It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to another beautiful Canadian winter and greet the oncoming summer! For both backcountry campers and those considering their first camping experience, this means it’s time to start planning and organizing equipment for the trip.
Here at Ontario Parks we are doing the same and gearing up for what promises to be another successful and fun summer for our Learn to Camp program. The Learn to Camp program runs from June to August every summer and works with novice campers to equip them with the knowledge, skill set and camping equipment necessary to become successful campers.
For those just beginning to create camping memories for themselves, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the diverse and large selection of camping equipment available. Our partners at Canadian Tire and Coleman offer a range of camping gear that outfits our Learn to Camp program, and we thought we would share with you some products and tips that we trust.
Tents and Shelters
First on your must-have camping list is a tent. A good tent will keep you dry and warm, shielding you from nature’s elements. While there are many types of tents available (dome, cabin, easy set up, and those specifically designed for paddling and backcountry trips) this is one product purchase that is personal to your needs. Depending on the type of camping trip and the number of people you’re camping with, you can tailor your tent search to match. As a general rule, the size of the tent should be rated for 1 or 2 more people than will actually be using it. This provides a little extra space for your gear. Canadian Tire’s Tent Selector Tool is a helpful resource to find the right size and style of tent for your needs. For first time or new campers, we recommend a tent that’s easy to set up. Certain tents, like Coleman’s 4 Person Instant Tent, have tent poles that are pre-attached for easy set-up and take down. These types of tents are very user friendly and a great option.
While a dining shelter isn’t necessarily a must-have for setting up camp, it is a useful piece of equipment that can provide a reprieve from sun, rain, or wind; and is a great place for preparing meals or enjoying a game of cards. Our Learn to Camp program relies on Coleman’s Instant Screen House, for ease of use and reliability.
Camp Stove and Cooler
Preparing for a camping trip also means planning meals and ensuring you have everything you need for your camping kitchen. Two of the most important items to have when camping are a camp stove and a cooler.
While campfire cooking can be a great way to go, we use a camp stove for the Learn to Camp program because it’s a piece of equipment a lot of our participants can relate to and find comfortable and easy to use. Two of the most common stoves are the ‘Naptha’ camp stove (which runs off white gas) and a propane camp stove. Learn to Camp campers use Coleman’s 2- burner propane camp stove. These stoves can run off a regular (20lbs) BBQ propane tank, which can also run other camp appliances like a BBQ or lantern. A single tank will generally last you an entire week of camping and can be refilled as needed.
A cooler is an essential piece of camping equipment for keeping your food fresh and your drinks cold. As with other camping equipment, coolers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. When picking a cooler, look for one with good insulation and a drain at the bottom, much like Coleman’s Xtreme 62 Quart Cooler used in the Learn to Camp program. Added cooler features like handles and wheels make for transporting your cooler to a friend’s campsite or the beach as easy as pulling the cooler behind you. A good practice is to have two coolers: one large cooler for all your camp food and one smaller portable cooler for day trips to the beach.
One of our Learn to Camp favorites is the Coleman Quad Lantern. The Quad Lantern has four lights in one lantern, providing light in all directions when whole, or allowing people to remove up to 4 individual sections to use as flash lights. This battery operated lantern makes the transition from day to night smooth, and allows for trips to comfort stations, water taps or around the campground easy with its removable sections.
A good air mattress and sleeping bag are another key element in ensuring comfort while camping and a good night’s rest. Much like tents, the type of air mattress and sleeping bag you’ll need will depend on the type of camping you’re looking to do. For those just beginning and planning a summer camping trip, the Coleman Granite Peak Sleeping Bag is a good place to start.
While there’s other equipment some may consider a necessity for camping (ex. a coffee maker), the items we’ve listed are a strong starting point and will lay a foundation for your camping trip and equipment collection. Our Learn to Camp retail store, Canadian Tire, carries all these items and more to help make your trip a success.
Remember, that with good preparation and organization you’re ready; with the proper camping equipment, you’re set. The adventure begins when you get out there and camp!