So You Want to Build a Pack Boat?

There’s no shortage of plans.

And Wouldn’t You Just Know It?
We Have a List.

Since you’re on this page it’s a pretty good guess that you’re giving serious thought to building a small canoe. I’m also presuming that you’re a wise guy or gal and you’re going to do some research. This page is here to make that research easier for you.

I’ve compiled this list of pack boats with the idea that builders with a roving eye might take a gander across the internet and return to Ashes. I’m not saying that the list is entirely comprehensive but it should point in the direction of some solid choices. And if you think I’ve missed something let me know.

A pack boat (or pack canoe) is the common name for a small light canoe, typically 13 feet or shorter. I’d say that the majority them require a seat position at or below the waterline to feel adequately stable and even then, some of these canoes will never feel all that stable. Typically, but not always, a pack boat is paddled using a double paddle with the feet braced against a forward brace. There are some with a broad beam and shallow arch profile for which its appropriate to mount an elevated seat – our Anglers Pack would be one of those, as might be the Big Mac by Feather Canoes.

The list below is organized in alphabetical order by company selling the plans. For the most part I’ve tried to restrict the length to 13 feet and under but there will be an exception or two. I’ve added a quick description here and there noting the basic style of each provider. You’ll also note that the list includes plan for strip, stitch-and-glue, lapstrake, and skin-on-frame construction.

The Big Question

The graphic above shows body plans for an Anglers Pack, Solo Pack, a Wee Lassie, and a Rob Roy. You’ll note that stability will decrease with each hull, as will reserve capacity. The first two are our boats, the third is a Wee Lassie composited from a number of plans, and the fourth is a Rob Roy from Mystic Seaport Museum.

Generally a hull with a shallow arch profile will be ‘initially” more stable, as will a longer boat all else being equal. You won’t want to install a seat at the gunnels on a Rob Roy. Just saying. Apart from that, I’ll let you, dear reader, be the judge of each plans suitability for your particular needs.

The List

 Ashes Still Water Boats

Stable as far as pack boats go. Designed for strip-construction

B and B Yacht Design

A folded-ply technique.

Bear Mountain Boats

A nice iteration of Rushtons’s 19th century classic.

Chesapeake Light Craft

One clinker built, one stitch-and-glue.

Ducktrap Woodworking

A number of aggregate designs.

Feather Canoes

Beautiful strip built iterations of classic designs.

Gentry Custom Boats

Wee Lassie variant for skin-on-frame construction.

Geodesic Aerolite Boat Designs

Wee Lassie variants for skin-on-frame construction.

Guillemot Kayaks

Particularly nice iterations of Rushton’s classic Sairy Gamp.
With hard knuckle. A touch longer and with more sea-keeping ability than the original.
For strip-construction.

 Harry Bryan Boatbuilding

Wee Lassie variants for glued-lap construction.

Newfound Boat Works

Wee Lassie variants for strip construction.

Laughing Loon

Rob Roy and Wee Lassie variants for strip-construction.

Northwest Canoe

For strip-built construction.

Paddling Light

Iterations of traditional indigenous boats.
Originally modelled by Tappan Adney.
Redrawn by Bryan Hansel.

Sandy Point Boat Works

Rob Roy variant for strip construction.

Tom Hill Boat Designs

A light and elegant glued-lapstrake canoe.

White Salmon Boatworks

A beamy little strip built canoe.

Further Resources

The following sites have a variety of designs for small canoes.

This list was current as of October 24, 2019. Things change.
Let us know what we’ve missed and what has changed.

How happy is the changing, simple scheme!
Systematic, similar, simple scheme.
A simple scheme is simple. A simple scheme.
An ever-changing simple scheme.