Bing tracking

Transportation and equipment details

What the program fee covers


The program fee covers all transportation (the canoeing and all shuttles or other ground transportation).  Students are responsible for making arrangements to get to Minneapolis for the initial orientation in late August, and their transportation to return home from Minneapolis in December at the completion of the program.


All food on the trip is provided, including snacks, and nonalcoholic beverages.  This includes all food while camping, and restaurant dining while in towns and cities along the way.  At times students may choose to have meals at restaurants on their own, at their own expense.


We will be camping for approximately 12 weeks of the semester, with the remainder of the time staying in hostels and hotels in the cities, and at dormitories at research facilities.  Generally there will be 3 people per tent, and 4 people per room in hostels or residence halls.

Lab equipment

We will have a full set of field lab equipment, field laptops, solar chargers, e-readers, and field wi-fi.

Camping equipment

Our outfitters supply canoes, paddles, life jackets (PFDs), tents, all cooking gear, tarps, first aid, and waterproof Duluth packs.  Some additional equipment (such as sleeping bags, pads, and rain gear) is available for students who are unable to acquire these on their own.


The program will cover group laundry, done approximately once a week.  Students cover any additional laundry beyond this at their discretion.


We will carry a set of e-books used in the program for students to share.  Students wishing to have their own personal copies of the texts will need to purchase them.

Additional expenses not covered by the program fee

Spending money

Students should budget some spending money for the trip, in the range of $25-100/week depending on individual preferences.  This would cover things such as extra snacks, personal toiletries, entertainment in towns (movies, music, etc.), and souvenirs.

Personal gear required for the trip (some equipment, such as sleeping bags and pads, is available for loan from Wilderness Inquiry).  Weight limit for each individual for clothing, sleeping bag, and pad is approximately 25 lb. and no more than 3,500 cubic inches.  Minimize the amount of cotton clothing you bring (synthetics or wool work much better).

__ Waterproof Jacket & Pants – Must be sturdy enough to withstand wilderness conditions.

__ One pair of rubber or neoprene boots (such as NRS Boundary Water neoprene shoes) or hip waders.  Foot care is a priority and a challenge on this trip.  We are in and out of the water frequently and spend time in muddy and sandy shoreline most notes.  There can also be biting insects, nettles, and poison ivy so have good protection of your calves, ankles, and feet will make a big difference in your over-all comfort.

__ Water-shoes – One pair of durable, closed-toed shoes to be worn while canoeing–Keens or Tevas are good. Crocs will not work! (the mud will suck them right off).  These are a high priority item (cost of a new pair of Keens is approximately $50-100)

__ Pants – 2 pairs quick drying nylon or other synthetic is best.

__ Insulating Tops – 1 Heavy sweater or fleece jacket, 1 lighter top made of fleece or wool.

__ Long Sleeve Shirt – Lightweight shirt for protection from bugs and sun, quick drying nylon or other synthetic is best.

__ T-shirts – 2- 3 Quick drying synthetics or Merino wool is best, cotton OK.

__ Long Underwear – 1 Pair of tops and bottoms made of polypropylene or other synthetic. No cotton. This may seem unnecessary for August, but we sometimes have mornings in the 40s, even at that time of year. Also cold rain and winds are always possible.

__ Shorts – 1-2 pair of shorts. At least one pair should be made of quick drying nylon. Can double as swimsuit.

__ Swimsuit

__ Underwear – Enough underwear to keep you happy (around 6 pairs should do).

__ Camp Shoes – One pair of lightweight shoes or flip-flops to be used when off the water around camp.

__ Socks – 3-4 Pair of wool or polypropylene are best, cotton will not keep you warm if wet.

__ Sun Hat and Warm Hat – One to protect from rain and sun. One warm stocking cap for cool weather.

__ Sleeping Bag – Compact, light-weight 3-season synthetic fill sleeping bag with nylon stuff sack (rated to 25-32 degrees F., not a winter bag). No cotton or flannel bags.

__ Ground Pad – Ensolite ground pad or Therm-a-Rest, Exped, or Big Bertha inflatable type.

__ Water Bottle – Plastic or metal water bottle or canteen.

__ Flashlight or Headlamp – Bring extra batteries. Keep it small and light. Headlamp preferred.

__ Sunglasses – A sports strap to hold them on is helpful.

__ Small Day Pack or Dry Bag – A small day pack or dry bag to hold items you’ll want during the day. The bottom of the canoe gets wet, so you will need to provide a waterproof container for anything you want to stay dry.

__ Toiletries –Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.

__ Sunscreen & Lip balm – Make sure it is at least 15 SPF.          

__ Medications – If losing your meds would cause you great discomfort, consider bringing a second set and giving one to your trip leader as a backup. There are no pharmacies on the Mississippi River (but we will stop in several towns along the way that do have pharmacies). Anti-itch cream recommended for bug bites. WI has a full first aid kit for any more serious injuries or illness.

__ Insect Repellent – No aerosol cans.

__ Bandanas – 2-3 Bandanas used for a variety of things including marking your bags, washing up, etc.

__ Small, synthetic towel.

__ A notebook/sketchbook for class, pens, pencils.

__ One set of nice clothes for our time in town.

Optional gear:

__ A supply of your personal snacks or favorite nonperishable food. High-protein power bars recommended (avoid high sugar snacks). People do sometimes get hungry in between meals, as we are getting a lot of fresh air and exercise.

__ Gloves – One pair of lightweight wool or synthetic. Some people do get blisters from the paddling.

__ Ear plugs – the train tracks run along both sides of the river and trains run at night, and sound their horns at all on-grade crossings. Some campsites are near facilities that are noisy as well.

__ Small Pocket Knife

__ Binoculars for field observations or bird watching

__ Fishing Pole – Collapsible poles and small tackle boxes are best. Don’t forget a Minnesota fishing license.

__ Personal Diary/Book

__ Camera – Store in padded, waterproof/plastic bag or container (although most people just use their smartphones)

__ Several Plastic Bags – They always come in handy, especially to organize your gear.

Note on electronics: laptops are not be necessary but we carry only six Chromebook laptops to share among the 12-16 students and most assignments must be submitted electronically.  There is space in one of the waterproof “Pelican” cases for personal laptops if you want to bring one.

While paddling no electronic devices (including use of headphones or wireless speakers) is allowed.  We recommend minimizing use of cell phones or other electronic devices on the trip. The point of this kind of experience is to be paying as much attention to the world around us, and minimize the amount of distraction. That said, we will be blogging and using social media on the trip as we go. The program will have laptops/tablets available for some lab work, solar panels and batteries for recharging electronic devices, and shared internet access via a mobile wi-fi hotspot.  When possible we will use local libraries and coffee shops for wi-fi access, studying and class time.