Review: Level Six’s Algonquin Portage Pack

A few summers ago, I decided it was time to own my own canoe pack (before I became a complete convert to those ubiquitous blue barrels). As I was placing an order with MEC anyway, I opted for the one pack that looked easy enough to portage with a canoe over my head (i.e. a pack that would be wider than taller).

The Algonquin Portage Pack has earned the nickname Sponge Bob Square Pants behind the scenes here at The Quiet Guiding Co.:

Algonquin Portage Pack
I’m in front of the pack there somewhere.

Features & Benefits:

First the specs: the Algonquin Pack itself weighs 1.8kg (4lbs). The main body is composed of a heavy-duty 840-denier and is water resistant (i.e. NOT a dry bag, so pack accordingly). Practically square, it stands 65cm tall, 66cm wide, and is 25cm deep (26″ X 26″ X 10″). Ninety-six liters give you plenty of room to pack the kitchen sink. And who doesn’t love the kitchen sink on a canoe trip. The air mesh padded shoulder harness and back panel are so comfortable. There are plenty of spots to easily grab onto and lift the pack out of the canoe or lower it in.

Algonquin Portage Pack
Credit: Sue Kirkpatrick

Problems & Solutions:

I may have ended up with a faulty hip belt in my pack. I can’t get it to cinch. It’s a fix I can make myself though with a sewing machine.

As with many portage packs, the Algonquin is only intended to be water resistant not waterproof so be sure to pack accordingly. I tend to line my important dry sacks with garbage bags for items like my sleeping bag. Clothes get packed without the double waterproofing in their own dry sacks.

The shoulder harness isn’t adjustable. I have a long torso so the pack fit me well, but if you’re built like an average female you may find this omission frustrating.

barrel vs portage pack

Who Should Buy The Level Six Algonquin Portage Pack:

Anyone who isn’t still mourning the end of Ostrom and / or can manage a pack without an internal frame. At C$189 this is a reasonably priced pack. MEC has a 70L dry pack for $169 and a 115L dry pack for $189. You can find similar packs for a range of prices at Eureka, Canadian Outdoor Equipment (Frost River packs), or SealLine to name a few.

Want to come canoeing and portaging with us? Check out our trips here.