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HomeNL-2017-04 Product C-Tug

Gear Review: C-Tug
April 2017
by John Rich
If you saw my trip report on Pumpkin Lake last month, you know that I needed a way to get my 80-lb canoe 200-yards back and forth through woods to reach the lake.  I did not want to portage it on my shoulders that far through dense woods.  This impediment started me on a search for a handy canoe trolley - a set of wheels that attach under the canoe, allowing you to pull the canoe along behind you like a wagon, letting the wheels carry most of the weight.

My internet search revealed lots of options, but many of them looked cheap and fragile, and had poor consumer reviews. The one that kept getting my attention was the C-Tug, short for canoe-tug, (tug, as in "to pull").  The C-Tug bills itself as the ultimate canoe and kayak cart. Although it's pricier than most others at about $140, it also seemed to have the best design, and best user reviews.  So I opened up my wallet and ordered one over the internet. 


Assembly was easy, at least for me, although there are some complaints about this on product reviews. The instruction sheet is a little basic. But if you have a problem with it, the company provides an online video on their web site to help out, and YouTube videos from consumers are available too. No tools are are required - it comes in just six pieces, and they all snap together by hand.

The C-Tug is made out of high grade plastic with stainless steel wheel shafts - so everything is corrosion free. It can carry up to 300 pounds, so it easily handles my 80-lb canoe, along with the gear stashed inside. Thus, only one trip from your vehicle to the water is necessary.

The tires are solid plastic, not inflatable, so there's nothing to puncture and get a flat tire. But they have rubber tread for good traction. The cotter pins which hold the tires on the axles are pinned in place so they can't fall out, get lost, and allow a wheel to fall off. But those cotter pins also unlock with a click and can be rotated outward to allow quick wheel removal for storage.

The rubber pads upon which the boat rests have good adhesion to the hull so it doesn't slide around. The only warning here is that if the wheels catch on something and you keep pulling, you might pull the boat forward over the wheels, changing the center of balance. To prevent this, you can just wrap the securing strap around a thwart on the top side to keep the wheels from slipping backwards underneath. The two halves of the hull pads pivot to match the angle of whatever hull is placed on top of it, for a full contact surface. 

Hull pads flat   Hull pads angled   Strap secured
to thwart
  Underside view

It has a little kickstand which holds the tug in the correct upright position while you place your boat on top, and then the kickstand has a knee joint that allows it to fold back underneath automagically when you start pulling your boat, so it won't jam into the ground or snap off. And you don't have to awkwardly reach way under your boat while lifting the boat up, to fold it out of the way.


The tug also disassembles easily in less than one minute, and stows small in your boat, so you can carry it with you and have it ready for the return portage to your vehicle. You can choose to leave it fully assembled, or remove the wheels, the hull pads, and even split the two halves of the frame. All the parts are very cleverly designed.

Disassembled   Stowed in boat

To install on the boat, you just set the C-Tug on the ground beside the boat, held upright by the kickstand.  Lift one end of the boat, and pivot it to place the hull on top of the C-Tug. Then secure the strap over the top of the boat. This can all be done in just a couple of minutes!

If you locate the wheels at the center of the canoe lengthwise, you can lift one end with only few pounds of force. My 80-lb canoe becomes as light as a feather. The only real strength needed at this point is the pulling force. On pavement, it rolls along effortlessly. In soft grass, the resistance increases a little, but it's still relatively easy. The only difficulty I had was in the woods, with uneven ground, sticks and logs, vines, brambles, and potholes where feral hogs have been digging. But that was still easier than trying to carry it over my head. 

Ready to mount   In the field   In transit   Watch for snags!

I'm in love with this gizmo, and it's going to become a regular piece of equipment for any of my canoe trips which involve more than a few hundred feet of portage. After I get my own boat to the water, if you're nice to me, maybe I'll let you borrow it for yours...

Web site:

The author, John Rich