BWCA Camping Equipment List

Gear used on Boundary Waters trips by author of this website

Last updated: November 26, 2021

Gear I use on trips for gathering data for this website. This gear list is mostly aimed at visiting Primitive Management Areas but is plenty good for trips to anywhere else in the BWCA too.

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Canoe Stuff

Mostly using a Wenonah Fusion right now (2020 and 2021), but have used a Mohawk Solo 13 in the past (no longer manufactured). Also have a North Star ADK, but haven't used it for trips related to the work of this BWCA website yet.

North Star ADK 12' 0" Canoe (weighs just over 15 pounds). Made of kevlar/carbon. Canoe is similar to the Mohawk (shown below) in dimensions, but much lighter because of more advanced materials (carbon/kevlar composite). Not nearly as hardy as the Mohawk though. This canoe easily handles the lakes of the BWCA (using common sense of course). This canoe would be particularly good for visiting rugged areas like primitive management areas (PMA's). It's short length makes it easier to maneuver through thick brush and trees. I use the same paddle with this canoe as I do with the Mohawk Canoe below. I don't typically use a kayak (double-bladed) paddle. You sit on the bottom of this canoe so it is harder to get in and out of, especially at difficult portage landings.

Mohawk Solo 13 Canoe (weighs 36 pounds with portage strap). Use this canoe for shorter and easier trips when fewer portages are expected. This canoe has a lot of lakes, rivers and streams under its yoke. Has dents, scratches and heavily worn surfaces splattered over the entire boat, but it keeps on going.

Wenonah Fusion Canoe 13' 0" (weighs 29 pounds). This is the canoe I now use the most. It is made of kevlar. I don't use the optional rudder attachment which would be a liability in the BWCA as it is intended for use in deep water. It is a nice combination of weight, speed and stability. You sit on a seat in this canoe, but it is lower than the Mohawk (higher than the North Star ADK). Use a single bladed bent shaft paddle to power it.

Paddle: Bending Branches Java or Bending Branches Java 11. About as light as you can go with a wooden paddle. These paddles have an 11 degree bend and are very reliable and strong.

Personal Flotation Device: I've been using this same PFD for 20 years. Don't even know who makes it since the tag is gone.

McKenzie and Fisher Maps for planned canoe route

Electronics (about 5 pounds total)

GoPro 9 Black and GoPro 10 Black cameras mounted to a hand held pole (for filming campsites and portages) or mounted to hat (for in canoe videos). Also carry a GoPro Hero 8 Black for backup.
iPhone XS Max for taking most of the pictures shown on this website
GPS: iPhone XS Max using the offline maps feature. You don't need a cellular signal to use these maps.
Anker Astro E5 15000mAh Dual USB Port Charger (can recharge an iPhone 10 XS Max about four times)
Anker 2nd Generation Astro E7 25600mAh Multi-USB Port Charger (can recharge an iPhone 10 XS Max about 7 times - also used for recharging GoPro batteries.
Batteries for the GoPro 9 Black and GoPro 10 black (use same batteries). Also a few batteries for the GoPro Hero 8 Black.
Data cables
Samsung microSD memory cards (about 512 GB of storage space)
SanDisk microSD memory cards (about 512 GB of storage space)
Deeper Fish Finder with the iPhone app. This device has no wires and sends the sonar images to the iPhone via Bluetooth - use it for finding fish and measuring lake depths. Very compact.

Containers (about 2 pounds total)

JanSport Backpack (basic kind used by school kids to carry books)
Two 8 inch by 16 inch by 8 inch, lockable, plastic, clear container to hold all electronics (they fit inside JanSport backpack)
Small, hard clear plastic lockable container that fits inside the above container (this holds batteries and microSD chips)
Collapsible fabric cooler - Use frozen bottled water to keep my grub cold and edible (stores garbage when empty) - Drink the bottled water after I no longer need them to keep food cold. The water is usually still cold too, so tastes extra good after drinking "not so cold" filtered lake water.

Clothes (about 6 pounds total)

Levi’s Jeans (jeans are good protection from sharp branches and rocks; bad if they get wet when it is cold)
T-shirt (grubbiest t-shirt I own because it is only gonna get grubbier)
Rotten New Balance trail running shoes (these shoes have seen a lot of swamps)
Athletic socks
Baseball hat - usually with some side flaps for sun protection velcroed to the sides (GoPro cameras mount on visor)
Rain poncho (kept in JanSport backpack unless I need it)
Polyester/Fleece pullover if visiting the BWCA during the colder part of the season
Nylon pants (for when jeans get soaked and it is cold out; I don't like using these because they don't hold up well bushwhacking)

Food - Day Trip List

About 11 pounds total -- Diet Pepsi/bottled water is most of the weight)
Couple sandwiches, candy bars, grapes, apple, cheese and crackers (nothing that needs cooking or preparation to save time)
Diet Pepsi (enough for whole day - 6 bottles; I like my Diet Pepsi)
Bottled water - 3 bottles

Food - Multi Day Trip List

I never do more than 3 day BWCA trips when gathering material for this website, because I don't have enough battery storage to go any longer) (about 15 pounds total -- half of this weight is Diet Pepsi/bottled water)
Couple sandwiches, candy bars, grapes, apple, cheese and crackers (nothing that needs cooking; enough for each day)
Diet Pepsi (2 per day because of carrying weight issues)
Sawyer Mini or a LifeStraw (screw onto empty Diet Pepsi bottles in place of cap that you fill with water from the lake -one of the best camping devices you will ever own)

Survival/Miscellaneous Gear

About 10 pounds total
Matches (in Ziploc)
Lighter (in Ziploc)
Toilet Paper (in Ziploc; it's a real drag when this gets wet)
Wrapped up Reflective Thermal Blanket
30+ SPF Sunscreen
Fishing gear (about 8 lures in tiny box)
Fishing pole (duct taped into canoe)
Duct tape (one of humankinds greatest inventions)
Bug spray (100% deet only). Use 100% deet so you only need a very tiny, lightweight bottle
Hyke & Byke 1 Person Backpacking Tent with Footprint (weighs about 3.25 pounds since I don't use the stakes or footprint)
$8 fleece blanket (very warm and light and dries easy – only on multi-day trips. I don't use a sleeping bag in the summer)
Bubble wrap (for sleeping pad; get the heavy duty kind so you don't burst your bubbles)

For a solo day trip, my total gear weight, including the Wenonah Fusion canoe is about 50 to 55 pounds.

For a three day trip, my total gear weight, including the Wenonah Fusion canoe is about 65 to 70 pounds.

PMA #1: Weeny PMA #4: Tick PMA #7: Pitfall PMA #10: Hairy
PMA #2: Canthook PMA #5: Spider PMA #8: Mugwump PMA #11: Weasel
PMA #3: Sundial PMA #6: Drag PMA #9: Humpback PMA #12: Fungus
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