I have come into possession of two standard 30 litre food barrels, but no method of carrying them while portaging. I have heard of people carrying two of these at a time, possibly using an external backpack frame. However, I can't find any products that do this or just pictures of something I could rig up.

30 Litre Food Barrel

The 30L barrels are 20 inches tall and about 12 inches in diameter. Here is more information about 'canoe/food barrels' for those unfamiliar. Note that the usual barrels, like those pictured in that article, are 60L, whereas I now have two 30L ones.

If anybody has done or seen this, I would appreciate advice on the kind of pack or frame used.

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    Hi mb7744, welcome to The Great Outdoors! Thank you for your first, interesting question. I have to commit that I don´t have a clue how these barrels look like, a picture would be very helpful. Otherwise, feel free to check out the help-center, our meta-site or the chat if you have questions about using stackexchange. Jun 20, 2014 at 20:49
  • Can you provide the dimensions of the barrels? They might fit into a Duluth... Jun 21, 2014 at 12:45
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    @mb7744 is this what you're after? mec.ca/product/5037-079/level-six-universal-barrel-harness/…
    – AM_Hawk
    Jun 21, 2014 at 18:20
  • AM_Hawk: Unfortunately that is a harness designed to carry one 60L barrel or one 30L barrel. What I am looking for is some way of carrying two 30L barrels at once.
    – mb7744
    Jun 23, 2014 at 2:53
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    Hi mb7744! I just want to let you know that your first link to a picture of a barrel is dead, at least in my browser. Might you want to put something else there instead? Actually, it would be even better if you'd put a picture or two right into your question! Thanks! Jan 16, 2018 at 2:13

2 Answers 2


I would recommend a soft open frameless pack, like a Duluth, which is made of canvas. We can fit three food barrels into our Duluth, but they are olive barrels (watertight) not the standard blue ones. I looked at the 115 L dry bags on the MEC site and it looks like your barrel might just squeeze into one, though paying for a drybag and then putting something rigid and waterproof in it doesn't seem like a great plan to me.

Here are our two bags surrounded by some other stuff for scale: two olive green backpacks surrounded by camping equipment

And here is one alone with the outlines of the barrel ends clearly visible: side view of an olive green backpack

I prefer soft frameless bags because frames get caught up in canoes and generally tick me off if I need to climb over them. Especially when you have passengers (my children first went in a canoe at 6 weeks, and my oldest tripped at 11.5 months) a nice soft Duluth to lean back on is essential in-boat furniture. Frames are helpful if you're going to carry 20-40 pounds all day. They don't help much if you're going to carry 90 pounds 700m up and down a hill, and they get in the way all the rest of the time, so I stick with my 30+ year old canvas and leather - they've outlasted all my other camping equipment, btw.

We put our three narrow barrels into the bag sideways, with the mouths always at the same end. If you have two, you could consider putting them in upright which might make it easier to access food without taking the barrels out of the bag.

  • Hi Kate, I know it's a bit late, but can you provide a pic of a Duluth? (or a link?) Because google search gave me Duluth, Minnesota. :) Mar 29, 2018 at 11:29
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    @Ricketyship done Mar 29, 2018 at 12:07
  • As of 2021 the link is broken and I can't see one at duluthpack.com/collections/canoe-packs that looks perfect. A simple pack like that should be quite easy to make though; you could even start with a cheap trekking pack and remake the actual bag part
    – Chris H
    Jul 20, 2021 at 15:13
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    Those look right to me. Empty they look kind of like envelope but full they are more 3d. Ours is probably the 84L two-strap one on that page. Jul 20, 2021 at 16:08
  • OK, having never handled one the proportions of the 84l didn't look right for the OP's barrels
    – Chris H
    Jul 21, 2021 at 7:41

Find an old aluminum external frame pack.

Remove the bag and discard.

Lay the barrels crossways on the frame.

Cut wedges that match the curve of the barrel.

Fasten the wedges to the frame. (There is a certain amount of cut and try to this, depending on the frame)

Now you have a frame that you can quickly lash two barrels to. A variation on a diamond hitch works well for the lashing.

That said: I prefer using a 70 litre sealine. It has straps already, and full of food weighs close to a hundred pounds.

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