Canoe Outfitting

Since you only do outfitting every 5 or 10 years, I’m going to summarize what I learned and what information was given to me, so I don’t forget.

Anchor Pad or D-Ring

Anchor Pad or D-Ring

This page is really about outfitting a whitewater boat, but there are reasons why you might want to outfit a flat water boat.  First off “outfitting” is putting in D-Rings or an anchor pad on the bottom or the side of the canoe which you clip things to.  This is nice place to clip water bottles.   And if you want to go canoe camping, then you might want to have D-Rings on the bottom and side to tie your gear in.  Also it is recommended to have air bags in your boat, so you need D-rings on the bottom to keep those air bags in your canoe.  Also putting in minicell foam to make a seat in the boat.

Removing Weldwood Contact Cement

The solvents to remove old Weldwood (contact cement) : Xylol, and rubber cement thinner.

Removing Vynabond

My selection of solvents.

My selection of solvents.

2016 Update:  I needed to remove the old Vynabond from the bottom of my ABS Royalex® Canoe.  I got out my array of solvents which included: alcohol, Goo Gone, Goof Off, Nail Polish Remover (non-acetone), and Xylol (Xylene).  You have to be careful about using too much and dissolving the boat.  I used Goof Off mostly but in the end I used some Xylol.  You have to keep it to small amounts or you can ruin the boat.  The Goo Gone  (citrus based) did not work at all.  The alcohol, I used every time I put on the more toxic solvents to clear out the Xylol or Goof Off.  The non-acetone nail polish remover worked a little. I need to get the regular acetone, which is what I thought I had until I read the label carefully.

D-Ring Installation

I got much of this information from Jim Norton, whom I have never met, but whitewater canoeists are the nicest people and are always happy to help out a fellow paddler.  Years ago, I posted on my canoe club forum and then we emailed back and forth as I worked on outfitting my solo whitewater canoe.


Hull – the inside of the canoe
Vyna Bond – special glue, available at paddling stores, marine stores, and maybe hardware stores.  It is not usually available online because they don’t want to ship this toxic stuff. (2016 update).  This is getting harder to find.  Check Blue Mountain Outfitters and Appomattox River Company, call and they may have it.  If they don’t have it they know what the replacement is and will sell you that. These places sell a lot that they don’t post on-line, so CALL.
anchor pad – see picture above (has D-Ring on it)
minicell foam – is a gray closed cell foam for outfitting canoes and kayaks

Here is how to get your D-Ring to stay in place when you put it on: (Information from Canoeist Jim Norton).  All of this information is for gluing to the bottom of an ABS Royalex®  canoe.  (Here is a link to using VynaBond – – added 2016)

Vynabond is no longer available in 2016 and I have used all my stash.  So according to a paddler (name unknown) the new adhesive to use is G-Flex by West System.  This is a flexible epoxy.  This stuff is pretty expensive (like $25 for the size I used to pay $5, so next time I put on a d-ring I’m going to buy another brand of flexible epoxy if it is available and see if it works.  Epoxy is two part and I think the key is flexible, since the hull is flexible. 

  1. When bonding the anchor pads, first find out exactly where you want them and draw around the pad with a pencil on the canoe hull. Then sand this area with 80 grit sandpaper and don’t be nice to it.
  2. Also sand the vinyl pad of the anchor with 80 grit being careful not to sand on the stitching.
  3. Clean the sanded areas with alcohol or prep solvent and let dry.
  4. Then coat the hull and the pad with Vyna bond (brand glue). Be careful to use just enough on the hull ( I use bare fingers to spread it. It can’t be good for me but I’m not doing it every day). If it gets too thick it will burn in and damage the hull, potentially severely (soft spot).  — Jim recommends using bare hands, I don’t recommend that, I recommend buying hard core rubber gloves at Home Depot, which will not disintegrate in the glue.  Or if you use just Playtex rubber gloves, do it fast, because they will melt with the adhesive.
  5. Let the Vyna Bond dry. Then put a light second coat on the pad, let it tack up and then stick.
  6. As with contact cement you have to get it right the first try because it sticks instantly. Try to stick the pad at the center and roll outward, rubbing it down hard with your fingers as you go to prevent trapping air bubbles and to get a good bond.

River Ken’s Guide to Outfitting a Whitewater Canoe (Part 1) is another more detailed resource I found.  It links to a PDF from the website, which is a website especially for boaters who paddle closed canoes or (C-1 or C-2).  Closed canoes look much like whitewater kayaks, except the seat is different (they kneel) and they use a canoe (single bladed paddle). C-1 refers to a boat for one person. C-2 refers to a tandem closed canoe.

Minicell Foam

Outfitting a seat with minicel foam.  The glue to use for gluing minicell foam to the hull (of an ABS Royalex ® canoe) and between layers of minicell foam is Weldwood-Red.  You can buy this at Home Depot.  There are two colors of Weldwood, you want the RED Weldwood. Follow the directions on the can of Weldwood. It is a contact cement, so you put the glue on both sides and let dry until tacky.  Don’t use the Weldwood you have kept in your basement for the last 7 years.  Buy new stuff, it goes out of date.

For our regular tandem boat we bought outfitting from Mike Yee Outfitting and put it in ourselves. On my solo whitewater canoe, I got the boat fourth hand and the outfitting finally failed and I had to build a seat from scratch with minicell foam and install new anchors.

Thigh Braces:  We have thigh braces in one canoe (for whitewater).  The size of anchor for thigh braces needs to be bigger than for water bottles.  Brad at Springriver (who has since retired and sold his store)  thought I needed a bigger anchor than he sold (4.5″ round) and the only place I found it online was with Mike Yee. Sort of a lot of trouble to order from Canada for one anchor.  I think 6″ round or bigger are needed for thigh braces.

Sources for Materials:

Mike Yee Outfitting
NRS (minicell foam)
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Sweet Composites (this is local)
Rutabaga Paddlesports (found this on the internet just asking the right questions)
Wenonah Canoe – source for floatation bags at a good price. They were pretty cheap, but turned out not to be exactly what I wanted, but I kept them as it is for guest boat.
Blue Mountain Outfitters call them up and tell them what you need. I emailed a picture of some stuff I needed and they mailed it right to me.
Appomattox River Company – call them up.

Professional Canoe Outfitting

Blue Mountain Outfitters does canoe outfitting.  You just have to drive your canoe to Harrisburg, PA. There are probably local people who will do it for you, but since I always do my own outfitting, I don’t know who they are anymore.  If I find some people, I will post it here.

Ropes on the ends of your canoe.  It is nice to have ropes attached to the ends of your canoe (called painters) for tying it up and also can be used to tie it onto your car when transporting.  American Whitewater says you need 8-10 feet.  We have about a 15 foot rope for our painters.  I would choose the length by how long you need to tie it onto your car, since you can always use it for that.  I tie the rope on with a bowline knot.

Airbags for your Canoe

This is an awesome YouTube video on canoe floatation.