How to Pack for a Trip to Isle Royale

Proper planning is essential when you’re planning a visit to a place as remote as Isle Royale. If you’re only planning a day trip, you’ll just need a few snacks, water, sunscreen and insect repellent. However, camping and backpacking trips require advanced preparation depending on the length of your trip. We’ve compiled just a few of the suggested necessities to help you start packing for your Isle Royale adventure.

Food and water

Of course, you can’t get through a trip without enough to eat and drink. Although you can get some supplies on the island at the stores at Windigo and Rock Harbor, the options are limited and expensive so plan on bringing everything you need with you. Also, don’t forget that you’ll need to carry all of your trash back out with you.

Packing food for a day-long hike is easy. Stick to non-perishable foods that are high in nutrients and energy, such as trail mix, freeze-dried fruits and veggies, and granola bars.

A backpacking or camping trip is a bit trickier to plan for. These are some great options to keep you going:

  • Freeze-dried dinners
  • Pouches of fruit and veggie puree
  • Dried soups
  • Hot cereal
  • Energy bars/granola bars
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Powdered drink mixes
  • Pilot bread
  • Nuts

As for water, there is potable water available at Rock Harbor and Windigo. Any other water on the island should be considered contaminated, so bring a filtration system along with you.

Camping gear

Camping on the island is a bit different from heading out to your nearest campground, since you’ll need to be as self-sufficient as possible. In addition to some of the standard gear the National Park Service recommends like a waterproof tent, three-season sleeping bag, and well broken-in boots. A few other must-haves are:

  • Camping stove and fuel
  • At least 2 quart-sized water bottles per person
  • Maps and compass
  • First aid kit
  • Matches and/or butane lighter
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Weather-appropriate clothing, including rain gear

Getting on the plane

Now, for the tricky part: being able to easily carry everything on your back and being able to fit it on the seaplane! While most bushcrafters carry less than 30 pounds on their backs, our passengers can bring a maximum of 50 pounds of luggage each on the seaplane. One individual bag cannot exceed 50 pounds. This means that while a party of two can carry a total of 100 pounds, you can’t have one bag that weighs 75 pounds and another that weighs 25 – they both need to be 50 pounds or less.

Another factor to consider is the size and shape of our plane. It’s not like the cargo hold of a commercial jet; since the sides of the plane are curved, regular hard-sided suitcases and coolers won’t fit, so pack your gear in soft-sided containers such as duffel bags. Hiking backpacks with metal frames are acceptable, but we’d prefer soft-sided ones if at all possible.

Start planning your trip

To get started on the camping or backpacking trip of your dreams, book your flight with Isle Royale Seaplanes. We’ll get you to Isle Royale quickly and in style so that you can spend as much time as possible in the island wilderness. For more information or to make your reservation, call (906) 483-4991 or send a message through our website.

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Hancock Portage Canal
Seaplane Base
21205 Royce Road
Hancock, MI 49930

Cook County Airport
123 Airport Road
Grand Marais, MN 55604

(906) 483-4991

Isle Royale Seaplanes


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