Introduction: How to Make a Kayak Portage Yoke

About: Retired software engineer. Like the outdoors, canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing. I’ve built 3 cedar strip canoes and 2 cedar strip kayaks and use all of them. I built 3 acoustic guitars and play all of th…
This is simple homemade portage yoke that is inexpensive and simple to construct. It works well with no slippage and is quick and easy to attach.

When I carry my kayak from my car top to the lake I can usually just rest the lip of the cockpit on my shoulder with my head inside and carry it the short distance.

Step 1: Concept

It slides onto the lip of the cockpit, trapping the lip between the yoke and the lipped spacer. It is then held in place with a bungii cord.

Step 2: List of Materials:

1 – ¾ in. plywood (6 in. X 21in.) for yoke

2 - hardwood blocks (3/4 X 1-1/4 X 8) for spacers

2 – ½ in. plywood blocks (1-3/4 X 8) for spacer lips

2 – ½ in. plywood blocks (3 X 3-1/2) for padding base

2 – blocks (3 X 3-1/2 X 2-1/2)of high density foam

2 – pieces of vinyl fabric

1 – length of bungi cord

2 – short pieces of parachute cord

16 – 1-1/4” #8 flathead screws

Step 3: Assembling the Yoke and Spacers

The dimensions are approximate. You will want to customize the yoke to best fit your kayak. The thickness of the spacer will probably vary for your kayak, but you want a fairly tight fit. I found the balance point of the kayak over the cockpit and planned for the yoke to mount just aft of that. You want to have the weight slightly biased toward your rear when you carry it. I cut the shape of the yoke from the ¾ in. plywood, making it sort of a shallow “C” shape to fit around my neck. I mounted the spacer lip blocks and spacers together with glue and screws then placed them on kayak where I wanted them positioned.

Step 4: Making the Pads

Next I glued the foam blocks to the plywood bases with contact cement and covered them entirely with vinyl fabric. The fabric was held in place with staples. The blocks are screwed to the yoke in a position such that they would rest on your shoulders.

Step 5: Finishing and Final Assembly

nce I was happy with the fit, I took everything apart and routed smooth the edges. After a little sanding I sealed all the wood with a 50/50 mix of Helmsman exterior varnish and paint thinner. Once the parts were tacky dry, I re-assembled them all and covered with 2 more coats of varnish.

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