Canada is a vast and varied treasure trove of camping spots.
Want wild beaches and ocean views? You got it. Looking for remote, mountainous forests? No problem. You can pretty much pitch a tent anywhere and be spoiled by this country’s natural riches. However, much like riding a Segway or trying a new recipe, camping is only fun when you know what you’re doing. After all, there’s nothing worse than finding yourself in the middle of nowhere and feeling completely unprepared.
Here at Live Out There, we’ve been everywhere and made every rookie camping mistake in the book. So to help make sure that your next camping trip goes without any bumps in the night, we’ve put together our 9 ultimate camping hacks. Let’s go camping!
1. Go camping between seasons
In the summer rush, it’s tricky to find available campsites – especially if you’re thinking of exploring a popular spot, like Lake Louise or Banff. Plus, your camping experience is unlikely to be a relaxing one – crowded campsite + prime bug weather = more stress than you need.
Don’t shrug off the shoulder season – try taking your camping trip in the spring or the fall. It will still be warm, but it won’t be half as busy as in the peak months. A lot of campsites are open year-round but not manned during the off-season, so it’s likely you’ll be able to camp for free, too. If you don’t have much flexibility when it comes to seasons, even just camping during the week rather than at the weekend will mean you’ll get a better rate and a better spot.
2. Make sure you’ve got light
In the middle of nowhere, there’s no streetlamps, storefronts or traffic. There’s no light pollution at all, so when it gets dark – it gets really dark. You can do better than sitting around a dying campfire with your mobile phone torch shining. At the very least take a head torch (headlamp to the non-Brits out there) to make those night-time loo trips less painful. Ideally though, have a few torches or lanterns scattered around to make your campsite feel a bit less eerie come nightfall. If you don’t have a lantern, you can just put your head torch into an empty water bottle to maximise the light.
3. Padding, padding, padding
My latest camping experience taught me that you can never have too much padding. Sleeping on the forest floor might sound wild and romantic in theory, but in reality you’ll just wake up with a bruised hip and bags under your eyes.
Take extra pillows, blankets and foam padding and you won’t regret it. If you’re too hot, just stack them under your sleeping bag for extra cushioning. Alternatively if you find yourself unable to secure a sleeping pad, take your yoga mat. It’s better than nothing!
4. Make a to-go kitchen kit
Camping food doesn’t have to mean a diet of burnt hot dogs, lonely cans of chili and mashmallows Pack a small chopping board and sachets of spices to make bland meals a bit more exciting. Tic Tac containers work nicely to hold herbs, spices or condiments. Take some foil too – you can cook anything from sausages to corn on the cob quickly and easily.
5. Take the time to organize beforehand
There are few things in life more frustrating than scrambling around in the dark trying to find your toothbrush in the middle of the woods. Taking just half an hour to sort your stuff before you pack the car will save you so much time and irritation later.
Pack one bag of “tent essentials” you’ll need overnight – like a toothbrush, bug spray, a change of underwear and a book – and keep it handy or in the front of your car. Try e-Bags to categorise your stuff so you know where everything is.
Be careful not to over-pack, either. What’s the point of bringing a whole bottle of shower gel for one night of camping? Take a razor to a soap bar, and the shavings will make great one-use washes.
6. Don’t forget about the bugs
Waking up to a body that looks like a pepperoni pizza? Not a great end to your camping trip. Even if you don’t usually get bitten, always pack plenty of bug spray and spray both the inside and outside of your tent before you turn in for the night.
We’re all human, right? So if you forget, just turn to that handy camping kitchen kit I mentioned earlier – sage is a natural insect repellent.
7. Stay warm
Make sure you go equipped with the knowledge and tools to make a campfire, especially if you’re camping during the off-season. Go searching for dry twigs and logs while it’s still light and make sure you’ve got some firelighters and paper to get it going. Here’s a quick tip I learned recently – Doritos work well as kindling if you don’t have any (if you’re willing to sacrifice them, that is)!
If you’re anything like us, waking up in the cold morning and getting changed feels like a struggle (especially if you’re washing in that freezing cold lake). To make things just a little bit more bearable, put next day’s clothes in your sleeping bag with you and sleep with them overnight. They’ll be nice and toasty by morning.
8. Remember flip flops
Foot fungus isn’t sexy. If you’re staying in a campsite with shared amenities like showers and toilets, keep clean and avoid suspicious puddles by always wearing some slip-ons.
Additionally, flip flops are so much easier to pop on when you when you need to keep going to and from the car or to the bathroom in the night, without trailing half of the forest floor into the tent with you.
10. Always bring loo roll
Even if you’re staying in a place with flush toilets, you just never know. Plus, loo roll doubles up as tissue, bandages and ear plugs.
However, when you’re backcountry camping it’s easy for loo roll to get wet or grubby, which is a bit grim, really. Keep it in an empty coffee tin to keep it protected (Folgers works nicely).
We hope this tips have got you feeling excited and prepared for your next camping trip! Do you have any tips to add? Let us know!