How To Create A Tumpline For Your Pack & Canoe 

Create A Tumpline For Your Canoe And Pack

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 8/13/2022

Table Of Contents

The Canadian people have a deep and abiding love for their tumplines. The vast majority of Americans view them as instruments of torture, and part of the reason for this is that the vast majority of them have either never used them themselves or have not adjusted them correctly when they have. That contributes to the widespread perception that they are instruments of torture. Because I am such a massive fan of tumplines, I won't buy a pack unless it already has one for me to utilize.

The tump makes the bag fit firmly against your back. It keeps it there, which is good on level ground and especially helpful while ascending steep inclines (it does not operate on descending slopes, in contrast to a hip belt), but it is ineffective on flat terrain. It takes the weight off of your shoulders and places it on the strong muscles in your neck, which in turn relieves the pressure that is being placed on your shoulders.


Contrary to what the vast majority of people assume, it will not strain your neck or harm you in any way, provided that it is set appropriately. You can't just throw on a tumpline and start moving around in it, and that wouldn't be possible. It is essential to make the appropriate modifications to get it to function correctly for YOU. They can use no universal method to attain optimal health since every "body" is different. That is why who can implement no one approach. Adjusting the length of the tump strap by as little as half an inch in either direction may have the potential to create a SIGNIFICANT difference in the amount of comfort that is felt. In addition, the positioning of the strap is essential; it should be positioned around two inches above your forehead rather than against it. It should not cause your head to snap back due to being affected by it.

The "pull" is applied in a manner that is downward and forward down your neck, starting at the very crown of your head and working its way down through your entire channel. It is to your best advantage to focus on a point around 10 feet in front of you as you walk, which will help you avoid potential hazards. If you follow these instructions, you can walk in the correct posture. If you feel the strap pulling your head back, either the belt is too tight, or your eyes are focused too far away.

When I was in charge of guiding expeditions in the northern region of Canada, I made it a point to stop for a while during the first portage so that I could show everyone how to tie a tumpline correctly. That led to significant advances as time progressed, which was beneficial overall. I found that nine out of ten people who tried the tumpline and learned how to correctly use it refused to carry a pack that did not have one connected. That was the case even after they learned how to use it properly. Something like this was something that I observed. However, some people have the same mindset as the eighth-grade pupils I used to instruct: if they don't comprehend something right immediately, they don't see the need to attempt to learn it!

canoe tumpline

In a similar vein, I feel obligated to point out that it has been documented that people living in undeveloped areas have been known to carry enormous weights on their heads or in packs that tumplines have supported for thousands of years. That is the case whether the importance is held on the head or in the box. The sole means of transportation available to Sherpas is the use of tumplines, and their principal activity is the transportation of heavy goods and equipment over mountainous terrain. In the 1960s, a big pack company gave several high-capacity climbing packs as a gesture of gratitude to a selection of Himalayan porters. The porters used the bags to carry supplies up and down the mountains. Who removed the shoulder straps, and in their place, the porters attached tumplines to the backpacks. They had a good understanding of shoulder straps and hip belts but steadfastly refused to use any of those accessories. Do you need any more explanation than that?

When traveling a substantial distance over rugged terrain, the most efficient way to give your muscles a respite is to switch between your tumpline, hip belt, and shoulder straps regularly. That will allow you to carry more weight for more extended periods. There is no prohibition in the rules that precludes your group from possessing all three of these things in its possession.

A Tumpline For Your Canoe

Whatever is successful for carrying packs also works effectively for hauling boats. The tumpline being explained here can reduce the weight that is being held on your shoulders by anywhere from zero to one hundred percent. It is possible to reduce fifty percent of one's body weight in a healthy and manageable manner. Because my tumpline is shaped like a trampoline, if you walk into a hole, you won't end up being strangled by the straps as you would be if you used rigid leather straps. That is because my tumpline is fashioned like a trampoline. Even though it is fastened to the boat, it may be detached from the vessel in a hurry using only one hand.


Here’s How To Make One:

You will need a rectangular piece of canvas, two rubber truck straps, four steel S-hooks, and some parachute rope to complete this activity. You will need to thread the straps through the wide sleeves stitched into the headpiece and then snap them to the loops of the parachute cord that have been strung through the holes in the gunnels. After this, you must secure the straps with the snaps attached to the parachute cord. The size of the headpiece is not that crucial; mine is 12 inches by 18 inches.

When you reduce the loops of the chute cord, the rubber straps grow tighter, and the weight moves from your shoulders to your head. That is because your head rather than your shoulders support the weight. When you pull the cords tighter, on the other hand, the weight is transferred from your head to your shoulders. I make the appropriate changes to the rig so that about half the weight is borne on my head at any time.

If you discover that you are growing bored of the tumpline while portaging, all you have to do is reach up overhead and unhook it, and then you can place all of the weight on your "Minnesota" yoke. If you wish to reattach the tumpline, you must ensure the canoe is on the ground before you begin.

In recent years, tumplines have been the target of criticism, particularly from Americans who don't know how to use them and won't take the time to learn. However, "head carries" are the typical practice in third world countries, even though shoulder straps and hip belts have been used in this region since before Rome. Shoulder straps and hip belts are more commonly used in Western countries. Any Sherpa worth their salt will attest that efficacy is the parent from which traditions are formed. They will say this because it is the truth. 


Give your bag and boat a tumpline and see whether you still believe that things flow more smoothly when you use your mind once you've done so. That will let you determine whether you agree that things go more smoothly when you use your mind.

Switching between your tumpline, hip belt, and shoulder straps on a frequent basis is the most effective approach to give your muscles a break while you are riding a significant distance over rough terrain. Because of this, you will be able to bear a greater load for a longer amount of time. Your organization will not be penalized in any way for having any of these three items in its possession because the rules do not contain any kind of ban against doing so.