About Us

bill ostrom canoe tripping portage packs

Avid Canoe Trippers

We know all about knarly portages! Our canoe trips have taken us through Quetico/Boundary Waters, Wabakimi, Woodland Caribou, and the Yukon.

That’s why, since 1987, we’ve been on a mission to ease the pain of portaging with superbly designed canoe packs. There is nothing more amazing than paddling into remote areas.


30 Years of Design Expertise

Bill Ostrom is the designer in the family. He was the first to design:

  • an internal frame canoe pack/portage pack using backpack technology,
  • the first custom-fit canoe pack, and
  • the first canoe barrel harness that didn’t dig into your spine.
ostrom backpack custom design prototyping canoe portage pack


ostrom canadian military rucksack designer


Our design and fitting expertise comes from having been the lead designer for the Canadian Military rucksack.

Bill worked with an ergonomics firm, Queen's University, DRDC (Defence Research & Development Canada) and 100s of soldiers.

Lessons learned around fit and construction were incorporated into our frame, hip belt, and shoulder strap designs.


Custom Fit

Our biggest pet peeve is when a canoe pack or barrel harness is “One Size Fits All.”

In reality, that “one size” is a misfit for a significant part of the population.

And it affects your ability to carry a load comfortably and safely.

That's why all our canoe/portage packs and barrel harness can be custom fit to you.

ostrom canoe portage pack custom fit


ostrom thunder bay canoe packs barrel harness

Thunder Bay, Ontario Roots

Up until 2013 we designed and manufactured our packs in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Sadly, we needed to close the manufacturing part of our business due to rising costs. Honestly, it was the hardest decision we’ve ever made.


Prototyping & Design

The good news is that Bill kept designing, bringing other people’s dreams to market.

This is Louise from Advanced Freedom.

Bill designed the prototypes and helped her bring the Handipac to market.

It’s the first-ever front-facing wheelchair bag.

ostrom custom design prototyping backpack handipac



New Solutions

Through this work, we found a manufacturer in China we can trust.

We've worked with them for 5 years and they stand behind their work exactly as we do.

From our perspective, they consistently manufacture to our specifications and communicate well. So far, they have exceeded my expectations.

So we decided to refresh our own designs based on customer feedback and bring them back.

They are more comfortable than ever with some industry-leading changes!

  • Adjustable torso sizing.
  • Custom fit for traditional frameless canoe packs.
  • Voyageur Canoe Barrel Harness Load Shifter - an adjustment to fit tall people.
  • Ability to convert the barrel harness to a pack board.

Many people have reached out to us, and we’re so glad to be back in the market. Thank you for all your support.

So...where will your next canoe trip adventure take you? Don’t let the portages wear you down.

See you out on trip!

Bill & Anne Ostrom


ostrom canoe portage pack barrel harness woodland caribou park