Boundary Waters Packing List

Jan 24, 2022
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
Boundary Waters Packing List

Photo: Nate Ptacek

Interested in planning a canoe trip but not sure where to start? Many outfitting businesses provide route and trip planning options as well as gear rental, guiding services, and even lodging before and after your camping trip.

 Check out some of our staff’s favorite routes: HERE.


We’ve made a list with the help of some of our favorite outfitters and guides! This list does not include clothing, but we recommend bringing a variety of (non-cotton) layers so you can dress for whatever the weather brings. See some of the lists from the outfitters depending on the length of your trip. 

  • Canoe(s) 

  • Paddle(s)

  • PFD  or life vest

  • Waterproof Maps/compass or GPS device 

  • Tent (or other shelter)

  • Tarp and rope or bungee

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Sleeping Pad

  • Pillow (optional)

  • Portage Pack(s)

  • Headlamp/Camplight 


  • Camp Stove w/ fuel

  • Coffee  - (Percolator, Press, Pour over, Instant etc.)

  • Water Bottle - Thermos/Nalgene

  • Cook Kit (Pans, pots, spatula, measuring cups, bowls, serving spoon, etc.)

  • Utensils (Forks, spoons, knives, plates,)

  • Aluminum Foil (depending on meal)

  • Camp Soap, Scrubbie, and wash basin

  • Food Hanging System or Bear Canister (Rated up to 250lb of pressure)


  • Pack Saw/Axe

  • Towel

  • Toilet Paper

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Garbage Bags

  • Matches/Lighters

  • Hygiene & Toiletries (+ extra baggies to put hygiene products in when they are used)

  • Clothes (Avoid cotton if you can.)

  • Wet shoes & camp shoes or boots. 

  • Warm socks

  • Rain gear

  • Headwear/Sunglasses

  • Pocketknife or multitool

  • Bug spray and bug net

  • Headlamp/Flashlight

  • Sunscreen

  • First Aid Kit

  • Water Filtration system (While you can drink straight from the lake, we recommend that you should always purify your water as to be certain you will not contract a water-born illness. The wilderness is no place to risk getting ill, so our favorite water purifying systems include a using a Steri-pen or a gravity filter since they don't affect the taste of the water!

  • Duct Tape (good for many situations.)

Fun optional items

  • Hammock

  • Lightweight chair or canoe seat (Helinox, Crazy Creek, etc.)

  • Playing cards

  • Binoculars 

  • Book 

  • Camera 

  • Fishing gear 

  • Beverages (NOT in glass or aluminum cans.)


Contact one of these northern MN Boundary Waters Business Coalition members to help you plan & outfit your canoe trip:

Check out more Boundary Waters Business supporters here. 

Do you just need a little help with route planning maps? Try Paddle Planner. It’s a great route-planning tool (and many outfitters use it too!)