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A Beginner’s Guide to Camping

Camping may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking to get up close and personal with Mother Earth, it is one of the best ways to experience everything nature has to offer first-hand. You fall asleep to the sound of a rushing river and the view of a starry night sky, and you wake up to birds chirping and sunlight pouring through the trees. It’s a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, if you’re not afraid of getting a little dirty, here’s a beginner's guide to everything you need to know before pitching your tent on a campground.

Test your new gear at home

View of campfire from the inside of a tent.

The worst thing that can happen is you open your tent up and are missing pegs (been there done that), or that you’re getting ready for bed and realize your flashlight has run out of batteries. Make sure to test your gear, check the charging levels and make sure you have enough of everything you need to make sure you’re not missing anything on the trip. Depending on where you’re camping, buying new equipment or missing supplies can get costly, or be really far away from your site, so do yourself a favour and test everything out at home before hitting the road!

Key things to include:

  • Flashlights, headlamps (our faves) and lanterns

  • First aid kit and portable fire extinguisher

  • Tent and sleeping bag

  • Inflatable mattress or sleeping pad

  • Tarp and ropes

  • Camping chairs

  • Toiletry items: Microfibre towels, washcloths, soaps, shower shoes, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc.

  • All the bug stuff: Bug repellant spray, bug nets, bug repellant candles-everything and anything to keep the bugs at bay

  • Cleaning supplies: Biodegradable dish soap, a bucket to wash dishes in, a sponge, dish rags to dry dishes, garbage and recycling bags

  • Portable stove and propane

  • Kitchen supplies: A pot, pan, plates, bowls, cutlery, spatula, etc.

  • French press or Aeropress, and coffee beans

  • Extra blankets (If you are car camping and have space for it)

  • Reusable water bottle

Are we missing something?! Let us know in the comments below!

Tips for pitching a tent

Yellow tent under a starry sky.

Get to know your tent so that you know how to set it up. If all else fails, keep the instructions on hand and have a team of friends willing to help! On FML trips, all camping gear and supplies are provided by us, so you don’t have to worry about much when it comes to setting up camp. But, if you’re planning on doing it yourself, here are some tips for pitching a tent.

  • Choose a level spot

  • Avoid pitching in areas where rainwater might gather and seep inside your tent

  • Keep away from tree bases. If lightning ever strikes, you’ll be far enough away to not be affected.

  • Stay away from the fire pit

  • Bring extra pegs in case some go missing or break

Plan your meals in advance

Cooking food on a campfire.

Know what your meal plan is ahead of time so you can bring everything you need to make them before you get to the campsite. This means all meals from breakfast, lunch and dinner to snacks in between. This will not only help you buy groceries but also help make sure you know what kitchen supplies you’ll need to bring on the trip.

FML’s trips include campsite meals which are DELICIOUS. While we love a good hot dog cooked over the fire pit, we have some amazing dishes throughout our trips that will have you dreaming about our food long after you’re back home. We don’t believe in sacrificing good eats just because we’re out in the Canadian wilderness.

Bring more than enough clothes

Backpackers hiking through a field.

There’s no such thing as being over-prepared for a camping trip. Pack your clothes, and then some because you never know what will happen. From a spontaneous jump in a lake to falling straight into mud, the outdoors is full of surprises so bring extra dry clothes just in case.

A good practice should be to always check the weather before you go and pack accordingly. And remember, it can get cold at night so don’t forget warm clothes even if the weather predicts sunny days.

Clothing essentials for camping

  • Sturdy shoes or hiking boots (waterproof is ideal)

  • Bathing suit

  • Sandals or flip flops

  • Cozy layers to sleep in

  • Lots of underwear and socks

  • Rain jacket

  • Long-sleeved shirts for when it gets cold or the bugs get really bad

  • Comfortable shirts and pants to hike in

  • Toques and gloves if the weather is getting cold

Keep your food and garbage out of reach

Brown bear in a forest.

With all the wildlife out and about, it’s good to have somewhere to store your garbage. Either throw away your trash in campsite bins as soon as you can or tie it up high on a nearby tree to keep it away from animals. Most importantly, keep it away from your tents so that if wildlife does happen to come by, it's not near where you’re sleeping.

Bears are the ones you really have to worry about, especially out in the Canadian wilderness. They’re always on the lookout for food, so if you’re worried, getting bear-proof garbage bags is always an option.

There ya have it! Our beginner guide to camping out in the Canadian wilderness! Here’s a quick summary:

  • Test your gear ahead of time.

  • Familiarize yourself with our camping list and pack accordingly!

  • Check the weather and bring extra clothes (and check out our clothing essential list above)!

  • Be sure to pitch your tent on level ground, away from trees, fire pits and areas where rainwater might gather.

  • Throw your garbage away and keep the wilderness clean!

If this is your first time going camping or your first time in a while, it’s always good to brush up on the things you just might need to know. And if you’re looking for some friends to come along for a camping trip with you, FML has your back with all the gear you will need and all the wilderness training to make you feel relaxed and safe while exploring the Canadian West Coast.

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