Gear List For My Solo Spring BWCA Trip

Gear List For My Solo Spring BWCA Trip
Gear List For My Solo Spring BWCA Trip

I started planning my late May 2018 BWCA trip back in August of last year.  The last time I have been on a canoe camping trip has been well over eleven years.  It’s safe to say that I am eagerly looking forward to going.  Big time…

For the past couple weeks I have been pouring over my gear list as well as my actual gear.  I didn’t really need to buy any new kit, but I did.  Shhh… don’t tell my wife!

Am I bring too much, too little?  Check out my list below and you decide.  Feel free to let me know what you think.  I’m always open to suggestions – doesn’t mean I will do any of them, but I’ll listen.

My BWCA Solo Gear List

In my garage I have three large bins jammed full of camping gear.  It’s all functional, but I have to admit I spent some money on upgrades over the past couple months.

As mentioned before I will be going towards the end of May.  Temperatures can be in the mid to upper 70s, but they could also be below freezing.  Weather could go either way, but odds are it will be in the upper 60s to low 70s.  However, I’ll need to be prepared for variables.

So let’s get on with it!

Clothes & Personal Items

  • Rain gear, complete set
  • Cargo Pants, 1
  • Cargo Shorts, 1
  • Long Sleeve Shirts, 2
  • T-shirts, 2: one long sleeve, one short sleeve
  • Underwear, 3 (gotta keep ’em clean!)
  • Long Underwear (wool, in my crash kit)
  • Sock, 4 pair, one pair will be wool another pair to be neoprene
  • Shoes, (hikers and 15″ tall muck boots)
  • Sweater, 1 (100% wool pullover)
  • Light Jacket, 1
  • Hat, 1 Tilley Hat for day use and 1 beanie for sleeping
  • Knife, SAK
  • Knife, Gerber Gator Premium
  • Gloves – 1 leather, 1 neoprene, 1 wool (for my crash kit)
  • Sunblock
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • Bug head net (not expecting to need it, but bringing it anyway)
  • 1 book to read
  • Personal journal – for jotting down personal thoughts
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toiletries Kit
  • Small camp towel
  • First Aid Kit, basic (with Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl, Imodium…etc…)

Camping Gear

  • Tent, 2 man Lux Tempo
  • Insulated sleeping pad
  • Tarps 10′ x 12′, ultralight, 2 of them
  • Camp pillow
  • Sleeping bag (30 degree bag)
  • Jungle Blanket
  • Wool blanket (for my crash kit)
  • Hatchet, 14″
  • Hand saw, folding
  • Hammock (for day time lounging)
  • Portable Camp chair (ultra-light)
  • Solar shower (yeah, I’m bringing this)
  • Fry pan, 8.5″
  • Solo stove & Pot
  • Titanium eating utensil (spork)
  • Mini backpacking stove and fuel canister (backup)
  • Fire steel
  • Matches / lighter (backup)
  • Para-cord line,  200 feet
  • Cooking utility items (spatula, oil, spices, shore lunch)
  • Mountain House freeze-dried meals (12 various meals)
  • Misc small snack items
  • Sawyer Water Filter System
  • Water purification pills (for backup)
  • Water container/tumbler, extra
  • Fillet knife
  • Headlamp (extra batteries)
  • Compass
  • GPS (never really used one before, so want to mess around with it)
  • BWCA Maps
  • Flavored water packets
  • Food pack hanging system (line & small sack)
  • Fishing pole and kit with roughly 12 lures
  • Mini PSK
  • ULTRA Universal Repair Tool (small role of duct-tape)

All of the above mentioned gear will be packed with related items in various wet sacks, and then all carried inside my SealLine 115L canoe pack.

My Crash Kit – What Is it?

I am heading into the Boundary Waters Canoe towards the end of May.  Usually ice is off the BWCA lakes around the end of April or one to two weeks into May.  This year the projection for ice off is looking to push into the middle of that month.

For that reason the waters I will be canoeing on are going to be cold.  Ice may only be off a few days by the time I am paddling on them.  Imagine tipping a canoe by accident into waters that are just above freezing temps?  Not good.

Hypothermia is a very real possibility if that were to happen.  So I need to take precautions on this trip, and that means paddling closer to shore when I am under way, and having a crash kit withe me just in case I have a spill.

My crash kit is basically a small waterproof bag that floats.  It’s where I plan to keep my wool underwear, a wool blanket, wool socks. wool gloves, and a ‘quick’ fire kit.  If I take a spill I will grab my packs (my SealLine and my crash kit bag are both buoyant) and swim to shore.

On shore I will shed my wet clothes and put on my wool clothes and begin to get myself warmed up.  It’s that simple, or at least it sounds simple.

Solar Shower

Some of the items in my gear load-out are not really necessary.  The solar shower is one such item… sort of.

Because the water is going to be pretty darn cold, I am not really going to want to go for a swim.  I jumped into a frozen lake once in my late teens to join the Polar Bear Club when I lived in Ely, MN.  I really don’t want to do that again.  So I bought a solar shower for this trip.  It might be nice to clean up every other day.

Also, if I am ever going to get my wife to go along on a canoe tripping adventure I’m pretty sure she’ll want a warm shower.  So another reason I am bringing this thing along is to test it out.

Am I bringing To Much Kit!?

There are certainly things on my list I don’t need to bring.  Keep in mind this canoe trip is not about doing a lot of portaging and camping on a new lake every night.  I am going to be base camping and fishing.  The furthest I plan to paddle into the BWCA is 3 portages, and all three are fairly short.  The longest is 57 rods (1 rod is 5.5 yards, so 313.5 yards is my longest portage).

There is a chance I may move to another site halfway through my trip as I do a little day exploring on the lakes around my camp lake.  I am not too concerned about carrying too much on this trip.


Along with this blog post I am also planning on creating a gear video log and posting it on You Tube.  I’ll share that link at a latter date when I finally get around to making the video and editing it.

A few things may change between now and when I go on my trip, but I don’t think it will amount to much.

Now, I just need the ice to melt on those BWCA lakes.  Late spring this year, and many early to mid May canoe trippers are feeling nervous about their BWCA trips they have planned.  I should be safe for when I plan on going in on May 23rd.

BWCA late ice out has more than a few people concerned!



TD is the owner and publisher of TD All Outdoors. He has been enjoying the outdoors since since he was a child. Over the years he has spent as much time as he can solo wilderness canoe tripping, overlanding, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting, hunting, hammock camping, and more. Aside from this blog, he also own his own coffee brand,

6 thoughts on “Gear List For My Solo Spring BWCA Trip

  1. That is a lot gear to pack into a canoe! Do you bring any water with you or do you just use your filter and water purification pills? I live in the desert, so hearing about iced over lakes in May is kind of a shock to me. We take our canoe out, in the mountains, a lot in the summer and we really enjoy it. We camp, but we don’t canoe camp, although that sounds like a lot of fun. I think you made a very wise decision with the solar shower as well. Sounds like an amazing journey.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Yep, going to be comfortable for my five-six night wilderness trip.  It all packs into various dry bags catagorized with similar gear, and then those all fit into my single SealLine Boundary Waters Pack.

      I’ll be using water directly from the lakes I am on, filtering with the Sawyer Mini – I can drink straight from the lake with that.  I am also bringing some water pills along just in case my filter fails, and of course can always boil water if I need to.


  2. I have never been solo camping only camping with friend or family with my friends I don’t take a lot of stuff just the basics and enough alcohol to last the trip

    With my family however ,we have to take a whole lot more, my wife wont go camping without a blow up double bed as well as bed sheets and pillow from the house as she likes her home comforts too much

    1. Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for the comment.  My wife also requires a lot of extras when she goes camping.  Usually she wont do more than car camping, in which case it’s not a big deal to bring along more gear.


  3. My brother and I will go to camping soon in my brother’s city and we are both complete newbies and he said he will prepare everything but I also want to be ready for it.
    You mentioned about a para cord line which is two hundred feet. What is the purpose of taking it?

    1. Hi,

      I will use paracord to create a clothes line to dry items that may have gotten wet, and I also use it for hanging a tarp…  If there is rain in the forecast I put a tarp up at the edge of the campfire area where I can sit and eat and relax even if it is raining, and stay dry.  200 feet of line goes a long way if and when you need it.

      Thanks for reading my post!


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