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Polaris

Northern Tier Canoes

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The Troop is sending 2 crews to NT in 2016 out of the Atikokan base.

 

A couple of years ago, the crews paid extra for the lightweight canoes for their NT trip. Most of the adults that went on this trip recommend the aluminum canoes stating the weight savings was negligible. They also said the lightweight canoes are more easily damaged.

 

The 2016 crew is a 50/50 mix of young/older scouts with very little canoeing experience. We will have enough adults in each crew to solo carry a canoe including the interpreter.

 

For those of you that have attended NT, what do you recommend--lightweight or aluminum canoes? Is the cost worth the benefit?

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Polaris,

 

I didn't do N Tier, but 1 64 mile trip in LaDomain, Quebec, and a second 50+ trip in Fl. I'll answer your question, but also want to add some stuff.

 

1) START CANOEING NOW!!!!!! I cannot emphasis this enough. practice doing emergency scenarios, portaging, do games that involve skills,

 

2) we too had a mix of ages and abilities. We used aluminum canoes. Only challenge we had was during portages. Solution, older guys carried canoes, younger guys carried gear.

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First, let me say, I have never been to the Northern Tier.  However, I have been canoeing (and portaging) in Northern Ontario for close to 30 years.  One of the main reason, I have arthritis in my neck!

 

I own 5 canoes, 3 aluminum, 1 fiberglass, and 1 kevlar.  I have custom made ( by me) yokes (with padding) on all my canoes.  The aluminum canoes are 17 feet, and weight around 80 pounds, the fiberglass is 18 feet, 65 pounds, and the kevlar,16 feet, 44 pounds.  Also, my lifejackets have padding around the neck, to help with portaging. 

 

We always had one person carry the canoe by himself.  That is why we had nice yokes.  It really is easier with one person, especially going around and under, trees.  I would guess Northern Tier expect you to carry them with two people.  And they will probably tell you to tie two paddles inside, if you want  a yoke.  This takes a bit of time, at each portages.  But it does work, if you have some padding for your neck.

 

The Kevlar canoe does not handle rocks well.  Your scouts would have to be very careful not to put holes in the canoes. I would not recommend them for a river trip, but if you are careful, they are good on lakes (and portaging).

 

You do not have to worry about damage with the aluminum canoes, but they do not glide over rocks well, but like to "grab" them.  Sometime on river trips, I have put a coat of car wax on the bottom to help with this.  And of course, they can get real hot in the sun.

 

All in all, I would just go with the aluminum canoes, and save some money.  You might have to take an extra trip on each portages, but you would not have to worry about damage to them.  Fiberglass is also good, but the stronger they are made, the heaver they get.  I know some of the rental places use Old Towns Canoes, which you cannot damage.  But they weight more than the aluminum canoes.

 

Best wishes to you.  Some of my best scouting memories, are from canoe trips in Northern Ontario!

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It's kinda relative.  

 

When we did BWCA (not NT) we had 4 duffle bags and 3 people in 1 canoe.  I was with 2 boys in my canoe.  First portage we hit, they jumped up grabbed the a duffle on the back and one on the front and took off leaving me with the aluminum canoe.  This went on until about half way through the trek,  They wen't smart enough to realize that each duffle weighed in between 60-70#'s and they were double carrying them.  They were pushing 120-140# on each portage and I had a 80# canoe.  They never offered to carry the canoe, but eventually they were double portaging one duffle at a time.  They never did figure out why I wasn't complaining.   :)

 

Sometimes even the heaviest of canoes is not that much more than a Duluth pack.  Just a bit more cumbersome to carry.

Edited by Stosh

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We had a rule that every member of the crew had to carry a canoe at least once during the trek.  All the lads in our crew were 14 yr old and small.  Too weighed just a tad over 100 lbs.  The other two were not much heavier.  It took two lads to lift the canoe to rest it on the shoulders of the one carrying the canoe but they did it.   My son ended up carrying a canoe almost every portage.  But he is sturdy.   Just to see if he could do it, he carried a pack on the front of his chest and a canoe at the same time during one portage.  He wanted the bragging rights.

 

So even the smaller/younger lads can carry a 80lb metal canoe.  The gear packs are about the same weight.  The metal canoes are a bit more durable and around the younger lads it seemed sensible. 

 

I would recommend cardio exercises for the adults.  Carrying 80lb packs or canoes up and over hills 10+ times a day and you will start wheezing if you not in shape.  Paddling all day was not a problem.

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Well I guess our troop is the only one that uses kevlar. Everyone can carry a kevlar and it is not only easier to pickup, but it goes through the water easier. Yes, users have to be more careful, we but have never damaged one.

 

Barry

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We used an outfitter in 2012 and upgraded from the aluminum to the we-no-nah's.  It was around 10#/canoe as I recall.  All the older boys and adults could heft one up on their shoulders without assistance.  I'm not sure we could have said the same thing for the aluminum canoes.  Some of the boys weren't as good about wet-footing as others but the canoes held up well.

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Been to both NT and private outfitter.

 

Recommend you look at more than canoes. What I witnessed a few weeks ago was shocking. Scouts with food packs over 80 lbs. One pushing 100. All heading north over agnes portages.

 

Our worst pack started at 50. Went farther, further and more comfortable than some of those NT units. Pricing was equal or better than the scout camp. Terms of payment much better.

 

If you can navigate and have some outdoor skills you have options.

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