Most Canadians have been following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s instructions not to travel and therefore have had to forego their usual trips down south for a little sun and relaxation during the long, cold drag of winter.
Even as lockdowns lift and restrictions ease, you probably shouldn’t travel out of province for a while yet. So, why not look right outside your own front door and enjoy an adventure staycation in the great outdoors?
Parks Canada has over 10,000 different campsites across the country, so you’re never too far from a spot where you can set up for the night. This year, there will be more restrictions, some parks will be closed and reservations will, of course, be required (for 2021, reservations open in April). But there’s still plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventure.
Here, we have gathered together all the best hiking and camping gear, equipment, clothing and even portable coffee solutions, so that you can design your own mini break in your local wilderness. Pack smart, and you can bring along all the creature comforts of home — and you might just decide to stay out in the wilderness a little longer than you planned.
Tents and sleeping bags
Parks Canada offers a variety of accommodation options including yurts and cabins, but this year in particular, expect spots to be snapped up quickly by Canadians who would usually be enjoying out-of-country vacations. Invest in a quality tent, and you’ll prefer your packable room for the night over any hotel out there.
Ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent ($236.73; amazon.ca)
This lightweight backpacking tent at under 4 pounds is the perfect choice for couples who like to go off the grid. Portage or hike someplace remote and pretty, and stake your spot for the night. Ust also makes a larger 4-person tent suitable for families.
Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent ($463.94; amazon.ca)
If you have a big family or just prefer to spread out a little, go for a larger nine-person tent like this option, which can fit two queen-size inflatable mattresses inside. The 60-second setup — not to mention the convenience of the electrical cord access point — allows you to avoid the usual arguments and hassles of putting up the tent.
Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent ($266.10; amazon.ca)
This is a great tent for families with small children as the separate screen room can be set up to watch movies or as a playroom while mom and dad still have a little privacy in the other section. The mesh roof vents keep everyone cool, and it’s even easy to set up.
Ust Freestyle Lightweight Backpacking Sleeping Mat ($112.40; amazon.ca)
Nobody likes sleeping on the cold hard forest floor, so pack a compact air mat like this lightweight option that inflates easily, and you’ll be guaranteed a great night’s sleep.
Selk’bag Pursuit The Wearable Bag ($243.49; amazon.ca)
Never face that awful chilly moment of crawling out of your toasty sleeping bag by wearing it instead! These innovative wearable sleeping bags from Selk’bag include removable booties and an insulated hood for total warmth.
Ust Monarch Sleeping Bag ($367.40; amazon.ca)
This colourful sleeping bag comes with the addition of wings which can be folded over or removed to adapt to a range of nighttime temperatures. They can also double as pillows to amp up the comfort level.
Igloo Profile 16 Quart Cooler ($48.22; amazon.ca)
Keep food and drinks cool and protected from wildlife and the elements with this sturdy 16-quart cooler. The lockable lid features a media slot so you can watch your cell phone or tablet hands-free, and the handle folds flat into the liner, allowing you to stack easily for travel.
NiceC Ultralight Portable Folding Camping Backpacking Chair ($82.99; amazon.ca)
Don’t set up camp without a chair to enjoy the campfire. This set comes with two folding chairs in a comfortable design featuring mesh material to keep you cool in the sunshine.
BioLite 200 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light ($49.95; amazon.ca)
Light up your tent, find your way to the washroom in the middle of the night or illuminate a night trail ahead with this headlamp that can last up to 40 hours on low and has settings for white, dim, strobe and red lights.
Hiking boots and shoes
Kahtoola MicroSpikes Footwear Traction Crampons (starting at $84.95; amazon.ca)
Strap these spikes over your regular hiking shoes, boots or even running shoes and you’ll have great traction over ice and rocky hiking terrain. Available in unisex sizes from XS to XL.
Caterpillar Men’s Baseplate Wp Espresso Boots (starting at $133.05; amazon.ca)
You know Caterpillar work boots for their dependability and hard-wearing steel toes, but they are also a great option for getting dirty in the backcountry. Whether you’re working on your cabin or just camping off the grid, they’ll keep your feet warm and dry and can cope with a variety of terrain.
Sanuk Men’s Chiba Journey Lx Sneaker ($78.88; amazon.ca)
These unisex weatherproof shoes are made from 100% plant-based Yulex rubber and keep feet safe from tough branches and rough walking trails. They also make a great option if you’re getting in and out of canoes or kayaks.
Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Two Hiking & Trail Running Socks ($24.99; amazon.ca)
Keep your feet comfortable and dry, and you’ll be able to hike all day long. These Swiftwick socks are made from merino wool and provide all-season temperature control. Plus, the controlled support band in the arch of the foot gives just enough support.
Cotopaxi Teca Vista Full-Zip Jacket ($74.35; amazon.ca)
Take a return trip to your youth (or your dad’s youth) with this colourful retro-inspired tracksuit jacket. The full-zip windbreaker folds up neatly in your backpack when it’s sunny, but it’s there for warmth and drizzle protection should the weather change.
Mammut Women’s Aconcagua Light Midlayer Jacket ($114.99; amazon.ca)
Choose this functional yet stylish mid-layer that will keep you warm at the start of the day and provides moisture absorption when the ascent gets tough. The flat seams increase all-day comfort and won’t chafe under your backpack straps.
Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Crew Sock (starting at $29.99; amazon.ca)
There’s nothing that puts a stop to your plans for an active weekend in nature like a blister. These merino wool socks are anatomically designed to prevent rubbing, while the seamless toe prevents irritation.
Knockaround Paso Robles Polarized Sunglasses ($35; amazon.ca)
These polarized sunglasses reduce glare and look cool without breaking the bank. Stash a couple of pairs in your backpack pockets or the glove box in the car, and you’ll be ready for sunny skies ahead.
Compact Travel Hoodie ($210; unboundmerino.com)
Toronto-based Unbound Merino offers free shipping across Canada and makes merino wool T-shirts, sweaters, socks and underwear that are perfect for travelling and outdoor adventures. This hoodie comes in maroon and black and has a clean minimalist style.
Orimei The Packable Coat ($169; kickstarter.com)
Plenty of campsites and national parks are close to restaurants and town centers, meaning that you might want to slip in a different wardrobe option for something a little more glamorous than your standard rain jacket. Check out the latest style from Orimei, which excels at packable and foldable clothing. This coat folds down small and can easily fit in your backpack or function as a purse. The crease-free material then shakes out into a chic coat for a night out.
Hiking gear for kids
“Wild Outside: Around the World with Survivorman” Paperback ($22.95; amazon.ca)
Real-life Survivorman and TV star Les Stroud has been teaching Canadians how to navigate the wilderness for years. Now, he’s bringing his expertise to a whole new generation with this entertaining and useful survival guide for kids. It’s a must-have for your kid’s adventure reading collection.
Xpand No Tie Shoelaces System with Elastic Laces ($12.99; amazon.ca)
Adventurous kids on the go don’t want to have to stop exploring to tie their shoelaces! Instead, get them these Xpand laces that come in a huge range of colours and patterns and turn any shoes into slip-ons.
Playmobil Volkswagen T1 Camper Van ($74.99; amazon.ca)
Get kids ready for a camping experience and have them play along with the travels with a classic VW camper van playset from Playmobil. Complete with camping accessories like a cooler, suitcase, food and a map they’ll be ready to live out their own adventure.
Mammut Neon Light Sac ($114.99; amazon.ca)
Available in five colours, including classic black, lime green or magenta, this backpack has a long slim design perfect for active pursuits like rock climbing.
Cotopaxi 16 L Batac Pack ($103.91; amazon.ca)
Get ready for the compliments. These Cotopaxi bags are all one of a kind, designed by an employee in the Philippines with creative freedom. An internal hydration sleeve will keep you well watered as you discover the backcountry.
SylvanSport Hacky Pack Daypack Lightweight Hiking Backpack ($49.95; amazon.ca)
This durable backpack squashes down into a tiny 4-inch ball. Throw it in a larger backpack or in the back of the car for easy access. Two-side mesh compartments hold water bottles or snacks, and the adjustable shoulder straps give a snug fit.
Pull Start Fire Pull String Firestarter, 3 Pack ($39.99; amazon.ca)
Spend more time enjoying your campfire and less time trying to light it with this clever product that negates the need for matches or lighters. It’s resistant to wind and rain, and you can even light it on wet wood. Also available in-store at Canadian Tire.
Sportsman Pocket Chainsaw ($53.74; amazon.ca)
Take your wilderness training to the next level with this pocket chainsaw that quickly tears through branches and even tree trunks, allowing you to construct a shelter, remove fallen trees from the path or just add to your woodpile for the fire. It comes in a pouch and has a lifetime guarantee.
FosPower Emergency Solar Crank Portable Radio ($39.99; amazon.ca)
Charge your devices and be prepared for any eventuality with this emergency radio powered by the sun. Whether it’s powered by the solar panel or the crank, this handy device functions as a radio, light and an SOS alarm in case of emergency.
Go! Water Purification Filter Bottle ($47.99; amazon.ca)
Drink clean, safe water from any source with this filtration system and water bottle in one. It removes 99.9% of harmful pathogens and chemical contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals. Simply fill the bottle up and drink clean, clear water.
VSSL First Aid Adventure Ready First Aid Kit ($165; vsslgear.ca)
This sleek first aid kit easily fits in small compartments and contains everything you need to treat minor injuries on the road and in camp.
Portable coffee and flasks
Planetary Design Steel Toe 2.0 with Brue-Stop ($56; coffeeaddicts.ca)
Make great coffee anywhere with this ultra-insulated, stainless-steel toe, which separates coffee grounds and brewed coffee to prevent bitterness. It will also keep your freshly brewed coffee hot for hours.
Stanley Cold Classic Vacuum Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle ($55.43; amazon.ca)
Choose the classic look of Stanley heritage products, which can keep drinks hot or cold for up to two days. The leak-proof design and easy-pour cup make it a perfect addition to your weekend backpacking kit.
Stanley The Camp Pour Over Set Hammertone Green Brand ($48.65; amazon.ca)
Just because you are roughing it doesn’t mean you should have to go without quality coffee. In fact, one of the best things about camping is getting up early in the morning and enjoying a hot cup of joe around the campfire. The easy-to-clean reusable filter on this set means all you have to do is pop the coffee in and add hot water.
Illy Ground Drip Dark Roast Coffee, 2 Pack ($32; amazon.ca)
Don’t forget the coffee! Packed in an air-free pressurized seal the intense full flavour will be protected until you’re ready for that first delicious cup. This set includes two 8.8-ounce cans of sustainably produced arabica coffee.
Brümate Imperial Pint Travel Mug ($37.81; amazon.ca)
Go big or go home! This 20-ounce cup is apparently the world’s first insulated mug of this size. The double-wall vacuum insulation will keep your drinks at the perfect temperature for hours.