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Headed to the boundary waters in July.  Went once 20 years ago, but  looking for tips, tricks and recommendations on your experience.  Seems like there is plenty of information on what foot wear to wear and not to wear.  But looking for additional information.

Favorite Lakes/Portages and why?

Waterproof map case vs zip lock bag (do you really need one for each canoe)?

First Aid Kit recommendations?

Paddling gloves or not?

What I wish I brought vs what I wish I didn't bring?

Thanks in advance!

What did I forget to ask?


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Are you actually going through NTIER or going on your own (with or without an outfitter)?

I purchase maps (used both Fischer and Mackenzie) rather than print my own so no worries about them getting wet, but I do use a map case to keep them all together and to clip the case to the thwart.

First Aid kits are all DIY - basic "boo boo" stuff, gauze, ace wrap, dont recall what else off hand.  One thing that is always in my kit if we're fishing - small side cutters to cut off an embedded hook.

Never used gloves.  I usually get a blister on a couple of fingers at the start of the trip.  Wrap a strip of duct tape around for a couple of days takes care of it.

Some folks like a stadium chair for the canoe.  The ones I tried didnt strap to the seats well so they were a hassle when portaging.  But I do like a chair with a back for sitting around camp.  Going to take my Equinox Ground Chair this year.

I put a dot of velcro on the thwart and the mate on my compass so I can have it out in front of me all the time.  If I take a GPS, I mount it to the thwart too.

Favorite lakes / portages....Hm. 

  • I really like the stretch NE out of Snowbank then down to Jordan and Ima and on down to Thomas.  The portage out of Ima starts in a crack in the rock face, and the "river" between Ima/Hatchet/Thomas lakes is really pretty when the lily pads are in bloom.  There is a great campsite on the SSW part of Ima, on the portage into Alworth Lk, it is large with big pines and nobody else around.
  • I really like Vera lake, it is small and quiet (only a couple of campsites) and very scenic.  The portages in and out were probably the toughest Ive done.
  • Robbins Island is really neat to explore - still a few remnants of Dorthy Molter's old lodge.




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Thanks jjlash!  Yes we are going out of NTIER.  

Did you just put first-aid in its own dry bag? 

Good call on the duck tape to prevent blisters instead of gloves.

By Equinox did you mean Helinox?  Had considered taking my Helinox but thought crazy creek ground chair may be lighter and could double as canoe chair?

Appreciate your input on the lakes/portages.

Hope you have a great trip this year!





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Have fun with NTIER.  We always self-outfit but my son worked at NTIER one summer and loved it.  Had some great stories about the crews he took out.

Yes, the crew FAK go in its own dry bag.  Everyone knows who carries it during the day.  We use Philmont-style food hangs and FAK always  goes in the oops bag.

Yes, Helinox.  Last Philmont trek I weighted my Helinox against my stadium chair (not Crazy Creek brand so YMMV) and they were within an ounce or two.  The Helinox is way more comfortable but - is less convenient to setup/pack up so I didnt get it out for really short stops.  Dont really have that issue canoeing compared to backpacking.

Thanks - we are going to Mudro / Fourtown area this year.  None of us has ever been there so looking forward to the new sights.

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We have always liked the Lake One, Two, Three, Four, Gabro, Bald Eagle, Kawishiwi River routes. 

I do use paddling gloves to keep0 the blisters away.

Our outfitter  (North Country) supplies waterproof maps in zip locs.  One per crew, not one per canoe.




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I have not been to BWCA, but I do go to the Quetico to the north.

So this may or may not apply. I have noticed that the evening mosquitos run like clockwork, and you can hear them a few minutes before they descend on your campsite. Thus I recommend determining their timing on night 1, and then plan each day so all can be safely in bug proof zones for all subsequent nights.

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On 5/7/2019 at 7:17 PM, StmbtEagle said:

Waterproof map case vs zip lock bag (do you really need one for each canoe)


In my humble opinion, YES EACH CANOE NEEDS A MAP OF SOME SORT!  (emphasis and here on out emphasis too ;) )

Doesn't matter if it's map case and bought maps, or made your own in ziplocs. THINGS HAPPEN. I was in LaDomaine, Quebec paddling and a storm hit. We got all stretched out, buddy boats didn't stick together, and my canoe was by itself, out of site of everyone. We had no idea where the rest of the group was, and kept paddling, hoping we were on the right patch to catch up with them. Thankfully we were, and we found them. Especially since I got hypothermia. 🔵

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