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We sell skin-on-frame construction double paddle pack canoes, books, plans for canoes, rowing craft, and kayaks, parts, and partial kits.

Russell Boats specializes in double paddle pack canoes, which we paddle in waters from the New England coast west to the Boundary Waters on Minnesota. As we learn first-hand about how these canoes handle in different conditions, we improve our designs and continually experiment with different woods and skins

What are Double Paddle Pack Canoes?

For the last forty years, the popularity of double paddle pack canoes has spread from New York’s Adirondack region throughout the USA and Canada. Canoers today are beginning to recognize that the craft’s low seat lowers the paddler’s body and thus decreases wind resistance. As well, the low seat and double-bladed paddle add stability and superior handling, especially in wind and rough water. Kayakers, on the other hand, appreciate an open boat for its comfort, ease of loading, lightness, and portability. Our boats, for instance, weigh between 18 and 32 pounds.  In effect, they combine the best features of canoes and kayaks.  

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Who We are and How We Got Here

Hilary Russell, the designer/builder at RUSSELL BOATS, was formerly the primary instructor at the BERKSHIRE BOAT BUILDING SCHOOL. Although he does not lead classes these days, he assists other builders, sells his handmade boats, consults, and continues to carry plans, parts, and books in our on-line store. You can see his latest designs on the “What’s New” page.

Hilary’s love of skin-on-frame boats has led him west and east. In Washington state and British Columbia he learned about the great kayaks and Umiaks built there. Later in Ireland and Wales he studied coracles and currachs. And in England he met Simon and Ann Cooper who grow, process, weave and then use the fabric to skin their boats. Watch Simon’s bike/canoe inspiring journey from Edinburgh to Exmouth video at

All of these experiences, plus the influence of the late Platt Monfort’s geodesic boats, layered over a with a love of cedar/canvas canoes and the native craft displayed in Adney and Chapelle’s The Bark Canoes and Skinboats of North America are reflected in today’s Russell Boats.

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