Getting out into the wilderness is the draw for the routes we provide and there is no better way to experience it than to sleep under the stars. Camping is a required perk or a needed evil depending on who you are and how well you are equipped. Even if you don’t plan to camp we highly suggest that you pack the required equipment to spend a few nights out in case of an emergency.
For many camping involves having all the latest gear and the creature comforts of home, for some it’s about getting by on the bare minimum of equipment. Either way there are a few items that everyone will need.
Shelter & Equipment
You’ll need some form of a shelter, whether that is a bivy sac, hammock, tent, tarp, roof top tent, tow behind popup trailer or anything else. Getting out of the elements is a must. Keeping yourself dry and warm is the end goal, how you choose to achieve this is up to you. The length of a trip you are taking and the amount of nights you plan to camp will make a difference is what form of shelter you choose to bring along. The type of vehicle you are travelling in/on will also have an impact on what you choose.
Some sort of sleeping bag and something to keep you off the ground are suggested. Keep in mind that the weather in some parts of Canada can be quite cold during the nights. We recommend checking the areas you plan to travel to and understanding what variations in night temps can be expected for the time of year you will be there. Being warm at night provides much more rest than shivering away while wishing you had a warmer sleeping bag.
Having a means to cook food and boil water is the third item that we feel is needed and not a luxury. If you have shelter, can stay warm and dry and can feed yourself you are covered in case you need to ride out some bad weather, deal with a breakdown or any other unexpected delay where the emaneities of home are not available.
Everything else is bells and whistles in our opinion. Of course the bells and whistles can make camping much more comfortable and in turn more enjoyable. Some form light (headlamp, flashlight or lantern) is important to have. A nice mattress can make all the difference in a good night’s sleep. A few freeze dried food packages to use in case of emergency is a smart idea. A laptop to watch TV and keep a journal on is a nice luxury....the list could go on and on. In the end we suggest bringing what you need and what you think will make your camping experience more enjoyable. Restrictions will be placed on your budget, the space and weight you can pack and your personnel opinions.
Where to Camp
In Canada camping is quite popular and most areas outside of the cities have commercial campgrounds. For a small fee you get a designated spot to setup your camp site, use of facilities like washrooms and fresh water. Some even have laundry facilities and convenience stores and many offer pre split firewood. In some provinces (BC for example) there are campsites called recreation sites. Most are minimalistic camp sites in remote areas (see our links page for web links to different resources to locate camp sites in Canada). Many folks will choose to “cowboy camp”,that is camping in the wild. In many places in Canada this is allowed. Where the government owns the land (called Crown land) you are allowed to camp in the bush. That being said there are many places where this could get you into a lot of trouble, any of the national or provincial parks have made this illegal. Camping on someone’s private land is also very frowned upon and could get you into a world of hurt depending on who the land owner is.
Unlike most countries in the world, Canada is very clean. This didn’t happen by accident, Canadians, as a whole, are very conscience of the environment and do their best to keep things clean. Littering will bring you a fine by the police! We encourage anyone camping, whether its cowboy camping or in a campground, to please be considerate and to leave your campsite cleaner then when you got there. This means packing out all of your garbage. This is the right thing to do for a multitude of reasons but the two most important are that the next person to come along doesn’t have to sleep in your waste and leaving garbage attracts animals. Animals (bears, raccoons, etc) become habituated to garbage and will learn to use it as a means for survival. This is a bad thing as when the garbage (food) disappears the animals can become quite aggressive at times. We could go on and on about this topic, if you are not familiar with good camping and environmental etiquette we encourage you to educate yourself on the topic.
Camping in the wilderness means living with the animals. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on the animal and the circumstance. Bugs and insects can be a nuisance but can be dealt with. Bears and cougars can be outright dangerous. Raccoons and other small animals can be a bloody nuisance. If you are not familiar with these topics we highly recommend (for your safety) that you educate yourself. There is a wealth of information available on the internet that will help you make the right decisions on how to camp with the animals without having them wreck your experience.