Kids on Parade – Portaging and Pack Fitting

Okay so enough about my portaging experience this past weekend. It’s time to talk about the kids.

zach and the canoes

like a well oiled machine, luke and zach load up














I was so proud of them all.  Boy did they ever carry their share.  We even packed a little bag for Charlotte.  At first she seemed skeptical when we broke the news that she too was going to participate.  Soon enough though, she was lamenting the fact that her bag was so much smaller than Luke and Zach’s.  Don’t worry sweetie, next time we’ll make up for it with a nice big pack of your very own.  She’s gonna need a pack too.  Where else is she gonna  sew that “I paddled

luke’s drybag pack isn’t fully adjustable, but fits fairly well

Frontenac” patch that Steve bought her at the park office?
Experienced guys like ours want to show how helpful they are by begging bigger and heavier loads with each subsequent trip.  Although they would haul whatever we packed for them, there is a safe limit to how much weight a kid should carry.

This begs the question, how much is too much?

Unfortunately there is no consensus on this number.  For everyday school bag use, specialists advise not allowing children to carry more than 20% of their body weight.   Portaging is slightly different in that it is for a short period of time and happens only periodically, not on a daily basis.  I think that a 20% limit is a good place to start though.  If your child is big and strong and has experience, you might try venturing a little bit heavier, but it only takes one misstep with a heavy pack to pull a muscle.  Err in favor of going lighter.  Having said that, how the weight is carried and the backpack you choose as well as how it has been fitted is of paramount importance.

this pack is a little bit big for zach, but is adjusted well

that’s charlotte portaging like a pro













Here are some tips, but you should really have help fitting the pack properly at your local outfitter.

  • wide padded straps reduce pressure points and make things more comfortable (less whining)
  • a padded back will prevent gear from poking against the back (owie), provides back support and helps prevent bad posture
  • padded hip belt transfers the weight load to hips instead of carrying it with the shoulders
  • a sternum strap helps hold the shoulder straps in the right place
  • the pack must fit the back length (not based on height), look for an adjustable back system for a better fit and to get more than a seasons use out of the bag!
  • pack the heaviest items closest to the child’s back to help with balance, and the lightest item (eg. sleeping bag) at the bottom and mid-weight items at the top to avoid a top-heavy pack which is what makes them fall over and get stuck like turtles on their backs
  • compression straps reefed down nice and tight keeps gear close to the body and helps the load from shifting around

Now that you know how to load them up, go ahead and do it.  They are going to love contributing in a tangible way, and you’re going to love being able to bring the bigger Therm-a-Rest again 😉

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Stulander on June 22, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    Kids, for grabbing beer and carrying gear.


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