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SacandagaSchout 01-25-2021 02:54 PM

Hornbeck canoe - Row or paddle? Frame pack or yoke?
There are dozens of threads on lightweight canoes and carrying methods and set ups on this site. I've read them all and made the hard decisions.

I've decided to go with a Hornbeck 12' Classic. I will be carrying it up to six miles to fish back country ponds. I will likely do overnights here and there, so I will be hauling gear on top of everything else.

I've distilled my remaining decisions down to these two questions:

1. Row vs. paddle:

Oarlocks and oars will add about 7 pounds to the weight of the canoe for carry purposes, but will obviously be better for trolling. The decision must be made at the order stage--oarlocks cannot easily be added later on. Is the weight worth it?

2. Frame pack vs. yoke:

Frame pack costs several hundred dollars extra but leaves you hands free and makes the miles easier. Can be added at a later date if necessary.Yoke sounds like a literal pain in the neck, but is only $50.

Grateful for any insight anyone can give me.

EagleCrag 01-25-2021 03:59 PM

I would order the canoe with the row option, then you have it if you wish to use it, but you don't have to. I have tried both frame pack and a yoke and prefer the yoke. If you tie a long rope from bow to stern and let it hang near where your hand would be, you can use the rope to raise or lower the bow as needed when going uphill or downhill. The trick is to find a yoke that allows it to be used without interfering with the pack you will be carrying. Good luck with your decisions and let us know what you decide.

Wldrns 01-25-2021 04:27 PM

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I shaped my own yoke out of a piece of lightweight aluminum tubing, flattened the ends to attach it at the balance point to the wood gunwales with thumb screws and bolts on my 10.5' hybrid Hornbeck. I can make the transition from water to portage in about 3 minutes. It works great with my Knupac backpack, but I know others have modified external frame backpacks to do the same thing. You are correct about having hands free as a fantastic benefit with this setup. When I bushwhack I just tip the canoe to part and push through brush.

Mallard1100 01-25-2021 09:22 PM

I purchased my Hornbeck 12 with matrix skin and fishing package 2 years ago. My concerns were exactly the same. I am all over the spectrum with its intended use. I use it for duck hunting where my hike in with gear can be a few miles, easily accessed waters where I would want my oars, and some more remote areas where I was only use a kayak paddle and yoke along with possibly back country hunting. So with that said I bought the whole package. Oars, yoke, and the Kelty Pack they offer for overhead carry. I have since used all methods. The easiest for me so far has been the standard over the shoulder carry. With that said I have tried the yoke but it did not work so well with a loaded pack that road high as it went to deep into the seat and it did not ride comfortably. With a smaller compact fishing pack it might be better. I have only went on one trip with the kelty pack and a full load. It worked well but I’m still working out the kinks of a full pack and boat balancing correctly. It wasn’t the easiest walking as my head was buried deeper in the boat. I’m still dialing things in overall and will get some more experience on the water this spring.

Mallard1100 01-25-2021 09:27 PM

snapper 01-26-2021 12:05 PM

Not sure why you feel the only way to troll is with the rowing set-up? Most folks paddle their Hornbecks with a double bladed paddle so trolling with that method should work for you. Besides, you'll be seeing where you're going; an added bonus!

That's all for now. Take care and until next well.


cutbait 01-26-2021 12:42 PM

Have a 12' Classic owned for several years. Recommend using kayak paddle for trolling, will work just fine - has for me, also better for all around use and maneuvering.

I use a Werner Camano paddle.

Use TiteLok rod holder(s) - adjustable and (re)moveable as well as super light weight strong aluminum. Mine are mounted in front of me far enough that I can paddle as well as see that my lure is pulsing - tracking properly, and more importantly when I get a hit. I use a small piece of wood - shoe moulding is just the right thickness, so it fits between the wood railing trim on the inside top of the Hornbeck and the clamp. To protect the hull on the other side, I use a small piece of foam - cut a little piece from something like an old yoga mat. If using a new mat, I make sure to cut it straight, so my wife will not notice and kill me. Hope this helps.
Can't provide any advice on the packing part, however, Mallard1100 seems to have some good ideas.

SacandagaSchout 01-27-2021 06:03 PM

A big thank you to everyone for your input. I went 12' Classic, matrix skin, rowing package. Going to try the yoke first, if that doesn't work I'll have them rig up a frame pack carry system at a later date.

Excited to row. I never liked fishing with a yak paddle. I don't like juggling it while you cast with two hands or while you're bringing in a fish.

Grateful for all your insights.

cutbait 01-28-2021 12:52 PM

Best of luck. Sounds like you know what will work for you. Through the years and many hours of fishing/paddling (ave 150-200 hours/year and thousands of fish)I've figured out what works for me. I'm a minimalist now and take very little - I even stopped bringing an anchor years ago. To quote John Gierach - you know how little you need because you need so little

Have fun with your new boat

SacandagaSchout 05-31-2021 06:46 PM

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I took my new 12' Hornbeck out for the first time this weekend. It's a beautiful boat. It handles great too.

The only issues are with the oars. There are two issues:

(1) The handles on the oars overlap. Pic attached (or at least I tried to attach, always find it hard to upload photos on this site). This means I have to awkwardly pass my hands one over the other on each stroke. I kept banging my hands together and messing up my strokes.

(2) If my feet are on the foot holds, the oars hit my knees. I had to fully extend my legs in the boat to have the clearance for the oars over my knees. This was uncomfortable and gave me less leverage for rowing.

I feel like overlap of the oars is just not okay. Am I being too particular? I don't know much about rowing, is this considered an acceptable attribute?

The lack of clearance over my legs is less concerning but still disappointing-- I'm not crazily tall, only 6'2". I feel like this shouldn't be as big of a problem.

I am still planning on using a kayak paddle for backcountry trips, but I like the idea of being able to row it on bigger lakes with shorter carries. When rowing at full speed, this boat really goes fast.

Wldrns 05-31-2021 10:03 PM

Overlapping oars have always been the standard and traditional configuration with guideboats. Maybe with drift boats too, I don't really know about those. That design was done for better leverage advantage and better weight balance of the oars. My guideboat is configured that way and I also have to keep my legs and knees low to clear them with the oars. I don't race my guideboat, but many I know do in the traditional style without any problem. You get used to pulling with one hand over the other, and it soon becomes automatic as you learn quickly after a few hand crunches.

It is possible that what is otherwise considered a wonderfully efficient small pack canoe is not the best craft for propulsion by rowing?

Wilderness Brookies 06-01-2021 08:04 PM

I have a 10' Hornbeck. I use my oars from my Radisson and they do not overlap. The Radisson oars are shorter than the oars from the Hornbeck rowing package but I'm happy with my set up. Over lapping oars would drive me crazy.

Mallard1100 06-03-2021 11:30 AM

The overlapping seems funny in the beginning but really once
You get the hang of the stroke with one handle coming under the other in sequence there really is no issue. That was my first reaction as well but once you get the timing and placement down it’s a moot point. I’m 6’1 and have no issue with oar contact. Maybe adjust the foot rests further to straighten your legs out slightly.

St.Regis 06-03-2021 01:03 PM


Originally Posted by Wldrns (Post 286006)
..It is possible that what is otherwise considered a wonderfully efficient small pack canoe is not the best craft for propulsion by rowing?

I'm thinking the builder offers a rowing package because that method of propulsion works just fine..certainly a fair number of people buy these boats not to pack and paddle, but to pack and fish

Wldrns 06-03-2021 08:36 PM


Originally Posted by St.Regis (Post 286040)
I'm thinking the builder offers a rowing package because that method of propulsion works just fine..certainly a fair number of people buy these boats not to pack and paddle, but to pack and fish

Granted, for those folks for ask for that configuration. But it may not be optimum for that style of craft compared to the original purpose and configuration of that rowing method.

robbartley 06-06-2021 10:42 AM

I have had a Hornbeck now for 3 years. I have tried a double bladed kayak paddle and could never seem to get use to it. My buddy has one as well and loves the oars he bought with it. For me, I much prefer to use a single blade paddle and enjoy a bent blade. Easy troll with a rod in a holder on one side and paddle on the other. As far as carrying the boats, I use a homemade yoke and my buddy has a pack frame with oar locks in the top of the tubes he prefers.

OntarioSkiBum 06-15-2021 09:24 PM

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As a former competitive rower, all sculling is done with the left hand over the right. Once in a while you'll get knuckle scraping, but its something you get used to.

Edit: Can you rig one side higher than the other?

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