Summer & Autumn FAQ

Do we need boots?

YES! All participants are required to wear boots that have full ankle coverage, a rugged stitched or vulcanized sole and drainage at the instep. If you are unsure if the boots you are planning to bring meet this requirement please feel free to contact us prior to your arrival. Crews arriving with inadequate footwear will be asked to purchase boots in the trading post prior to departure on water.

The health and safety of our participants is of utmost importance to us, for this reason there are no exceptions to the boot requirement.

While there are many options for boots, Northern Tier has Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid Boots available from our Trading Post at These boots have been tested and reviewed by Northern Tier trail staff and have received high marks.

How do we meet the Wilderness First Aid and CPR Requirements?

Northern Tier requires every crew to have at least one adult currently certified in Wilderness First Aid (16-hour minimum course length) and CPR. For more information on how to become certified and find recognized courses, visit the BSA's Health and Safety page regarding WFA here. Additionally, Northern Tier offers WFA, WFR and CPR courses through recognized providers occasionally. Be sure to check out our Training Center page regularly for information on those offerings.

What food and equipment does Northern Tier provide to each participant?

Northern Tier provides all trail and base meals, aluminum canoes, packs, tents, cooking gear, and communication equipment. We also provide trained staff (i.e., interpreter) to assist your crew in having a great Scouting experience with a fun trip appropriate to the experience and abilities of your crew. The interpreter will enhance your Scouting skills along the way and deliver a memorable experience.

What are the fees?
What are the height and weight requirements?

No participant in any program may fall below 100 pounds.
No participant in any program may fall above 295 pounds.
Participants who fall within the recommended weight limits are much more likely to have an enjoyable trek and avoid incurring injuries and health risks.

Why are the weight limits what they are?

Extra weight puts strain on the back, joints and feet. The portage trails can be very muddy, slippery and rocky presenting a great potential for tripping and falling. Extremely small participants will have a very difficult time carrying canoes and heavy packs. A canoe's load is another important reason to limit participant weight. Northern Tier assigns three people to a canoe. The total participant load per canoe must not exceed 600 pounds, averaging 200 pounds per participant.

What time do we need to arrive? What time do we leave on our departure date?

On the scheduled day of arrival crews should arrive between 1pm and 3pm.
Departure is after breakfast on the last day.

What are the age requirements?

Northern Tier participants must be age 14 or 13 AND have completed the 8th grade by the time of arrival at Northern Tier unless otherwise noted. Some Autumn Adventure and Individual Programs have age requirements that may be less or greater. Please check the information regarding the specific program for that information.

How do I plan my trek?

The Advisor Planning Guide takes you step-by-step through your trip planning. As for planning your route at Northern Tier, that is done once you get to base. Your crew should be able to answer the following questions so that your Interpreter can help you with your route planning.
1. How many days is our trip?
2. How far do we want to paddle each day?
       a.The average crew paddles/portages approximately 2 to 3 mph
               i. Easy days will encompass 8 to 12 miles
               ii. Moderate days will be 13 to 19 miles
               iii. Difficult days will be 20 miles and above
3. Do we want to have a layover day (stay in a campsite 2 nights and a full day)?
4. Do we want to fish a lot?
5. Which of Northern Tier’s special awards do we want to earn?
       a. Which one(s)? What’s the priority?
6. Do we want to try to avoid portages or embrace their amazing existence and challenge ourselves to overcome as many as possible?
7. Do we want to go on big lakes, small lakes, rivers or a combination?
8. Do we want to see waterfalls?
9. Do we want to see pictographs/petro glyphs?
10. Do we want to really get away from others, or embrace the other wilderness visitors?

What is the payment schedule?
How far will my crew travel in an average day?

Crews typically travel 10 to 15 miles per day. Often crews also opt to take advantage of a layover day along the way to truly absorb the North Woods wilderness.

What is the maximum crew size?

ATIKOKAN SUMMER - 8 people if going into the Quetico and 11 people if going into the Crown Lands
BISSETT SUMMER - 11 people

My child wants to attend but their unit does not. How can he or she participate?

There are four programs offered for individuals to attend Northern Tier in the summer time.
Information on these can be found here.

What length of canoe trip should the crew choose? How long are we on the water?

We recommend a 10-day trip to fully experience this epic wilderness adventure.
The length of trek chosen (6 to 10 days) means you are at Northern Tier for a total of 6 to 10 nights. The first "day" of your trip is the day you arrive at base.
That means that on a 7-day trip you will spend five nights and 6 days actually on the water.

If we are in the wilderness, how do we call the base?

For emergency communications, all crews are issued either a radio or a satellite phone depending on the base and the nature of your trip.

What is the fishing like?

Unbelievable. With so little fishing pressure, the bite is almost always on. Every cast could be your next monster walleye, northern pike or smallmouth. Oh, and be sure to bring plenty of fishing leaders – those northern pike and walleye get a little toothy. For more information on fishing in canoe country, check out Northern Tier's Tips for Fishing by Canoe.

Northern Tier recommends that all Fishing Licenses be purchased online in advance of your trip. If youth under the age of 16 (for fishing in Minnesota or Manitoba) or under the age of 18 (for fishing in Ontario) would like to fish, they can fish under the license of a single adult. However, their catch will be restricted to this adult’s limit.

MINNESOTA FISHING LICENSES - All individuals, 16 years of age and older need to obtain a license to fish in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), licenses can be purchased in advanced over the phone by calling 888.665.4236, or online. For current pricing and license information visit
NOTE: A social Security number is required to obtain a Minnesota Fishing License

ONTARIO FISHING LICENSES - All individuals 18 years of age and older need to obtain a license to fish in Ontario (i.e., Crews at the Atikokan Base or Ely Crews travelling into the Quetico). Licenses should be purchased over the phone at 800.288.1155 or online at
NOTE: There are several regulations in Canada that may be different than what you are used to in the US.

MANITOBA FISHING LICENSES – All individuals 16 years of age or older need to obtain a license to fish in Manitoba. Crews are encouraged to pre-purchase a license through paper application well in advance of their trip (2 months). Licenses can be bought in Manitoba from private vendors but are not sold at the Bissett base. For more information, visit the Manitoba Conservation website at

In most Canadian Parks, special fishing rules are enforced. Check with the park you are going to for complete regulations.
Some regulations may include:
• No organic bait
• Barbless hooks are required. Barbs can be pinched flat with a pair of pliers. (Having barbless hooks dramatically increases the survival rate of released fish, are significantly easier to remove from human tissue if accidentally embedded, and do not significantly decrease the chance of landing a fish.)
• Lead-free tackle is required.

What special things do the Canadian bases offer?

The biggest difference the Canadian bases offer is a more remote wilderness the farther you go north. It is incredibly likely you will only see a few other crews while you are at Atikokan. At Bissett, you more than likely will not see anyone after you leave the canoe cache.

What awards can we earn while at Northern Tier?

There are many awards that may be earned at Northern Tier. Some are specific to our programs, others are National BSA Awards or offered by other organizations. Information on all available awards may be found here.


About Northern Tier

Come to Northern Tier for a whole new level of adventure, up north! From incredible canoe journeys to wild winter wilderness camping, Northern Tier promises the Scouting adventure of a lifetime in the Great North Woods of northern Minnesota and Canada.