Carry Canoe: The Ultimate Guide for Proper Carrying Techniques

Carry Canoe

Carrying a canoe is an essential skill for any paddler. It’s the first step in getting on the water and exploring the great outdoors. But, do you know how to carry a canoe correctly? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about carrying a canoe, including techniques, preparation, and safety tips.


Carrying a canoe involves transporting it from one point to another on land. It’s a crucial skill that every paddler should master, and it’s not as easy as it looks. Correctly carrying a canoe can be the difference between a smooth and enjoyable experience and a frustrating and painful one.

Importance of Learning How to Carry a Canoe Correctly

Learning how to carry a canoe correctly is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it prevents injuries and strains caused by lifting the canoe incorrectly. Secondly, it helps you to move the canoe more efficiently, saving you time and energy. Lastly, it ensures that you don’t damage the canoe or any surrounding objects.

Benefits of Carrying a Canoe

Carrying a canoe has several benefits, including physical exercise, stress relief, and the opportunity to explore new places. It’s a great way to get outside and connect with nature. Plus, it’s a fun and challenging activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels.

Stay tuned for the next section, where we’ll discuss the different types of carrying canoes. Get ready to learn about the one-person carry, two-person carry, and portaging techniques.

Types of Carrying Canoes

Carrying a canoe can be done in several ways depending on the type of canoe and the distance you need to cover. In this section, we’ll discuss the three most common types of carrying canoes: the one-person carry, two-person carry, and portaging.

One-Person Carry

The one-person carry is the most basic and straightforward way of carrying a canoe. It involves lifting the canoe onto one shoulder and carrying it to your destination. This method is suitable for short distances and lightweight canoes.

To do a one-person carry, place the canoe upside down on the ground. Stand at the center of the canoe, lift one end, and rest it on your shoulder. Then, walk towards your destination while holding the opposite end of the canoe with your hand.

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Two-Person Carry

The two-person carry is a more efficient way of carrying a canoe, especially for longer distances and heavier canoes. It involves two people carrying the canoe together by lifting it on their shoulders.

To do a two-person carry, stand on opposite sides of the canoe, lift it off the ground, and rest it on your shoulders. Make sure to communicate with your partner and synchronize your movements to avoid any accidents.


Portaging involves carrying a canoe and all your gear over land to bypass an obstacle such as a waterfall or a rapids. It requires more effort and skill than the one-person and two-person carry.

To portage, place all the gear in the canoe, lift the canoe onto your shoulders, and walk to your destination. You may need to make several trips depending on the amount of gear you’re carrying.

Stay tuned for the next section, where we’ll discuss the preparation and safety tips for carrying a canoe. Get ready to learn about the proper clothing and footwear, carrying equipment, and safety measures to take.

Preparation and Safety Tips

Carrying a canoe can be a physically demanding task. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare adequately to avoid injuries and ensure a smooth experience. Here are some preparation and safety tips to keep in mind:

Proper Clothing and Footwear

Wearing the right clothing and footwear is essential when carrying a canoe. You want to wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely, such as athletic wear or hiking gear. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that can get caught on objects or restrict your movement.

When it comes to footwear, opt for sturdy shoes with good traction. Hiking boots or sneakers are excellent choices, as they provide support and stability on uneven terrain. Avoid wearing sandals or flip flops, as they offer little protection and increase the risk of slipping or tripping.

Carrying Equipment

Carrying a canoe requires specific equipment to make the task easier and more efficient. A canoe yoke, also known as a portage yoke, is a padded beam that attaches to the canoe and rests on your shoulders. It distributes the weight of the canoe evenly and reduces strain on your back and arms.

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Other carrying equipment includes canoe carts and trailers, which are useful for longer distances or rough terrain. Ensure that the equipment you choose is compatible with your canoe and that you know how to use it correctly.

Safety Measures

Carrying a canoe also involves taking safety measures to avoid injuries and accidents. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always lift with your legs and not your back to avoid strains and injuries.
  • Use the proper carrying technique for your skill level and the terrain you’re navigating.
  • Avoid carrying a canoe alone, as it can be challenging and dangerous.
  • Use a spotter to guide you and help you navigate obstacles.
  • Take breaks when needed to avoid fatigue and overexertion.

By following these preparation and safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience when carrying a canoe. In the next section, we’ll delve into the different techniques for carrying a canoe, including the balanced carry, overhead carry, and bottom carry.

Techniques for Carrying Canoes

Carrying a canoe involves more than just picking it up and walking. There are different techniques you can use depending on your strength, the weight of the canoe, and the distance you need to cover. Here are the three most common techniques for carrying canoes:

The Balanced Carry

The balanced carry is the most common technique for carrying a canoe. It involves placing the canoe on your shoulders, with the yoke centered on the top of your head. Make sure the canoe is level and balanced, with the weight evenly distributed on both sides. This technique is suitable for short distances and is best for paddlers with good upper body strength.

The Overhead Carry

The overhead carry is a technique that involves lifting the canoe over your head and carrying it with your arms extended. This technique is suitable for short to medium distances and is best for paddlers with good arm and shoulder strength. To perform the overhead carry, lift the canoe off the ground and place it on your head. Then, grab the gunwales and lift the canoe over your head.

The Bottom Carry

The bottom carry is a technique that involves lifting the canoe from the bottom and carrying it on your shoulders. This technique is suitable for short to medium distances and is best for paddlers with good lower body strength. To perform the bottom carry, squat down and lift the canoe from the bottom. Place the canoe on your shoulders and use your hands to stabilize it.

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Now that you know the different techniques for carrying canoes, you can choose the one that works best for you. Remember to always prioritize safety and to use the proper technique to prevent injuries. In the next section, we’ll discuss some common mistakes to avoid when carrying a canoe.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to carrying a canoe, there are several common mistakes that people make. Here are some of the mistakes you should avoid:

Underestimating the Weight of the Canoe

One of the most common mistakes people make when carrying a canoe is underestimating its weight. Canoes can be heavy, and carrying them incorrectly can lead to injury or strain. It’s essential to know the weight of your canoe and to use proper lifting techniques.

Incorrect Posture and Technique

Another mistake people make is not using the correct posture and technique when carrying a canoe. Poor posture can lead to back pain, while incorrect technique can cause muscle strains and other injuries. Make sure to keep your back straight, your shoulders level, and your feet shoulder-width apart when carrying a canoe. Use both hands to support the weight of the canoe and keep it close to your body.

Neglecting Safety Precautions

Finally, neglecting safety precautions can be dangerous when carrying a canoe. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for obstacles and uneven terrain, and use caution when crossing roads or other hazards. Don’t forget to use a lifejacket when paddling on the water, too.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that you carry your canoe safely and efficiently. In the next section, we’ll discuss the different techniques for carrying a canoe, including the balanced carry, overhead carry, and bottom carry.


In conclusion, carrying a canoe may seem like a simple task, but it requires proper technique and preparation. By mastering the different carrying techniques, preparing adequately, and following safety tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable paddling experience.

Carrying a canoe is just one of the many skills needed for paddle sports. If you’re interested in kayaking, paddleboarding, rafting, or surfing, check out East Coast Paddle Sports. Our website is dedicated to providing information, tips, and guides on paddle sports, helping you to choose the right equipment, and sharing experiences.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when carrying a canoe or engaging in any paddle sport. Take the time to learn the proper technique, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed. With practice, you’ll soon be carrying your canoe like a pro.

Thanks for reading, and we hope this guide has been helpful. Happy paddling!

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