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The Littlbug Blog

​The Best Boundary Waters Experience

Posted by Esther Drebelbis of Littlbug Enterprises on

Covering over 1 million acres and hugging 120 miles of Minnesota’s international border, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness(BWCAW) offers adventures 12 hiking trails and 1,200 miles of canoe routes (National Forest Service). The BWCAW has become quite the area of discussion in recent months due to the imminent threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. Mining would destroy this beautiful playground available to us, along with the habitat home to a multitude of species in the area.

If you haven’t visited the Boundary Waters, we highly recommend planning a trip so you better understand the importance of preserving this beautiful landscape. To help plan your trip, whether a seasoned BWCAW visitor or a first timer, we've compiled a few tips for you to take with you.

Explore by Canoe:  A unique attribute of the BWCAW is that there are selected lakes that allow motor boats. Many of these lakes are on the outer boundary of the BWCAW giving motor boats immediate access to the BWCAW. While this can make travel faster and easier, it takes away from the experience of being in the wilderness. We recommend putting away the gasoline powered engine and manually propel yourself across the endless lakes via canoe.

With a canoe, your opportunities to explore are endless. Portaging, moving from lake to lake, becomes easier, and you’re able to explore deeper into the BWCAW, and venture into non-motorized lakes. Along with being able to explore more by taking a canoe, you reduce the noise pollution that affects the wildlife in this area.

Don’t own a canoe? Don’t worry about that! There are plenty of outfitters that can get you the gear you need to begin your true BWCAW canoeing excursion.

Fresh Fish Dinners:  One of the many pleasures of going into the BWCAW is the endless lakes and the fish that live in them. Home to schools of Walleye, Northern Pikes, Bass, and many others gives you the opportunity to give angling a try. Whether you enjoy fly fishing or rod fishing, the BWCAW brings some of the best fishing experience you can imagine. Paddling to a quiet corner of a lake to throw a line in brings the solitude and adventure to an already wonderful trip. Bringing to camp a handful of fish for dinner is the icing on the cake. Fire up your Littlbug wood burning camp stove and enjoy a night fish fry from the catches of the day.

If you don’t have a fishing license, make sure you purchase one before entering the BWCAW. You can purchase a fishing license at most outfitters in towns on the edge of the BWCAW.

Packing Light:  Paddling in a canoe limits your gear allowance to what can fit inside the bottom of the canoe and your canoe's ability to stay afloat. Portaging between lakes also encourages you to keep your gear light. Bring only what you need and keep those items as light as possible. Leave the cast iron skillet at home and forget the 5lb camping chair.

There are plenty of camping comforts available in lighter, more efficient packing options. This will save you a lot of back and forth on portages and make for lighter lake to lake transitions, along with keeping your paddle strokes easier to keep your canoe propelling across lakes.

Littlbug Tip: Bring along an ultralight backpacking camp stove. The Littlbug Jr. Stove weighs in at 5.1oz, and you can leave your fuel canisters at home! The BWCAW is surrounded by forest, offering plenty of fire kindling to fuel your ultralight stick stove.

Be sure to check with the local forest service to check on any fire bans that may be in effect when you plan on traveling there. Ask if the restrictions include alcohol burning stoves. If there is a fire ban, you may still be able to use your wood burning camp stove by adding an alcohol burner, which nestles into the Littlbug stoves perfectly. Alcohol and alcohol burners don’t add a significant amount of additional weight.

Explore this beautiful hidden gem in Northern Minnesota and see why it’s worth saving from mining threats. Learn how you can help save the Boundary Waters by visiting the Save the Boundary Waters website.


While we add value to your outdoor experience, you are adding value to our planet and all that live here. Littlbug Enterprises donates at least 10% of its profits to help care for the Earth and its inhabitants.