Basic Packing List for Wilderness Camping
What you will put on your packing list for your backcountry camping trip depends on how much comfort and luxury you want. It depends on where you are going, for how long, and the time of year.
Many locals go on month-long camping trips across Canada with their luxury RVs, and so do our southern neighbours. For many, it is a retirement dream. I don’t blame them to take their whole household along and all the luxury items they own. It’s their home away from home and they all deserve it. And I’m sure they don’t need my Packing List.
As a tourist, you can rent a Camper or RV in Canada for a big road trip and live in comfort like many locals do. Or maybe you just want to go camping for a couple of nights and take a tent and the basics, which is my favourite way to go into the wild.
Here I tell you what I load into my car for a weekend trip, and why.
17 Most Essential Items To Go Camping
Roughly plan your camp meals to know what to bring and how much of it.
Campfire cooking is part of the camping fun. Therefore, you need to know how to start a fire and how to split wood, unless you bring an already split wood bundle along.
It adds to the camping fun if you know how to catch fish when camping near a lake or river. Get your fishing license and find out about species and fishing rules before you leave home.
I’m always interested in what kind of plants are growing at the places I visit. It’s good to know which plants are edible and which ones might give you a stomach ache, or much worse, poison you. I love foraging for wild food but won’t depend on this food source alone.
2. Medical Kit
There are all kinds of small medical kits on the market which contain everything you need. It’s important to bring the basics, in case you or someone else in camp needs medical attention.
A good quality tent will keep you dry. If you want to rough it during summer camping, you can use just a tarp shelter instead.
4. Sleeping bag
Bringing a sleeping bag suitable for minus temperatures is a good idea at any time of year.
I was on a week-long horse pack trip once in July, high up in the Chilcotin Mountains, The nights were freezing cold, despite the fur-lined riding jacket I was wearing at night, plus mittens, and a toque.
Soon after I got home from this adventure trip, I went out to buy the best and warmest sleeping bag I could afford. And what a good investment this was. Since then I’ve been camping in the mountains many times and I was never been cold again since.
Bringing a foam or an inflatable mat to sleep on helps for a comfortable night. Your body is thankful for it in the morning.
6. Coleman camp stove and fuel
Bringing a camp stove along is a must, even if I cook most of the time at the campfire. I never leave home without my old Coleman stove and enough fuel.
Maps + Compass + Knowing how to use them = knowing where you are.
A Handheld Garmin GPS comes in handy if you’re out in the backcountry on your own away from civilization. Bring also batteries along.
8. Bear spray
If you’re not in the city, you’re in bear country!
Bringing bear spray along on a backcountry camping trip in Canada is essential. You never know when you’ll be confronted with one of Canada’s preditors. Depending on where you go, adding an air horn for noise and bear bangers to your packing list might be a good idea.
9. Plenty of water
Bring lots of water, unless you’re absolutely sure that you will camp next to a river.
A rope is a useful item to bring along. It becomes even more useful if you know how to tie knots. This was an essential trade during my guest ranch years and during horse camping trips.
11. Enough fuel for the car
If your camping trip takes you to off-the-beaten-track places, especially in the northern parts of Canada, it is wise to bring extra fuel along.
A shovel to dig a hole for a backcountry toilet helps keep the camp clean. My favourite shovel is a foldable one.
A leatherman or some other multi-tool is a good investment. I never go into the bush without it.
14. Cooking utensils
Bring your camping mug and basic cooking utensils. Don’t forget a can opener if you bring cans and a corkscrew for the wine.
15. Flashlight and lamp
I wouldn’t want to be in the backcountry without a flashlight and my Coleman lamp and plenty of spare batteries.
16. Camping apps
Camping apps – load them onto your cell phone if you think that you will have cell reception at the camp.
17. What else
Insect repellent, waterproof matches, a bowl or bucket for the dishes, dishwashing liquid, paper towels, wet towels, kitchen towels, garbage bags, sealable plastic bags, cards, and /or a board game, and sunscreen.
The packing list all depends on how long you go camping. You will find out soon enough what you are missing.
Only going for a night? You won’t need a packing list. A sleeping bag, a tarp, a few beers, hot dogs, and ketchup will do it. And this will be an authentic Canadian Wilderness Camping night.
Also, check out Wilderness Road Trip Planner to prepare for an extended road trip.
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