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Basic Packing List For Wilderness Camping in Canada

What you will put on your packing list for your camping adventure depends on how much comfort and luxury you want. It depends where you are going, for how long and the time of year. To have a list is a must for every backcountry camper.

wilderness camping - packing list

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.

Packing List for Backcountry Canada

Here I tell you what I load into my car for a weekend trip, and why.

Yrene’s Packing List – 17 most essential items

1. Food

I plan what food I want to bring and how much of it.

I know how to start a fire and how to catch a fish, which is useful when camping near a lake. I have my fishing license and find out about species and fishing rules before I leave home.

Also, I look up what kind of plants are growing in the place 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 on my camping trip.

2. Medical Kit

I take a few basics, which can come useful in case I need medical attention. You can buy small medical kits which contain everything you need.

3. Shelter

A good quality tent keeps me dry. If you really want to rough it you can use just a tarp shelter instead.

4. Sleeping bag

To bring a sleeping bag suitable for minus temperatures is a good idea, even in the middle of summer.

I was on a horse pack trip once in July, camping in the Chilcotin mountains, and I was freezing cold every night. To survive I had to wear my fur-lined riding jacket at night, mittens and a toque. The first thing I did when I got home from this trip, was to buy myself the best and warmest sleeping bag I could afford. Since then I’ve been camping in the mountain many times and I was never cold again at night.

5. Mat

Bringing a foam or an inflatable mat to sleep on helps for a comfortable night. My body is thankful for it in the morning.

6. Coleman camp stove

A camp stove is a must, even if I cook most of the time on the campfire. I never leave home without my Coleman stove.

7. Navigation

Maps + Compass + Knowing how to use them = knowing where I am.

I also take my Handheld Garmin GPS and spare batteries. This is good to have along when I’m out on my own away from civilization.

8. Bear spray

If you’re not in the city, you’re in bear country! Depending on where I go, I sometimes bring an air horn for noise and bear banger.

9. Plenty of water

Unless I’m absolutely sure that I camp next to a river.

10. Rope

A rope and I know how to tie knots. I learned this during my guest ranch years and camping with horses.

11. Enough fuel for the car

Travelling to off-the-beaten-track places in the northern parts of Canada, it is wise to bring extra fuel along

12. Shovel

A shovel to dig a hole for a backcountry toilet, which keeps the camp clean.

13. Leatherman

A leatherman or some other multi-tool. I never go into the bush without my leatherman, which is a brand of multi-tools and knives.

14. Cooking utensils

Bring your camping mug and basic cooking utensils. Don’t forget a can opener if you take 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 I always bring 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, matches, bowl or bucket for the dishes, dishwashing liquid, paper towels, kitchen towels, garbage bags, sealable plastic bags, cards and /or a board game

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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