How to Make a Kayak Portage Yoke

Updated on May 15, 2018
jimmar profile image

Jim is a retired software/electrical engineer who enjoys the outdoors. He likes to challenge himself with creative projects at home.

When I carry my kayak from my car top to the lake I can usually just rest the lip of the cockpit on my shoulder with my head inside and carry it the short distance. But when I did my first solo kayak camping trip in the Quetico Provincial Park of Canada, I needed something to help with the long portages. I improvised a clamp-on yoke made by shortening a removable canoe portage yoke to fit my kayak. It worked for the trip but kept slipping, causing me to set down the kayak and make adjustments. Each time I had to tighten the clamps more and more, digging into the wood of the cockpit lip.

I cannot remember who gave me this idea, a fellow kayaker no doubt, but it is a simple homemade yoke that is inexpensive and easy to construct. It works well with no slippage and is quick and easy to attach.

It slides onto the lip of the cockpit, trapping the lip between the yoke and the lipped spacer. It is then held in place with a bungii cord.

List of Materials

  • ¾ in. plywood (6 in. X 21in.) for yoke
  • 2 hardwood blocks (3/4 X 1-1/4 X 8) for spacers
  • 2 – ½ in. plywood blocks (1-3/4 X 8) for spacer lips
  • 2 – ½ in. plywood blocks (3 X 3-1/2) for padding base
  • 2 blocks (3 X 3-1/2 X 2-1/2)of high density foam
  • 2 pieces of vinyl fabric
  • A length of bungi cord
  • 2 short pieces of parachute cord
  • 16 – 1-1/4” #8 flathead screws

The dimensions are approximate. You will want to customize the yoke to best fit your kayak. The thickness of the spacer will probably vary for your kayak, but you want a fairly tight fit.

I found the balance point of the kayak over the cockpit and planned for the yoke to mount just aft of that. You want to have the weight slightly biased toward your rear when you carry it.

I cut the shape of the yoke from the ¾ in. plywood, making it sort of a shallow “C” shape to fit around my neck. I mounted the spacer lip blocks and spacers together with glue and screws then placed them on kayak where I wanted them positioned. I then placed the yoke on top the spacer and marked it to indicate where the spacers should attach. After attaching the spacers to the yoke with countersunk flat head screws, I checked the fit to the cockpit lip. Some adjustments may be necessary.

Next I glued the foam blocks to the plywood bases with contact cement and covered them entirely with vinyl fabric. I stapled the fabric into place.

The blocks are screwed to the yoke in a position such that they would rest on your shoulders. I found the keeping them closer to the middle of the shoulder is more comfortable than towards the ends. You’ll have to play with the yoke by positioning it on your shoulders to determine the exact mounting positions you like.

I attached loops of parachute chord through holes drilled at the end of the spacers. A length of bungii cord is tied to the para-cord loops at each end. This cord is stretched to fit under the lip and around the opposite end of the cockpit to hold the assembly in place.

Once I was happy with the fit, I took everything apart and routed smooth the edges. After a little sanding I sealed all the wood with a 50/50 mix of Helmsman exterior varnish and paint thinner. Once the parts were tacky dry, I re-assembled them all and covered with two more coats of varnish. Once the rig was dry, using contact cement, I glued a few patches of vinyl on the yoke where it comes in contact with the cockpit lip.

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it works well, and is lightweight, easy to attach, and inexpensive.

Afterthoughts

During a recent solo kayak camping trip I used this portage yoke. Although it was adequate enough, it was not as comfortable as I wished. I will likely make a few improvements:

  1. Make the yoke pads adjustable to fit the more comfortable "sweet" spot on your shoulders. It will probably require some short slots for mounting screws with wing nuts.
  2. Use softer foam or add a layer of less dense foam that will compress around the bony parts of my shoulders.
  3. Sculpture the foam into a slightly concave shape.
  4. Improve the bungii cord attachment to the wood. It works as is, but I think I could come up with something that looks a little better.

Overall, not too bad for something put together on a whim!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

        Marcy Goodfleisch 

        5 years ago from Planet Earth

        I like your clear instructions and photos! I don't know if I would ever need to make one of these, but I learned a lot from reading this. Good job!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, skyaboveus.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://skyaboveus.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)