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We've been going on an annual trip (3 canoes, 8 people) for the past 5 years and continue to refine our gear check list and menus. Anyone want to swap checklists? I thought it would be a good way to share ideas?

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How long are you going?

1st thing I'd do is get your group 4 canoes, or cut your group to 6. 8 is almost always to many for the BWCA campsites. Sure you can get 4 tents in there, but two are going to have to hunt of a decent tent site. I've only gone with more than 6 once, that was all it took and I swore never to go with that many again.


rain gear

tarps (each person brings (1), makes for a nice fort if rain is present for a length of time and keeps the wood you had to cut dry)

bungy straps

tackle box (small)

rod & reel



change of cloths

1st aid kit


bug dope



head lamp

mess kit

(2) single burners



durable food pack (waterproof a plus)


water filter

portable water jug(s)

soft sided bowl (washing dishes)

scour pads & bio-soap

saw &/or hatchet

1x6 x 24" works great for cleaning fish, saves the knife when you have to clean on the rocks. (we zip-tie it to the bottom of one of the seat on the canoe during travel)

hamock (compact)


sleeping bag

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To add to the list above. My trips are geared towards fishing.

-Anchor bag & rope

-Extra Paddle

-Camera/ Lots of film

-Fish Finder (optional)

-Fishing rods (4-6)

-Clamp on rod holders for trolling

-Sleeping pads

-Small landing net


-Sun Glasses


-Leeches and lots of them!! grin.gif

Our paddles double as a fillet board.

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Thanks Granny. I knew there were a few I forgot. 4 to 6 rods??? Tell me that is for the whole group? We usually take on extra between the group and we've only had to use it once. (my buddy got it stuck in a tree while walking a portage and snapped it like a twig. ha ha My buddy bought a couple of those really nice paddles, he gets mad when we scratch them, let alone clean fish on them! ha ha

Well hopefully waterboy has something to go off of. There should still be a few other BW guys that will chim in and point out a few we both missed.

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We brought 6 rods with for my wife and I just a couple weeks ago. 4 were our bass/walleye rods and two were ultra light rods. I don't like changing my lures from bass to eyes so I just pack a couple more rods. I strapped all the rods, paddles, & net into the canoe. Not much extra weight for the time saved. Rods never have a chance to get broken. I hate to admit but I brougth my vex in for the first time and I didn't even use it. Talk about a waste! The fish were only biting on leeches on a floating hook about a foot off the bottom right off the camp site.

I go to fish....everything else is just a bonus grin.gif


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I'm with Granny here, I go to fish. I bring 2-3 rods, from light to medium heavy. I find I don't really need a net, but it did save our 9 lb. walleye last week from swimming away. I usually bring 3 rods (in my kayak), and I use them all.

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I have my checklists (Group Gear, Personal Items & fishing gear)in a Word Document. Anyone know how to attach a wrod doc to one of these postings?

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Duct Tape... I've patched tents, canoes, skin, poles, you name it.

I didn't see matches on the list.

Don't forget your permits and fishing licenses.

If you aren't portaging much, a bb gun is fun for the kids. Ya set up pine cones on a down tree and have them shoot them off... it's fun and keeps the little guys busy for a long time. If they want to shoot squirrels, tell them go ahead, but they have to clean, cook, and eat anything they shoot. They usually go back to the pine cones.

One thing I've enjoyed bringing is popcorn, and make it the old fashion way. It doesn't weigh that much and makes for a fun treat. My kids didn't know you could make popcorn without a microwave.

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Don't forget a life jacket especially in the cooler months. Even if you don't wear it--- strapped to a gunwale in the canoe can help keep your canoe afloat if you capsize. Good to lay out on the rocks to rest on.

We always bring a small football to toss on the shore. Makes those winded days a lot more fun, especially with kids.

Lite colored clothing seems to keep the bugs away better than darker colors. Also- any nice smelling stuff (deodorant,shampoo, etc) seem to attract the bugs. Seems after the first day when you get a good B-dub lather, the bugs seems a little more distant. When they are really bad before bedtime-- take a dip-- your cooled off skin they can't find as well and you will end up with fewer bugs in the tent.

On big lakes, I bring a drift sock to slow drift some key areas along with small marker buoys. I also bring a portable depth finder powered by 8 AA batts.

Galvinzed wire tied thorugh the holes of minnow buckets makes them nearly unopenable to critters.

Binocs usually make the trip to check out poss campsites and wildlife.

I also bring a small net. Not really needed, but it does well with those fish that are just big enough that you wish you had one.

Don't forget a small sponge to get water out of the back of a canoe after minnow bucket spills and constantly changing paddle strokes in the stern. Canoe seats help a sore back, and make a long day fishing more enjoyable.

Biodegradeable soap is a big help after a greasy pan.

Lots of Kool-aid. Straight water and booze gets old.

DUCT TAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After all is said and done, 2 man trip, 4 man trip , 3 days or 14 days,, the olde ruck sack seems to be always full.

Keep your line tight and tip up.


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Nice lists gentlemen. I've found four things from your lists I've added to mine. Good call on the binocs. Can't believe I've never brought those with me.

I always go in by boat (Basswood), so my list includes a camp chair & a cot. Can only sit on a boat cushion for so long. Also includes 3 coolers. One for food (home made sauces, burgers, soups ect which are frozen and doubles as extra ice), one for ice, and one for beverages(plastic only).

Granny - I'm with you on the rods. I hate retying every time I want to go from bobbering to jigging to rigging to dragging a Rap. That = 4 rods.

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Hey, I have not forgot about that tape yet. Its 3/4 done with an hour left to do.



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No problem Granny. I really appreciate your efforts. Have a good weekend.

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Here's my list we have turned into a checklist and assigned name os we don't duplicate yet have everything covered:

***Group Gear***

Canoes/paddles/life vests/anchors

Small Bait buckets & leech lockers


Kitchen equipment

Pots and pans

Cooking utensils

Salt & pepper

Pot holders

Buck knife

Dishwashing soap

Collapsible tub

Sponges, Towels


Matches and fire starters

Coffee pot

Aluminum foil

Ziplock bags

Paper towels x 2

Cutting board

Garbage bags x 6

Stoves and fuel

Stand for stove

Camp saw

Bear Rope

Rain fly and ropes

First aid kit

Water Filter


Bowls for eating

Clothespins and clothes line

Individual water bottles

Coffee (caf. and decaf)

Folding chairs

Camp lantern

Head nets for mosquitoes

Cups and silverware

Collapsible table

Knife sharpening stone

Bungee cords

Fishing Net – 1 per canoe

***Individual Equipment***

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad

Rain gear

Flashlight/headlamp (extra batteries)


Sunscreen/lip balm

Bug dope

Bath towel




Fanny pack

Water bottle /filter

Camera equipment

Fishing equipment

Fishing license

Camp/canoe chair



Toothbrush & toothpaste

Any personal medications

Sandals/Boots for canoeing (avoid tennis shoes as they never dry out)

Camp shoes or whatever is comfortable


Toilet paper

Small pack for clothes and day trips

A willingness to pitch in and help

Flexibility/A sense of humor

A desire to have fun and enjoy oneself!

***Suggested Clothing *** (Bring polypropylene if possible as cotton does not dry quickly)

Sweatshirt x 2

Short sleeve shirt x 2

Long sleeve shirt x 2

Socks x 4

Underwear x 4

Windbreaker or light jacket

Rain gear/Poncho


Light gloves

Shorts x 2

Zip off pants

Long underwear (was needed last August!)

Fishing Gear

Fishing nets, fishing nets, fishing nets

2 lbs leeches for 7-8 people for 5 days

Rod and reel with 6 or 8 lb line

Small Tackle Box with:

25 Hooks, in sizes 6 & 4

Sinkers - split shot, slip shot, bead sinkers.

Swivels - snap type, two and three-way (a lot of these)

Floating jig heads in orange, chartreuse, red & glow white

Jigs, hair and feather types (walleye) ¼ oz white (and a few in yellow, orange, chartreuse, & red)

Rubber body jigs in chartreuse, brown, black, & purple

Plugs - surface and diving types. Trolling plugs 2" - 5", 1½"-2" for smallmouth in silver, gold, orange, & perch

Spinners (like Mepps) in sizes 1 & 2 with either silver or gold blades, with or without squirrel tails

Spoons: heavy for casting; light for trolling. Silver, gold, orange, red, red/white, or any combination of these

A couple of slip bobbers

A couple of plastic worms (Power Bait leeches, etc.)

Rapalas and Frenzies

Buzz bait

3-4 6-8 inch leaders

Any of your favorites not listed

Filet Knife

Needle Nose Pliers or Leatherman

Stringer (or 2 if you are feeling lucky)

Fingernail Clippers

Leech locker, bag or container/buy leeches on the way up

Any other equipment you really need

Camera to document trophy catches

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Wow, I'm afraid I'd go totally nuts canoing with some of you guys! We'd never even consider lugging around electronics, camp chairs, folding tables or ANCHORS !!

No offense but portaging an anchor when there are about a million handy rocks laying around doesn't seem like a wise use of time and labor. We like to make single - trip portages but I guess thats just personal preference.

The only thing I'd add to the list after more than 30 years experience is: TP and matches go in DOUBLE Zip Lock bags, (for obvious reasons !) Have fun.

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Just re-read the posts and thought I'd add somthing constructive. First, if you take a good quality sharp fillet knife you can skip the sharpening stone for a week trip. You should always fillet your catch on your paddle instead of the rocks saving your blade.

I've never taken a landing net but if I ever did it would be one of the new collapsible models availabe now. The easiest and lightest way to anchor is to bring an empty 10 pound potato sack. The kind made of plastic netting. A few rocks in the bottom works great.

For clothing, avoid anything cotton, it never dries. Synthetic fabrics are the way to go, I wear the swimmimg trunks with the big zippered cargo pockets. I even sleep in them. I would never take more than 1 heavy wool shirt, sweatshirt, and hat. Your rain gear is critical, the new packable Goretex stuff is great.

For utensils, you will find you can cook anything with a large spoon, one fork and a spatula. For fishing, buy 2 piece Ugly Sticks. They pack easily and are indestructible. Take one extra spinning reel per party. For refreshments you'll find most of the volume and weight of instant tea and kool-aid is sugar. if you buy the

diet products they are sugar free and save 75% of the volume. I always take a 10 oz. bottle of bleach along for sterilizing dishes when you don't want to take time to boil water. Just wipe off utensils, rinse in lake water and spray with bleach, gauranteed sterile.

For washing Dove bar soap is the best. Its the only soap that floats in the lake, plus it has no perfumes to attract bugs and no phosphates to pollute the lakes. It also gets your hair clean without needing shampoo.

Heres the most important advice I can give: don't even consider taking a hatchet. There is nothing, nothing worse than a deep hatchet gash 3 days from civilization. You simply don't need one in the BWCA. There is plenty of fire wood just laying around 3 inches in diameter or less that doesnt need splitting. Take a good folding saw instead. Last, don't forget a small first aid kit with gauze, tape and disinfectant. I use it almost every trip.

As you can probably tell, I hate carrying extra weight. Once you get the hang of packing light you'll be amazed at how little gear you actually need to enjoy a week in the wilderness. I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of tips but I'll post again if I think of any. Have a great time.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Well I've made so many trips in the BWCA that I thought I'd sit back and just watch this thread.

So many good posts with additions.

The mesh laundry bag or potato sack for an anchor is one that I've been using for years.

Using a paddel for a fillet board is another one.

At one time you could get the light weight hammock) a few ounces) and theres nothing better for a day on a trout lake waiting out those bites and catching some Zsssssss.

In the long run you'll want to pack everything up at home and see just how much weight you have. You can bring the comfort stuff but in the end food is what makes everyone happy. If your hungry thats just no good. High protein & High carbs is the way to go. Forget the balanced diet. You need energy with a full belly. You can get your veggies when you get back home. Pastas, nuts, sugars and meats is all the Vikings needed to take over the New World and that should be good enough for your canoe trip. Freeze your meat, wrap it on packing foam, and then into your sleeping bag. When its thawed for a day then thats whats for dinner. If you want to prolong that meat portion then wrap it in some dry ice.

Ok no one mentioned bait, I've your like me your going throw all that work to get into fishing grounds. Bring your plastics but bring worms too. Any non metallic container is fine in the canoe then dig a shallow hole in the shade and your worms will keep.

One last thing. At every portage be sure to add a rock to your buddies pack at every portage. When you get to your final destiny, spring the surprise on them if they didn't all ready figure it out. Of coarse you wouldn't do this to your canoe companion because, well, DUH you might end up carrying rocks.

:Note to self, check for rocks in pack that are or aren't familiar looking. OOps... check for all rocks. All rocks are evil.

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