Camping in the wild can be a daunting thing for those who have never been, but if you go with an open mindset and go prepared to tackle all the elements, it will become a trip you'll never forget. Having camped many times, I've come up with a list of gear that I would bring or recommend bringing on your next camping trip!
TWO MAIN TYPES OF CAMPING
There are many types of camping experiences, but in this blog I will be discussing two main types of camping options. Note that many items on this checklist are interchangeable with the varying types of camping methods. The two I will be discussing the most will be;
1. Front Country Camping (Car Camping)
Front country camping is easy and relaxing. You simply pull in to your campsite with your car and pitch your tent. Bring what you need, as much as you need. You also often have access to all amenities such as showers, bathrooms, electricity and water - depending on the site booked.
2. Backcountry Camping
Back country camping takes more effort and planning than front country camping. You do not pull in with your car into your campsite but, instead you hike or canoe to your site. Everything you need to bring camping, food, shelter, clothing, etc., needs to fit into your backpack. Depending on where you're camping, this can be as short and easy as a 15 minute hike, or a multiple hour portaging trip. But the most rewarding thing is, you always have the BEST views!!
With backcountry, you're out in the wilderness. You may get a loo if you're lucky - basically a fancy hole in the ground for your business. You have to have your own water supply, there are no designated showers, and you have to be more careful dealing with wild animals.
KITCHEN & HYDRATION
Water Filtration System - Handless gravity system filters up to 0.1 microns
Knife - A full tang knife (non-folding) and sheath is highly recommended
Water Bottles (for hiking)
Cooler (Front country)
Camp Stove (Front country)
Fuel - MSR or Jetboil fuel canisters are best. 100g or 200g are ideal for multiple day uses
Cleaning supplies (Soap, Sponge) - Please use an ecofriendly, biodegradable soap
Backpacker's Pantry - They have MANY food options from Pad Thai, Mac & Cheese, Spaghetti, Wild West Chili, Pasta Primavera, Curry, and more! Just add hot water and wait.
Clif Protein Bars - Great snacks to fuel you up with ~10g of protein in each bar
Probar - Haven't tried these myself, but they pack ~20g of protein in each bar!
I'll consider creating a blog for creative camping food ideas!
PACKS & BAGS
Backpacking - Backpacking bags are mostly used for backcountry camping. They are very large (35L-100L+) bags designed to fit all of your stuff. If you are backcountry travelling or camping I do NOT recommend being cheap on this. I've owned cheap bags and I regretted every bit of it.
My personal and favorite backpacking bag is the Gregory Baltoro 85L in a size Medium (I'm 5'9"). It is very large (usually a 65L is ideal for most), but it fits all of my camping gear, clothing, accessories, and most importantly - my camera equipment. This bag compared to every other bag I have tried, is INCREDIBLY comfortable! With over 80lbs of stuff on my bag, it feels like I am only carrying 30lbs.
Daypacks - Daypacks are great for carrying a few small items with you on hikes or trips. Ideal for carrying a sweater, rain coat, food/snacks, water, a map, and a camera.
Dry Bags - For valuable items that cannot get wet such as electronics, you need a dry bag!
A new blog specifically for choosing a backpacking bag is Coming Soon!
Shelter is key to staying warm, comfortable, and safe. There are a few different shelter options when going camping, depending on the type of camping experience you are aiming for.
Tent - Tents are the standard shelter options for camping, ranging in size from 1 person (1p) up to 12 person (12p), or sometimes more. The most popular size for camping being 2p tents or 4p tents. There are many factors to choose from when selecting a tent, and it can be a difficult decision.
Hammock - Hammock camping is not as popular as camping in a tent, but it can be very comfortable and its a lot less weight to carry. As long as you have a bug net and a tarp overhead, you should be good. My favorite is the double (2p) hammock from WISE OWL OUTFITTERS. They come in many colour options and they include tree straps and carabiners.
MacGyver TIP: If you want to use this hammock in the rain with a tarp, you may need to tie a small knot on each carabiner with long loose ends. The rope/string with the knots will divert the water and let it drip off rather than running down and soaking your hammock.
Tarp - If you really want to go out into the wild, you can build your own shelter with a tarp or even with the natural elements around you. Definitely not something I would recommend someone new doing.
Rooftop Tent - Similar to camping in a tent, but this tent is a pop-up tent on your cars roof! I have personally never done this before, but it is on the bucket list.
A new blog specifically on selecting a tent is Coming Soon!
Sleeping Bag - Many choices available; mummy style, rectangular, down, synthetic, etc.
Air Mattress - This is great for front country camping! Remember to bring a pump
Sleeping Pad - For backcountry, you need something compactable and light
Pillow - Air inflatable pillows are comfy and the most compactable
Compression Dry Bag - Have an 8-15L compression dry bag for storing your sleeping bag (depending on your sleeping bag). This is the one thing you don't want to get wet!
A new blog on selecting the ideal sleeping bag & a sleeping pad is Coming Soon!
CLOTHING & SHOES
Clothing is something that should not be overlooked. Even in the summer, nights may get chilly, or you may experience unexpected weather. You should always be prepared for all sorts of elements.
Long Sleeve Shirt - Long sleeve with UV protection to prevent awkward tan lines & burns
Long Hiking Pants - Durable, yet thin and lightweight. More tapered/slim than most pants
Hiking Socks - Darn Tough is the way to go! Blister proof, soft, and never wears
Hiking Boots / Shoes - I own two pairs. Ankle high for stability in rough terrain, and hiking sneakers for easy trail hiking, both fully waterproof.
Spring / Fall Attire
Fleece Pants Mid-layer
Rain Pants (Shell)
Merino Wool Base Layer Top
Hiking Socks - Darn Tough is the way to go! Blister proof, soft, and never wears
Expect to see many new blogs on clothing for the outdoors!
Headlamp - The higher the lumen, the better. Have a red light option too!
Camping Chairs (Front country)
Solar Charger - keep your phone and electronics charged
GPS / Compass
Lighters - Carry at least two
Bug Lotion/Spray - Carry both! Lotion for your skin and spray for your clothes
Safety should never be neglected - Speaking from Experience!!
Food Storage & Cooking Protocols - Just apply knowledge. When front country camping, store food in provided lockers or as per park regulations. For backcountry camping, you must set up a bear line in the trees to hang your food from. Do not ever store food in your car or in your tent!
Bear Spray - The best way to deter bears is to simply make noise. Talk loudly and make yourself present. In worst case scenarios, which is very rare, you may need your bear spray.
First Aid Safety Kit
When I went camping to Algonquin in early 2020, I accidentally stabbed myself with a brand new sharp knife, right in the leg. It was the middle of the night and I was in my tent pulling out a knife from my backpack to use for cooking. The knife slipped and fell on my leg. The safety kit definitely saved me. What was worse, I was backcountry camping and over 2 hours away from the nearest hospital. Long story short, I had a tourniquet on my leg as we canoed back to main land on a lake in the middle of the night, paramedics had to patch me up and then drive for another hour to drive to the nearest hospital to get stitches, and then canoe back that same night.
The goal is to feel comfortable in the outdoors,
from the clothing you choose to wear to the gear that makes you feel safe.