a time wiht braced paddle, or you can back up perpendicular to the boat into a sitting position with both legs out, sit down, then swing legs in. Be careful with this technique and don't do what I have done once or twice. Be careful how far you lean back during the sideways sit, or you will continue over backwards out the other side and get very wet.

As SG has proven in the photo above, whenever you attempt to do anything you haven't done before, try not to have an audience.
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:57 PM   #6
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My brother-in-law fell into the water so many times getting in and out of his OldTown Pack canoe it made it easy for me to decide what to get him for Xmas one year. Thick polar fleece, top and bottom. Fall in the water, take off the fleece, wring out, put it back on, and repeat. Probably saved his life several times. (Personally observed him fall in 2 of the 4 times I've canoed with him.) I'll stick with my 17 foot Roylex that is easy to het in and out of, plus I can pole the canoe)
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Old 03-13-2021, 10:43 PM   #7
Eddy Turn
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I don't have Packboat experience, but FWIW - I paddle Curtis Nomad (Hemlock Peregrine is the current model), which is 15'6" boat, 26.5" gunwales. If there's no big pack in the bow, I land the bow straight on the beaver dam and walk forward towards the dam keeping my weight over the keel line and my hands on the gunwales till I can step out over the bow on the dam. Surprisingly, the stability never been an issue.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:19 PM   #8
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I don't have Packboat experience, but FWIW - I paddle Curtis Nomad (Hemlock Peregrine is the current model), which is 15'6" boat, 26.5" gunwales. If there's no big pack in the bow, I land the bow straight on the beaver dam and walk forward towards the dam keeping my weight over the keel line and my hands on the gunwales till I can step out over the bow on the dam. Surprisingly, the stability never been an issue.
That's quite a stable, high load boat. It takes a lot to dunk it or flip it. The Kestrel OTOH, if you weigh enough, you can easily dunk the bow or stern if you shift out of the center... ask how I know

Pack canoes tend to be wider and shorter... not necessarily as stable to get out like you can with the Nomad.
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Old 03-14-2021, 02:05 PM   #9
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My canoe is about 14-1/2' long and 29" wide as I recall, but I can't move out of the center 1/3 of the hull without at least feeling like I'm going to tip it over. This may be poor balancing skills, which I suspect are exacerbated by my weighing around 200 pounds. I have what was designed to be a high seat solo, which I built to be a pack canoe sized for a 7 foot paddler. I think what can be done in a canoe is partly determined by the hull and partly by the weight of the load relative to the hull, since people come in such varying sizes.
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Old 03-14-2021, 04:39 PM   #10
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Very carefully! :-) Especially since I'm almost always solo. I paddle a Blackjack. Most often, I get one foot on firm footing outside, then lift myself onto the bank/dam with my hand steadying the outside of the boat. I'm most careful on beaver dams, since the sticks can be slippery & unstable. There's even a chance of having the foot go down & get stuck. And one of my personal fears is falling at that point, and seeing the canoe skimming downstream (I'm most careful on the downstream side).
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Old 03-15-2021, 10:25 AM   #11
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Thanks for the responses! Sorry I have been too busy to be on here these last few days. We're considering buying a Slipstream Impulse 13, which has seat options. Just wish we were able to try one out now.
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Old 03-16-2021, 05:51 AM   #12
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Thanks for the responses! Sorry I have been too busy to be on here these last few days. We're considering buying a Slipstream Impulse 13, which has seat options. Just wish we were able to try one out now.
I really like the looks of the Slipstream Impulse with the hung seat. I just can't get my head around the 3/4 inch negative rocker on the hull built in. I guess its one way to make sure the hull doesn't oilcan.

I've had several pack canoes (Swift 13.6, PB Spit, PB Rapid, Hornbeck NT 12) but I'm now at the age I just can't make a clean exit (beaver dam or anywhere) without taking on water so hung seat only.

Last edited by Matt C; 03-16-2021 at 10:59 AM..
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Old 03-16-2021, 12:14 PM   #13
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Matt makes a good point.
We have been considering the pack canoes as well. We currently paddle a Bell Morningstar tandem. We are getting older and like the idea of even lighter boats, however you have to consider getting in and out. A good friend of ours has the Hornbeck and as he has gotten older and the knees are not so good- he has a heck of a time to the point where it is taking the fun out of it. It has caused us to re-think the pack canoe idea a little.
Pack canoe...good on the back, but can be really tough on the knees...lol Don't get old!!!
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Old 03-16-2021, 12:50 PM   #14
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The compromise there is to just get a little bit heavier solo canoe with the hung seat.

I sit in my Peregrine when the water is calm but if I'm on a river or in waves, I kneel down and stay that way. It's pretty hard to go over, but generally I can just control the boat much better with the knees in contact - can bob with the waves better and quarter the boat into them with more control. On a river it's a matter of steering too, it's so much easier to lean the boat over knees down.

As far as entry/exit, I usually would pull up parallel to the dam, sit on my seat, and then stand and step out in one motion. To avoid the problem Zach had above, I often have to sit on my seat for a little bit if I've been kneeling to get the feeling back in my feet

So if that is a no-go, I'd stick with the tandem. I'm not sure you're gonna get stability and a hung seat in a small package.
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Old 03-16-2021, 02:25 PM   #15
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The compromise there is to just get a little bit heavier solo canoe with the hung seat.
That's pretty much where I ended up. The Impulse 13 with a hung seat and no float tanks comes in at about 26 pounds, but again, couldn't resolve that negative rocker thing. So ended up with the Wenonah Vagabond UL, a little over 14 feet and 30 lbs with float tanks installed. A little larger than the typical pack canoe, but I can carry it just as far and have no issues entering or exiting.
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Old 03-16-2021, 02:46 PM   #16
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Right - my Peregrine weighs around 32 lbs. Not the lightest layup but significantly lighter than any tandem (even my really light swift). Very easy to carry, a joy on a small pond or big lake, and decent on a river.
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Old 03-16-2021, 06:11 PM   #17
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Also I should say, I bet a boat like the Peregrine might not be bad to sit in all the time if the seat were lowered an inch or so. Don't know that you'd be able to kneel if you wanted though.
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Old 03-16-2021, 07:43 PM   #18
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I would consider a Peregrine but the price is just too much for me.
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Old 03-16-2021, 07:54 PM   #19
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Just gonna put this here...

http://www.adirondackcanoecompany.com/boreas.html

For the money, I'd check that out. Kinda small, but has option of hung seat. It's kind of in between a small solo, and a pack canoe in terms of size...
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Old 03-17-2021, 10:10 AM   #20
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Just gonna put this here...

http://www.adirondackcanoecompany.com/boreas.html

For the money, I'd check that out. Kinda small, but has option of hung seat. It's kind of in between a small solo, and a pack canoe in terms of size...

thanks for the link! I'll have to try and test paddle one!
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