Canoe Rod for Wilderness Traveling

Canoe Rod for Wilderness Traveling

One of the biggest hurdles in taking a canoe trip in the Boundary Water or anywhere for that matter  is bringing along a rod and reel.  Conventional open water rod/reel combos are long, get caught in the brush,  and challenging to transport without snapping the tip off turning a medium light 6 foot rod into a medium 5’6″ rod.  I’ve successfully carried a lot of rods through the brush on portages for a lifetime without ever having one break.  I didn’t say that I never came close to wiping my rod out on a branch but I’ve never broken one personally. That being said, I’ve had other people break my rods because they were clueless.  It’s no surprise that I only let my dad carry my rod on a portage or I carry it myself.  Those are the only two people allowed to handle my fishing rod when out in the brush.

Based on the fishing rod sales at Red Rock, a lot of people snap their rods off while carrying them in the woods around here.  They do a whole bunch of other dumb stuff, but two ways to handle fishing rods will keep your rods going for a long time if you like remote places:

  1. More rod tips die unnecessarily by not understanding that “one ALWAYS carries a fishing rod on any trail in the brush, ‘rod-butt-first'”. I would venture that 95% of  fisher-kind gets this ass-backwards every, single time.  Carrying your rod tip forward in brush can, at times, end poorly.
  2. When passing through a screen door, DO NOT walk out “rod butt first”.  If I had a nickle for every customer who walks out through the screen door at Red Rock with a BRAND, SPANKIN’-NEW, ROD, and pokes the rod butt to the outside world completely forgetting about the remaining 5 feet of rod behind them.  Guess what?  The screen door gets it every time.  WHAP!  SNAP!  For this reason specifically, I built the screen door at Red Rock with no spring on it.  A magnet holds it shut.  You have to physically shut it.  If you physically shut it on your brand new rod, there’s no hope for you.

Sure, you can tie your rod into your canoe, but depending on a number of variables, this is sometimes a time-eater and causer of neck pain.  It is also no guarantee that the rod will survive your Labrador or your 13 year old, and you still have to wander around in the brush.  You’re in the woods for Pete’s sake.

Introducing the Red Rock Brush Rod

Order this GREAT Spinning Combo Here!

At least, that’s what I’m calling it.  I was at a buying show wondering why, in a sea of ice fishing rods, would Daiwa have this neat little ice fishing rod and not be teaming it up with a reel for a cool winter combo.  I asked the snot-nosed sales rep that and the young lad looked at me like my “completely unheard of, totally unique, idea” for an “ice rod combo” was going down as a great revelation in fishing history.  Never mind that when I arrived at the Daiwa space, he and the other children (first time at the show), were throwing casting weights to irritate the women across the aisle and cranking them back in with their Daiwa reels, ironically while looking at competitor booths selling every conceivable ice rod combo all around Daiwa.

Young lad aside, he couldn’t answer questions about this little rod other than it was a “dock rod” .  Turns out, this is a pretty cool little rod for fishing out of a canoe as well.  They say it can cast up to 20 yards which is 60 feet.  For sneaking around with a canoe or even a boat, that is WAY enough for darn near any kind of Boundary Waters fishing.  You can plug the shore for bass, drop over the side and jig for walleyes and lake trout, and throw some fairly heavy tackle for big northern pike.

I’ve often wondered why my ice fishing stuff which is comprised of everything being tiny (compared to my summer stuff) can work absolutely great in the middle of winter dragging a fish up through 2 foot deep hole in the ice.  Why is that?  My tiny little 27″ medium rod can pull 1 ounce airplane plugs 55 feet down and then pull up a 7 lb laker with a reel smaller than I would ever think to use in the summer.  Ice fishing is THE most brutal use of fishing gear.  If it’s not frozen, it’s freezing.  Everything is colder.  Water lands everywhere and freezes instantly.  And, then after all those knots of ice get cranked up through the eyelet of that tiny rod and into that tiny reel,  they all stick together and you are there trying to crack it off to unstick it just so you can do it again.  Everything is more brittle and it gets used pretty hard whether you are catching fish or not.  My ice gear gets used every bit as hard as my summer gear and maybe even moreso.

So, if we have a short rod, reel combo for summer fishing to do exactly the same thing as ice, who is to declare us wrong?

Tri Force Shorty

Tri Force Shorty

Ponder This

  • Just think how easy it would be to tie a 36 inch fishing rod into a canoe under the seat with a couple of  lighter weight bungees?
  • How much easier would it be to walk on a portage with a 3 foot rod?
  • Just think of how easy it would be to land your own fish with a landing net using a 36″ long rod instead of a 72″ rod.
  • What do you think the odds are that your partner in the front of the canoe is going to knock your hat off with a sloppy back-flip of a rod while winding up for a cast with a 3 foot rod?
  • What would it be like to jig heavy trout lures  over the side when jigging in Kekekabic Lake for lakers in May/June?

The Daiwa Triforce Shorty is available in both spinning and casting versions.  For those unfamiliar, casting versions have a “trigger” on the handle and would be the style you’d use for a baitcaster reel.  You could also rig it up with a a spincast reel like a Daiwa Silver Cast or Gold Cast.

We’ve teamed it up with the Quantum Triax TRX10 Reel for great balance.  This reel would take 100 yards of 6 lb. mono and probably 80 yards of 8 lb. mono.  You could cheat and go to 15 lb. test braid which would fit 125 yards on this reel as it is 4 lb. test diameter.  The Quantum Triax  reel very nicely matches the Daiwa Triforce Shorty and comes with 7 ball bearings and anti reverse. It’s bail closes with just the right amount of force.  I like an easy-closing, but not too easy, bail.  The reel weigh in at 5.8 ounces.

Quantum Triax TRX10F

Quantum Triax TRX10F

Order this GREAT Spinning Combo Here!

We’ll be offer the Triforce/Triax Brush combo at redrockstore.com once we get a bunch of parts and pieces in our website put together.  

canoe fishing rod combo, brush fishing combo

Perfect rod for canoe camping or crossing through rugged territory

FREE Canoe Delivery Offer

FREE Canoe Delivery Offer 

Don’t delay.  This offer ends on April 15!

from SOTB Outfitters/ aka Red Rock

For a limited time, reserve a canoe rental for your next BWCA trip in the Ely area, and we’ll deliver it for FREE to a bunch of popular sites and at a reduced rate to a bunch of other popular entry points!  See the list below.

FREE Delivery/pickup  to:

  • Lake One (30)
  • Snowbank (27)
  • Moose Lake (25)
  • Wood Lake (26)
  • Ojibway Lake (29)
  • Fall Lake (24)

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Half Price Canoe Delivery/pickup to for all the others that we offer:

See list here:

REGULAR RENTAL CANOE DELIVERY RATES

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For those not familiar with our delivery method -

Red Rock loads up your rental canoes and we all head down to the entry point on the morning of your trip – together.  Earliest departure is 7 AM.  (I know “everybody” is always prepared the “night before” to leave “at first light” and if I had a dime for every outfitting party that didn’t make even the 7 AM departure time despite their best assurances.  7 AM is the earliest time.)   If you are coming out at the same entry point, you simply leave the canoe to the side of the landing, flip it over and stop back in at Red Rock whereupon we run down and pick it up.  It’s easy as pie and you aren’t sitting there waiting in the rain should you decide to come out early.  We’ve now been doing it like this for decades with no problems whatsoever.

Now, we can also, drop you and your gear off at Lake One and have one of your people drive the car to the Snowbank or Moose Lake landing (or vice versa) and then re-deliver the person who drove the car to the destination entry point so after your trip from Lake One to Moose your car is right there waiting for you after your canoe trip.   In that case, you again, would leave the canoe to the side flipped over, stop in at Red Rock to report that you are back, and we would go pick them up.

We make it easy because schedules are always tight.

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Call to reserve your canoes  1-800-280-1078

Canoe Rental Rates HERE

Kevlar Canoe Rentals

ouris river canoe with pack

Souris River Canoe Quetico 17

Kevlar  – yes kevlar canoes are what you want for your next BWCA wilderness canoe trip.   They are lighter on portages.  But remember that nobody ever drowns on a portage.  So don’t assume that all kevlar rental canoes in the BWCA  are created equal.   A lot of people are reticent to rent kevlar canoes for a whole host of reasons.  Here are a list of the top concerns that I’ve heard over the last 25 years of renting kevlar canoe for rugged boundary waters canoe trips:

  1. kevlar is too fragile and will puncture easily
  2. kevlar canoes are tippy
  3. they are fast but won’t turn in a wind
  4. don’t have much freeboard when loaded
  5. you have to “wet foot” canoe all the time.

Here is a list that corresponds with the above list to address each point:

  1. Not if it is made by Souris River.  Yes, Wenonah, Bell, and all other canoes are fairly fragile.
  2. Not if it is a Souris River Quetico 17 or 18.5.  Yes, Wenonah’s and Bell’s are tippier with the exception of Wenonah’s Boundary Waters which is stable but an odd canoe on the water.  Bell’s are always a little on the jittery side.
  3. Souris River’s are fast with a load and without a load plus their stability doesn’t change even when their load does.  They are properly designed to turn in the wind.  Wenonah’s (MNII) is a retired racing canoe with no rocker.  Wenonah, with their racing roots, doesn’t know how to make a canoe not go straight.  That’s great until you get caught in a crosswind with their associated low-freeboard.  Bells are much better handling than Wenonahs, but they feel jittery when empty and stabilize when loaded.  A truly great canoe never changes handling/performance characteristics.  – that’s the SR Quetico 17.
  4. Wenonah builds a bunch of different canoe models which tend to be somewhat obscure on the Boundary Waters front.  I don’t see those models and aren’t familiar with them by name, either.   But, they do build some high bow, low side and low stern design in the main of the models used by outfitters to the boundary waters.   The high bow is sharp and slices the waves.  It also maintains the straightest course from point A to point B which makes it fast, right?  Well, it also does the “A & B” thing in the “up and down”  line.  In rough water, it becomes a submairne because it’s skinny hull refuses to rise up and go over the top of the wave.  So, do the math:  You are  in a skinny canoe with a 20″ bow charging into a 24″ wave.  What’s going to happen?  You’re gonna get 4″ of water in your lap for every wave you dive into with your Wenonah.  Now add in the fact that your rental Wenonah has 7 days of gear in it and you at 200 lbs. are all wedged in the front of that canoe.  How high do the oncoming waves need to be to end up in you lap, now?   The answer is less than 24″ .   After loading up your loaded canoe with water that you really didn’t want, what happens when you get stuck in a crosswind with a canoe that fights you in turning in 24″ waves?  What happens when water comes over the side?  Does the canoe sit even lower at that point?   When do you begin bailing?   None of this is a problem with a sensible canoe like Souris River’s Quetico 17 or 18.5 three-man.  They rise up and over the waves due to their non-racing hull design.  High and dry is always better than fast and underwater.
  5. Souris Rivers are significantly tougher than Wenonahs and Bells.  Those two canoes are downright fragile in rugged country and the rule of thumb is that Souris Rivers rent four times more than Brand X kevlar canoes and Brand X requires 4 times more repairs after every trip out.  Now, we never want to see you ram shore with ANY canoe, but if you bump something with a Souris River kevlar,  oh, well.  Continue paddling, no need to dig out the duct tape.

If you think I’m making this up about Souris River Canoe, as an outfitter, what do I care if the canoe handles well in 3.5 foot whitecaps or treats my customers well?  I could VERY easily open up any other line of kevlar canoes for rentals and they would cost me less and get the job done well enough with less effort on my part.  Every year, I get the price sheets for Brand X kevlar canoes sent to me.   From a business standpoint, I would be best served to get the job of renting kevlar canoes done as cheaply as possible.  Souris Rivers cost me significantly more per canoe than any Brand X models and are a pain for me to get down from Canada.  Souris Rivers don’t have the marketing in the US that Brand X kevlars have.  In fact, because of brand recognition, it is easier to connect with a customer over Brand X kevlar canoes than it is with Souris River Canoes.  Sounds like a better business decision would be to switch brands of kevlar canoes.

And, yet…we stick with them exclusively.  Go figure, eh?

See our BWCA Canoe Rental Prices Here

Take Time for BWCA Camping – don’t just talk about wilderness

The “familied ” world targets the last week in July and first week in August every single year for last minute trips up north, particularly in Minnesota.   It appears that many metro-families have kids who belong to every activity under the sun, be it soccer, underwater basket weaving for 8th graders,  dog psychology for kids, and a whole slew of other activities.  I refer to these activities as distractions for kids and “fill-ins” for keeping the kids otherwise occupied and theoretically out harm’s way while both parents work.   At least that is what said activities used to be for some.  For others, joining every activity under the sun for summer is simply what they do.  These people are highly organized and live life to the schedule and the schedule is tight.  They squeeze in a major-carbon-footprint Disney trips, Euro-adventures or head off to the islands somewhere for a brief bit of running around.   When not scheduling around activities while attending group activities, they run around town like trained seals picking up a fish reward along the way.  They leave no time to do anything else but follow that intense schedule.  To me, it sounds exhausting.  In  conversations with schedulers , some seem to wear it like a badge of honor.  “We’re SO busy…”  Errr….OK….I guess if that is what you like to do….

Finally, when all the programmed kid activities come to an end, they suddenly realize they have only one week left before School Shopping Season and need to go north to the Boundary Waters.  I’ve actually heard metro-dwellers refer to it as the “obligatory trip north”.    Now, for many, it seems that the term “going to the Boundary Waters” no longer means taking an actual canoe trip anymore.  It means going to Ely for a week during the Blueberry Arts Festival to eat something fried on a stick.  There, they wander around and marvel at how busy it now is  (for about 10 days) in Ely and go home in time for two full weeks of “school shopping season”.   How that activity could possibly take two weeks  (instead of a day or two at the most) is beyond me, but school shopping season is now an event akin to Black Friday and it goes on for two whole weeks!   Usually before the second week in August the city folk have completed their summer bucket list with “make it to the Boundary Waters”.    I hope it was all very satisfying.

In what are becoming rarer occurrences, some of these people actually DO make it to the Boundary Waters for a real canoe trip during the BB fest time and it is normally busy then.  However, as of the last three years, we’ve noted a major falling-off in Boundary Waters reservations and canoe trips in general.  Until three years ago, there were people all over the streets of Ely, all summer long for my whole life.  You had to look both ways before crossing the street during non-Blueberry Arts Festival time.  Every other passing car had a canoe rack on it with a canoe tied on for as far as the eye could see and the grocery store parking lots were full of canoes on cars.  You couldn’t be driving on any road for 10 minutes and not have an upside down canoe go past.   It was not unusual for our 6 spaces in front of Red Rock to have 6 cars with canoes on top, almost every day all summer long.

Now, we barely see a canoe a car particularly when away from the roughly 10 days time period surrounding the Blueberry Festival.

If you take a drive to any of the major landings such as Lake One,  Moose Lake,  and Snowbank you should now notice a complete selection of prime places to park.  That never was the case before.   Now, a 150 car lot at Moose Lake has 25 cars in it and two of them are US Forest Service.  You stand at the Moose lake beach off the portage from the parking lot at 8 AM and where there used to be 6 boats heading up the Moose Lake Chain to go fishing for the day, there is silence.  Nothing going by.  And, while you are standing on that beach, there is no one coming down the portage from the parking lot with a canoe on their shoulders.  It used to be that you had to pass three for four canoes heading to or from the water.  Now, many times, you can close your eyes and run with a canoe on your shoulders fearing to hit no one.  There are no kids running back & forth all excited, no middle-aged paddlers huffing and puffing under a pack with way-too-much-junk.  Nobody.  No outfitter trucks lining up to pick up stacked canoes.  Except for the big boy scout base and their participants on the water, the Moose Chain is pretty quiet.

“Quiet” always sounds great I suppose, especially in regards to wilderness, but anybody in business on the edge of said wilderness knows that “quiet” means a slow, dwindling, struggling death.  It becomes very difficult to pay the rising taxes and massive operating costs while enjoying the “quiet”.    From a consumer’s perspective, “quiet” means “businesses of value”, are going away and the wilderness experience becomes a little more wild.  Sounds great until someone needs something and can’t find it anywhere.   Perhaps if we could bathe the wilderness in free WIFI then business would improve.

If you drive through town at anytime not during the Blueberry Arts Festival, the “bar graphs” of the current state of business in Ely are the outfitter canoe racks.  You can do a quick count while driving by.  30 canoes on the racks with 4 open spaces.  That means they’ve rented 4 canoes at a time that they usually rent 30.  Ely’s newest outfitter sat all summer long with one or two canoes off of his racks.   I’m  guessing  he’s a trust-fund baby so perhaps it doesn’t really matter if he rents canoes or not.   Maybe he needs the write off.   For Summer 2014, he succeeded in a big write-off.  You can’t pay the light bill with no canoe rentals except for during the Blueberry Arts Festival  – that is how I conclude he is a trust-fund baby.   Three years of full rental canoe racks does not a sound business make without some alternate money stream coming in.  And he does all this with no discernible, other job.    How do I get some of that, eh?   But, my speculation could be wrong, too.

This all briefly changes during the Blueberry Festival at the end of July.   But that’s it.  The car lots at the canoe landing will be 75% full then.  It used to be that they’d have to stack the Subarus and Priuses on top of larger vehicles just to fit in the lot.   Even during the Festival, there are now ample places to park at the busiest canoe entry points.  And this is not only true for Ely as the same holds true for the Gunflint trail.  I don’t get my information from visitors to the area because, they see their week in time and extrapolate the entire summer’s business activity from that.  I get my data from US Forest Service field personnel, MN conservation officers, DNR Fisheries workers, the county deputy sheriffs,  highway workers, and my own physical observations.  In relative terms, there is nobody here anymore.

Standing at the Lake One landing on a Monday morning is like standing in a Steven King novel.   No vans arriving, no logos going by, and in downtown Ely, no canoe outfitting customers schlepping packs & canoes back and forth to vehicles on the sidewalks.  Heck, there are hardly any cars in the middle of July.   We also no longer see small teams of Boyscouts in uniform walking up and down the streets of Ely and you can pretty much park your car anywhere.  Ely used to have a parking problem.   We bonafide locals notice things like this, visitors and newbies do not.  It may look busy to visitors going to Disappointment Lake for their 7 day “wilderness” base camp next to the parking lot at Snowbank, but if they took two portages in, they’d see no one for days.  It is also the same way in the Quetico Provincial Park of Canada across the border.  The Canadians are alarmed by the 35% reduction in visitors.  On the US side, it appears to me that our federal government in charge doesn’t even care.  A sign of ample tax dollars and printed money, perhaps?  They have an inordinate number of new white vehicles, it seems, with only one person driving each one.  Car-pooling and all that carbon-footprint silliness doesn’t seem to apply in the federal US Forest Service.

Early Season

So, when is a good time to take a Boundary Waters canoe trip these days?  Well, if you want to see absolutely nobody, the last week in May and the first two week of June are great times if you like to fish. Kids are still in school.   Historically, there is nobody here during those times, and depending on the water levels, the bugs may not be bad at all.   The thought of bugs scares so many people these days it is absolutely ridiculous.  Years ago, bugs never stopped anybody.  They were in God’s Country and a few bugs wasn’t going to detract from that.  In observing shoppers and the quantities of bug dope that they now buy for a few days, I wonder if they are planning on adding it to their mixed drinks?  And that’s in July when blackflies are completely gone and mosquitoes are on their way out.

Black flies can be out in pockets and areas in June which is unpredictable, but we usually don’t see them until the third week (if at all, some summers), right when the big bass are spawning.  They come and go.  They also don’t bite inside of rooms, cars, or tents.  When they discover that they can’t get out, they head to the window screens and beg for their lives.  (A fitting end, I say, hopefully with a slow death.)   Plus, blackflies generally don’t follow you out on the water and we have some great bug dope just for them.  But that’s the third week.  Come before that for nice days, cool nights and the smell of a wood fire crackling in the evenings next to a wilderness lake with the loons singing across the bay.   Will you hit 7 days of rain?   You could.  It sucks but that is why you also pack an 8 x 10 tarp and several packets of hot chocolate.  That is also why you go get a lot of wood after setting up camp and BEFORE everybody goes fishing.

Upon reading this, instead of reminiscing, call us up and reserve your canoes, today.  1-800-280-1078  If that doesn’t do it for you anymore, come stay at our resort, Northwind Lodge where we now have free WIFI in the cabins (you’ll probably need that to lure them out of the house before you can tie them to the car seats and head to Northwind).    Take day canoe trips and come back to the cabin to sleep in a bed.  Baby steps –  Get those kids out of team activities and drag them kicking and screaming if you must.   Let them learn the introspection that balances one’s sanity later as an adult by going in the real woods – and not some a state campground with drunks and fruitcakes running amok.   People need to know that it’s OK to feel all alone and what it’s like to be really close to the water, ground and sky.  It’s OK to be away from the digital master who now controls those kids and most of today’s adults.  It’s OK to be cold and wet and then feel that fire and smell that smoke.   You can’t learn this by attending a summer camp with 50 other kids.  You also can’t learn this on Youtube.  You can watch a bunch of narcissists filming their BWCA trip, but it isn’t remotely the same as doing it yourself.  Be your own narcissist.  Make your own videos with selfies of your actually being there.

Going to the Boundary Waters means via canoe, not just the Blueberry Arts Festival where you buy something fried on a stick.  You can buy that crap anywhere.  There is only one real Boundary Waters  and only one place that you can visit it as far as I’m concerned.   Get your vacation life in order and give us a call.  You’ve been missing out on a lot!

Emergencies – Fire is Number One

Nowadays, when I ask someone to produce the best thing they have for emergencies while out in a wilderness situation and they produce their smartphone.  GROAN!

What is the #1 most required thing that you need when you are stuck in the woods?   To pick nits, it is actually a hierarchy of needs based on you current situation, so, granted, it’s a whole bunch of basic items.  It goes without saying (well, it does to people with a brain) that “skill” is first and foremost above “tools”.   If you don’t have basic skills, common sense, and a the ability to “foward-think”, your situation may go from bad to worse in a short amount of time barring that other facet of all emergencies:  luck.

The first thing you need with your emergency gear is the ability to produce a fire.   Along with that are the basic skills for fire building, of course.  First, you need a reliable way to make a flame after the unthinkable happens.  The unthinkable in canoe country is very thinkable and has remained as such forever.  You could roll your canoe.  You could roll it because you didn’t forward-think about the consequences that sudden weather can reign down upon you.   You could roll it because you did something stupid like try to run the rapids instead of taking that 10,000 year old established portage.    You could hit an unseen obstacle or have your less-experienced bow person do some unpredicted flopping around.  There are so many things that can go wrong SO quickly in wilderness and you are sitting there with no solution in hand for your most immediate problem.  Everybody is cold and wet.

Everything is much harder to do when you are shivering and the wind is blowing.  The first thing you need is a fire and preferably against a big rock, out of the wind so you can get some reflection of all that infrared radiation that it throws off in all directions.  Just the psychological benefit of a fire does wonders to uplift spirits in dire situations.  First off, a flickering fire means that you still have some ability left in you to solve your problem.  It is not as dire as it seemed prior to the flames.   You still hold a little bit of control and that confidence, despite your shivering, will drive you into all the other necessities of survival, primarily in planning.  Are you staying here?  Do you have to stay?  Will you need shelter?  Will you need a way for someone to notice you?  Are your food and water resources sufficient to stay put until help arrives and for how long?   These are all the things that you need to think about and can do so in front of the proof that you can survive: the fire.

Without going into a dissertation on ALL the other survival factors, I’m going to address the basic need for a fire.  Whatever you have to light a flame, should be on you and not wet.  Water is the opposite of fire.  Having your stuff buried in a pack that just blew downstream in raging rapids is also a problem.  You may or may not find your pack.  So having a pocket that has a little ziplock bag in it with a lighter inside will do wonders.  Butane lighters are OK but they are cheap and can fail when it’s cold out.  Plus that irritating “child-safety” crap can really dampen a windy situation so you know that the government failed us mightily in forcing  safety crap upon us that actually interferes with our safety.   Teach your children well.  The government is a deadbeat parent at very best.  Nuff said.

A better lighter is one that is refillable and maintains a flame without your thumb pressure.  They made it all through World War II and remain today as a very popular simple lighter.  They are easier on the environment, don’t lay around in drawers, and don’t end up in landfills.  They are collectible.  They also hold a fuel source that in emergencies could be accessed easily.  You can’t crack open a butane lighter and light the liquid.  The next thought is regards matches.  Why not include matches?  Well, you can.  But, unlike a Zippo that is maintained, humidity in the air alone, affects matches.  Matches require a certain skill level to operate and you always end up with that last match in a wind.  I taught myself to treat every match like it is my last one, but even that can fail.  Zippos are pretty reliable in the rain and snow.  It wouldn’t hurt to have matches in a waterproof match holder, but a Zippo backup in a ziplock bag is really nice, too.

When all else fails have a Zippo in your pocket

When all else fails have a Zippo in your pocket

Order Your Reliable Zippo Lighter Here

Different Graphics on this Zippo

Zippo makes an affordable emergency fire start for those who want some extra security.  This is a case with four “tinder sticks” inside.   You pull one out, fuzz it up on the end and spark it to a flame with the sparker AKA flint-wheel-ignition.    The case is water resistant, floats and is colored orange so you can see it.   Put that in a small ziplock and tuck it in a pocket if you don’t need the more constant use of a handy flame.  If you are only building a fire in non-emergency times, maybe hauling around a lighter is not for you unless you smoke.  I only smoke when my pants are on fire.

Zippo Fire Starter Kit

Zippo Fire Starter Kit

Order your Zipper Emergency Fire Starter Kit here

In years of guiding, I made a lot of shore lunches using resources out in the woods.  Sometimes you can’t find loose birch back because it is either picked clean or just not there.  In the presence of birch trees, we were taught at young age to never to the “stupid tourist thing” of peeling a birch tree down to its private parts.  You see them all over the Boundary Waters and where the Forest Service painted them white again to maybe help the tree to survive.  Some actually do.  You can tell  a small percentage of tourists not to do this  until you are blue in the face and some will never get it.  Others simply don’t care.  Nonetheless,  there may not be any birch bark laying around to use.  As a result, I got into a habit of carrying these specific firestarters below.  As far as I’m concerned, day to day use, they save time and effort.  You can wet them and remove from the water and then crack two sticks in half.  Light the broken end immediately with your Zippo.  They burn about 8 minutes each and give you ample time to dry out tinder and then small to larger branches or whatever is laying around.    Am I able to build a fire in a rainstorm without them?  Yes.  But why?  These are reliable, inexpensive, lightweight, and get the job done well.

Waterproof Firestarters

Waterproof Firestarters

Order Your FireStarters Here

So, regarding fires, that’s my recommendation.  Have something that lights reliably (on your person) and something that you can light either on you or in your pack.  Without fire, you are sunk.  This applies to all the times that you can find yourself in trouble, particularly in cold, high waters at spring time, and in the fall.  But that doesn’t mean you leave your emergency stuff on the kitchen table during July.   Part of being prepared is to realize that “you just never know….”.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Maps

We always get ask which map is best, I always that they each have there good qualities and it really depends of what you information you want.  I will say that the Fisher is one our best sellers followed by the Voyageur Map.  The Mckenzie map is popular with people who want to fish because of the contour depths that are on the lakes.  So here is the information on each map to help you make your decision on what map you should use for you trip!

Fisher Maps

The “F” series maps are our most recent set of maps taken from U.S. Forestry and Canadian topographical base. Scale is 1-1/2″ to the mile, more than twice the scale of our 1952 (100-series) maps. This map base provides the ultimate in accuracy and detail including land contours and lake bottom contours where that information is available on the Minnesota side of the border. U.S. Forestry map base originates from U.S. Geological Survey source material. This “F” series of maps will be of interest to the hiker, backpacker, and hunter as well as those traveling the waters of the canoe country. The maps are printed in four colors on a polypropylene base paper affording maximum readability. They are completely waterproof and will hold up with the roughest handling. Campsite, portage, trail, and other relevant information on the Minnesota side is provided and reviewed annually by the U.S. Forest Service for accuracy. Size 22-1/2″ x 28-1/2″, Scale 1-1/2″ = 1 mile, Waterproof

But Fisher Maps Click Here

MCKENZIE MAPS

Are high quality, rugged, waterproof guides and maps to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Quetico Provincial Park, Isle Royale, Voyageurs National Park, Lake Superior, Apostle Islands, and the surrounding lakes region. These tough waterproof maps are designed to assist users in Canoeing, Portaging, Fishing, and Hiking in and around these natural wilderness areas.

Map Features:

  • Portages
  • Campsites
  • Trails
  • Water depth contours where available
  • Full topographic details with hill shading
  • UTM navigation information (a must for GPS users)
  • Many other important details to make navigation easier and more efficient.

McKenzie Maps are printed in full color with hill shading to emphasize elevations, and are printed on high quality, rugged, waterproof plastic paper to endure rough outdoor conditions. Our highly detailed BWCA/Quetico maps are 25″ x 30″ at a scale of 1:31680, approximately 2″ = 1 mile, and cover an area approximately 144 square miles. Other maps vary in size and scale; you will find that information in the individual map descriptions. The maps are reviewed annually by Park and Forest Service officials, DNR officials, guides, outfitters and resort owners.

Buy Mckenzie Maps Click Here

Voyageur Maps:

Are the newest map to use for the Boundary Waters Canoe trip.  They have map only 10 maps to complete the whole area.   Voyageur maps cover larger areas with more lakes. Ten jumbo maps cover the entire BWCA in beautiful detail. Laid out for the canoeist with crisp, clear lake outline; portage and campsite information; and detailed topographic lines. Lake contour coverage for those who love to fish, plus summaries of DNR fish surveys. An excellent overview map and full lake name index of the whole BWCA on the back of each map with historical notes as well.

  •  Forest Service and Outfitter reviewed!
  •  Dimensions: 38 3/4″ x 28 3/4″
  •  Folds to 6″ x 10″
  •  Waterproof paper
  •  Weight: 4 oz.

Buy Voyageur Maps Click Here

Trip Route: N. Kawishiwi River to Bald Eagle

Entry Point:  N. Kaswishiwi(29)Ojibway access

Trip Length: 3 Days

Apex: Bald Eagle area

Exit:  Ojibway Landing

Level:  Moderate

Pace:  6 – 8 miles per day (land & sea combined)

Scenery:  Beautiful – Copper Nickel country, granite and other sulfide bearing rocks all over. jackpine and swamps

Busy Times: Last week of July – First week of August

Features:  Paddle down Kawishiwi river (slow/no moving) to Bald Eagle region.  Make a loop thru Clear Lake to the north.  Can be great fishing at times.

Problems:  Couple of longer portages.  Rapids can eat your canoe.  You’ll also see more people as you approach on Bald Eagle/Gabbro lake area.

Solutions:  Don’t be an idiot.  Stay our of ALL rapids.  That’s what portages and our superlight Souris River rental canoes are for.   Shooting rapids is incredibly dumb when there’s a portage. Damaged canoes will cost you a bundle in repairs,  replacement, and extraction.  Do not leave canoes unattended and calmly floating in the water.  Either hold, tie, or bring up on shore.