I only use my tump to keep the seat from slipping back off my shoulders. It supports little weight,but sure makes carrying without a yoke easier. I also put a length of pool noddle on the ft. of the seat.
Bob, I've been using a leather tumpline on both my w/c canoes for a while now - a light 14 footer (48 lb) and heavier 15 footer (68 lb).
I found it helped to relieve some shoulder and back discomfort and enjoy using it. Realize it has many detractors who devalue its use but I know it works for my body and tripping style. A major downside for folks may be the need to spend a lot of potentionally frustrating trial and error time fiddling with the appropriate tying length and method - something you want to do before you head out and not out on the trail. There really is no universal formula that works for every scenario and it has to be remembered that historically, the tumpline was a very personal piece of gear that was traditionally customized by the carrier for their own use. A one size fits all approach won't work. I've read sources which state the headstrap should touch the bottom of the hull before tying in and another which mentioned it should be hand height from the hull bottom. In the end each of my boats needed a different tying method because of differences in hull depth and the tying positions on the thwart so neither of those guidelines worked.
Once it's in that sweet spot, however, it is remarkable how much relief it provides during a portage. But if you're off by even just an inch you can feel the neck discomfort and lack of balance. I suspect this is what likely turns off a lot of folks. Now that the tumplines are secured in my canoes, they are left in place, but I've also etched the leather and marked the thwarts to find that ideal tying length again.
Of course, there has to be some common sense with its usage. I might slip it off if portaging on very unsure terrain like slippery mud or wet rocks. After trying various configurations with lashed paddles, I now use a method illustrated in Robert Ritzenthaler's Building the Chippewa Canoe. Here the native builder, Bob Pine, puts his paddle blades forward and uses the tails of the tump to secure the paddle grips onto the center thwart / yoke.
The blade forward position makes the bow a bit heavy, but this is offset with the fact that I lash my kneeling pad and some other stuff to the seat in the rear and that creates the necessary balance. Here's a pic of everything lashed up.
For another method, check out this video of Innu builders from Quebec show a different tying in method with the paddles. The builder uses a simple cord for a tump that slides over his cap but customizes the length based on his own experience. Guess that's the key, knowing what works you you.
Another source - I Live in the Woods by Paul Provencher - documents his method which was influenced by the Innu (Montagnais) of Quebec's north shore. Here's a brief excerpt and pic:
"In packing a canoe, the best canoe-carriers of the Manicouagan and the Moisie Rivers just cross the paddles and tie them on top of the front bar. They then pass the tumpline over the blades at the middle bar. To judge the distance from the bottom of the canoe to the tumpline they measure a handspread upright."
Lastly, here's a link (*.pdf format) showing an alternate method which uses a combination cord and leather tump line. It's from Camp Nominingue in Quebec
Coureur: Very much looking forward to seeing your woven tumpline project when it's complete.
I've never used a tumpline for carrying a canoe -- and wouldn't, for medical risk reasons, most particularly for an older person.
We had a very exhaustive thread on this issue on the defunct solotripping.com site, in which PBlanc and I researched and analyzed a number of medical studies on tumpline and other "head carries" by Nepalese Sherpas and African natives. The upshot of reasonable interpretation was this:
-- Tumplines work if they are used and adjusted properly.
-- There is risk of chronic neck injury when carrying heavy loads vertically on the head and the body is in an upright posture. All the pressure is directly over the cervical spine. Using a tumpline or tump strap for a canoe portage employs this risky posture.
-- There is less risk when a tumpline is used to carry loads on the back like Sherpas do or as with a Duluth pack. In that case, the strap is across the top of the forehead and the body posture is one of leaning forward. This posture distributes the load across the neck and shoulder muscles more and results in less pressure on the cervical spine.
THIS SITE has collected several sources of tumpline information, including the former solotripping.com thread. Perhaps someone can find that thread on the Wayback machine.
i use a tump on my canoes whenever i can...have for years, i find it makes it much easier for a variety of reasons, including reducing the weight on the shoulders, better lateral balance, 'three point' hitch like security between the yoke at the back and the tump on the front and a better balance of working muscles on the portages...
but there are some tricks; always keep a hand on the tump, so that if things go south it pops off your head and not around your neck -- and move the weight off of it when going down steep descents...the canoe will want to come forward and slack the tump and slip down the front...never a good thing, and something you don't want to worry about when you're picking every foot-fall down a steep stoney trail
most of the W/C canoes i've seen with tumps have the tump around the thwart and then along the gunnels unlike the illustration above -- this moves some of the strain to the frame of the canoe and not just the bolts holding the thwart on. this is how i have my prospector and chum rigged -- tho both have deep-dish ash yokes as well. (i stole this set-up from an algonquin outfitters canoe that i rented back when AO rented beater wooden boats and leather tump-lines. swifty sold me my first leather canoe tump, right off the boat) my 'glass prospector has brackets on the bottom of the yoke where the mounting bolts are for the synthetic tump and that works great too...a little easier to adjust than the leather-knotted way -- but the yoke and the bolts take all of the load...so far so good
if i had kevlar, i'd tump that too...but i don't need kevlar -yet- i have a tump...
i also find 'em handy for outboards, coolers, lumber, prospector tents, fuel cans, and other large things that don't always pack so well...tho i also use a freighter frame for some of this stuff...tho generally not on a canoe trip
i find i prefer them to hip-belts, tho i'm suspicious it's because most hip belts are for shorter torsos...
i like having at least one around -- makes just about anything, including a pack with a blown strap, luggable almost anywhere...
Found another method of portaging with a canoe tump. One is an older illustration in Rutstrum's original Way of the Wilderness (1946) which lashes the blades with the tumpline and then extends the straps forward to lash the grips on the thwart...
A similar technique appears in the April 1930 edition of Field and Stream (Vol. 34 No. 12). The article is entitled "Carrying a Canoe" by Richard Garwood Lewis. In one of his photos, you can see the paddles rigged out in a flared manner (providing more headroom than Rutstrum's illustration) with the tumpline straps extending along the shafts to the lashed grips
The scout troop I was a leader in for years used a system using paddles very much like the pictures. Wearing a keyhole PFD for padding,this is quite comfortable. When I was younger I carried a 17' Grumman for miles this way without a tump. Arms extended to the front thwart held the canoe foreword.
I don't know what kind of canoe that is, but the center thwart is too far back for using it to carry the canoe. Using those paddles like that was probably the only way to carry it without using a detachable carry thwart. I wonder if it was built that way just for that purpose, making the thwart a little off center would place the paddles in the exact spot to carry the canoe. That to me says these folks where really set on using that system to carry the canoe, sort of practicing what they preach. Nice.
"Way of the Wilderness" is the only Calvin Rutstrum canoe book I don't have, it's always out of my league ($) when it comes up on eBay. "Challenge of the Wilderness" was another hard find by Rutstrum but I did finally find it, well worth it.
I love those old pictures, nice thread.
Ha, Thanks Canotrouge but I was looking at the canoe in the picture and I thought it looked like a Chestnut Bobs, I guess that was wishful thinking or my weird attraction to Chestnuts cause it doesn't look like a Bobs at all, it has two thwarts first off. So, I'm looking at those thwarts and that's where I came to that conclusion. I could be way off, but Thanks for the "atta boy", I'll take it...haha
Good eye, Robin. I never noticed the thwart placement untill you mentioned it. Sort of recall reading in one of the Wooden Canoe journals that by the 1930s, a lot of used livery courting canoes were being sold off as the canoeing "fad" was slowing down. Many trippers then starting using these canoes for their adventures. These boats usually had no center thwarts but had one oddly placed behind the bow seat so that the passenger could lean back on a slatted canoe rest facing the stern paddler. The other was off center towards the stern giving more useable space. This tump and paddle rig looks like a practical solution to the thwart placement.
I think one of the features of early Morris canoes was a removable center thwart to aid with carrying and these days finding a Morris with an original center thwart is pretty rare. Maybe Mihun could chime in. Here's a pic of a Morris from its wikipedia page. The angle of photo isn't the best but it seems to a have a similar thwart placement to the old photo.
I think the canoe in the picture is about 15-16' long... as such, perhaps a center thwart is 'too many'? Neither my uncle's 15' Old Town 50 Pounder nor my own 16' OT Yankee have "center" thwarts and can only be portaged with a separate, removable yoke, or by lashing the paddles on as shown. When I'm out solo with a double paddle and no spare, I use a 6' pole for the other side. Works well. Have yet to use a tumpline though. Making one out of some seat belt webbing is a winter project this year.
The canoe camps in the Temagami region have always used tumplines and carry bars for canoe portaging extensively. They also use wanigans and tumplines are pressed into service there as well. The tumplines are fashioned from high quality leather. The carry bar takes the stress off the center thwart and places it on the gunwales. If you can find someone who learned to trip at Keewaydin or one of the other Temagami area camps they can show you how to rig it. I agree it is the kind of thing that you need to rig to fit an individual and then leave in place. But they work very well and after a bit of practice they reduce the strain of portaging heavy wood canvas canoes and wanigans significantly.