Sunday, May 5, 2013

Keep our (and your) costs down, save time and do the environment a favour -- bring less stuff!

Gear on dock in town in previous summer. Photo by Ed Dziubinski.
As we sit and wait for the 2013 ice to melt on Red Lake, it is a good time to review things we can do for this year's trip to camp.

Bow Narrows Camp is located 20 miles by water from the highway. Our location is one of the reasons we all love it here. We are surrounded by wilderness: wild animals, fantastic fishing and spectacular scenery. The world of pavement and traffic noise is all the way back at the dock.
But our remoteness also means you must plan your trip more carefully than you would for a road trip. Everything you bring must be carried in our boat, the Lickety Split, along with everything eight other people bring. Our rates and boat schedule are counting on this -- nine people and their gear per trip whenever possible.

If you bring too much it means we will need to make more trips than planned. It means that fewer people can ride on the boat, that others will have to wait unnecessarily for the next trip in 90 minutes.

If you were taking a fly-in fishing trip the camp or airline would give you a strict weight limit, typically 75-100 pounds per person. That would include all of your groceries, beer, fishing tackle and luggage -- everything.
At Bow Narrows Camp we do not give you a precise limit but as we have already discussed, weight is definitely a factor and we ask that you travel as light as possible. I have no way of weighing your stuff at our dock; however, once it is in the boat, I can tell from the waterline how heavy a load the boat is carrying. If it is too much, someone or something will have to be taken back out.

I hesitate to set a maximum baggage weight for Bow Narrows Camp guests because then everybody will bring at least that much. Right now we have some people whose gear is very light, most who bring a moderate amount and a few who seem to be trying to sink the boat. I'm not kidding. We can have a single group of 6-8 people that will bring more than the other 24 people in camp put together!

Excess weight almost always comes from three things: water, glass and lead.


Water, whether it is actual drinking water or in the form of beer, weighs eight pounds per U.S. gallon, 10 per Imperial gallon.
A case of water in 24 plastic bottles = 25 pounds. You could save 25 pounds just by bringing a refillable water bottle and filling it at camp. Our water plant is state-of-the art. It produces safe, great-tasting, beautiful drinking water from every tap. And if you bring a refillable water bottle, you won't leave 24 plastic bottles behind. You can also easily recognize your bottle instead of discarding a partly full plastic bottle because you don't know whose it is.

A case of 24 beer in glass bottles = 32 pounds. The empty bottles which we must also haul back to town weigh 10 pounds. Total round-trip weight = 42 pounds.

A case of beer in cans = 20 pounds and the empty cans are virtually weightless.

Obviously, please bring beer in cans, not bottles.


Whether in the form of beer bottles or iced tea bottles or condiment jars, glass is heavy even without the contents. If you have a choice between mayo in a glass jar or mayo in a plastic jar, choose plastic. If your product only comes in glass, then you have no choice but to bring it.


Deep cycle marine battery  typically = 60 pounds.
Electric trolling motor = 20-30 pounds
Battery charger = 10 pounds
As you can see, if you were able to take an electric trolling motor, battery and charger on a fly-in trip (most won't allow you to fly a battery) that would be your entire weight allowance. We have batteries and electric trolling motors for rent at camp for $50 per week. You could save 100 pounds of weight just by renting. You can also just rent the battery for $25 and save 60 pounds.

Incidentally, our 20 hp electric-start Honda outboards troll very slowly. Just about everybody finds they are all you need . If you want to slow down even more, bring a drift sock that you tow overboard. It weighs practically nothing. See Drift Sock

Tackle boxes are among the heaviest pieces of luggage. Some of these can top 60 pounds. Probably half of this weight comes from lead sinkers and lead jigs. You need them for fishing, that's for sure, but do you need 30 pounds of them? Most of the sinkers you use are half ounce or less each. It would take 32 of the heaviest ones to make one pound. Most of the jigs are 1/4 ounce or less. It would take 64 to make up a pound. Just bring as many as you need, not all that you own, that's what we're asking.

I once put together a list of things that most people bring that might be of help. See What to Pack.

Don't use the volume of your vehicle as a way to control how much stuff you are bringing. One pickup truck, with just two occupants, can be packed with an entire boatload of weight. What do the other seven people in the Lickety Split do with their stuff?

Most people are conscientious about what they bring. Unfortunately, the ones who are not are also probably not reading this.

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