Outfitting a Canoe

I recently bought a Mad River Legend 15. I’m happy its going to be a great boat for solo paddling on rivers with occasional use as a tandem on longer journeys. I needed to outfit the boat from scratch and thought I would share a guide to how I have done this.

Before starting it is important to decide how you are going store things whilst out on the water. For example, do you want to be able to lash things the length of the boat or are you happy to tie kit in on longer lines using thwarts and the yolk. I have gone for the second option but I have made the measurements for lacing in the airbags in such a way that I could continue the lacing the whole length of the canoe at a later date if I decide that I want to.

Another decision is whether to use rigid floatation blocks or airbags. The rigid blocks last longer but are more expensive. I have gone for airbags because the majority of my canoeing will be solo I wanted to have a larger airbag at the front to fill a lot of the sapce. When I want to paddle tandem I can let some air out of the airbag and sinch it in tighter to make more space for a second person.


I fitted end loops. In my opinion these should be fairly clost to the boat to keeps things neat and reduce the snag hazard.

I tied the inside of the end loops with an overhand knot.

I then measured out spacings so that I could drill holes for the lacing. I stuck some electrical tape along the canoe so that I could mark with a pen and used a template made out of cardboard to help with the measurements. I chose to have the holes 8cm apart and 2 cm down from the gunwhale and I used a 5mm drill bit for the holes (the same thickness as the cord). By using the same thickness drillbit as the cord it is obviously very tight to push the cord through but the finish is very neat, with no gaps.

Next, I used 5mm cord to lace the area over the airbags.

I also used some 5mm electic cord to lace the same area so that I can easily push my paddle under, or a spong etc.

The position of the D rings is important. They need to be far enough under the airbags that when everything is pulled tight the D rings are pulled along the bottom of the canoe, not up (which may cause them to rip out).

I connected the airbags to the end loops using cable ties so that the bags are secure in the boat and then finshed the lacing.

My final job was to cover the airbags in carry mat to protect them from sun damage and puncture from sharp twigs etc, and sinch them down with a roof rack stap through the D ring and end loop.

Now I just need he rivers to fill up a bit more so that I can get out and test it!