Packing binocs for the BWCA

I almost always carry a pair of 6x30 WP binocs when paddling, but I have second thoughts about lugging them to the BWCA. Will I miss them if I leave them at home? I would NEVER go without in the Chesapeake Bay area (too much bird and wildlife) but what say the experienced paddlers of this region?


They are handy
for checking out campsites. If you are on the downwind side of windswept bay or lake, it’s kind of nice to check if a site is occupied or if it looks reasonably nice through the binos, before you push across the whitecaps. I’m not much of a bird guy, so I’m pretty useless to give any birding advice.

take em’
If they are not too heavy, I’d take them. They can be used to scour a shoreline for a portage (some are just around that little corner out of view from a distance ot a tre obstructs from a distance), animals along the shore, loons, moose, etc. Lots to see.

Had not considered the shoreline inspection aspect. And I have never had the opportunity to study a moose through binocs.



I have
Taken the binocs with several times and most of the time they are dead weight. Most animal sitings don’t last long enough for me to get them out of the dry bag then out of the case and find the critter and then focus. I also prefer to travel light and have decided that they just aren’t worth the weight. But thats just me. do what feels good for you and your travel style.

Other optics
I’ve taken small waterproof binocs for the same reason given already; to check for campsites and occupancy from a distance. I have found them handy for that purpose. But before you put that weight in your pack, if you’re also packing a digital camera it might substitute for binocs if it has a 10X or better zoom. The camera with a telephoto feature is very handy not only to watch the moose on the shore, but to save a visual memory of it as well.

Buy a small and lightweight set.
If they’re of good quality you’ll find the lighter they are the more you’ll use and enjoy them.

My Significant Other always brings hers, even though they are kind of heavy. She’s a bird watcher and loves to use them all the time.

The best time though was on Northern Lights Lake, which is up the Gunflint just outside the BWCA. The Brule flows through the lake. We rounded the corner and saw a couple of people on the beach at the campsite we wanted to eat lunch at. We saw a couple of people in the water, so out comes the binocs and low and behold, the two people were skinny dipping! I don’t know how close we would have paddled if we didn’t have the binocs.

take the binocs
better yet get a pair that is also a camera, thats what i take.


lightweight binoculars
A 6 X 30 is a nice set to carry into the boundary waters. I carry a 7 X 30 compact binocular that folds together to check out campsites and look for portages on occasion. A friend of mine carries a monocular to spot campsites. I perfer binoculars. Eagle Optics had some nice light binoculars at canoecopia for under $100.00. I do not carry my more expensive ones in for fear of dropping them in the water. It is nice to have one set in a group.

Mine are Eagle Optics
6x30 Rangers, waterproof & armored. They are not really “big” but also are not pocket-sized. I find the 8x glasses difficult to use in a boat, so I may just bite the bullet and carry mine.


I’m going to bring


I use a similiar item. A Mono is much smaller, not in the way around my neck for virtually the entire day (even when bping), and it works better for me then adjusting two eyeball holes on a bino). I got mine from a nature company in California (Acorn Naturalist, I think).

Bino advantages
I tried monoculars, but I prefer binos for birdwatching. And the Rangers focus to 3 feet (yes, three feet!) for looking at butterflies, wildflowers, and other smallish items.


Please don’t laugh but I carry a pair of
10x25 binocs from Bass Pro Shop. $9.99 Not fancy, waterproof or the best optics. But waaay better than my naked eyes. Very handy and light plus they fold up and fit in my pocket. And for ten bucks, if I drop them in the drink or off a cliff, no worries other than the issue of littering.

There is so much media pressure and even pressure from here to buy the right “stuff”. But, I’ve found that there is a lot of perfectly functional equipment out there that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and doesn’t have the right name attatched.

I had similar needs and weight and bulk problems.I setteled on an inexpensive($15) monocular made for golfers to check range to the “T”.It is 5 power and fixed focus so it’s easy to yse in a moving canoe.I use it almost exclsivly to ckeck for campsite signs,carry signs,routes so I don’t take thet dead end right next to the proper route,and if a campsite is occupied before I paddle all the way there after a long day!