Camping season is so close we can almost taste the s’mores, smell the forest, and feel the morning breeze. You better believe we’re counting down the days, so we want to spread the excitement with a contest and plenty of pre-season tips.
Book your campsites early
MEC is proud to call Parks Canada one of our community partners, and we’re excited to announce that Parks Canada camping reservations will open in April 2021 (for trips between May 2021 and March 2022) – details and exact dates for each location are available on the Parks Canada reservations site. Provincial park campsite reservations launch dates vary across Canada, so check your region to see when you can start to book.
Pro tips for campsite reservations:
Plan ahead: Do your research and choose campsites up front, so when booking opens, you’re ready to go. Reservations sell out fast.
Be flexible with timing: Long weekends book up quickly. Consider a mid-week trip or regular weekends, and have a few dates to choose from when you’re booking.
Check back again later: Didn’t get your spot? Cancellations happen and campsites might be released again for you to hop on it.
Learn the basics: If you’re new to camping, especially at national parks, check out Parks Canada’s Camping 101 Guide for info on services, reservations, etiquette and more.
Get a Discovery Pass now: Buy now from your local MEC store for unlimited admission at more than 80 Parks Canada locations that typically charge a daily entrance fee.
Organize and restock your gear
New to camping? Check out our camping checklist and backpacking checklist to gear up. If you have existing camping gear, now’s the time to restock and assess. It’s also a great time to consider upgrades based on your goals. Maybe that means a down sleeping bag, a cushier sleeping pad, a lighter tent, a faster boiling stove – you get the idea.
Things to replace and stock up on early:
Camp fuel (it sold out incredibly fast last year)
Camping meals and camp coffee
First aid supplies – take a look to see what’s missing
Water treatment drops or tablets
Sunscreen and bug spray (check expiry dates if you have bottles from last year)
Batteries for headlamps, GPS, etc.
Biodegradable soap, hand sanitizer, scrubber pads
Tips for pre-season gear checks:
Inflate your sleeping pad to check for leaks; same with camp pillows.
Fire up your camp stove to make sure it’s working; white gas/multi-fuel stoves need regular maintenance.
Set up your tent to make sure all poles and pegs are accounted for, and that there are no holes. Sweep out last season’s dirt while you’re at it.
Look at (and smell) your sleeping bag and liner – is it finally time to give it a wash?
Re-waterproof your gear, like jackets, rain pants and hiking boots.
Organize your camp cooking supplies and make sure they’re clean.
Two-burner stoves are great for car camping, since they fit big pots and pans for group cooking.
Plan your camp meals
Fact: camping food goes way beyond spider dogs (but they’re definitely fun). Before you even pull your campstove out of storage, you can get inspired for fresh-air meals by researching new recipes online or browsing camp cookbooks. You could even prep camp snacks and backcountry meals at home with a food dehydrator – new goal for the year, perhaps? And don’t forget about the coffee. Grinders and hand-pump espresso can take your brew from functional to fantastic. (Pack out your coffee grinds!)
Brush up on Leave No Trace
With so many more people camping, it’s incredibly important to look after wild places. Leave No Trace Canada is dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation and is one of MEC’s community partners. To get started, learn the 7 ways to hike and camp responsibly.Leave No Trace (LNT) involves more than just packing out your orange peels – though you should definitely do that. When you understand the principles, you can plan for things like storing food away from wildlife and knowing how to poop in the backcountry. Some of our favourite LNT friendly gear items:
Portable trowel: To easily dig a 15cm (6in.) deep cathole 60m/200 ft. away from water sources when nature calls.
Binoculars: To respect wildlife, give them space, and observe from a distance.
Lantern: To minimize campfire impacts in the backcountry, while still having a cozy light source.
Get ready for the backcountry
Car camping has a ton of benefits (hello, full-size pillows). But being in the backcountry is pretty darn amazing – it’s just nature, your gear, and a blanket of stars. It’s one of the most memorable ways to enjoy the outdoors.
If you’re new to backcountry camping, our article on how to plan your first overnight camping trip is loaded with tips to get started. You can ask friends, research online, and read guidebooks to find a good beginner backcountry trip for you. Remember to look into what type of backcountry permit or reservation you need for the trail and backcountry site you have your eye on.
Since you’ll be carrying everything, good hiking gear is important. Look into top brand gear and clothing for high-quality items and search out great values. You could also ask friends to borrow their gear, or look into secondhand gear to save some bucks.
In only a few short days, Phase 2 of Ontario's Vaccination Plan will start! Phase two is scheduled for April 1st to May 31st and will include over 9 million Ontarioans aged 60 - 79. If you are in that category, you can book your vaccination appointment here.Hamilton will be moving into the Grey zone, and Caledon remains in the Grey Zone. These are the locations for the next two hikes. As of March 29th, Grey Zone Restrictions are being slightly changed. Outdoor gatherings of 10 are permitted, and guests must keep a distance of 3 meters apart. There will also be other changes, but these are the ones that affect us. As such, I have reduced the number of guests on these hikes to 10 spots. Check out this article for full details on the chanfges to the Grey Zone restrictions; YaHoo NewsSix people have already registerd for the upcoming Walter's Falls 3 Day Primitive Backpacking trip that will begin on May 1st, this leaves only four more spots, so act fast if you are planning to participate. The deadline for registration is Sunday, April 25th. This event will take place on the Bruce Trail in the Owen Sound area, and include 55kms of hiking over three days, with two nights of camping at primitive campsites. This event is for intermediate and experienced backpackers only! Our Georgian Bay Kayak Adventure is sold out! 12 awesome people will join me on an amazing paddle across the Georgian Bay to Franklin Island after they recieve their Basic Sea Kayaking Certification the day before. This will be a fun yet harrowing trip for all.
That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking!Lenny BurchNiagara Adventure Club