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More Short Push Poles

Joined
Jul 6, 2021
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The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
I gave it a shot going upstream through a stretch of shallows, including ascending, or at least attempting to ascend, one rocky riffle.

The push poles seemed to be a good length, but a couple things were quickly apparent. Macfarlane’s Lutra or Sylva are 30” wide at gunwales and the soloized Explorer is considerably beamier. Even with arms held wide I needed to plant the push poles angled further out /O\ than close to the hull nearer vertical, and was unable to put much upper body into it; like arm paddling a canoe it was quickly tiring.

Kneeling vs seated made little difference, other than to make my knees hurt when kneeling and having a little better pole angle when seated with more elevation.

No doubt my lack of technique was a factor, but I don’t think it works very well with a wider canoe. YMMV, I was spent after struggling for 50 yards upstream, mostly in slow moving shallows.

I’ll continue to bring a single short push pole on every trip, for the occasional shallows push off, hiking staff, spare tarp pole and tee-grip grabber assist, but in that simplified guise will most often bring one of the longer 5’ push poles, which makes a better hiking staff or auxiliary tarp pole.

FWIW I did use softwood dowels for a couple of the shortie poles; in limited use it made no difference. For a single multi-use 5’ pole hardwood may have advantages.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2015
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Guelph, Ontario, Canada
So I follow all things poling, cuz that is what I do. I see the benefit of these short poles if you have a specific reason that you don't/can't stand in your canoe (physical challenge or a VERY narrow solo boat). Any compromise is a bonus if the only other option is not being able to perform the required task... like pushing up a current.
You are always going to have a problem if you can't get your push reasonably parallel to your boat, which means a bit of "J-lean" upper body rotation towards one side or the other. If you are using two poles, you might have to get a bunch of weight forward, so that you can move farther astern where the boat is tapering more dramatically. I hope this works out for you.
If on the other hand you don't have these challenges, then standing with a long pole is so powerful and relatively easy that you should just try this first. Short poles have been use by some, BECAUSE they have a specific challenge with the standing long poling technique. It really is not even a far second option. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!
 
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