There are some very fine resources on the BWCA out there. I’ll focus on the resources for “I’ve never been, I need to learn and plan this thing out!” I’ll add to this post as I go.
BWCA.com – Massively helpful site that has tools to help plan the trip, find outfitters, etc. That’s important but coupled with the helpful members in the forum it’s an incredible resource.
I am a member of that site and made an initial post named “Hello, and BWCA in 2019” Go there, sign up, and see what it’s all about.
USDA Forestry Service – The USDA (Forest Service) manages the BWCA. The page I linked to has some information, to include a Planning Guide (PDF). The site also gives a brief background of the legislation that created the area, dates & information about group quotas, and other useful links at the bottom of the page. Additionally, there is a “Leave No Trace” video that is required viewing before picking up a permit. More info on that is on the site.
This is part of a larger series where I am gathering my thoughts on my gear for a Boundary Waters (BWCA) 2019 trip. See the intro HERE.
Miscellaneous – Anything that doesn’t fit into another category. Or maybe it COULD fit into another category but I don’t want it to. I could also create MORE categories but I have more than I really need anyway.
I’ve got a few things on this list and will add to it as I go.
Flat Bungie – Bungie cords are very useful. In the multipack I purchased there was an orange one that was the right size to suit all sorts of needs. I do consider them a luxury item as one can usually work around them, just not as quickly or as “Ah, that was simple!” If I need to start removing things this would be one to go. I have also seen the ones that you can adjust. That looks handy. If I happen to need to buy some bungies I’ll look into that else I’ll use what I currently have.
Critter Bag (Need) – This is under this category and not “Food” as I use that one for edible things. I have not picked out a real critter bag yet. Right now I use a stuff sack or the like. I want one that is good for both hanging in a tree or leaving in camp. With that in mind, the ursack brand bag always comes up when having these discussions. Some use a canister for this purpose but I’m going to go with a bag solution. I will take the bag with me on my local hikes (Ohio) and would not take the canister. I don’t mind buying for a particular trip but I’d rather each thing be more multi-use.
Hiking Poles (Need) – I have a pair of cheap hiking poles that I bought at a camp store about five years ago. I expected them to fail pretty quick but so far they have held up very well, even though they are of cheaper construction. In a few years when I am able to get out and take more substantial trips, such as the BWCA, I am going to get a nicer set. I like the Black Diamond brand but am open to others. In the photo to the right is Black Diamond’s basic poles with flicklocks.
Camp Chair – Normally on backpacking trips, I would take a standard folding camp stool. It’s easy to detach from the pack and rest on the trail and certainly does the job while actually in camp. For times when I’ll want to be in camp for more than an evening, I’d like something more. Enter the Helinox Chair Zero. I researched this brand and model, the REI version, and so on. I got this one because it’s light enough that I won’t be tempted to leave it behind when backpacking, yet large enough to enjoy. When I’ve had it for a while I’ll review it.
Ziplock Baggies – Always useful. I’ll use them to contain and organize spices, meal bars, snacks, toothbrush and paste, and many other things. I’ll use multiple sizes. Additionally, I’ll take some empties in for garbage storage to pack back out.
Sunglasses – Look no further than the Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses for me. YEARS ago I was looking for a pair that would block the sun from the side while on the ball field coaching a base or hitting grounders or whatever else was needed. Due to the wide bridge of my nose, no other pair would sit low enough to do what I needed. When I first tried on a pair of these they were everything I wanted….. except for the price. Back then money was tight and I didn’t want to spend it. Father’s day was coming up so I figured the reason I needed these was because I’m out there helping the kids, so I justified it and asked for them. Very happy that I did. I’ve since had to replace the ear sleeves, nose piece, and a lens, but they have held up great. I normally wear the lenses shown in the photo above but for a Boundary Waters trip I’ll look to get a lens that works better on the water. This used to be “polarized” but I don’t know what the “now” is. I’ll find out.
Earphones – I should probably put these over in “Electronics” since they are useless without some sort of player but that’s not how I think. I have several pair of earphones and I’ll just pick a pair and take them with me.
In this post will be all the gear that I know I will need to take on the BWCA 2019 trip. Most of this gear is on the list because I know what is needed in the outdoors, yet this list will be compared against published BWCA resources to ensure reality and to not assume I know anything at all. I’ll also break it out into categories as I go along just to organize. Where I take the time I’ll post a link to the item on Amazon.com, REI.com, or wherever it may roam.
As I get a category done “enough” I’ll put it below and link to the post chatting about it.
I have a bunch of categories for my gear. I break it down like this because that’s how I think of these things. Have I forgotten a category? Combined too many things into one? Let me know! Additionally, the spreadsheet I keep with all this gear has the weight of each item so I have a generic idea of pack weight. I don’t obsess over it, but it’s good to have a general number.
For quite some time I’ve heard about people taking trips to the Boundary Waters. Enjoying the outdoors like I do the type of trips that were described seemed like what I would REALLY enjoy. I’ve wanted to learn more about the trips but due to a busy life and other things, I’ve not gotten serious about it. My brother-in-law’s good friend has gone a few times so hearing about it briefly from him on a camping trip two years ago the idea burned a bit brighter. In 2019 I’ll suddenly have more discretionary time and I decided that it was time to get serious about investigating what’s all about. After looking into it more there wasn’t much of a question… yes, I need to go. I contacted the core of the group that goes on a yearly long weekend trip and they are in.
In this post, I’ll put a bunch of setup to the BWCA and then create a series detailing my prep, the trip itself, and then lessons learned.
Basically, it’s a huge protected area that allows people to take their non-powered watercraft (canoe, kayak, etc) and get into nature. Only a certain amount of groups are allowed to launch by site by day. Only 9 or less people in a group, and four water vessels or less in the same group. Having all these rules and more attempts to keep the area from getting over visited and therefore available for many generations to come.