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Piragis Northwoods Company Boundary Waters 

Shop Information

Discover BWCA’s lakes and rivers with the Piragis Northwoods Company. Located in Ely, Minnesota, Piragis Northwoods Company Outfitters is a full-service canoe trip outfitter for the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park. The company has been helping guests experience the beauty and solitude of the Boundary Waters Canoe area for over 40 years.

The Piragis team knows the routes, where the good campsites are, what the portages are like, where you can expect to catch fish, and points of interest – like waterfalls and Native American pictographs.

The Piragis team is always eager to guide guests to see the sunsets, the pan-fried walleye, and the sand beaches. Ely’s lakes and rivers are for the fishers, the birders, the seekers of solitude, dedicated paddlers, and wilderness freaks – if you’re one of the above, BWCA is for you! Just four hours away from Minneapolis, Boundary Waters Canoeing Area is one of the best nature getaway destinations. With Paragis, you’ll see BWCA’s stunning beauty firsthand!

Complete and Partial Outfitting

PNC has the area’s premier guides for fishing and naturalist-guided trips and offers discounts for scouts, churches, and larger groups. Their canoe rentals are lightweight kevlar and average about 42 pounds.

Complete Outfitting

Piragis Northwoods believes that you should have the best gear for your Quetico or Boundary Waters canoe trip.  With this package, they take the worry away from trip preparation. The company features top-notch, ultra-light camping equipment from the most respected brands. They do all the packing and you get the finest food and equipment at one package price without the headaches.

Full Outfitting Includes:

    • Ultra-light Kevlar canoes
    • Top-notch gear designed for canoe camping – NEMO, Big Agnes, Cooke Custom Sewing, Granite Gear, and more
    • Delicious camp food with a customizable menu made by you
    • Expert trip planning and routing advice
    • Hot Shower when you return

Boundary Waters Canoe and Gear Rentals

Many folks just want to rent a great, lightweight Kevlar canoe for their Quetico or Boundary Waters canoe trip. If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. If you need a few other pieces of gear to supplement your kit, we’ve got that too.  They’ll help you with as much or as little as you need to make your canoe trip a success!

Watercraft Available for Rent

  • Ultralight Kevlar Canoes
  • Kayaks
  • SUP
  • Boat Accessories

Equipment and Gear for Rent

  • Food Packs
  • Portage Packs
  • Sleep Systems
  • Camp Kitchens
  • Camp Essentials
  • Satellite Communications


Trail Info

Guide to Planning Your Boundary Waters and Quetico Adventures

Plan Based on Who Is Going

When planning an Ely trip, consider the following:

  • Age of crew members (No minimum age. Great for kids!)
  • Outdoor experience, including canoeing and Boundary Waters camping experience.
  • Is this your first trip? Learn more about Canoe Trips.
  • Fitness Level (How does everyone feel about portaging?)
  • Are you part of a Church, Camp, School, or Scout Group?
  • The maximum group size is 9 people.  (If you have more than 9 people, we can split you into two groups and get you two permits, but remember you have to travel and camp separately.)

What Are Your Adventure Goals and Interests

Piragis will customize your route to best fit your group’s interests.  Below are a few items for you to consider.

  • Fishing
  • Pictographs
  • Waterfalls
  • Wildlife
  • Basecamping vs Traveling (Do you want to travel every day or fish/explore from a basecamp?)
  • Solitude
  • Teambuilding
  • Difficulty Level (Are you looking to take it easy or challenge yourself? There are routes for both.)

When You’re Planning to Visit Ely

  • If your dates are fixed, great. The team will find you the best canoe route based on the permits that are available for your date.
  • If your dates are flexible, the Piragis team can pick the time of year and entry point that best fits the goals for your canoe trip.  Each season has different things to offer on a canoe trip.  For example, if you are looking for fewer bugs and more swimming opportunities mid to late August would be a good time of year.  If fishing is the reason for you trip, May or June would be best.

How Many Days You’re Planning to Stay in the Wilderness

Piragis can accommodate canoe trips of any length. There are many factors, but we typically recommend 5 days or more to allow time to leave the hustle bustle at home and get into rhythm with the wilderness.

Plan Your Routes and Secure a Permit

Once the team has a route in mind, the next step is to reserve the permit for the appropriate entry point on the appropriate date. Piragis will walk you through this process.

What to Bring to a Canoe Trip

The next step is to determine what gear you have and what gear you will need to rent from Piragis. They can help you with as much or as little gear as you need for your trip. The Boundary Waters Packing List will help get you started.

How to Get to Ely + Other Considerations

  • Some folks drive right to Ely.
  • Others fly into either Minneapolis or Duluth.  Most people rent a car and drive from there to Ely, but they do offer a shuttle service if you would like them to pick you up from the airport.

It is not necessary to take a guide into the wilderness, but whether it is your first trip or your 10th, one of our experienced guides will greatly enhance your adventure.  From identifying flora and fauna, to pictographs and history, to camp craft and fishing, Piragis guides have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal.

Reserve With Us


Q What’s the first thing I need to do to get my canoe trip going?

A canoe trip starts with reserving a permit for a specific entry point on a specific date. You can reserve a permit yourself at Recreation.gov or we can help you!

Q If I’m not renting a canoe, do I need to license my own canoe?

If you live in MN or another state that requires a license, you must have a current license on your canoe while paddling in MN. If you are from a state that does not require your canoe to be licensed, it does NOT need to be licensed in MN. You will need to show an ID that confirms you are a resident of a state that doesn't require a license.

Q What are your outfitting hours?

From mid-May until mid-September, outfitting is open from 6am until 8pm. During the early and later part of the season, we open at 7am. Keep in mind that they are available for rentals until the lakes are frozen. Piragis Northwoods Company is open all year to answer your outfitting questions! Feel free to call the shop to make sure about the hours before you arrive.

Q What kind of animals might I see or hear?

Some of the bigger animals we have in the BWCA are moose, wolves, deer and black bear. A few others that you may see are beavers, otters, muskrats, pine martens, fishers, red squirrels, chipmunks, and turtles.

Q Do I need a BWCA permit for a day trip?

You need a permit any time you are in the Boundary Waters. For day trips, you can fill out a self-issue permit located at each entry point. One part of the permit goes into a box and the other stays with you during the day.

Q Will my cell phone work in the BWCA & Quetico?

Do not count on your cell phone working while in the wilderness. Sometimes you can get lucky, but the best way is to have a satellite communication device with you.

Q Can you drink the water in the lakes?

The lakes of the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park are among the cleanest in the world. You can drink it right out of the lake. Paddle along and dip your cup. However, never drink it from the shoreline or where there is any current. Currents and wave action stir up sediments with potential parasites. Drink only when the water is deeper than 6 feet in clear open lakes. If you need water at camp from shore always filter it. Never drink from streams.

Q How do I cook if there is a fire ban in my area?

You would need to bring a stove that uses fuel…. canisters or white gas for instance.

Q Since there are bears, what do we do with our food?

Over many years the advice has been to hang food packs in trees. That's great if you have a perfect tree and you know exactly how to do it but these trees are rare on campsites today. Our advice is first, avoid campsites where bears have been known to be a problem. Ask our outfitter and the Forest Service about problem bears before you got out. Lakes like Ensign and others with lots of campsites close to entry points are more likely to have resident bears on nightly patrol for food packs than more remote lakes with very few campsites. Years with low berry crops are also more likely to be problem years.

Secondly, keep your camp absolutely clean of food scraps, fish guts and wrappers. Pack food in tight plastic bags inside a pack lined with a heavy plastic liner bag and cinch it tight.

Thirdly, hide your pack away from the usual shoreline trail a problem bear might take between campsites. Take your clean and tightly packed food back into the woods away from the latrine path a good distance from your camp and place it next to a tree or rock where you can find it in the morning. How far to go? 50 yards should be good.

Feeling lucky? You can get lazy and put your tightly packed and clean food pack under your upside down canoe in the campsite at night with your pots and pans on top of the canoe. At least you'll hear the bears when he or she discovers your food pack.

Dogs are good at scaring away bears. They bark to warn you when they smell a bear and they are usually quite adept at chasing one away. Having bear spray and knowing how to use it can be a last resort if needed or just packing up and moving out of the campsite.

Packing in supposedly bear proof barrels and food vaults and canisters is also advisable especially if you are camping on a known problem area. In some areas of trails like the Pacific Coast Trail these are required.

With a modicum of knowledge and precaution you are likely to camp for years without every having an issue with bears and food packs.

Q Can we bring a dog?

Yes, dogs are allowed. It is a good idea to bring a copy of the dog’s rabies certificate with you. Also, the dog should be well behaved. It should not run after other people, wildlife, or bark. Remember, there are other people who are looking for the quiet and solitude out there and you don’t want to ruin it for others with an ill-behaved pooch.

Q What’s the difference between the Boundary Waters and Quetico?

There is a per person user fee per trip (not per night).
Permits = First come, first served for all entry points begins on January 30th, 2019.
Must camp at designated camp sites
Each site has a Forest Service steel fire grate
Each site has a latrine in the woods
Maximum of 9 people and 4 canoes
Canoes/kayaks must be registered


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