Recently, I had the great opportunity to head out with my canoe buddy Andy Baxter (who happens to be the owner of Recreational Barrel Works) and help him field test some upgrades and new additions to his Expedition Barrel Harness system, Minimalist Harness system and a brand-new Extra Long External Pouch. 


The Expedition Barrel Harness

Recreational Barrel WorkRecreational Barrel Works

This is already a rugged, comfortable and highly adjustable set up—complete with lots of grab handles. I really like the strap across the top of the barrel lid to secure your load. It gives you a great place to store your rain jacket or PFD while hauling across the portage.

There are some great additions this season. First off, Andy’s placed additional connection points so it can easily adjust to carry a 60L, 30L and a 20L barrel, and whatever else you can think of (we experimented with a propane tank). Amazing. One harness that fits all three barrel sizes, and one that’s easily adjustable.

I also really like the longer back pad, so it fits the full length of the 60L barrel, and the new fold-down to fit the 30L nice and snug.

Recreational Barrel WorksRecreational Barrel Works

The harness itself is even more cozy to strap on, with new moveable buckle and attachment points for the shoulder strap adjusters (great for taller people). It also has a bigger hip belt with new “Easy-Snug” buckles for one-handed operation. And the (optional) tump-line has new attachment points to make it easier for those who love using a tump—and who doesn’t love using a tump.

The harness is made of 1000 Denier Nylon and weighs 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds). The price is $134.95.


The Minimalist Barrel Harness

Recreational Barrel WorksRecreational Barrel Works

There’s also an addition to the minimalist harness. This harness is designed for when you just need to carry your barrel from the canoe to the campsite and back. No shoulder straps are necessary. Or, when you’re portaging with a pack or barrel with shoulder straps, and you want to flip a second barrel up on top. Andy still has the same all-around webbing for adjustments, but the lower and upper straps are a bright yellow now, rather than black. This makes them easier to find and grab hold of. They’re also extra-long now, making it easier to hoist the barrel up and place it on top of the shouldered barrel or pack.

This harness weighs in at 300 grams (10.6 ounces) and costs $39.95.



Extra Large External Pouch

Recreational Barrel WorksRecreational Barrel Works

Recreational Barrel Works has stepped up their traditional tubular side pouch that attaches to the outside of your 60L barrel. They still sell their medium size (volume: 6.15 Litres) but it now comes in a colossal (20.25 Litres) with a full length of 71.12 centimetres, compared to the other model’s 43 centimetres. Wow!

This is great to store your axe, saw, camp chair, fishing rod holder, tent poles… anything that can’t fit perfectly in your barrel. It still has quick and easy release buckles to attach it to the side of barrel, and it comes with a draw string flap and an elongated buckle strap (that folds up smaller if needed by way of a Velcro strap).

…and it also fits to the side of a canoe pack as well. The price is $39.95.

Check out the video reviews on my KCHappyCamper YouTube channel: