Build It YourselfCanoesEquipmentTechniqueTutorial

Outfitting Your Canoe’s Thwarts

As a canoeist, I’m always looking for a place to stash a map, water bottle, or my compass. On days with scattered showers, I want a place to store my rain jacket that I can quickly get to it. In the past, I’ve just stored stuff in the bilge of the canoe, which isn’t ideal–items get soaked or roll around. Years ago, I decided to make my canoes more like my kayaks by adding bungee cords.

In a kayak, bungee cords crisscross the deck in front of the paddler. It’s easy to stash maps, bottles, and miscellaneous gear under the bungee cords, and it’s easy to get to that gear when needed. A map stored there allows you to watch the terrain as you travel. To duplicate the functionality of a kayak’s deck lines, I decided to outfit my canoe’s thwarts with bungee cord. Outfitting your canoe’s thwarts is an easy project.

You’ll need:

Step One: Drill a hole through each end of the thwart. Center it on the thwart and drill about 3/4″ away from the canoe’s gunwale.

Step Two: Set your map case on the thwart situated about 1/2″ away from one of the holes. On the opposite side and about 1/2″ away from the map case’s edge, drill another hole.

Step Three: Run a bungee between the two holes and over the map case. Secure each end of the bungee cord with an overhand knot on the underside of the thwart.

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Step Four: Decide what else you want to carry on your thwart and drill corresponding holes for more bungee. I like to mount my compass to my thwarts (see the picture).

Step Five: If you want to carry a water bottle, tie a loop of bungee around the thwart. Size it so that it securely holds the bottle to your thwart (see the picture).

Additional Ideas

On a solo canoe, I like to run a bungee completely across the rear thwart. A longer bungee makes a great place to store my coat.

On the portage, running a paddle’s blade under the seat and the grip under the bungee keeps the paddle secure until you reach the other side.


  • Good morning, Im prodominatly a sea kayaker now and outfit meny boats for others .
    Hear in Australia we have found an end clip for Bungge, ther caled olive cleats I cary a cupal of foot long bungge straps for all sorts of diferant things , and also incorporat them into deck straps as a tentioning thing , as soon as I lern how il post a photo of what I mean.

  • Hi Bryan,
    I have my canoe similarly set up with bungees in the thwarts and in the yoke. I also have wood dowel drilled with a hole lenghtwise and slipped on to the bungees in some spots to better allow my paddle blades to slip under the bungees. That allows me quick stowage of the paddles when I want to switch. You’ve probably seen it before, but Mike McCrea has a great photo album at showing some good outfitting ideas.

  • @Mick – Email me the photo and I’ll see if I can’t put it online.

    Hey, Bryan. Great to see you posting here. The wood dowel sounds like a great idea. Seems a little like Greenland-style decklines. I hadn’t seen Mike’s pictures before. Similar idea to what I do, except I size mine for a map case.

  • Are ther anuf Bryans on this site or shold I change my name to Bryan ?

  • @Mick – ;)

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