Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places
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#1 Posted : Sunday, June 10, 2018 10:21:05 PM(UTC)

I have been a lurker for some time so it is time I say hello. I am going to the BWCA for my first trip ever On June 19th. A friend and I will be leaving out of the Fall Lake EP and staying from Tuesday to Saturday. He has also never been up before so it should be an adventure as we are both inexperienced paddlers. Though different we both have experience camping and roughing it. We are looking to move camp twice and try our hand fishing Basswood. Nothing too wild just get a taste of what it is all about. I am a bit nervous about the lake size but we plan on early starts and know to hug the shoreline if things get dicey. I picked up a CCS Food Pack at a swap and I am hoping that and one other pack will get us by to lighten our load. I will post a pack list when I get more organized. Is there anything that you wouldn't leave home without, other than map and compass and things like that? 

#2 Posted : Monday, June 11, 2018 5:50:16 AM(UTC)

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Toilet paper.

And don't go with too much gear - the biggest mistake all first timers make.

I went first time with no canoe experience and have been back once or twice a year since then - 2002 iirc - so enjoy.

In June, bug dope also required.
#3 Posted : Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:51:14 AM(UTC)

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I'll just share my packing list. We've usually gone for long weekends - 3-4 days, so keep that in mind. We also eat pretty simply, a lot of freeze-dried/just-add-water options. Your needs may be different, but at least this will give you an example list.

For my part, I love having a gravity water filter so that we always have fresh water "on tap". I still have a hand-pump for use while we are out and about in the canoe.

Have fun!

thanks 1 user thanked eagle98mn for this useful post.
AmateurHour on 6/14/2018(UTC)
#4 Posted : Thursday, June 14, 2018 10:27:14 AM(UTC)

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eagle98mn's list is almost identical to mine. The items that I absolutely wouldn't leave home without on my trips have been CCS aerial tarp, EmberLit stove (since I'm cheap and also hate hauling more than a backup amount of gas), collapsible chairs, and gravity filter. Also recommend a plastic bottle or two of your favorite hooch; my favorites are a plastic flask of apple brandy (Yahara Bay is particularly good IMO) and red wine from a place that sells it in plastic (discovered Naked's Outdoor Vino last year).
#5 Posted : Thursday, June 14, 2018 1:31:08 PM(UTC)

Thanks for the tips the list looks very similar to mine. We are each also bringing a small vacuum packed ditch kit as well. I have gloves but they are heavier leather for grabbing firewood and handling hot things, might have to get a pair of lighter weight ones. We are bringing an Irwin saw but debated on bringing a small ax/hatchet. Would we need both? I think we will be able to get all food and kitchen stuff in the food pack and everything else should fit in a portage pack. I haven't seen how large these are but for two 13L clothes bags sleeping bags (uncompressed) and sleeping pads I think we will be close. Fishing gear...I trying to keep from towing a second canoe for that. I have it down to three 3700 boxes for both of us. The last must have is a compass, not much to choose from here in Iowa and I don't want to trust a $5 Coleman. Thanks again for all the insight. I plan on trying to wear out my camera and get some more campsite photos up, especially if the fishing is poor. Happy travels!
#6 Posted : Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:27:03 PM(UTC)

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I could offer my own gear list but it would be redundant. What has worked well for me is having a weight limit. Going solo, I originally started off with about 90 lbs of gear in addition to the boat. I've pared that down to 80 lbs. I got a good scale and weigh my packs before leaving - or weigh all the stuff that will go into them - and if I'm over 85 lbs I start removing stuff. After 8 solo BWCA trips I don't really need to do that any more.

Going tandem, I've found that 130-140 lbs of gear - in addition to the boat - works well for starters. (In both cases the pack weight decreases by about 2 lbs/person/day due to food consumption.) Over 140 and stuff gets jettisoned. After 7 tandem BWCA trips the gear load is probably down below 140 lbs.

If you use this method, don't forget the weight of the packs.

And please report back on how your trip went!

#7 Posted : Sunday, July 8, 2018 12:11:48 AM(UTC)

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I usually travel solo too, so my list is probably a lot closer to Gavia's than to eagle98mn's. I would suggest that you can take a bit more than you would backpacking, rather than a bit less than you would bring for car camping.

But put together a checklist so next time you'll know what you needed this trip and what you thought was a waste. Everyone has their own style, and pretty soon you'll figure out what you need and what isn't worth the effort of carrying.

Have a good trip!

#8 Posted : Friday, January 26, 2024 12:38:00 PM(UTC)

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Old thread, but in case anyone needs it, here is our packing list for week+ long self-outfitted BWCA trips, including our Google Sheets checklist.

thanks 1 user thanked FromTentToTakeoff for this useful post.
AmateurHour on 1/26/2024(UTC)
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