HOW TO GET STARTED CAMPING
Packing up all the essentials and spending a night (or ten) outdoors is a great way to connect with nature. Whether you’re looking to find rest and relaxation surrounded by the natural world or you need a base camp for all your excursions, find new camping insights you can put to use.
- Will you camp in an area accessible by car or one you must hike to?
- Will you camp overnight, or for a few days?
- Will you camp in a designated camping area or in backcountry terrain?
Area of use: Front-country drive-in campgrounds and RV parks.
Car camping is a great way to use your tent to create a comfortable basecamp for a few days of activity. Being able to load a vehicle allows campers to plan amazing meals, bring lots of fire wood, and pack comfortable furnishings. Families of all ages can enjoy a weekend of camping near your favourite recreation areas, museums, and parks. Car camping allows you to pack lots of equipment while giving you the mobility of your vehicle to explore the surrounding area.
Area of use: Backcountry random camping or in campgrounds; isolated lake shores and riversides.
Backcountry campers are required to carry all of their equipment into a remote campsite by hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or paddling. This means that equipment must be lightweight and fit easily into a backpack or dry bag along with all of your food, clothing, tent, and sometimes water. Backcountry campers must be prepared to deal with any type of weather or emergency using only what is in their backpacks.
Area of use: Anywhere camping is permitted.
Minimalist campers travel light and fast. They carry only what is absolutely necessary and often sacrifice comfort to have lighter backpacks. Minimalist camping is often done mid-summer in nice weather and appeals especially to those on long-distance cycling trips. Oftentimes a tent is replaced by a simple tarp or bivouac bag.
CARING FOR YOUR EQUIPMENT
Camping equipment is an investment in what you most enjoy: time in the outdoors. Make sure you care for your campsite to keep it a home away from home.
Before you go:
Check for working condition:
- Stove & fuel
- Tent for holes & pole integrity
- Air mattress for leaks
- Water purification is ready to use
Make sure you have food for the entire trip and some back-up nutrition in case of emergency. Practice setting up your tent so you can do it quickly even if it is dark or raining when you arrive at your campground.
After your trip:
- Shake your tent out before packing it away. Never fold a tent; stuff it into its storage bag.
- Hang sleeping bags, tents, tarps, and mattresses up to dry thoroughly to avoid mildew before storing at home.
- Properly clean all dishes, stoves, BBQs, and coolers to make sure nothing gets put away dirty.
- Share photographs and memories with friends and family to help spread the love of the great outdoors.
YOUR ATMOSPHERE: PRESERVE THE OUTDOORS
- Keep tents on tent pads or sites to preserve the surrounding landscape.
- Plan ahead, know what terrain and wildlife you’ll encounter.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces .
- Only have fires in designated pits and only when permitted. Minimize campfire impacts.
- Dispose of all garbage, including food waste, properly.
- Recycle all fuel canisters in proper hazardous waste facilities.
- Leave what you find. Don’t remove things from the natural environment.
- Respect wildlife as well as other visitors in the area.
The more you camp, the more you will learn about yourself and what will allow you to best enjoy your outing. Start with the basics and add or subtract equipment to meet your expectations. Regardless of whether you’re a car camper or a minimalist, there are some things that all campers should know to ensure an enjoyable trip.
- Always have a way to collect and purify water. Even in front-country campgrounds there may not always be potable water available.
- Read campground/park rules before setting out. Not all camping areas allow pets or fires and some have special restrictions to keep wildlife safe.
- Make reservations. Popular campgrounds fill up quickly especially around long weekends.
- Have everything you need to be self-sufficient. Even if you are close to a town, you’ll appreciate not having to leave to grab supplies or take care of some first aid.
No matter what type of camping you do, there are a few pieces of equipment you should never forget:
- Down or Synthetic Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping pad
- Pack - large enough to carry all your gear on your own
- Hiking boots
- Hat and Gloves
- Base layer – moisture-wicking underwear, tights and top for regulating core temperature
- Mid layer – a top that creates another barrier between you and the elements and also traps warm air close to your body
- Rain gear – breathable and waterproof is best
- Sunglasses (UV protection)
- Hat (sun protection)
- Water bottle or hydration system
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Pocket Knife
- Tent with footprint
- Rain tarpaulin & rope
- Stove and fuel
- Cooking pots, plates/bowls, utensils & biodegradable soap
- Water purification
- Basic repair Kit
- Multi tool
- Sunscreen and bug repellent
- Bear spray
- Food hang
- Map and compass
- GPS (optional)
- Personal Locating Beacon
- First Aid Kit
- Fire Starter Kit
- Camp shoes – nice to have when primary shoes get wet
- Bandana or buff (sun protection)
- Trekking poles
- Pack towel
- Collapsible chair
- Multi-function watch with altimeter
- Field guides
- Accessory cord
- Packable lantern
Other equipment to add to your comfort include:
- Collapsible chairs
- Cooler & ice
- Collapsible wine glasses
- Shower supplies
- Camera with case
- Sun/bug shelter
- Wash basin/scrubber/dish towel
- Coffee press/espresso maker