Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

BWCA first time. How to prepare?

Well, wife and I spent money on canoes. A carbon prism for me, a hornbeck classic 12 carbon for her. Our plan is to paddle local lakes and rivers this coming summer, while collecting gear to go on a BWCA trip in 2019. We need to know what has probably been asked thousands of times before,,,,

We want to figure out a novices first trip, that will let us decide if we want to do it again, deeper into the BW. Does your experience recomend buying our own equipment, or renting? I do like to own rather then rent usually,,, Ithought of using the “package” lists to guide me buying my own equipment.

What about things not on the package lists? I admit to over preparing on hobbies and trips during my life,,but i know i have to carry everything this trip.

Maps, gps, camping stuff, cooking, food, cloths, canoe repair, there is soooo much to consider. is there a good resource/list for needed items?

I am 62, she is 52. I usually do not get lost. She gets lost in our 1/4 mile driveway. Both are slightly overweight, but in reasonably decent physical shape, but not athletes. We have not camped for years. I hate junk equipment and tools. We have no wish to be cheap in our equipment but do not buy things because they are expensive, prefering function over all other things.

Comments

  • Buying some stuff makes sense.. Its possible to rent good gear but I just accumulated.
    A good lightweight stove is essential
    A sleeping bag that fits you ( yes you have to try them on) is essential
    A good sleeping pad that fits your comfort is a good investment
    Rental tents can be ok like the Timberlines. Or a disaster.
    You cant rent foodf
    Drybags are nice but if you have a backpack already you can line it with construction grade trash bags
    You asked for a BWCA resource.
    Here is a whole big forum with lots of members
    http://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.conference&confid=1

    I haven't been to the Boundary Waters in years. We tend toward Quetico but there are many novice trips available to you and the members can suggest.

  • Kayamedic, Thank for that link! Looks like lots of reading there.

  • Seems like a good first step is to go out and try it. It doesn't need to be the Boundary Waters. A local river or lake will do. With portages or without.

    Rent or buy? I favor buying. For the price of a few rentals, you can buy, and it is just more convenient to be able to pack up and go without getting to a rental place before and after. However, unless you are already avid outdoors people and know you are going to love canoe tripping, you may be smart to first rent. Once you know you both like tripping, buy. Renting also exposes you to choices of gear, of which there are many, so that when you are ready to buy you have some idea what you are looking to purchase, what features you care about,

    Portages are a big factor in gear selection. Many paddlers just say no to carrying gear and boats, and many have good reasons, like body parts that rebel when asked to portage. Paddlers who will portage get a back-packing mentality. They want the lightest gear and smallest gear set. While shopping, it makes a big difference, because the lighter stuff generally costs more. And while you may prefer a big tent and a big comfy chair, if you know you will be carrying them on your back, you may compromise and buy smaller, lighter or go without.

    Keep your eye out for sales, used gear at the thrift store and on craigslist. Sometimes you can buy stuff cheaper than you can rent.

    But, by all means, get started. Two days into a Boundary Waters Trip is no time to learn you or she really doesn't like it, you failed to bring something you need, or more likely, you overpacked and have to lug it all with you for a week.

    ~~Chip

  • Buy this book: goo.gl/J54dtG
    Buy a Garmin GPS and the Garmin BWCA map.
    Find an online BWCA map
    Access the BWCA REGISTRATION SITE: register n manipulate the site.
    Read BWCA RULES online
    Read the book then relate book info suits your trip idea onto the maps ..the garmin map is learner by itself… visit the registration site. Registration is best early in the ‘season’
    I do not have useful info on parking. Easy trips are off lodge areas. Call the lodge when ready for trip choices. Search BWCA camping.
    Relate your visit timing to: weatherunderground, Ely, Minnesota. WU has last years day/week/month weather data available in almanac or customize day.
    BUY RAIN GEAR.bug helmets cotton gloves
    Carbon canoes are limited to casual lake use. BWCA is windy afternoons. Search that
    You should search n find guide books online or at Amazon for Mn/Michigan and Wisconsin …there are state parks, national forests and shuttle guides. The areas are begging for your biz. Many would be better for you position.
    See NRS for dry bags then search google shopping. Bags need hold downs n straps. Consider a light wet suit. wear poly clothing n wool socks with booties. Campmor had rubber boots. NYT shopping has boots.
    There are Utube videos on canoe camping, packing boat.
    Search Piragis. There is camping Before Ely. Ely is delightful. You have arrived.
    A trip along Superior to the border and state park camping along the lake is highly recommended..the calm lake in summer with breeze blowing thru trees n wildflowers is as Gordon’s song has it.
    With very early reservations.
    or buy trash bags.

  • @datakoll said:

    Buy this book: goo.gl/J54dtG
    Buy a Garmin GPS and the Garmin BWCA map.
    Find an online BWCA map
    Access the BWCA REGISTRATION SITE: register n manipulate the site.
    Read BWCA RULES online
    Read the book then relate book info suits your trip idea onto the maps ..the garmin map is learner by itself… visit the registration site. Registration is best early in the ‘season’
    I do not have useful info on parking. Easy trips are off lodge areas. Call the lodge when ready for trip choices. Search BWCA camping.
    Relate your visit timing to: weatherunderground, Ely, Minnesota. WU has last years day/week/month weather data available in almanac or customize day.
    BUY RAIN GEAR.bug helmets cotton gloves
    Carbon canoes are limited to casual lake use. BWCA is windy afternoons. Search that
    You should search n find guide books online or at Amazon for Mn/Michigan and Wisconsin …there are state parks, national forests and shuttle guides. The areas are begging for your biz. Many would be better for you position.
    See NRS for dry bags then search google shopping. Bags need hold downs n straps. Consider a light wet suit. wear poly clothing n wool socks with booties. Campmor had rubber boots. NYT shopping has boots.
    There are Utube videos on canoe camping, packing boat.
    Search Piragis. There is camping Before Ely. Ely is delightful. You have arrived.
    A trip along Superior to the border and state park camping along the lake is highly recommended..the calm lake in summer with breeze blowing thru trees n wildflowers is as Gordon’s song has it.
    With very early reservations.
    or buy trash bags.

    tent with a bathtub bottom n adequate fly is necessary. BWCA people learn n practice tarping over tent. Buying this tent asks for an in store inspection with erection not a blind MO from REI.

  • edited November 2017

    @datakoll said:
    ... an in store inspection with erection ...

    << giggle >>

  • I've not visited the BWCA for many years. Too crowded for me. Your canoes are made for the BWCA. Carbon is not fragile and both are carbon Kev blends. I have no idea how many trips DK has done in a carbon fiber canoe in the area but mine is fine with many hundreds of miles in Quetico and Woodland Caribou
    Your little boats should venture in to Superior very carefully. A wetsuit there is a good idea. People do not wear them in the BWCA because of the discomfort on portages.

  • Hi Med

    I recommended a vehicle drive with camping along Superior up to the border.
    A light wetsuit is pre paddle bad weather use. I carry a semi dry suit or wear one. Good being dry.
    From my canvassing the light hull question on the ground on site, the answer begins with a wry smile pause then a coupla stories about cracked hulls ruined trip emergency wilderness rescues. My fully equipped royalex Wenonah Solo is enough to bring the subject into play.
    I do not know the referred to layup but overdoing lightness is a initial mistake factor. BWCA hulls are pictured as golden Kevlar hulls.
    I have a new Encounter http://wenonah.com/Canoes.aspx?id=129
    pictured in Classifieds with a blunted bow...not mine.
    My first composite canoe ....aluminum to royalex to Encounter.
    Honest advice on the not light layup was:
    no dragging onto beach/sandbars, no taking chances running thin drops on pool n drop waters, no running into bridge abutments. I'm carrying a wheeled cart, attach in water.

  • I am 61 and have made several trips to BWCA. Always take my own equipment except canoe. Equipment and camp routine are very enjoyable part of my trip. With over a year to plan I recommend that you research and purchase equipment. With time on your side you can find the best price then test and become proficient with the equipment. You will be confident and comfortable knowing that the equipment you choose meets your requirements. Planning and selecting equipment are an enjoyable part of passing time until the actual trip. Take a walk in the rain with your new rain gear or sleep in the yard on a rainy night in the tent you choose. Better to find out what works for you before you go. If you shop carefully you can purchase and resell equipment that you don't want or that doesn't meet your needs for little or no loss. Start your trip today one piece of gear at a time. Take care.

  • there is no reason to overthink it. We did our first BWCA trip in 73 with jeans garbage bags and a Grumman canoe. Not the brightest idea but there was not a lot of high tech gear then. Our last in 89 when we passed through hordes of paddlers on our way to Quetico.
    Spend some money on sleeping bags and tents.. the rest sort of falls in place. I will say a nice tarp (not the blue special) makes rainy days in camp tolerable
    Contrary to what our resident wit thinks. I have actually paddled two week trips on Superior in Kevlar carbon fiber boats. I am getting old and that Grumman would crush me
    I've moved past BWCA and now trip in Quetico and Woodland Caribou and Wabakimi, A light well constructed boat is a joy.. I love it when people with no experience with them proseletyze.

  • edited January 4

    Unless you have your heart set on a particular route, you may want to keep things simple, trip out of Ely, and utilize the services of an outfitter like Piragis to help with trip planning and outfitting. Piragis can also rent you any equipment you do not already have, and canoes if you wish. That company has long experience doing this sort of thing, and has long been a rental source for light weight tripping canoes. Most of the campsites on the American side (BWCAW) have tent sites that you can drive stakes into, but sometimes it is necessary to set your tent up on a rocky shelf, so a free-standing design is a good idea.

    Unless you are planning something really unusual like trying to run shallow rivers in the BWCAW, your Prism will do absolutely fine. What will kill you in the BWCAW, especially at your ages, is having to portage a lot of heavy gear several times a day. I have never owned a Hornbeck, but a Classic 12 may be a bit limited in gear carrying capacity. That might be just fine if you are willing to take the bulkier stuff in your Prism, which has more than enough capacity for BWCAW tripping.

    One recommendation I would make, which is easier to make than follow, is to try to get going early in the morning. Leisurely breakfasts are very pleasant but require washing up and kill a lot of time. Try to get packed up and out on the water as early as reasonably possible. The wind tends to come up sometime in the afternoon very often in the north woods area, and on some routes campsites might be limited. If you get going early you will find you have a much better selection of campsites. It is not pleasant to find yourself late in the afternoon or early evening with dwindling daylight searching for a place to camp. You would rather be sitting on the shore with your tent set up preparing supper or fishing while you watch those poor souls paddle by, rather than be one of them.

    I would also advise that you both take and carry a whistle. It is amazingly easy to get lost in the woods. Walk off the portage trail to pee, get turned around, and all the trees look the same. If that sort of thing happens, stay put and blow your whistle and your partner can guide you back in the right direction by blowing theirs.

  • I have spent many nights outside in varying terrain and conditions. Comfort in fair conditions takes less preperasion than in harsh conditions. By preparing for the wort and hoping for the best I have the best success of an enjoyable trip. I recommend you take a good tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. Half of your time may be spent sleeping and comfort sleeping is a priority for me. I have used bivvy bags, tarps, hammocks, and tents. I prefer the tent because it insulates best from dirt, insects, and weather and provides the most comfortable environment in harsh conditions.

  • Hello Wick,
    I have done many trips to the BW, Quetico, Woodland Caribou, being from CT the Adirondacks offer me the easiest access to this style of paddling passion. A book and corresponding maps that offers a lot of good advice is Dan Pauley's, "Exploring The Boundary Waters" it calls itself a trip planner and guide to the BWCAW. It abounds with a lot of practical solid info about the BW. The corresponding Voyageur maps are well done. As are Fisher and McKenzie maps, it really comes down to personal preference on the maps. GPS is nice, particularly if you enjoy electronics and are use to how they function, but really unnecessary in the BW, but maps are needed.
    The best on-line site is BWCA.com, but I see someone has already made you aware of that great site.
    I, when I solo paddle, paddle a Hornbeck,"New Tricks",. which has preformed very well in all the areas mentioned above.
    Enjoy your research, keeps us pulling at the bit. If any questions fire away.
    Poppa

Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!