BWCA Tents and Sleeping Gear Advice

When picking out the perfect sleeping gear for BWCA trips there are a few things you will want to consider. What time of year are you planning on visiting? How many (if any) portages are you planning on doing? How much are you willing to carry?

What should I look for in a tent for the BWCA?

When choosing a tent for the BWCA you will want to make sure it is big enough for the number of people you desire to fit in your tent, it is lightweight, and it has a great rain fly. I recommend going for a tent rated for one more than the manufacturer recommends. I always found that a 2-person tent for 2 people is crowded. 

Always check your tent bag for stakes and poles.  I had a trip that I went on as a little kid and my dad forgot to bring tent poles. We had to hang the top of the tent to a tree by a rope to keep it up. Luckily we had an extra rope and carabiner!

Which sleeping pad should I get for my BWCA trip?

If you are going in any time of the year other than summer or you have a bad back I recommend sacrificing a bit of weight/space and getting a thicker backpacking pad with an "R-Value" of at least 3. After a long day paddling/portaging the last thing you want to do is have a bad night's sleep. If you aren't portaging weight and size aren't an issue bring the most comfortable sleeping pad you can. I personally would go with the Aerie UL Primaloft if you're going to be camping above freezing. I like Pro-Stretch Soft Top if you planning to go in early spring or late fall.

If you are planning on only visiting during the summer when the lows are in the 50s and you have a good back. Then it might be worth the space/weight savings of an extremely ultralight sleeping pad like the Peregrine Flyer.

R-Value Quick Guide:

Summer: 1-3

3-Season: 3-5

Winter/4-Season: 5-7

Which sleeping Bag should I get for my BWCA trip?

When choosing a sleeping bag for your next BWCA trip I recommend going for a more expensive down sleeping bag if you can afford it. Down sleeping bags are much lighter, more durable, and slightly more compact than synthetic sleeping bags. When choosing between the temperature ratings of a sleeping bag I recommend going 10 degrees higher than the degree rating. So if you're going to be sleeping in 40-degree weather I go with a 30-degree bag at least. It is a lot easier to cool off than it is to warm up at night in the BWCA. I like the Zenith sleeping bags.  Zenith 0 Degree | Zenith 30 Degree

Do I need to bring a pillow on my BWCA trip?

Yes, Yes, and Yes. I have tried lightweight "creative" pillow options on many trips like the "throw clothes into a pillow bag" and the "I rest my head on my backpack" pillow. Both options left me with a sore neck in the morning. Get a Versa Pillow you won't regret it! I like how compact and lightweight it is.