Portaging, or carrying, watercraft over land is necessary when there are obstacles to avoid on a river for example, or to travel between two bodies of water. Sea kayaks, river and white water kayaks may be portaged. When traveling downriver it may be necessary to get out and carry the kayaks to avoid rapids that are beyond the capabilities of the kayakers, areas strewn with dangerous debris or areas that are too shallow to float in. Portaging is an ancient technique that is still difficult.
Tips & Warnings
Some people use a tumpline, which is a strap that connects from the load to the porter's forehead to help bear the weight of heavy kayaks and canoes, but this can cause neck pain and spinal strain, so is not for everyone.
Shoulder carry straps allow you to carry the kayak sideways like a surfboard or skis in a ski bag, but this method only works for lightweight kayaks.
Don't try to walk at regular speed when portaging. The weight will slow you down anyway, so take advantage of your slower speed to pay extra attention to the terrain. Slipping or tripping while carrying a kayak is dangerous.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.