10 Luxury Items For Your Next Canoe Trip

If you are looking to kick back and relax on you next canoe trip consider bringing these 10 luxury items  to make your time at camp more enjoyable. #1 Helinox Camp chair Sitting on the logs around a fire in the Boundary Waters is fine for a short time, but if you’re type that likes to lounge around camp reading a book or drinking coffee then having a nice chair like the Heliox chair one is worth the extra 2 pounds that it will add to the pack #2 Eno Hammock It’s hard to beat an afternoon nap in a hammock on a canoe trip. Eno hammocks are light weight and durable. At most camp site you’ll be able to find a few trees for hanging you hammock. #3 Ripstop Nylon Tarp Those cheap tarps from the hardware store work great for lots of things, but they are not meant to withstand being hung from trees and or used in strong winds.  A Ripstop Nylon tarp like the Eno Pro Fly allows you to hang a tighter and stronger shelter to protect you from the elements. No more dealing with loose tarps flapping in the wind or grommets ripping of tarps as you attempt to...

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Ice out in the BWCA

The days of winter are getting longer and customers are starting to call about canoe rentals. It is the time of year I start to think about summer. Winter always hangs on longer than expected here in Northern Minnesota, but with minimal ice cover on our lakes this year just maybe spring will be sooner than normal. As of now we have 18” of ice or less on most of the lakes in the Boundary Waters. This is close to half of what we have seen in past years. This is not to say there is not tons of snow in the woods, in fact all the snow we got earlier this winter is part of the reason that we have so little ice. It has been insulating our lakes and slowing ice formation since we got a big storm just after thanksgiving. So, with such a smaller amount of ice on area lakes will we be paddling any sooner this year? In the past couple years we have been left wondering into May if the ice will be off in time for the annual fishing opener on the second Sunday of May. Gunflint Lake is usually one the last...

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Cold vs. Hot Camping

Hot tenting is a great way to sleep on the ice in comfort When talking with folks about winter camping one common question may be “Are you cold camping or hot camping. This may seem like a silly question if you’re not sure what the difference is. It is winter in Minnesota of course its cold! In the context of this question hot camping refers to bringing a heat source, most commonly a canvas or synthetic tents with a wood burning stove and stove pipe going through the tents. Cold camping refers to not bringing a heat source. Cold campers may opt to sleep in various shelters including tents, tarps or shelters made from snow. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? The advantage of hot tenting is clear. It is by far the warmest and most comfortable way to camp in the winter. It provides an extra margin of safety and allows for gear to be easily dried. With proper lighting like LED lanterns hot tents provide a warm place to relax with friends after a long day in the wilderness. With a well stocked stove and a good coal base you’ll be sitting around in your base layers...

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2020 Boundary Waters Permits

It is that time of year again. Yesterday was the official start of the Boundary Waters permit reservation season. This is the second year of the permit reservations taking place on a new system. So far it seems like the difficulties that happened last season have been fixed. You can go online and reserve your permit in just a few minutes, but if you are having issues we have compiled a how to guide for you to navigate the process. Before continuing any further there are a few pieces of information that are good to understand before visiting the rec.gov website. To start with everyone who enters the BWCA needs a permit, however not all visitors need to reserve a permit. Any visitors that are staying overnight between May 1st and September 31st or using a motor (only allowed in a few areas) are subject to the quota system and thus need to reserve a permit. Day paddlers or those not going during the permit season can enter for free by simply filling out a self issue permit. Once you have reserved a permit you still need to physically pick-up your permit before entering the BWCA. Permits can be picked...

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Hok Skis in the Boundary Waters

Over the last few days I had my first chance to try a pair of Hok skis, while camping and Lake Trout fishing in the Boundary Waters. During this trip, as with all winter trips, I was hauling a hot tent, camping gear and fishing equipment using sleds. For those unfamiliar with Hok skis they are a short and wide metal edged ski intended to be used in the backcountry. They have a built in skin which allows for easy climbing on hills and a slightly more controlled decent. Additionally they can be set up with universal bindings, which allow a traditional winter boot to be used while skiing. Universal bindings are critical in my opinion for a ski that is going to be used while camping, because keeping traditional ski boots dry and warm while not in use can be difficult. It also cuts down on one less item that needs to be packed in. When I first began winter camping in the Boundary Waters I primarily traveled on snowshoes or my classic skis intended for groomed trails. A few years ago I switched to pair of backcountry skis with a universal binding and quickly realized that I would...

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Winter Camping and Lake Trout

The Boundary Waters is home one of the largest concentration of native Lake Trout lakes in the United States and the winter is one the best times to target them. As many summer canoe guest know Lake Trout spend their summers in deep water. This is because Lake Trout are a true cold water fish species that require cold and well oxygenated water to survive. This can make Lake Trout tough to catch on your August canoe trip, but it mean they are active and feeding heavily all winter long. Lakes entirely within the BWCAW open to winter trout fishing in early January with Lakes outside or partially outside the BWCAW opening roughly two weeks later. Similar to summer fishing often times anglers can find the best fishing by traveling farther than other fisherman to find less pressured fish. This often means camping and in the winter the challenges of this activity make for a grand adventure. Unlike the summer Lake Trout can be found in just about any depth of water. I have caught them through the ice in as little as 12 feet of water or as deep as 70 feet of water. The structure you find fish...

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Lutsen Ski Rentals

Are you planning a winter downhill ski or snowboarding trip this winter? Be sure to stop by and see us. We rent Head and Fischer skis and take great pride in maintaining our gear. We offer rental pickups the day before you hit the slopes starting at 2 PM. You can enjoy sleeping in or having that extra cup of coffee in the morning knowing that you can be on the slopes as soon as you get to the mountain. Our rental rates are $32 per day for a standard ski package or $38 per day for a performance package. We also rent Head snowboards for $34 a day.  

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Matthew Baxley using the MSR Whisperlite in the Boundary Waters

The Right Stove For Your Adventure

  Know Your Options A few helpful things to consider when buying a stove is where and how you will use it and how much you can spend.  In Northern Minnesota, you are likely either car camping in a campground, backpacking part of the North Country Trail, or canoeing camping in the wilderness.  Different stoves will be more or less ideal for each of these experiences. The first consideration is weight.  Since a backpacker is literally carrying everything on their back, they tend to go as small and light as possible. On the other end of the weight continuum are the car campers with the freedom to travel with a stove of considerable size and weight.  In between are the canoe campers, with some preferring to go small and light while others willingly take on the extra weight of a stove with more bells and whistles. All-In-One Stove System The stove that garnishes the most attention for its unique design and twin burner cook system is the Genesis from Jetboil, an excellent choice for either car camping or for canoe country.  By far, it's most compelling advantage is the ability to utilize two burners simultaneously while being compact enough to fold in half for...

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Crust Ski skate ski boundary waters northern minnesota

Unique Ski Experiences You Can’t Miss

There are many options for skiing beyond basic alpine and cross country.  Groomed trails are great but so are frozen rivers, powder covered ridges, and crust covered lakes. Check out these three twists to traditional alpine and nordic skiing. 1. Backcountry Hok Skiing: Break trail and go your own way with the Altai Hok Ski.  Cruise the woods, bomb the hills or take to the frozen rivers. With a partial climbing skin integrated into the base, the ski climbs with ease. The skin also makes the ski slower and easier to control than traditional skis. The ski’s shorter, wider design make it incredibly maneuverable, ideal for any ungroomed terrain.  This is truly an all-purpose backcountry tool. This skis requires no groomed areas, no lifts, no tickets. Stop in the shop to try and pair or buy your own before the winter is over. 2. Skijoring: Do you want to get outside with your furry friend.  You both can get a high speed work out with this exciting ski sport. Skijoring is a sport in which a dog (or dogs) assist a cross-country skier. One to three dogs are commonly used. The cross-country skier provides power with skis and poles, and the dog adds...

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Top 5 Winter Wilderness Camping Tips

#1 Travel on Back Country Skis When breaking new trail in the back country, snowshoes will get the job done, but Hok skis will make the job fun and fluid. These innovative skis from the Altai Company are a ski/snowshoe hybrid. With a wide base, permanent skins, and enough length to achieve glide, these skis are the best way to flow across our frozen lakes, rivers and streams. Try a Rental Pair #2 Set Up a Base Camp Since breaking trail in the back country is slow and tedious, don’t plan on changing locations every night like you may be accustomed to doing in the summer time. Pick a scenic yet sensible base camp site and launch day trips to explore the surrounding area. #3 Stay Warm and Dry Sounds Obvious, Right? But it can be easier said than done. First and foremost, plan to “hot-tent camp”. Being able to generate heat with a wood stove in a canvas wall tent is worth the extra weight. With that in mind, consider that foot travel in the winter leads to heat and perspiration while pulling a sled or breaking trail. When stopping to set up camp, that heat will dissipate quickly. Be prepared to set up your...

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