Meet the 2015 Contest Winner

The Follow-up to Our 2015 Fully Outfitted Trip to the Boundary Waters Giveaway

At the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo, Alan Wenker entered a contest to win a free, outfitted canoe trip sponsored by and Bearskin Outfitters. He filled out a drawing slip, threw it into a bucket and didn’t think of it again. “Like every other free give-a-way drawing, you assume it was an exercise in futility,” he said.

An easy assumption, particularly when you learn that more than 1,000 people entered the drawing online, at CanoeCopia and the Midwest Expo. But the following week, Wenker received a phone call from the editor at; he’d won a three-day, two-night trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

As luck would have it, Wenker had started planning a trip to the Boundary Waters with his 15-year-old daughter, Lillian. Wenker had taken a similar trip with his oldest daughter when she was 15 (she’s now heading off to college) to spend some time together before driver’s licenses, summer jobs, and high school graduation got in the way. He’d gotten a permit and maps—they wanted to go to Rose Lake and the Stairway Portage—and it just happened that Bearskin serviced the same area.

“When [the editor] got ahold of me, I thought, ‘This could not be more perfect,’” Wenker said. He’s been to the Boundary Waters a number of times, starting in college and even helping friends plan their trips. He had never taken a fully outfitted trip. “All these things started to dawn on me, like I don’t have to bring anything other than clothes. I don’t have to worry about a first aid kit. I don’t have to worry about a foam pad. I don’t have to worry about taking stakes with my tent. This is the best thing ever.”

Of course, getting used to the idea did take some time. Wenker had to let go of his mental checklist of gear to bring and talk himself out of packing extra gear just in case. All he and Lillian had to pack were clothes and bug spray, and select their meals online. Bearskin Outfitters provided everything else, from sleeping pads to headlamps to a place to stay the night before the Wenkers went on trail. Even their food was meticulously organized with a bag for each meal and easy-to-follow instructions. Wenker was incredibly impressed by their thoroughness, and the way they thought of every detail.

“By the time I was driving home, I was like, I’m going to sell my gear. Between Craigslist and ebay, I’m going to dump it all and use outfitting services the rest of my life,” he said.

Wenker hasn’t followed through on the idea (yet), but the convenience of a fully outfitted trip came at a good time. With one daughter headed to college and another fully immersed in high school, life is constantly busy. Having the planning, packing, and even the cleanup taken care of meant that Wenker could focus on the trip’s main purpose: quality time with his daughter.

On Thursday, July 2nd, the two put in on West Bearskin Lake, entered the Boundary Waters through Duncan Lake and camped on Rose for two nights. The weather was perfect, the company was good, and they were able to take a long day trip on Friday. They did not, as his daughter hoped, see a moose but were treated to a sighting of trumpeter swans.

Lillian had been to the Boundary Waters a handful of times, and while Wenker won’t go so far as to say that she relishes camping, they both had a good time and the trip fulfilled its purpose. “It’ll someday be one of those stories where it’s, ‘Remember the time the old man dragged you up to the Boundary Waters? I was stuck with him for three days!” he joked.

On the last morning of the trip, the father-daughter duo spent a leisurely morning in the campsite and then paddled back to Bearskin Lake, where Wenker discovered another perk of the fully outfitted trip. “You give back the gear and drive home,” he said. No tent to dry or sleeping bags to dry out. No gear to spread out all over the garage or cleanup to do. Maybe Craigslist and ebay are calling after all…


Stay tuned for our next Contest or Giveaway, subscribe to the E-newsletter and you’re automatically entered to win!



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