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At Howl we specialise in journeying skills, the Bushcraft we practice and teach is that of the traveler. There is a wonderful simplicity that comes from taking a trip in the outdoors, a pragmatism gleaned from necessity. We draw from this experience in the field to teach a set of skills and knowledge based in expedience and realism, skills that actually get used while outdoors. We provide an insight into the Natural world, opening up a vast array of natural resources and knowledge to help you travel with less reliance on the contents of your rucksack: it’s what you carry in your mind that matters.

 

 We teach these practical skills in a friendly and open way, our hope being to enable you to make your adventures into the Great Outdoors memorable and enjoyable. We'll help you cultivate a positive attitude, a confidence in yourself, and a connection with the natural world through which you travel.

We promote the utmost respect for the environment, the ability to pass unnoticed through the woods brings with it a deeper understanding of the wilderness, and our part in it. It is this philosophy which forms the very core of our work.

We promote the utmost respect for the environment, the ability to pass unnoticed through the woods brings with it a deeper understanding of the wilderness, and our part in it. It is this philosophy which forms the very core of our work.

Canoe Portage Pack Kit

Howl Bushcraft Blog

Canoe Portage Pack Kit

Jamie Dakota

portage pack bushcraft canoe

Continuing a look at my preparations for the upcoming canoeing events I'm co-running (see here if you'd like to get involved!) this article will centre around what goes into the larger 'portage pack'. I generally operate on a system of two luggage components per person when canoe camping, as do my colleagues who help deliver our expeditions. This pack then is the base-camp equipment, usually not needed during the day, that is left in the canoe most of the time while paddling. However, just because we have the luxury of a canoe to carry our kit it's still worth being considerate about what we pack: we'll have to carry whatever we pack during portage or to and from camp sites. With that in mind I travel fairly light, only substituting lightweight for robustness where it matters; my preference being to pack everything into light waterproof dry-sacks stowed into a durable rucksack to protect them. I find the Frost River Timber Cruiser does this job perfectly whilst also looking damn pretty too.

As I'm undertaking the upcoming trips as part of a team, I'll be carrying some equipment which will be used by us all during the camping stops as will everyone on the trip. So you'll see instead of a personal billy can for example I'll be carrying the group pans, 

Let's take a look at what goes inside:

Communal kit on the left, personal gear on the right.

Communal kit on the left, personal gear on the right.

  1. Frost River's Timber Cruiser Pack, a heavy waxed cotton canvas pack takes all the wear and tear I give it and it surprisingly water resistant.
  2. Group First Aid kit: A comprehensive kit I use for all the courses at Howl. I also carry a condensed kit in my day pack.
  3. An LED lantern by Alpkit called 'Bob' (waterproof, bright and durable), for lighting the basecamp in the evening. Along with spare batteries and some lengths of paracord for general campsite needs.
  4. The group water filter: We're currently using the Platypus Gravity Filter for our group needs as it's compact, thorough and field maintainable. This forms a cornerstone of our water management system, used morning and night to supply drinking water to everyone.
  5. Cookset: see below
  6. A heavy fry-pan: Perfect for making bannocks and pancakes, it also adds a second frying pan for evening meal prep.
  7. Utensil roll: A simple selection of utensil such as we make of our WildKitchen Carving Day.
  8. Food: Pictured here to give a sense of how much we'll be bringing for four of us during a three day canoe trip. This will actually be stowed in a plastic barrel with perhaps some drinks and other pantry wares during the trip.
  9. Tent: Whilst I usually opt for a tarp and bivi-bag the time of year, and current tick populations in Scotland makes a small tent a pocket of comfort when travelling by water. I'm currently testing the Vango Blade 100 as it packs small and light, and pitches very quickly.
  10. Spare Clothes: See below
  11. Bed Bag: See below
  12. Tarp: I've paired my sleep system with a DD superlight tarp to give me ample dry space to store kit and see to personal admin whilst camped.
  13. Spare Knife
  14. Possibles Pouch and repair kit
  15. 2 Ortlieb dry bags which store nos. 1-7 & 10-14
For four people we'll use a couple of stainless steel pots, and a stainless frying pan with collapsible handle. Plastic plates double as chopping boards. I find a nail brush is an excellent tool for scrubbed pans when cleaning on the trail. Leather gloves are also useful when cooking by the fire.

For four people we'll use a couple of stainless steel pots, and a stainless frying pan with collapsible handle. Plastic plates double as chopping boards. I find a nail brush is an excellent tool for scrubbed pans when cleaning on the trail. Leather gloves are also useful when cooking by the fire.

My clothes for camp at the end of the day: Generally I'll change into dry upper body layers to give my travelling clothes a chance to dry out and air off. So a merino thin merino base-layer, light fleece and a Swandri wool shirt combine nicely. I carry a change of trousers in case I'm thoroughly soaked at the end of the day, Fjallraven's Karl pants are light and comfortable for this. I take extra effort at the end of the day over my feet, ditching my canoe shoes and socks I'll talc my feet (hence the wash kit) and rub a bit of life into them, then a warm pair of Sealskinz socks sorts me out. Around camp I taken to wearing these Vivobarefoot Tracker boots, super lightweight and highly packable, they're comfy and have good grip. 

My clothes for camp at the end of the day: Generally I'll change into dry upper body layers to give my travelling clothes a chance to dry out and air off. So a merino thin merino base-layer, light fleece and a Swandri wool shirt combine nicely. I carry a change of trousers in case I'm thoroughly soaked at the end of the day, Fjallraven's Karl pants are light and comfortable for this. I take extra effort at the end of the day over my feet, ditching my canoe shoes and socks I'll talc my feet (hence the wash kit) and rub a bit of life into them, then a warm pair of Sealskinz socks sorts me out. Around camp I taken to wearing these Vivobarefoot Tracker boots, super lightweight and highly packable, they're comfy and have good grip. 

Bed Bag: This dedicated dry bag stows my sleeping gear. I carry a Mountain Equipment Down winter down bag from October, inside its own dry bag (that's three dry bags deep into my kit, within the Timber Cruiser!) It packs small and light, and being down responds better if it's a little warmer than expected. My mat is a Thermarest Prolite 3/4 length mat, very durable and compact it blows up nice and thick for a warm comfy nights sleep. I carry a puncture inside it stuff sack for accidents. The orange bag contains my sleeping clothes, as Mors Kochanski is often quoted: pile lots under you, lots over you and little on you. It's sound advice indeed, as insulation comes from trapped dry air, allow your sleeping bag and mat to do their job. On my person I always strip away my day clothes as any sweat or damp from the outside never wants to wind up in your sleep system. In the bag I have a light merino top, wool hat and buff, and thin wool gloves as well as wool socks. These are all I sleep in even when it's very cold, if I get colder still I'll pull my Keela jacket from my ditch kit over my sleeping bag to help trap more air. Further into winter I may include a pair of thermal leggings as well.

Bed Bag: This dedicated dry bag stows my sleeping gear. I carry a Mountain Equipment Down winter down bag from October, inside its own dry bag (that's three dry bags deep into my kit, within the Timber Cruiser!) It packs small and light, and being down responds better if it's a little warmer than expected. My mat is a Thermarest Prolite 3/4 length mat, very durable and compact it blows up nice and thick for a warm comfy nights sleep. I carry a puncture inside it stuff sack for accidents. The orange bag contains my sleeping clothes, as Mors Kochanski is often quoted: pile lots under you, lots over you and little on you. It's sound advice indeed, as insulation comes from trapped dry air, allow your sleeping bag and mat to do their job. On my person I always strip away my day clothes as any sweat or damp from the outside never wants to wind up in your sleep system. In the bag I have a light merino top, wool hat and buff, and thin wool gloves as well as wool socks. These are all I sleep in even when it's very cold, if I get colder still I'll pull my Keela jacket from my ditch kit over my sleeping bag to help trap more air. Further into winter I may include a pair of thermal leggings as well.

So that's my Portage Pack List for personal trips with a few friends. There's some extra stuff I include if we're bringing clients to the wild which I've not detailed here.

I'd love to know what else you carry or how you organise your kit for the canoe, leave me a comment in the section below. Also, if you liked this article please feel free to share it, I'm trying to grow this blog to hopefully provide entertainment and insight to those that are interested and you're shares go a long way.

All the best

Jamie

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