In madagascar it is likely that we will need to walk some distance into rivers or round long sections of unrunnable rapids. Some of these walks may be across grass or through the jungle in which case it will be ok to drag the boats however to avoid wear on the hulls of the boats during walks ins or portages where we are going along paths or tracks dragging will not be an option.
Carrying boats for long distances or when they are full of kit, on one shoulder (even if you switch regularly) puts a large bending force on your spine which can cause permanent damage and back pain. Portage packs are a great way of avoiding this bending force. They are basically rucksack straps which you can attach to your kayak which allow you to carry your kayak like a rucksack.
I had a look at what was available to buy however I couldn’t afford the NRS Sherpa at £60 (much as I would have liked one) and the HF Turtle Back looked rather uncomfortable to carry.
I decided to make my own. I looked at the design of the NRS and HF portage packs and decided that the boat orientation on the NRS one was better as the HF one looks like you would have to bend forward a lot to avoid your feet hitting the back of the boat and the cockpit rim would also dig into your back rather a lot.
I initially built a prototype one which simply comprised of a few bits of rope and some webbing.
I used it to carry my boat just under 5km up the track to the tilt and although it was a bit uncomfortable as the webbing used for the shoulder straps dug into my shoulders it was a lot better than carrying the boat on my shoulder for that distance.
The second iteration of my homemade portage pack (and the one I will be taking to Madagascar) uses actual rucksack straps for the shoulder straps and is much more well built using a sewing machine (thanks mum :D).
It attaches round my kayak using 2 lengths of rope and is much more comfortable to wear.
It is less than 2 weeks to go till I go to madagascar
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