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Buying Advice - Kayak Portage Cart


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I'm contemplating a trip this June in the Adirondacks, and it looks now like I'll have some long portages. Does anyone have any experience with, or advice regarding portage carts, i.e. brand name, stowability, weight, location on boat (end or middle)? REI seems to have four different models, and with my 20% off coupon and dividend check, any would be acceptable. TIA - John Gamel

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I have one that I'm happy with but I can't remember the brand at the moment. When I purchased, I ask myself several questions:

1. Do I want a version that can be stowed in a hatch? (mine can)

2. How heavy is it?

3. What will I be portaging over in terms of terrain? These things operate much differently going over dirt versus sand for example.

I'm sure I asked myself other questions as well, but that's what I can think of at the moment.

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Check out the one at New England Small Craft. They have a great one that they are making themselves. I know it isn't possible to use your REI dividend there but that can be used for loads of things.

What I would look for is ability to break down, ease of use and sturdines as I hate buying things twice.


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I have seen the NESC cart (mentioned by Suzanne) in action ; it is a nice, simple piece, with a compact thermoformed (fancy word for bent piece of plastic) cradle that your nose or stern straps into, and works well for , say, one person pulling a loaded boat a few hunded yards to a put in at low tide. It would stow easily in your hatch.The wheels are maybe @ 6 inches in diameter, so there's a limit to how rough the terrain they can handle.

If you are portaging long distances over rough terrain(roots, rocks, elevation changes etc) , and can handle a bulkier item , there is a kayak cart with big inflatable wheels.(one is on display now at REI) They are heavier, more expensive. You can remove cotter pins and take the wheels off, so they break down to some degree, but are bulkier, and you'd have to determine if the extra bulk is worth it. They're popular with canoeists in Canada where, for some reason, there seem to be no restrictions on wheeled devices in canoe areas as there are in the US.

National Parks such as Isle Royale, Voyageurs , and also the Boundary Waters area prohibit wheeled devices on portage trails (I don't know about the Adirondacks, probably not but worth checking) , whereas there are no similar restrictions in the Canadian counterparts such as Quetico,Killarney, Georgian Bay Provincial Park etc.

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A hearty "thank you" to all who replied to this thread. I did speak with NESC about their piece, and learned that it wasn't right for the job, that is, sometimes-rough portages. The NESC product seems to be more designed for short walks and easy stowing. I learned from my erstwhile trip leader that what's planned is a 40-mile roundtrip on the Oswegatchie River...twenty miles in and twenty miles back. It now appears that portaging will not be a major issue as the only real obstructions in June are said to be beaver dams. I am interested in the water temperature and the blackfly situation, but otherwise think I won't have to carry my kayak a lot.

If anyone has some insights about the Oswegatchie trip, I'd love to hear them.

John Gamel

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