Recreational Barrel Works is a Canadian-based company that produces canoe tripping barrels, barrel harnesses, canoe packs and accessories. This season they have a few new products available, including a barrel tump for your pack or barrel.

Canoe trippers either love or hate using a tump. I wouldn’t portage without one. A tump strap can help spread the stress of the load and allow you to use your stronger neck muscles rather than your lower back. It also reliefs pressure on your shoulders. A tump really comes in handy when ascending a hill.

Recreational Barrel Works' tump is removable, so you can pack it or leave it at home if you want to. It also has a very unique design—which I think is a huge bonus—that allows for the tump line to be adjusted while you are wearing it to get the right length for comfort while carrying your portage load. Simply pull the straps forward to tighten the barrel closer to you and create less sag, or release the straps to lessen the strain on your forehead.



Canoe trippers that hate the tump just aren’t using it properly. You need to adjust it properly so it doesn’t place strain on your neck or forehead. Everyone’s body is different, so make sure you adjust it exactly for you. Shortening up or lengthening the tump strap, even slightly, can make a BIG difference in comfort. It’s also crucial where you place the tump on your forehead. It must go slightly above your forehead, not directly on it. Basically, if your head is being jerked back on every step, you’ve placed it wrong. It should pull straight down from the top of your head.

Posture while portaging with a tump is important as well. Focus on what is around three meters ahead of you. Don’t be gawking up and watching birds flutter from the treetops.

Tump Canoeing AdventureKevin Callan

The “pull” is straight down from the top of your head through your neck. The best way to achieve the correct posture as you walk is to focus on a spot that's about 10 feet in front of you. If you feel the tump pulling your head back, the strap is either too tight or your eyes are focused too far away.

Try adding a good hip belt and shoulder straps. Having all three will make the portage less painful. Of course, you’ll still feel some discomfort. Heck, it’s a portage after all.