BWCA - tent recommendation

Hiya - I’m hitting the BWCA next week and need a hand on tent selection. I own two tents: one is an ultralight TarpTent, the other is a standalone Kelty. I prefer the TarpTent because it’s lighter, but it needs to be staked down in order to stand. The Kelty is your more common tent that can stand on its own because of poles.

When I look at pics of the BWCA, it looks like a lot of the campsites are on massive slabs of rock. So I’m wondering: is there much soil for staking down? If not, then I’ll have to take the standalone I think


I haven’t paddled the BWCA in 30 years but I don’t think the tent sites have changed much. I remember them to be a mix: some composed of solid rock while others consisting of soil.
I suggest you take your Kelty as there is a good chance you’ll need a free standing tent at some of the campsites.

Got it - thx for confirming

Large rocks work well for staking down tents and tarps. On the rocky shores of Georgian Bay where I do much of my paddling, dirt is a rare thing indeed. Where it does exist, it’s very shallow or shallow and rocky.

Large trees are also rare, so hammocks are out of the question unless you want to tramp inland through the dense bug infested bush.

I stopped carrying tent pegs years ago. Each of my tents has about 2-3 ft of cord on every attachment point, with a sliding loop to act as a noose over rocks. I use two rocks per tie-out. A smaller one gets snugged in the sliding loop, and a larger (massive if it’s going to be really windy) goes on top of the cord using the other rock as a sort of stopper.

Thanks Sparky - that’s helpful. I’ve done rock tie downs in the past with my freestanding tent. That doesn’t really work well with the TarpTent though because it requires relatively precise tie down locations with pretty beefy support. So that can end up being a needle in a haystack to find the right configuration of boulders lol. I’m also bringing hammocks, but those are for lounging, so if there’s not a good hang spot, I’m not stressed.

Minn can have some serious rain storms. Bring your tent.
Insects are a problem. You need mosquito netting. Bring your tent.