Camping and cottaging are some of my favourite things to do in the summer. Getting out of the city, disconnecting from my devices and spending time in the outdoors truly can’t be beat. And when you’re lucky enough to live in Canada, there are plenty of places to head to when you need a little camping fix. But camping is a little more than just packing a tent and going. In fact, it can be incredibly expensive if you’re going for the first time especially if you don’t have too much gear to begin with. And so, before you run out and buy everything, consider the most important things you’ll need to have on hand—and the things you can get away with renting or borrowing.
If you can get away with renting or borrowing a tent, do it. Especially if it’s your first time. A tent can be a big purchase and until you know that you love camping and you’re going to go regularly, it’s best to borrow or rent instead of buying. The same goes for things like kayaks or canoes (if you’re going back-country camping), which take up space and are definitely only purchases for people who plan to go often and every year. Places like MEC offer up rentals so you can make the most of a trip without purchasing all the many things you’ll need to make the experience comfortable.
For me, the most important things to buy are what you’ll be wearing—and not just because I used to be a fashion editor. While sometimes you’ll get a beautiful camp weekend, there are just as many times when the weather will not work in your favour. Rain, wind and cold can all put a damper (literally) on your camp getaway and no one likes being wet and cold all weekend long. Invest in gear that is comfortable, actually works and you like the look of so you feel good about wearing it.
And while you can go really big here, especially if you plan on making camping your go-to hobby (hello, Arctyrx) you can also pick up less expensive but utilitarian pieces that will keep you warm and dry. Don’t forget hats, boots and plenty of socks—if it rains, you’ll be glad you packed them. Bonus points if it’s also mosquito-proof—bugs have a way of truly making you uncomfortable when there’s no inside escape.
As someone who prefers to eat real food over the dehydrated variety, the next most important things that I invest in is anything relating to food. This means a good cooler, a safe way to drink water and a good method of cooking (that is compatible with a fire ban). And finally, have a decent first aid kit on hand that’s yours. Make sure it’s stocked with gauze, bandages, hydrogen peroxide and adhesive tape.
When in doubt, try to borrow as much as possible to eliminate costs. Things like tarps, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, rope and even a tent can all be borrowed from camp-loving friends or family. Consider things like headlamps or flashlights, duct tape, fire starters and campfire wood, camp chairs and battery radio and compass.
Apart from that, don’t forget your stash. Check out our round-up of THC-infused goodies for high vibe travel excursions. Happy trails.