February 18, 2021 3 min read



We are old high school friends and a few years ago we started traveling into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This 1 million acre area from Northern Minnesota stretches into Canada and provides a wonderful place to truly get off the grid for a few days. 

Fall is the best time to visit since it's a little less crowded, which it's not really ever that crowded, and there's are about 95% less mosquitoes. 

Every year we go with a group of friends from all different parts of the country. Most of us had never really done heavy backpacking or primitive camping before the BWCA. We’ve learned a lot over the last few years and we get better every year.

Here are a few of the things we take every year to make it a great trip. This blog post is about the BWCA but this list will make sense for any campers that are worried about staying light and having a great trip on any adventure no matter where you go.


10. Jet Boil Camping Stove

Fires are nice but after a long day canoeing and hiking it can take 30 minutes to get a fire ready. Take a simple camping stove to heat your dinner and water. 

Jet Boil cooking system    


9. LifeStraw Water Filter Bottle  

You scoop your water right out of the lakes. There's some funky stuff out there so you'll need something to clean it. The Life Straw is great during the day and Iodine pills are good for all the water you’ll need to have at camp. 

 8. A GSI travel Javapress mug 

This coffee will be better than the best Starbucks because you are drinking it in the great outdoors. The press makes it super easy to brew a great cup of coffee in the morning or after a long day.  



7. Clothes that dry quickly

If you are canoeing in a place like the Boundary Waters then generally everything stays wet all the time. Take quick dry clothes that you can hang to dry overnight.

6. Bug net, bug shirt and mosquito spray

We always hear about bad mosquitoes all Summer. Take a bug net, shirt and plenty of repellent just in case. It's better safe than sorry. However, late September they’ve never been too bad. You will need a bug net for your hammock either way to keep the creepy crawlers and flying things out of your hammock.

Bug shirt: https://amzn.to/2PcPVOo

5. Hammocks

We tent camped the first year and now have used hammocks ever since. There are plenty of trees to choose from and hammocks are pretty comfy.

ENO Hammock Doublenest https://amzn.to/2vFgLHu 



4. Easy food during your day. 

We usually go with quick stuff for the lakes and trails during the day like summer sausage, cheese and power bars. We save the steaks and warm camp food for nights.

3. Camera - Fully submersible phone pouch https://amzn.to/2MFq68z

You need to protect it but if you are going for the first time please don’t forget a camera to capture the beauty you are about to step into.

Share your favorite pictures on Instagram by tagging #boundarylifeviews.

2. Wipes that don’t taste like chemicals

You'll need baby wipes but we also suggest that you will need to clean your dishes with wipes. Order these cool wipes that are made for food don’t leave a funky taste. Remember it's pack in, pack out so all of these will have to come out with you. 

Food Grade Wipes: https://amzn.to/2NnQRyH

1. Hiking shoes and camp shoes 

Shoes and boots are our biggest debate every year. Some folks recommend taking super tough hiking boots. I’ve actually worn beach shoes because you step into water every time you get out of the canoe. Some of us just wear old tennis shoes. It really depends on what's comfortable for you. Make sure you wear socks on the trails. By the way, we all wear big thick comfy socks and Crocs around camp.

Some shoes we've worn and recommend. 

Shoes: Columbia Trail Shoe (more support) https://amzn.to/2vHH2oJ 

Keen Hiking Sandal (super light)  https://amzn.to/2ofenmF

Croc for the Campsite 

Other stuff that didn't make the Top 10:

Gonex Military Molle Backpack 900D https://amzn.to/2vDP95G 

Dry Bag, 3-Liter https://amzn.to/2P7EqZ0 


(Amazon links to equipment we've used. We get a small referral fee if you use these links.)



These are not all the things you need for the trip. Here's our full packing list. 


I’ve also add links to products that are examples of what listed here. It’s stuff we actually take. 

If this list helps you we’d love to know about it. What are your Top 10 BWCA items? We would love to know. 

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