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.
- 3/16″ or 1/4″ bungee cord
- A drill with a bit to match the bungee
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.
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).
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.