See Current Canoes from Old Town Canoe
in the Buyers' Guide
Select Canoe to View in Buyers' Guide
Today was the first time on the water, and after a short time getting used to a rhythmic j-stroke, she performed well. With one of my kayak paddles, she handled well. I'm glad to have her in the fleet - along with 2 other Royalex canoes and 3 classic wood canoes (1 restored, 1 in process and another in queue).
She won't be my "daily driver," or the one I take on trips, but on the days I just want a slow paddle - she fits the bill
The Pack dropped maybe an inch with all that extra weight but once we got it trimmed, all went well and we got the stranded fisherman to the marina safely.
Yes, the Pack has exceeded all my expectations, the only thing left is to do a week down the Colorado River living out of the boat
The only drawback was that it was not as stable as our 2-person canoes. I think the seat is mounted too high. I lowered the seat 3" with longer SS bolts and hardwood spacers. This gave much better results and I highly recommend doing this.
Tracking is a little off probably because of it's short length but it's still easy to paddle along. Can take it up swift creeks until it's too shallow without feeling uneasy the whole time and across a windy reservoir without wanting to give up.
Now I've used and abused this boat and have used it to it's limit. I've had 3 adults in it (combined weight around 450#) and we even went up a creek a ways exploring with the water line safely above the gunwhales but it was cramped and it took a bit of work movin. It also scared the heck out of my crew when they would shift their weight around but we never came close to taking in water.
I've also used it canoeing with myself and pops (under 400 pounds for the two of us combined) and about 100 pounds of gear for a week of portage wilderness camping and the boat preformed well except that we were CRAMPED. We both had to sit on float pads on the floor of the canoe with my feet into the stern and he kept his back into the bow and feet under a pack balanced on the crossbeam but we just managed to fit ourselves and gear with the boat paddles backwards. It was only 2-3 inches from the waterline to the gunnel but we made it. We found that while you can do it it's really not what the boat is designed for. We moved slow and steady and navigated with little trouble in the wind and rain. The two of us were able to do some lively fishing the whole time but had to stretch our legs every few hours.
Overall I am happy with this boat. Get along well with it and can even occasionally be stressed with a partner in the bow but I would put it's weight capacity for realistic canoeing at 500 pounds as your max.
Would recommend to anyone but try it out first to see if you like it. Also don't expect it to handle any serious type II rapids unless you like being swamped!!
Other reviewers mentioned the issue with portaging. Thanks to a hint I read on line somewhere, I marked the center of gravity on the gunnels with tape (with the help of a strong young man who patiently tried various spots). I wrap a compression strap around the canoe, which is sufficient, but I added a swimming "noodle" for more cushion. When I get to the lake, I take it off and throw it in the boat. Works like a charm for me.
I had the seat angled for kneeling, and that has made this a very comfy ride, indeed. Next year I will add knee braces, I think. I am still learning how to be more efficient paddling. The canoe is so short that the width in the middle makes it almost diamond shape, instead of the sleeker shape of a longer vessel. I am experimenting with angling the blade slightly and starting my stroke farther away from the gunnel than I normally would.
Speed is not an issue for my purposes, so I am just very happy to be able to get on the water without an entourage!
The Pack canoe can be used for just about any use by an experienced paddler who knows how to overcome its limitations (with the exception of rapids above class 2 - it's possible to run a class 2 rapid in the Pack canoe, but I don't recommend it). Its best use is for fishing, paddling streams and small ponds/lakes. It requires skill to handle safely on larger lakes under windy conditions and also requires a good working knowledge of canoe strokes to appreciate, and enjoy, how it moves through the water.
Despite what has been written by other reviewers, this is NOT a straight tracking canoe. Every stroke usually ends as a J stoke and precious forward momentum is lost. If you want a straight tracking canoe, look at the Wenonah solo canoes. After 28 years with the Pack canoe I finally gave in to peer pressure and used a 2 bladed paddle. I found it to be a much better match for this canoe. As a result, during my last canoe trip, I was able to make an average speed of 3mph, fully loaded, against a headwind on a 13 mile long lake. But still, it requires care to stay upright in larger waves. I still take along a single blade paddle to navigate twisting streams.
On streams, the Pack canoe can usually out-perform, in speed and turns, most other, if not all, comparable solo canoes, and is a real joy to use. I prefer the Pack canoe to a Hornbeck boat on all streams and smaller bodies of water, especially while canoe tripping. And, the price is 1/3 the cost of a Hornbeck boat.
This boat is most stable with a pack placed under the front thwart and with knees placed on the bottom of the canoe. My preferred position in unstable water conditions is to kneel so that the hull does not bend and flex upward. Otherwise I am most comfortable with my legs crossed in front of me. Despite the load range recommendations, I would never exceed 350 pounds in this canoe. To exceed that weight places more of the bow and stern in the water, as opposed to the wide flat bottom, and makes the boat much more tippy. A 350 pound weight limit is more than enough capacity for any back-country canoe trip lasting 7-10 days. You cannot find a Royalex canoe on the market today that will carry this much weight and still weigh so little.
Despite its low weight, I do not enjoy portaging this canoe while canoe tripping. I much prefer my larger 42 or 58 lb. tandem canoes. It is very difficult to place a yoke- and in the case of the Pack canoe it must be a clamp on yoke- on center and still find enough room to fit ones pack and head on either side of it up in the canoe. Whether carried bow, or stern first, the seat or thwart obstruct vision and can bang against ones head and face. For portages lasting less than 1/4 mile it is often easier to carry on the shoulder and to use the painter line lashed back to the seat for extra support.
Unlike other reviewers, I actually raised the seat from its original position in order to better fit my legs underneath it for kneeling. I found that it put less strain on the back of my knees and was easier to get my feet under the seat. Additionally it was much easier and safer to get out of the canoe. Raising the seat did not raise the center of gravity because it helped me to kneel and actually lowered the center of gravity.
After 28 years of use I am having to do my first patch job on an interior crack, obtained while shooting over one of the 30+ beaver dams on the Oswegatchie river. This canoe is tough, and it is fun. It fits into so many places that a larger canoe wouldn't, and with an experienced hand, will go most places that a larger tandem canoe can. And it is a keepsake that I hope to pass on to my son.
I found an ad for a OT Pack for $200 so rushed out, looked it over and handed over the cash. It needed minor work. the forward thwart needed to be replaced, some hull scratches to patch but nothing I could not easily do.
I cut a new thwart, added eye-bolts to keep my gear IN the boat, made a deck-pad for my dog and took it on the local lake for a test-paddle. I forgot to bring the GPS so could not check hull speed but I easily kept up and passed Odile in my WS Mallard kayak.
Paddling was easy! Initially rocky, I soon adjusted to that and tested secondary stability to be excellent.
The Pack easily accepts my mods, foam pads on the bottom to protect the hull and keep the dog happy. pad-eyes around the gunnels for tie-downs, I'm making some waterproof boxes to put between the cane-seats and hull.
But the canoe paddles well, tracks well and at 12' turns well. Plus, at 33#, is easy to haul to and from trailer-to-lake and much easier to enter-and-exit than a kayak.
Later when I do a test-camp, I'll add to this review but for now, I am very happy with the craft.
My canoe has seen many years of loving use and will certainly see many more before I replace her. My thanks to those who provide such quality products at a price point the average enthusiast can endure to enjoy the outdoors from the water.
Very stable with a full load, tracked reasonably well and handled Class I and II rapids with no problem. I'll keep this canoe until I can't canoe anymore. It does everything you ask of it.
OT likely located the seat to allow kneelers to be more weight-centered in the boat. Due to my bad knees, I am a sitter, and unfortunately there is no seat adjustment or "sitter" model that you can buy to fix this. So modification #2 was for me to move the seat forward. Since the middle of the canoe is wider, you can't simply move the seat forward – you need to buy a whole new seat and cut it to fit. Thank goodness for eBay, where you can get a quality webbed seat for just $19.99 + s/h. I moved my seat about 11 inches forward (and moved the bow/front thwart forward just enough for knee room, and installed a new stern/rear thwart using the rear-most holes from the prior seat location). In retrospect, another inch or two forward for the seat may have been even better, but this is splitting hairs – the new seat location is 100x better than the factory location.
The third and final modification I made to the Pack was to add some foot pegs (I chose the Yakima pegs after reading of problems using the all-plastic pegs). Yes, it hurt to drill holes through a new canoe for this, but I made sure these were all well above waterline, and siliconed the bolts for good measure. Being able to "lock yourself in" with the footpegs makes all the difference in the world, and with the centered and lowered seat, the Pack feel like an entirely different canoe from what I originally bought.
I've had it out on several multi-day overnights – handles all my gear easily, and I am not a light packer! Sturdy fishing boat – I had no problems pulling in a 28" northern pike while fishing in it (though the pike did tug the Pack around a bit before he tired and I could get him in the boat!), and I have also had the canoe out on large lakes in more wind than I like (25-30 mph), and was surprised how stable it handled.
Note that you WILL need a long kayak paddle – especially for those windy lakes! You cannot survive with a single blade paddle under those conditions. I use a 260cm kayak paddle that suits me well.
The Royalex material on the Pack is really tough. I took the seat out and use a plastic fishermans seat purchased at Walmart on the floor of the canoe and a double bladed high quality paddle - The same set up works well in the 119 but better in the pack. Extremely stable.
I found out that recently they quit making Royalex so I purchased a new Pack canoe from the local REI store - it was the last one in stock.
The Pack canoe is truly the best and most enjoyable purchase I have ever made.
I couldn't be happier with the Pack. The weight is what drew me towards it, but it is more than the weight. I'm an experienced paddler and canoe is a pleasure to paddle. I use a Bending Branches Beavertail most of the time, I like the process of paddling but I did buy a 240 cm kayak paddle for getting across big lakes quickly. It is stable for a small canoe and once moving it is easy to control. It holds all my gear for camping and is a great platform for flyfishing.
It is a joy to load, unload and portage. It has bought back the spontaneity to canoeing that I missed. If you want a great solo canoe that does everything, this is the canoe for you.
Old Town states the canoe can handle up to 550lbs so just don't go over. It's light to portage and get on and off the roof of a sedan with foam blocks at a light weight of about 35lbs. I've encountered a fair amount of fallen trunks and rocks hidden just under the water and the RX materiel seems to bounce right back if you don't mind a few scratches. I've done over 40 day trips in it on rivers and maybe only 3 on lakes and really have to say I've more than got my money's use of it.
I love kayaking and had never really canoed before this boat but the ability to include my big dogs with me was the main reason I went with the canoe. Everything is more fun with them...even when they jump off or tip the canoe to chase cows that are bathing in the River.
Great canoe esp for women as you can portage it on your own and a nice small size of only 12ft. Snap a dry bag to the seat and put your dogs in the middle/front. I use a canoe paddle. Despite what the Old Town and REI sales people say...I bgt & tried a few times to use the canoe with a long kayak paddle..It was awful with the kayak paddle...you're just too high from the waterline to use it comfortably even if you kneeling the boat is too wide. The boat is great with the right paddle a very comfortable ride down a moderate river. It takes on dings from rocks and trees just fine with no need for repairs and the RX material bounces back into shape. Amazing strength and durability for such a light canoe. Whenever I exit the river at a park people come over to check it out & pick it up and after talking to me tell me they are making it their next purchase. Store it inside and you'll have many years of enjoyment.
Word of warning: I left this canoe too close to a lightbulb when I hoisted it up to the ceiling of the boathouse. Made a huge blister on the outer Royalex layer. I thought I was a dead man! I could not believe how forgiving she was about my mistake. Slapped on some pink duct tape it was good to go! Still no issues after two years.
I use a sit-backer seat I got from LL Bean and a double bladed paddle 95% of the time. If it's just me and no camping gear, I usually load some weight in the front of the boat - water, etc...and it doesn't windcock.
I've had and sold off some of the best ideas the SOT world has come up with...I kept coming back to the OT PACK - now I don't even bother...me and my Pack canoe are a perfect match. I was SHOCKED at the 'end of Royalex' - I need to get another OT Pack as a backup for the next 30 years...the Guide is only 10 pounds heavier...but it doesn't paddle exactly like the Pack.
When my kids were younger, we sawed the legs off a plastic lawn chair and put them in the bow. Now it's just Lab's spot - she hangs out on a rubber suction cup shower mat, so she can get traction to pace and jump. It's just like a mini-van this canoe...it can be whatever you want it to be that day.
I rigged up an anchor trolley I can add, plastic crate for fishing stuff if that's the days activity, and when my wife just wants to go for a paddle, she sits up in the bow area on a short legged folding chair I bought for turkey hunting.
Hooking up a trolling motor to this boat seems terrible...but man!, is it ever fast and even with a 20 year old 30lb thrust motor...it runs all day with so much speed. Great for large bodies of water if I am trying to cross for fishing or hunting...or running miles up the river to get to a spot.
I also can't believe how FAST this canoe paddles (with a double blade) compared to the SOT kayaks...I can paddle all day with my buddies in the SOT's and usually have to slow for them.
In short - and to me - this is THE BEST value in all of the boat world!
Light as expected and very easy to car top. Paddles nice, and yes it is a canoe, and yes it is "tippy". Maiden voyage at local creek, paddled great with long single paddle. Standard model with the webbed seat, nothing fancy. One issue, not really fond of the shoulder carry, and thwarts not really set up for a normal carry. Any suggestions or modifications to carry overhead like a normal canoe? My 12 YO daughter loved padding it. Looking forward to getting to know it better, possible mods include lowering seat, and some way to modify for overhead transport.
Looks like a pretty good fishing platform, I checked out http://www.derekspace.net/fishpic19.htm for some really creative and useful modification ideas, thanks for sharing! I had a SOT Kayak set up for fishing, but never enjoyed the wet butt in colder water. This may become my new fishing platform.
Currently own 3 other OT canoes, Camper, Penobscot, and Tripper (ranger model) so very familiar with these tough canoes. The Pack will not replace the others for long trips or camping, but will be really nice for easy paddles in small water.
"I saw that boat go flying," the man said. "It came down on the front bottom, and skidded down the highway. We knew it came off the trailer so we picked it up." My brother, owner of the Pack checked it over. No damage, and our float began as if nothing whatsoever had happened.
It made a believer of the canoe livery owner, as he just kept shaking his head in relief at the sight. "I guess I'll have to get some of those boats," he said.
At 33 lbs I can carry it to the lake with one hand. After one dumping in a cold lake trying to stand up, I lowered the seats with some wood spacers from Old Town and the stability was improved greatly. I also use a double bladed kayak paddle. Since I only paddle alone I have not had the St. Croix out again.
The 12 ft. royalex Pack is a unique boat that fills a niche. I need to get rid of a couple of boats but the Pack will not be one of them.
So far I have taken the canoe down class II rapids on the Delaware River in PA and White River in VT. Although this is a recreational canoe I had no issue in these mild rapids. I have hit some rocks getting only a few minor scrapes. I typically paddle with a single blade but have purchased a Bending Branches 260cm double blade which helps in the wind. I have brought my son and daughter (one at a time) along no problem and the dog as well.
I would recommend this canoe to someone looking for ease of use for mild rivers. The boat does exactly what is expected of it and I look forward to enjoying it for years to come.
The size and weight makes transporting/portaging easy.
Stability is a lot more sensitive to your center of gravity than any of the other canoes that I have used.
Tracking on calm water is good with proper paddling technique. If you try to put too much power into your stroke the tracking is poor, but using a double bladed paddle allows alternating power from side to side to keep you pointing where you want to go.
I was more than pleased by the stability of this canoe, its tracking, and its maneuverability (the Guide has a full keel, so that wasn't hard to beat!). I would recommend this canoe to anyone with reasonable solo experience, or those with good tandem experience and a mentor.
Coming in at 63 years of age, I am not the most agile, but I must say, I am very impressed with the stability of my Pack canoe. And much like Greywolf, it was a dream to tie the pup to my belt, pick up my drybox in one hand, and snatch up that canoe with the paddle lashed to the thwart and seat, and head to the roof rack with it... Those folks at the picnic table a ways off just looked on with amazement.
Admittedly, the Pack is not for everyone, but it fits well in my stable alongside my Camper 15' tandem.
Overnighting aboard is next for my Pack. I've done this in my kayaks (folders) but the Pack needs some additional prep. Step one was to fit loops to the hull/rail fasteners. Second was to run a perimeter cord around boat through the loops. Then it will be off to the sewing machine to make about the equivalent of a bivy rainfly. I'll tell you about the finished product next year...
Surprisingly stable for such a small boat, even with a squirming, nervous dog on board--have never accidentally capsized, even in heavy wind when I thought we might swamp. But, unlike a full-size, 2-man canoe, I cannot climb back into it on water if I jump out to swim. Not good in heavy wind/waves, but I didn't expect it to be. Have never tried it on a river--afraid to attempt any whitewater in such a small, open boat until I read some of these other positive reviews--maybe with extra flotation bags. Never thought of lowering the seat as some reviewers suggest, but when the water's rough, I do kneel to get my center of gravity down lower.
What a dream it is to lift onto the roof of my vehicle and portage to the launch. Has not taken me long to develop confidence while handling this boat. Is it tippy? Well, it is a canoe and not a John boat, but I have to say for a canoe of its dimensions it ain't too bad. I've tried kneeling and sitting on the seat. So far sitting on the seat with my legs out before me balances me best and doesn't make my ankles go to sleep.
I plan to use this canoe for fishing, duck hunting and perhaps deer hunting in the Boundary Waters this Fall. If you are in the market for a solo canoe that's darn near bomb proof, and doesn't make you feel for a third nut every time you portage it, then the Old Town Pack is for you.
Good stability while paddling on stock height web seat. And I do mean rock solid stability. I plan to lower the seat 2" later this spring. More on that later. Actually surprised by stability compared to my 25 year old Katahdin 12 by Old Town which is a barge with 40" beam.
A telegram for Mr. Paddler
One demerit for the possibility of the boat to send you a rare emergency telegram. Here's what I mean: over the seven hour trip, the boat gave me one or two of those "I'm going over" telegrams. Not bad for a boat like this IMHO. I got the main message when I turned on the stock seat 45 degrees to the left in order to cast my rubber worm at a log deadfall. Whoops! Remains to be seen how close I actually was to buns up in the drink, but it was a wake up. Lesson learned - rotating hips and buns off center on the stock seat disrupts center of gravity. As long as I kept hips face front at midline on the seat - not a single hint of this tipping telegram. Again lower seat may help.
Lightness of Being Carried
I made an optional portage to an adjacent pond that I would never have considered except that the Pack is LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT! Shouldered the boat with fishing rod inside and carried about 150 yards to the pond. Delighted! Car topping is easy with his boat. I use those clip-on foam bricks and it's night and day compared to the old 80 lb. barge I've been using for the past umpteen years.
I'm happy after one seven hour trip and the boat worked well for fishing. Don't turn sideways and fling a lure without a little forethought. Will try lowering the seat. Very light. Delighted.
I bought the Old Town skirt and flotation bags and installed the snaps and tie-downs. I take it down Class II and III and have never rolled it, and take it across Burntside Lake and the other big lakes in the Boundary Waters when the wind is up and whitecaps racing, and have never had a problem. I installed the Old Town oarlocks and on big lakes or coastal waters often I'll turn and row it for greater power against the wind or waves. Occasionally we do use the Old Town sailing kit and on Burntside Lake, Pamlico Sound, Chespeake Bay or Kentucky Lake we can really fly.
As did most of you, I lowered the seat and paddle kneeling most of the time. I cemented in the kneeling pads and straps which help a lot in whitewater. I added the Old Town padded yoke, which makes portaging in the Boundary Waters a piece of cake. Without the flotation bags I can carry enough for a seven day trip with no problem. I never bought a kayaking paddle or double ended canoe paddle; I just use my Bending Branches canoe paddle with a J or C stroke. I do disagree with some who indict its stability. I can roll the Pack over to the gunwale and paddle it all the way across a lake on windless days. We have a lot of tight creeks and small rivers in our area and the Pack out manuevers a lot of supposed whitewater canoes and kayaks. Being designed for whitewater, they have obvious advantages, but the Pack is so quick I can thread around a lot of the problems they need their advantages to deal with.
I did add the folding back padded canoe seat I bought in Ely and during those long river pools or quiet lake days when I get tired of kneeling it sure makes life nice. I added the Old Town skid plates, we take care of the hull, we store the Pack out of the sun, and after 30 years the Royalex is still in great shape. It's not really even faded much, despite the annual saltwater trips.
All considered, I think this is one of the great canoes ever made, and one that gets a lot less publicity than it deserves.
I have switched to a canoe paddle. It seemed that kayak paddle technique bothered my hands and wrists whereas traditional canoe methods did not. It must be that advancing age thing. Found I lost some speed in the change from 3.25mph to 2.5. Tracking is within reason with good technique.
Disturbed; sorry the Pack did not work for you. Let me repeat, I paddle the Pack essentially backwards from the kneeling position. I use the seat as a work surface and the thwart as a brace for my behind. I use my thermarest (rolled in a stuffsack) under my ankles as a kneeling rest. I also use some kind of 1" X 2'X 3' ethafoam to kneel or sit upon. I would say I kneel 80% of the time.
For my touring load I use several Seal Line drybags and duffle and a Pelican hard case for my pantry. The Pelican fits under the seat and the drybags at the ends. When properly packed I still have room to rotate myself around, slide my legs under the thwart and then sort of up and around the aft dryduffle permitting me to laydown in the canoe. It is quite comfortable. There is nothing like laying down in a canoe on a cool but mostly sunny fall day watching the clouds float by. I have often fallen asleep on such outings. Soon, I will try overnighting like this once I make up a deck cover.
I still find the Pack to be a reasonable package in a small lightweight canoe that has worked for me.
When using to get across the river with my friend it is loaded with both of use and the decoys and the dog just swims along. I've used this canoe in the early dark hours of the morning with no concerns of tipping. However, you just need to become familiar with the personality of you boat. My friends who use the conventional duck sciffs wished they had a pack
In the spring I run a few class 2&3 rivers and manage to pry my cheeks apart after the day is over and the pack is doing fine.
I have found this boat to be a pure joy. I paddle it with a single blade in tight situations and a 9' double blade paddle from Spring Creek Outfitters in the open. With the double blade it is easy to keep tracking straight and at a good pace. For me, it is a little slow and tedious with a single blade. The longer double blade helps to keep your ride dry and much faster.
Having read the reviews from this site before the purchase, I was anticipating an unstable canoe that would require lowering the seat. I was completely surprised by the initial stability of this craft. I have paddled this craft solo, as well as with my 50# daughter and her 5# puppy in a bow seat mounted on the floor. I have not severely tested the secondary stability of the boat, but I have felt that this boat is very stable with the factory seat height.
At this time I am unable to paddle the Pack, as my 13 year old son grabs it and the double blade paddle and leaves my wife, daughter, and I far behind in our tandem.
This canoe is not sexy or impressive to look at, it is just fun to paddle and lightweight. Not perfect for everything or everyone, but it is still a 10.
I knew that as a newbie, I would abuse any boat. So, I was looking for low cost. This is the lowest new boat price around. I bought mine through the outfitting co-op to which I belong at Old Town's MSRP. I missed the holiday sale, but get a dividend and don't feel bad about paying full price because instead I'm out in the creek.
For reference, I'm 6' and heavy at 265, 10.5 shoe. I fit just fine kneeling or sitting, though find sitting on bench less stable. Able to paddle upstream in rain-swollen current with 230 cm double-bladed paddle. Shorter is better in these shallow, rocky creeks of north Texas. Also carry a 54 inch aluminum and plastic single, likewise built for abuse. The double breaks down and tucks into the seat and I use the single against the inside as a grip handle so that all the weight is not resting on my shoulder; comfy.
The little creek near home is extremely rocky and shallow with many obstructions like fallen trees. The little Pack turns easily in the current even for ignorant fools like me.
I give it a 10 because it's exactly what I wanted: low-cost, lightweight, tough. The royalex hull flexes over rocky creekbeds. It dents and scuffs but hasn't gotten gouged in my first few attempts.
If you are a beginner, expect to get wet while you learn. I expected that would be the case with any boat. Expect portages with any boat. At 33 lbs. you might mind them very much, and when you're done for the day you still will have strength to flip up onto the roof rack. I was on the fence between the Pack and the dealer-recommended, more-expensive Wenonahs. Fell off on the Pack side and so far no regrets...
Most of my activities are on bigger waters and I have found the Pack quite capable. I was in 1-2' waves yesterday and though busy maintaining control all went well.
I use my adjustable kayak paddle (BB Glide) set at 240cm. This works fine for kneeling but for sitting a 260 might be better. One of the reasons I went from a kayak back to a canoe was so I would have a choice in either sitting or kneeling.
I paddle my Pack backwards so to speak, bracing against the thwart and using the seat as a surface for my compass, camera, and other things. I contacted customer service to confirm the Pack was symmetrical, it is.
I really love the weight, or lack of it.
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.
I'm used to portaging an Old Town Discovery 158 so the 33 pound Pack is just amazing in comparison. It tracks very well with a standard J-stroke and is plenty fast enough for enjoying the river. Obviously, I don't keep up with my kayaking companions when out with fellow paddlers while using my 54" paddle but that could easily be remedied by getting a yak paddle - but I like the art of paddling more than racing the canoe.
As others have done, I lowered the seat by purchasing 6 inch long stainless steel screws and brass pipe sleeves. I would rather kneel in the canoe but the standard seat placement made that difficult, as it wasn't easy to jam my feet under the seat so lowering the seat that amount seems to work well for me. I can't tell you how nice it is to throw the Pack up on my shoulder and portage it - I think it weighs less than most of my paddling friends' kayaks. What a great boat!
Oh, and about the "tippiness" - it's a solo boat so it's more narrow. Once you get used to getting in and out of it and determine where to put your feet, it's just like any larger canoe.
I bought the Pack for it's low weight, but agree that the seat could be more comfortable..... but I keep having the same thought: if comfort is your main goal, a recliner is your answer...
Anyhow - I got the Pack Angler Kit - and it didn't work for me - I'm used to the comfort of the sit-backer on bottom, and I think I'd miss my camp chair always being with me. :) So, I called Old Town - expecting to hear something about restocking fees, or some such normal thing. Guess what? no problem - they even set it all up for me have the box picked up AT MY PLACE by Fed-Ex. all FREE! and 100% of what I paid for it is coming back to me.
Guess this is more a review of Old Town than anything...but they sure are nice to deal with! very nice - makes me even more proud of my Pack! I put it all back the way I had it...and love it all the more.
I took it for a spin this afternoon. (in spite of the rain) It is all that everyone says it is. It's super light, tracks a lil crazy and is "spirited" in stability. I love it and I can't wait to fish it in dozens or places, take it camping, you get the idea. It's a breeze to load onto my 4dr jeep by myself, I walked it into the woods about a 12 minute trip, stopping in between to switch shoulders. (pool noodle or some kind of foam is very nice to have for this)
I think it would be nice to lower the seat at least 2 inches for slightly better stability, though it's not really necessary. The minimalist seat gets a lil hard on the rump after a couple hours so I may do some tweaking here. Above all I want to keep her as light as possible.
I can clearly see where a double bladed paddle would be handy for covering a lot of water but for now I am going to buy a nice wooden 54" paddle and enjoy it for what it is. I used a heavy aluminum one today in the same size.
For reference, I am 6' tall and weigh about 210 pounds.
I use it as a solo canoe or take out the seat and cross member, load it up with gear for 10 to 15 day camping/fishing trips and tow it to an island behind my kayak. It's light and I think stable. I plan on doing some white water this summer with it. I do recommend putting the Kevlar skid pads on it or any canoe; keeps the bow and stern protected. All in all great canoe highly recommended.
It's a great little canoe as long as you don't push it with a single blade. With a double blade, it easily handles wind and gets up to a good cruising speed very quickly. For the value and what it can do, it scores high. For finesse... not so much, but for what I use it for, the ease of handling, the gear hauling capability, the stability of the platform for various activities, this little gem can not be beat.
I'm thinking about adding some adjustable foot pegs to mine to lock myself in a little better when river running or digging in against the wind.
If you're single, this is your canoe. I take mine with friends who kayak all the time and I can keep up and still get a tan. I used to be a kayaker but the confinement wasn't for me. I've done lots of creeking with it. You only need about 4 inches of water. Kayaks are always getting stuck but I just "hop" off the rocks and keep on going.
On open water, it does great if you put some weight in the front. Of course the big plus is the low weight. I carry mine one handed and haul my gear with the other. No multiple trips to the truck.
The first thing I did was add 4 inch drops to lower the seat and added adjustable foot rests. Then I tried 2 different seats, the Crazy Creek canoe seat and the GCI sit backer seat. Hands down it was the GCI seat for comfort and back support. Paddling it with my Day-Tripper kayak paddle was a breeze.
I really like this little rig.....
I was initially drawn to the Pack model canoe because of its light weight (like most other people) but have since then been very impressed by other traits as well. It fishes very well, and although I didn't purchase the Angler Model, I did send for the Angler Model seat, available from Old Town. This seat lowers my considerable weight approximately five inches and for those who understand canoeing, that is a significant stabilizing impact. The canoe is much more stable and seems to track better as well.
I still use a single bladed wooden paddle because I like the romance of keeping things as simple and in character with canoeing as possible. I like this canoe a lot. I recommend it to most people.
This a fabulous boat. No reason to duplicate all the kudos - maneuverable, light... it's a joy. Yes it's a bit tippy but you get used to it quickly. And yes tracking is a challenge. But thanks to reviews here I bought a long kayak paddle (I have a Wave from Cannon) and it makes paddling the Pack a joy. No more tracking troubles, light and easy paddling - I highly recommend trying a kayak paddle.
My first attempt to enter it found me sitting in the water beside my swamped canoe, but then again I am used to rafts. The other day I took it on a day float on the Platte river and although it seemed a bit wobbly (also I am a novice) I was very impressed with its maneuverability. Also with 2 bad knees and a frozen shoulder I still had no difficulties getting the Pack up a steep rocky river bank at the takeout.
Before my float today on the Missouri river I read the reviews here and found them extremely helpful. I fashioned a kayak paddle by joining 2 spare raft oars with a coupler, and was very impressed with the improved speed and tracking. However it just didn't feel right so I practiced my J-stroke with the beavertail paddle and that also improved the tracking.
I am sure that stability and trim will be improved when I pack it with a weeks worth of gear for an extended float trip, which I cannot wait to do in this gem of a canoe.
The Pack is flat out a quality craft. We did change out the seat and move the new seat forward 3" to trim the craft out and bring the bow down slightly. A frequent comment in many of the Pack reviews is the time and energy spent keeping the Pack moving in a straight line. One weekend I tried a 220cm kayak paddle and decided a kayak paddle was the way to go. However, due to the width of the Pack and the seat position relative to a kayak, it was obvious a longer kayak paddle was needed. To shorten the saga of the search for a longer kayak paddle -- Just go to the Bending Branches web site, call the the sales department, ask how much it costs (minimal given the net results) for a special order 270cm Slice kayak paddle and then go to your local paddling store with the information to have them place an order. On a 270cm paddle, the Slice blade will yield a slightly longer shaft than the Glide blade, a real plus for reaching over the side and for keeping drips outside the craft. The 270cm Bending Branches Slice paddle is a welcome performance addition to the Pack.
I have loaded my Pack with five days worth of provisions, including a reclining lawn chair, for a summer trip down the John Day River in Oregon. I alternated days in my Old Town Cayuga 14 kayak, and the Pack canoe is so much more fun and much easier on my legs than the Cayuga (also one of the best values on the market.)
The bottom line is this: for the price, you get a bomb-proof Royalex hull, an incredibly light 33 pound lift and a fun, responsive canoe that'll carry all you need for a week of calm water or class 11 to 111 touring, depending on your talent/experience. Beginners need to practice a bit. You should take the Pack out on your favorite pond or lake and learn it's limits. Tip it over, get wet, have some fun. Experiment with 240cm or longer kayak paddles. Quicker strokes equal better tracking on this short canoe.
If you can afford only one boat, this is worth considering. If you want another boat to add to your fleet, the Pack is a great value. You'll be using it more than you realize.
It is a great canoe to fish out of, and get you in and out of thin water, and tight spots. I am a big guy 6'2" and never felt crowded. Properly loaded and trimmed out the Pack is very maneuverable. One of the worst days of my life was the day I sold my Pack. But I can tell you the guy I sold it to was all smiles as he paddled up river.
I notice a few of the reviewers concerns about the boat not being stiff enough, as an old wood and canvas canoe owner and restorer, all I can say is that's the way a canoe should feel. A canoe should flex and glide through the water, not slam into it like the harder fiberglass, or aluminum boats.
I love this canoe. I've only had it out 5 times now for a couple of hours at a time, ...and only in fairly calm water, but I love it. It's easy to maneuver and I don't find it very tippy. I did lower the seat and got a sit backer chair though. The only thing I struggled with was when the wind would make it hard to go straight, but I learned to use the wind and zig zag to where I want to go. I'm really looking forward to a great summer learning to paddle and exploring new places in my Pack.
The reasons I didn't give it a 10 because (1) for those who are not experience paddlers, you may need to be careful at first, leaning over too far may find yourself in the water, after 2-3 total hours of paddling, you should be OK, and (2) the seat should had been designed about 2" lower, which I adjusted and made a whole lot of different.
With that in mind, go try it, you'll love it!
After my youngest went off to college, I got this to replace an Old Towne Guide, which I don't enjoy loading and unloading solo. At about 30 lbs., the pack is a breeze to handle by myself.
Buying this boat is a no-brainer if you need a light-weight all-purpose boat. I give it a 9 because a 10 is ideal for everything, and no boat is.
I also prefer a longer bend paddle (12 degrees), I use a grey owl brand, and I feel it give me more speed, endurance, and steering control. If the front paddler wants to help paddle, I give them a youth size straight paddle and which I can also carry as a backup paddle. I figure 2 to 3 dips per side and control force will keep you on track to your chosen shore landmark, I do not use the j-stroke. I have paddled with current on 128 miles of the Mississippi River and maintained full control, even during one flood level stage. I like my packs 33 lbs weight and it portability, meaning no trailer. I recommend it for the purpose it is used for, after work fun.
Having said all that, I can say that in no way did Old Town's Pack ever fail me. I never even had a spill in it ... but I am an experienced paddler. The Pack is not the perfect, dedicated design for any purpose ... but it is an excellent "piddling" boat ... suitable for all kinds of fun in the hands of a novice, and sufficient for most everything else in practiced hands. It's not a whitewater boat, nor a lake boat, nor a cruising boat ... it's an all around boat, tough as nails, lightweight, and fun.
If you're interested in a Pack, particularly if you don't know much about canoes or paddling, by all means buy one ... and don't let all the tech talk keep you from it. You'll never know the difference, you'll save money, and you'll have fun.
I give the Pack a solid 8 ... not a 10, because it's not ideal for everything, and not 6, 'cause it's not bad for anything. They do "oil can" some with heavy paddlers.
Paddle the Pack kneeling, with a long paddle, or a kayak paddle ... and enjoy.
However, last week I picked up a 247 cm paddle that comes up to my chin and I was amazed. I can now use a single-bladed paddle with my Pack as the longer paddle allows me to actually spend time on my pulling storke moving the boat forward, unlike the shorter paddles which force me to spend most of my stroke on steering instead of keeping the boat moving along. Try it, you'll like it!
I found the light weight to be such a surprise, the agility, and turning is fantastic. It did very well in gusty winds without too much bother thanks mostly in part to the kayak paddle keeping it in stride. Once the voyage was complete and back home, I packed my usual assortment of camping/fishing equipment into the little boat and found that it holds just the right amount for several days paddling.
If your not in a hurry, and have the patience to find the limitations of the design it's a terrific little canoe. After lugging around & soloing in my cruiser for so long, the PACK seems to be a hot-rod!
The Pack is not a great boat for all types of water. It can be difficult to paddle in a heavy lake chop because the hull does not cut through waves, instead, it rides over the tops killing most of your forward momentum. It is also a challenge to paddle on swift rivers since its flat bottom makes it very difficult to lean the boat as you turn in and out of eddies. Waves over Class I will quickly fill it with water. A large float bag in front can help, but this is not a boat designed for running rapids.
In summary, this is a great boat for quiet water. If you are looking for a boat that can handle big lakes or swift rivers, you would be better off with a different model.
Going straight, as mentioned by many others before me, can be a different story. I have found that a single paddle, combined with a focused effort, can get the Pack to track fairly straight on quiet water. I plan to acquire a double bladed paddle shortly and develop some skill in propelling the Pack with a bit more grace and efficiency.
Another reviewer described the Pack as "a wiggly little boat." I have to agree, the Pack can be a little touchy, particularly at put-in or take-out. If you forget to balance across the top of the canoe or do not think about keeping a low center of gravity as you board, it is quite likely that you take a swim. This boat does will (re)teach you the subtleties of balance, poise, and patience.
All together the Pack is a fun little canoe. It provides a good fishing platform for ponds and lakes, it is easy to rack on top of my vehicle, and satisfies my need to get on the water. And that was exactly what I was looking for.
I have found the best approach, is to sit on the seat with my legs crossed indian-fashion. There is not room under the seat for my size 13s, so kneeling is out. I will look into a foam saddle. The boat is highly maneuverable, but begs for a kayak paddle. Wind has minimal effect. My properly-sized single paddle (58cm) seems about 3"-4" too long, though, and I suspect a narrower-bladed beavertail will be best. Perhaps time will tell. In summary, a great little boat to get you out in the water, but don't make any sudden moves or hard paddle strokes! I suspect there are much better choices for the beginner.
I agree with everything written here. The only disagreement appears to be in the tracking. Upriver in strong currents, eddies, and Class I rapids, I wasn't comfortable with a single paddle. When Old Town's promotional literature says it is: "well suited to the use of a double-bladed paddle" I believe they mean "highly recommended for river running." However, when I reached the river's estuary I found that I could get 2-3 strokes per side, more if I used a J-stroke. This compares with 3-4 strokes on my 164. Once I figured it out, it was great! And when I was done, I easily made the one-quarter mile portage back to my car, threw it on the roof, strapped it down, and went home.
A great boat. Buy one today. Forget about talking your wife or friend into going canoeing, just put it on top of your car and go! Scoring? 8 with one paddle; 10 with two!
Light (only 33 lb) and agile, this little boat is perfect for exploring small streams and remote ponds. Paddled from a kneeling positionfolks with big feet will want to raise the single cane seat or replace it with a foam saddlethe Old Town Pack responds best to "traditional" technique. Practice your J- and C-strokes, get yourself a properly-sized beavertail paddle, and jump in. You'll discover that this short canoe tracks surprisingly well. And don't be fooled by the shallow, molded keel. The Pack maneuvers with ease and grace. You can turn the boat to either side in its own lengthwithout once having to reach your paddle across the gunwale.
The Pack isn't a boat for whitewater, of course, though you can run Class I and even short, easy Class II stretches if you're careful. Nor is it an expedition craft, though it will carry food and gear for a week or more.
What is the Pack's forte, then? Messing about, just messing aboutuncomplicated, undemanding exploration of out-of-the-way waters, near and far. The Water Rat in Kenneth Grahame's famous story was right. There's nothing half so much worth doing, and this is as good a boat as you'll find anywhere for doing it.
120,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!