There is something powerful in pitting yourself against nature, whether you head out for the weekend or for weeks at a time there is satisfaction in knowing you can survive. Backcounty camping means getting away from modern life and camping well beyond the traditional campgrounds just off one of the highways. With backcountry camping you have to rely on yourself or your group to survive.
The Canadian wilderness is massive and you don’t really have to travel far to go backcountry camping. While there is nothing like getting up first thing in the morning after camping beside a crystal clear lake and the night skies full of stars are like nothing you can experience in the city, you still need to be prepared. Backcountry camping doesn’t have shelter or supplies nearby you have to bring them or make them yourself. So let’s have a look at what you need to go backcountry camping.
If you are only going overnight in warm weather you can get away with food that doesn’t need to be cooked. You can bring fruit, sandwiches, nuts, seeds, granola or other simple snacks. For longer trips you’re going to need a bit more. For bigger or evening meals you might want to bring some freeze dried meals that are easy to carry and even easier to cook. Simple food tastes great after a day of hiking! Here are some rough ideas on the type of food to bring with you.
When it comes to cooking you have two choices, start a fire or bring a stove. Bear in mind that summers in Canada can be hot and dry and forest fire hazards are a genuine concern, you may not be allowed to start a fire while you are camping. Check with the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources first. You may have to bring stove with you. No matter what you decide to do, never leave your fire unattended.
Shelter doesn’t have to be complicated but when it comes to backcountry camping don’t expect the luxuries. Shelter is usually a tent or a tarp that you brought with you. Tents are heavier to carry into the woods but they do offer better protection than a simple tarp, and they will keep insects out. Mosquitos in the summertime can be vicious. Tarp or tent, you are going to want a sleeping bag and synthetic is better, it is lighter and will keep you warmer.
Camping is more than food and shelter there are other skills that you need to make sure that you stay safe and comfortable in the backcountry. If you’re new to backcountry camping then you might want to go with a guide the first couple of times, they can help teach you the skills that you need. There are plenty of tours throughout Canada that will take you out into the wilderness and teach you what you need to know. Here are some basic survival skills you should have before you set out on your own.
- Setting up basic shelter, including without a tent
- Weather signs and safety information
- Keeping your food away from wildlife like bears and raccoons
- Using a map and how to use a compass
- Basic First-Aid skills
- What clothing to bring and how to layer
- Water purification
- How to camp and Leave No Trace
Backcountry camping is a lot of fun, but you need to be prepared it is not like going to a regular campground where civilization is a stone’s throw away.