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    Originally posted by Canotrouge View Post
    I know a few things a bout xc skiing and Biomechanics, I'm a certified NCCP Level III xc ski coach and ski tech, worked for 6 years for the Yukon ski team and did 6 Canadian Nationals and waxed for well over a 1000 races. Just this year at the Olympics 3 xc ski athletes on the Canadian team are from our team! Paralympic sit skiers are doing this exact technique w/o problems or should I say w/o any more problems than standing skiers. You will of course have more power and speed if you are standing, but with proper technique and conditioning, there should be no problems.
    Wow. No need to be so defensive. Just an observation for the casual paddler that might not be so athletically inclined. I am approaching 75 and could not consider the technique.

    No disrespect intended as I have a friend that trains for canoe races 3.5 hours a day. Not my style.


      Hello all - my first post here. As the originator of the article that sparked this conversation, I'll throw in a few comments.

      First of all, I was pretty certain that somebody must have used a double-poling technique before, but had never encountered it in many years of paddling. Thanks, Canotrouge, for the information about the Upper Yukon. It's almost inevitable that this technique has been developed independently in many places. My adopting of it is just one example of an independent origin.

      As for the stresses on the body, my article acknowledges that upper body strength is a requirement. That said, it is also true that strength alone will not achieve good results. In fact, strength without technique probably is a good way to over-stress joints (memaquay & yellowcanoe). That applies to paddling as well as to poling. The use of the torso helps to keep the shoulders at a stable angle. Furthermore, my canoe is less than 30 inches wide at the maximum (a good reason not to stand too much!) so the poles are nearer to being in line with my shoulders than would be true in a wider craft. But I understand that this technique is not for everyone.

      My article also acknowledges that the leverage achieved (your point, yellowcanoe) and the range of water depths in which this works are both smaller than when using a long pole while standing. If I were paddling a large, stable canoe, I would stow and use a long pole. Indeed, I was well on the way to doing this before realising that standing in a small, narrow vessel in rapids would probably be a bad idea. For those of us who like to paddle a small, light craft, which undoubtedly reduces the body stresses during carries, double poling offers an alternative tool in the toolbox of techniques. Yes, it's tiring, in the same way that wading over slippery cobbles is bruising to the feet, so having the option to pole for a while, then track for a while, can share the load on various parts of the body.

      An answer to Jim Dodd:
      Yes, regular alpine ski poles, quite large diameter for stiffness, baskets removed to reducing snagging, straps removed for quick release or return to paddling, large flanges on the grips to reduce the need to have a grip of death.

      Thanks, all, for your interest. Keep the comments coming.


        Here is a picture bottom right corner( I know I saw other ones some where but can't seems to find them) Birch_Bark_Canoe_Tilepicture.jpg


          Ottercreek has clarified well that his boat is narrow and tippy and that the technique is physically demanding. I concede that for this gentleman in that boat and in those conditions it may have been the best solution. I am always very happy that anyone has decided to make the effort to move from traditional paddling and going down stream and go against the current. Like Yellowcanoe I offer this as an opinion and not to challenge anothers, but it looks like it could be hazardous if adopted for other pushier situations, different boats or different individuals. I am an advanced canoe poling instructor for Paddle Canada. I only add this to give some (only some) credibility to my opinion. As well I was a serious Nordic skier in my youth. Here in Southern Ontario we do get snow, but there are always lots of thaws and if one is on an established trail it is more often than not icy. I double pole a lot. So my concern is with the pole angle when placed. When one double poles on skis there is forward momentum such that the plant may be approximately like our gentleman canoe double poler, but by the time the skier bears down they have moved forward and the pole angle is greater and it is a more direct push backwards. This canoe moves forward and is virtually stopped when the power poling begins. I believe that the first part of this technique would be closer to a pull. Not very efficient (though, as I said it may be the best shot for the individual, boat, river). Also, as mentioned... there is a lot of canoe width with most boats. Double poling on skis the arms are very tight to sides and the movement is parallel to the skis and direction of movement. I don't like the biomechanics either but I am just a guy who is just trying to keep his body safe and sound for future adventures. As far as the traditional poling aspect, I do know that little tippy canoes are certainly harder to pole without good technique practice. I do always question anyone who leads with tippy and canoe as it is often a matter of not having real experience with proper poling. This may not be a case of that but not that many people really pole, so. Here is my thought. Short poles have always existed to be used from a sitting position for one reason or another. The fact that the video shows some manoeuvring technique does not prove that it is efficient. That boat is moving and manoeuvring very slowly for the shown conditions. If anything goes wrong a pole is going under that boat with a loop around a wrist. There is no leverage with a pole that small and really with the width of the hands I think that it would involve a lot of muscles at play to stabilize the connecting struts of the arms from the body to the tops of the poles if one was trying to use body weight and crunch to move forward. I think one would be much farther ahead to use an eight foot pole from a sitting position at a 45 degree angle to the river bed and just climb the pole hand over hand and then pop it forward again. No wrist loops. Long lever to angle the boat and since one is working one side at a time one can more effectively edge the boat. My two cents worth.
          Last edited by Steve; 03-17-2018, 03:31 PM.


            Oh and just because I am a poling booster and want to get people to quit getting out of their canoes except as a last resort I want to say that with two good days of practice and instruction one could do that stretch of river with no previous poling experience as long as one didn't have a "tippy" canoe and they were in reasonable condition. One must always keep in mind that even with the best technique, if you are going against the current in a river you are going up hill and it is not going to be "easy"... it is just how well one is able to reduce the difficulty....


              Good thread. I paddle a lot and like SUP-ing my boats when conditions warrant. I've never poled, though. Steve, do you ever run poling clinics in SW Ontario? (I see you're in Guelph, I live in London.) I'd be up for learning poling from a "poling booster".


                Ok...I will just say it. It's a guy thing...." I can just power through this no problem ". For all of us older ladies and less than athletic gentlemen, or even just those with some common sense, this is a marginal idea at best. There is always someone who does the extraordinary. I mean hell, I could put my motor on the front of the boat and use it in reverse and it would work. There is a reason nobody does that and also a reason why you dont see people doing this on a regular basis either.


                  Time to chime in again.

                  I agree with much of what Steve has contributed. It's especially true that water scrubs off momentum much more than ice, so each push is, to a large extent, accelerating the canoe from scratch. For that reason, it's necessary to ensure that the poles are planted angled well backwards. This ensures that the beginning of the stroke is most certainly not a pull. Rather, the arms are swinging by the body and pushing backwards. The commentary on the video also mentions that the stronger the current, the steeper this backward angle must be. I haven't done any biomechanical analysis, but have established a technique which feels good, which does not unduly strain me. I too, have an interest in preserving an ever aging body for many adventures yet to come. The original article also acknowledges that this technique will not propel a canoe against as strong a current as will traditional poling: the leverage just isn't there.

                  The manoeuvring depends to a large extent on hull shape and/or ability to heel. With poles well planted and the boat well heeled, little extra effort is required.My canoe has a relatively long keel line, so the bow is a little slow to respond. More of a rocker would certainly help. This is acknowledged in the journal of my 2013 through-paddle of the NFCT.

                  A couple of corrections:
                  Steve - as mentioned in the article and in my previous post, my poles have no straps. You're right - that would be asking for trouble.
                  Iskweo - I'm hoping your "guy thing" is a tongue-in-cheek comment. Really, as mentioned in my previous post, application of power without technique is likely to cause injury. I love developing technique such that less power is required. I also acknowledge that the strength requirement for this technique may put it out of reach of many. No-one is making it compulsory! And I'm not sure where my apparent lack of common sense comes into this.
                  Steve - (typing with a smile here - I don't do emojis) surely any successful propulsion of a vessel by means of one of more poles can be called "proper poling"? I know what you mean, but couldn't resist!

                  I'm in no way trying to undermine traditional poling, which is a beautiful art form as well as an effective means of propulsion when done well (and I wish I were better at it) I'm just trying to share ideas. I suggest trying this technique before judging it. Before consigning it to the file labelled "Arcana", give it a try in gentle conditions. Who knows - you may even find it easier than it seems!


                    So Otter Creek I am duly chastened for not double checking about the loops on the poles. I don't want to be seen as a poling snob (I do some emojis on occasion) I hope you are happy and healthy and double poling for many years to come. I believe that they are way easier to pack and carry than a "proper pole." Cheers to all. As far as poling instruction in Canada one just goes to the Paddle Canada website and go to the "Courses" pull down and then "Find an Instructor." Enter the info and voila!


                      A quick follow-up ...

                      I took to the NFCT again last year (2018), but with a difference. This time I through-paddled from Fort Kent ME to Old Forge NY, east to west. That involves something like 120 miles more upstream than downstream. Once more I used this double poling technique to very good effect, except that on the third day I lost a pole (probably snagged by vegetation as I was wading) and couldn't get a replacement until the end of day 13. That's certainly a weakness of the technique - a single pole doesn't work well for double-poling! Still, it took me up several miles of the St John, some of the Allagash, quite a lot of the Connecticut, some of the Nulhegan, and a significant distance up the Saranac. It would have been great to have two poles for the West Branch Penobscot, the Moose and the Dead Rivers, but, alas, I just had to walk when paddling wasn't feasible.

                      Incidentally, the link given in an earlier post to my previous (2013) through-paddle is now obsolete - my ISP closed down that bit of web-space. Journals of both my through-paddles can be found via


                        I am sorry for your loss, so to speak, BUT glad that it worked!

                        For those interested in poling... new YouTube channel as of New Year's Eve:
                        It is a good start, good feedback and more to come. Please check it out and subscribe if you like the offerings.
                        Last edited by Steve; 01-10-2020, 10:54 PM.