Submitted: 07-29-2009 by Jack
I've been looking for a smaller canoe for awhile now. This year I turned 60 and pressing my 18'4" Mad River Lamoille overhead onto the car rack is now getting to be more struggle than fun.
The Indian or North Woods Stroke allows one to paddle infinitely on one side or the other and works just fine for the Pack. Others have been critical of the Pack's tracking. I've found with a bit of heel to the side of the paddle the turning pressures are balanced out and the result is a nice, straight and surprisingly quiet glide. Very pleasant.
I'm 6'3" and 250# so to lower the center of mass I kneel to the turn of the bilge with my butt against the leading edge of a thwart which replaced the seat. I had a problem with lowering the seat. Size 13 feet make it hard to tuck my legs under so my solution was to replace the seat with second thwart mounted at the rear of the two seat attachments. For cushioning I use a foam gunwale support for cartopping and it is just enough to take the pressure off. A split, hollow core swimming noodle or neoprene pipe insulation would also work. In combination with the front thwart, the second thwart allows for two different paddling positions. If more weight is wanted forward, use the front thwart and paddle facing aft.
For double paddling, I have one of those camp chairs or stadium seats with a seat and attached back and sit on the bottom propped against the rear thwart which puts the center of weight in the same fore and aft position as the seat only much lower. I've been using an 8' double paddle and I agree a bit more length may be better. Initially I was concerned about elbows hitting on the gunwales, but this is not a problem - nice surprise.
I believe the designer chose dynamic over static stability. This will never be a boat where one stands up and admires the view, but once under way the tipsiness experienced while sitting still smooths out for a stable, smooth ride. It takes a while to learn the dressage of moving about or changing positions, but with a bit of perseverance this is accomplished.
Overall the Pack is a first rate boat. Low weight for portability, rugged/low maintenance materials and reasonable performance for a relatively short hull make this a winning design.