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Portable Boats for Remote Travel

Over the years, Ive used a variety of portable boats including the ultra-lightweight, Lost Pond boats (based on Rushtons Sairy Gamp design, the boat Nessmuk used to travel across the park in the 1800s). Manufactured by Peter Hornbeck of Olmsteadville, these little marvels can be used with either a double bladed paddle or retrofitted with oars to permit easy trolling.

Hornbecks creations are quite possibly the most popular watercraft among backcountry travelers today. However, even at a mere 11-15 pounds, these boats can prove unwieldy when struggling up steep terrain, traveling over heavy blowdown or through a tangle of thick spruce.

For the higher elevation, trailless ponds, it often pays to pack in an inflatable raft, which at 13 to 17 pounds can be reduced to the size of a sleeping bag and comfortably handle an adult. Rafts keep the angler above water, unlike belly boats or float tubes, which require a fisherman to wear waders and dangle his legs in the water. Rafts also permit anglers to troll easily with oars and permits casting from a more elevated position than a tube.

Ive recently started to use a 12-foot inflatable canoe manufactured by Stearns. The multi air-chambered, two person canoe, equipped with inflatable seats and padded backrests, has a capacity of 500 pounds and features a durable, Cordura nylon skin.

At 29 pounds, the two person canoe is comparable in weight to a pair of solo canoes or pack rafts but since it can be carried in a packbasket, the portability factor is far greater than a pack canoe. Additionally, while most pack canoes are intended for solo use; the Stearns canoe can easily handle two large adults.

Several local retailers have the Stearns boats in stock, including Jones Outfitters in Lake Placid and the Blueline Sport Shop in Saranac Lake.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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