It's Not As Intimidating As It Seems
I grew up camping, my first steps were at a campground and many of my fondest childhood memories were of camping. Growing up camping I’ve taken much of what I know for granted. Introducing close friends with zero camping experience has taught me that camping can seem daunting to try. There are a lot of ‘unknowns’ from what equipment you really need to campsite etiquette to over coming ‘will a bear eat us all’…
I love to introduce people to camping and watch them continue to adventure into nature on their own. Camping is an amazing way to experience the outdoors, travel and spend time with friends and family. If you are looking to camp for your first time or new to camping then this is the place for you.
Views from Tents are Often Amazing
First lets cover off the different types of camping. There is car camping, where you drive to a campground or camping location and set up your tent or trailer on the same spot as your car. It is the most convenient way to camp and what I will focus on. There is backcountry camping where you park your car and hike with all your gear in a backpack to a backcountry campground or location. There is also the newer ‘glamping’ option, which I will provide some resources to in case it’s how you want to wet your camping toes.
Glamping is becoming more popular and a service provided by campgrounds or resorts. Search Glamping and the destination you are interested in visiting, such as Glamping Banff National Park. There are usually several options in popular destinations. A structure, bed, bathroom and possibly food will be provided for you. No camping gear is required but you get to experience the outdoors more intimately than going to a hotel. No need to invest or rent camping gear, the nightly cost is more expensive then camping but this may be a good option to try to see how you enjoy your outdoor overnight experience. I have not personally ‘glamped’ but some photos of places look pretty amazing.
There are tons of campgrounds and ways to camp; RV, trailer, tent or hammocks. I’ll assume you will be tenting but these lists can apply to RV and trailers as well but these homes on wheels often come with kitchens, bathrooms and other comforts that tents don’t provide.
There are public campgrounds as well as free camping areas in Canada (Public Land Use Zones) that are not situated in campgrounds or have facilities. For your first camping adventures I recommend visiting an established campground since they all have designated washrooms, camping spots, flat area to tent, fire pit and picnic table. Most campgrounds have firewood for sale. Showers and flush toilets are not in all campgrounds so check what services the campground provides and make sure your expectations will be met. Some campgrounds take reservations and many do not. If you choose a campground that is in a popular location (this includes any campground in Banff or Jasper) and you don’t have a reservations get there before 11am which is check out time so you can grab a spot. You are required to have a sleeping structure on your campsite so set up your tent and leave it there the length of time you will be visiting. If you are sleeping in a camper and leave during the day ask the campground attendant if you need to make special note of not having a sleeping structure on the campsite. Even if your campsite is booked and paid for the campground can/will give your site away if there is not a sleeping structure on it while you are not there. This is in the fine print of some campgrounds, but who reads all the fine print!
Packed and Ready to Camp
Yipee you are at your destination! Now to settle in and get ready for your overnight adventure. Once you reach your destination something like the following will need to happen:
Beautiful Camping Destinations Waiting to be Found
Before you head out on your camping trip you will need to gear up. You can purchase, rent or do a combo of both.
Camping gear can easily be rented at some outdoor retailers and universities. For example:
You can purchase camping gear in a box store (Canadian Tire / Walmart) or an outdoor specialty store (MEC / REI / local stores. Keep in mind the gear from each place may differ in quality, durability, warmth and function. You may not need the most expensive gear but if it is cold in the evenings where you camp seriously consider the sleeping bag temperature rating before you purchase.
Below is a basic camping gear list, some items may be considered optional to you such as pillows or hot dog skewers but it provides a comprehensive list that could make your trip enjoyable.
Our Camping Set Up When Expecting Rain
If or when you are wanting to take your camping to the next level of adventure look into backcountry camping. If you want to get a taste of a backcountry trip before taking the plunge into camping check out backcountry huts. Backcountry camping offers the combination of hiking and camping with an experience to see places only a few people see.