Winter Rentals

winterrental1.jpgWinter is wilderness at its most wonderful, its most wild. Experience the towering pines laden with snow, the thundering groans of the frozen lakes, the secretive tracks and trails of wildlife, the thrill of skiing. At Piragis Northwoods Company we rent winter gear and tents you can trust.

*** Forest Service Winter Rules and Regs at the bottom of the page ***

Winter Camping?

“Are you CRAZY it’s frrreeeezzzing out there...”
We like to be comfortable wherever and WHENEVER we camp. Our lightweight winter canvas wall tents and ultralight packable woods stoves mean safety and comfort. There’s no reason to quit camping just because the temperature drops.

Traditional Winter Sports

Skiing, Snowshoeing, Fishing and Camping have long been practiced in northern climates. Explore the winter wilderness during a time of extreme beauty when snow blankets the ground and the stars shine bright. If you’ve never snowshoed or x-country skied, rent our equipment for a day trip and discover the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters in a whole new way!


Winter Rental Policy

We will take Full Payment at the time of your reservation.  If you cancel your trip more than 2 weeks prior to your trip, we will hold the full amount as a credit for a future trip.  If you cancel your trip less than two weeks prior to your trip, we will keep the full amount.

Winter Gear Rates

Adult Skis $25/day
Cross-Country skis made for performance and mobility.

Youth Skis $15/day
Full-performance x-country youth skis.

Adult Snowshoes $20/day
Our tried and true snowshoes with sizes to fit every adventurer. Crampons built in for good grip on ice too.

Youth Snowshoes $15/day
Lightweight, quality shoes made especially for youth.

Ski Boots Only $10/day

Skis/Poles Only $15/day

Satellite Phones $15/day plus $3/minute used.
We rent satellite phones for your adventures year round. Please remember to reserve in advance.

Garmin InReach $10/day plus $.50/text
Stay in touch with loved ones at home. Please reserve in advance.

Sleeping Bag (includes pads) $15/day
Winter rated bags proven to withstand all that Northern winter nights can throw at you.

Ice Auger $10/day
Drill holes, fish through the ice and catch dinner.

Pulk Sled $25/day

Pack all your gear in a sled with a quality harness system. Pull it with ease as you snowshoe or ski to camp.

Wood Stove (medium or large) $25/day

Keep your tent warmer than you do your house with our ultra-lightweight, packable wood stove.

Winter Tents (see below for more information)

Winter Tent Rates

Snowtrekker® EXP Shortwall Tent $40/day
The Snowtrekker™ EXP Shortwall canvas tent, a brand new shortwall design that incorporates the guy-out system of the Snowtrekker ™ EXP Crew with the addition of a 20” to 23” sidewall. The Snowtrekker™ EXP Shortwall sets up tighter and more forgiving than previous Shortwall models while reducing the number of guy line anchor points.

Tent : 19.78 lbs, Frame: 7.34 lbs
Total: 27.06 lbs
Ridge Height 78.5 inches, Ridge Length 97"
9 feet x 11.5 feet, best for 2 - 4 people

Snowtrekker® EXP OUTFITTER Tent $50/day
With an impressive 10'X15' footprint, our Outfitter canvas tent stands in a class by itself. With 36" sidewalls, 7’3” ridge, and a 6’ tall walk-through door, this tent perfectly fills the niche for those seeking a canvas tent used primarily for base-camping comfort on hunting trips or large group winter camping expeditions. The Outfitter canvas tent is built with custom 7.5 ounce canvas and utilizes a functional interior frame design providing you with the maximum amount of usable, unobstructed living space.

For a tent this size and its anticipated extended stay use, we have designed a frame to match. The Outfitter frame moves away from the shock-corded 3/4" Easton aluminum used in our more nomadic tent designs and features a 1 1/4" heavy gauge 6063 aluminum tubing frame package. We have also incorporated 36" side-wall pickets on the outside to serve as additional structural support and guy-out points for the tent. The EXP Outfitter accommodates up to 6 adults on sleeping pads or 4 with standard army cots.

Tent : 26.16 lbs Frame: 14.00 lbs
Total: 40 lbs
10 feet x 15 feet, best for 3 - 5 people

Winter Guide Rates

Take along a Wilderness Guide
Guided Multi-Day Trip, Guide starts at $300/day
Guided Day Ski, Snowshoe, or Fishing Trips also available - Call for pricing

Discover the tips and tricks of winter camping while enjoying the advantages of having a guide in camp.
Frequently Asked Questions about Guided Winter Trips:

What do we do for firewood? 
The guide will instruct and facilitate the identification, gathering, and processing of suitable firewood to be used for heating, cooking, and campfires. It is not necessary to bring firewood although your guide may bring a small amount of pre-processed emergency wood.

How will we travel in the winter?
The three main modes of travel are cross country skis, snowshoes, and by foot. Snow/ice and trail conditions, along with client preference and ability, will dictate modes of travel. Instruction is available for those who wish to either learn a new mode of travel or improve their current skills. Skis and snowshoes are available to rent.

I’m worried I won’t be able to stay warm. How do I enjoy winter outdoor activities and not freeze to death?!
Winter definitely poses some unique challenges. Proper layers and material choices make a major impact on the effectiveness of a winter clothing insulation system. Your guide will assist with planning and assembling a system that should provide sufficient warmth for your trip. If you need additional clothing items we have quality gear choices available at our store upon your arrival.

Additionally, the canvas hot tent (available for rent) provides a warm shelter to take the chill off should you become cold. Having a wood burning stove with a pot of hot soup or coffee ready can be down-right blissful.

Lastly, dietary considerations and fluid intake will affect your ability to thermoregulate your body temperature. Your guide is experienced in techniques to promote this thermoregulation and will work with each client in customizing a plan to make each individual successful at keeping warm.

Will we be bored? 
No way!  There is plenty to do!  Your guide is skilled in many aspects of winter interpretation. You will be provided opportunities to learn about the regions geology, history, lake and river systems, forest ecology, mammal and bird identification, and fishing. Many of these opportunities are present continually at the pace you want to participate.

Do I need a guide for the entire trip?
No! Your guide is there to provide you with instruction and guidance when wanted and/or needed. One major benefit of having a skilled guide is to assist in the development of skills so that you will feel confident and, more importantly, competent so that you can continue this activity self-directed. You can book your guide for one day, a specific portion of your trip, or for the entire duration.

I don’t have fishing equipment but I think I would like to try it. Can I rent the equipment? 
If you book a guide and request the fishing option, the guide can provide equipment for a small daily fee. There will be additional costs associated with bait and lures if needed, depending on the species of fish targeted and style of fishing chosen (tip-up style or traditional jigging rod). 

How do we decide on a trip route for winter?
Your guide will give you a few options for trip routes based on your desired outcomes, abilities, and the snow and ice conditions observed. Some routes may not be available due to unsafe ice conditions or the risk associated with the abilities of some participants. Safety will always be first when deciding routes for winter trips.

Meet our Winter Guides:

David Hicks

David Hicks is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for teaching and mentoring. He is a military veteran (United States Marine Corps, 8 years) with extensive travels across the globe. Dave graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a BAS in Environmental and Outdoor Education, and is currently working on a master's degree from Grand Canyon University.

Dave has over 500 days of winter camping experience in everything from canvas hot tents to hammocks! Believe it or not, winter is his preferred time to be in the wilderness (probably because you get to eat like crazy and there are no bugs)!

Above all, he loves to teach. You will experience a passion like none other to share and encourage clients as they develop skills and knowledge of the outdoors. His facilitation of the learning process will leave you with a greater understanding of the outdoors and the skills necessary to engage with it.

Stop in the store at 105 North Central Avenue or call today (800-223-6565) to make winter gear and tent reservations and to plan your winter camping trip.

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your gear and tent reservations today. Include the items you need, the number of days and dates for which you'll need the gear. Stop in at Piragis at 105 North Central Avenue in Ely. Call us at 1-800-223-6565 with questions about Winter Camping Routing.

Winter Wilderness Travel  - US Forest Service - Superior National Forest

"I love the deep silence of the winter woods. It is a stillness you can rest your whole weight profound you are sure it will hold and last." - Florence Page Jaques

The BWCAW in the winter is a truly unique experience, whether traveling by dogsled, skijoring, skiing, or snowshoeing. Visitors who come to the wilderness during this time of the year have a very different kind of experience than those that visit during the summer season. You are less likely to run into other visitors and can experience a sense of solitude and self reliance in a way that few other places allow. Winter wilderness travel requires a high degree of preparation, planning, skill, and selfreliance.

Winter temperatures in the BWCAW average 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit, with overnight lows from zero to 7 below zero. During severe cold spells, daily highs can remain below zero, with low temperatures falling into the 20 to 30 below zero range. Wind chill exacerbates the cold, and blowing snow can make travel difficult. Average snowfall is 50-60 inches, with 70-90 inches along Lake Superior. Snow depths in late February to early March may be 15-25 inches with some higher terrain receiving over three feet.

Winter conditions make self-reliance, good judgment, and knowledge of your limits critical. Whether you are dog sledding, skiing, or snowshoeing, it is important to plan well and prevent hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Be prepared for extreme cold, windy or wet conditions. Dress in layers to remain comfortable by adding or removing clothing depending on conditions and your energy level. Change into dry clothing as needed.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat often. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes the body to lose heat more rapidly, even though one may feel warmer after drinking.
  • Avoid open water and thin ice. Never walk on ice less than four inches thick.
  • Hypothermia is a dangerous lowering of the body temperature. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, tip of the nose and ear lobes. If symptoms of either condition are detected, get medical care immediately!

Travel Permits

Permits are required year-round for all visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. For day or overnight travel from October 1–April 30, it’s easy! Fill out a selfissued permit at any Superior National Forest office, or at a BWCAW entry point. Carry one copy with you during the trip and drop the other copy in the permit box at the entry point.

Choose a Campsite

  • When lakes are open, camp at designated sites using firegrates and latrines.
  • When lakes are frozen, camp on ice, in a sheltered bay, or in a natural forest opening. Locate camp at least 150 feet from trails or summer campsites, and out of sight of other groups.
  • Make just one trail connecting the shoreline to camp.
  • Bury human waste in snow 150-200 feet from water, campsites, summer trails and portages (pack out toilet paper).


It is preferable to make a campfire on the ice to minimize fire scars on rocks and shorelines. Use base logs or a portable fire pan for your campfire on the ice. Use a campstove or fire pan for a campfire on land to avoid leaving fire scars on vegetation or rocks.

  • Collect only dead and down wood far from shorelines, trails or campsites.
  • Make sure your fire is out cold to the touch when you leave.
  • Scatter ashes in the woods away from the shoreline and cover the campfire scar with snow. Live Vegetation Do not cut green vegetation for tent poles, bedding for humans or dogs, or to create new dogsled trails. Reduce Dog Impacts
  • Keep dogs under control at all times.
  • To avoid damaging or “girdling” trees with rope when staking out dogs, use webbing straps around tree and attach dog picket line to webbing.
  • Tether teams out on the ice with ice screws to avoid damaging shoreline vegetation.
  • Never bring hay or straw for bedding because they introduce non-native plants.
  • Scatter dog feces in the woods at least 150-200 feet from the water’s edge. Keep the entry points clean for others by picking up feces before and after hitting the trail.


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Contact Info

105 N Central Avenue
Ely, Minnesota 55731

Info: (800) 223-6565
Fax: (218) 365-6220
Local: (218) 365-6745

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