Camping can be a blast, but it’s best when you plan ahead. Make sure your agenda includes plenty of activities, be sure to bring the right gear, and don’t forget to take along some tasty recipes to enjoy at your campsite!
Need some inspiration before you venture into the great outdoors? No problem. We’ve put together a list of 14 summer camping ideas that are guaranteed to help you have an absolutely wild time. And don’t forget to book your campsite online with CampReservations.ca!
Our Top 14 Summer Camping Ideas
#1: Try Letterboxing
This quirky hobby can turn your camping trip into an exciting scavenger hunt. Letterboxes are containers with logbooks inside that people hide in public places (like campgrounds) with clues to their whereabouts. Once you discover a letterbox, you can mark it with a stamp to prove you’ve been there. For a list of known letterboxes in Canada, click here.
#2: Make Omelettes in a Bag
One of our favourite breakfast recipes, the omelette in a bag is both easy and delicious—plus, it requires next to no cleanup! If you prep the ingredients before your trip, all you’ll need to do on the day is boil water. Here’s the recipe, and check out these other easy camping meals.
#3: Make S’mores!
If you’re camping with your children, s’mores make a tasty campfire treat guaranteed to help them enjoy their time away from civilization. Of course, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy these classic campfire snacks! Learn how to make ‘em here.
#4: Bring Dryer Sheets
You won’t be doing laundry out in the woods, but dryer sheets have other uses. Use them to freshen up musty spaces (like the inside of an old tent or backpack) and place them under your tablecloth to keep bees away from your food! Just remember to dispose of them properly—nature is no place for littering.
#5: Use Your Belt to Hang Cookware
That’s right—you can save valuable table space by mounting s-hooks on your belt and wrapping it around a tree to create a makeshift set of kitchen hooks! Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
#6: Start Campfires Easily with Trick Candles
You know those candles you can buy at joke shops that relight themselves when someone blows them out? Bring a pack of those on your next camping trip, and you’ll find it a whole lot easier to start a campfire in windy weather.
#7: Save Money On a Sleeping Pad
You might not have a high-quality sleeping pad kicking around the house, but there’s a good chance you have a yoga mat—and that can work almost as well when you put it under your sleeping bag. Yoga mats also tend to be cheaper than good sleeping pads if you need to buy a new one.
#8: Make Coffee Sachets
You probably aren’t taking your coffee maker camping, but you don’t need to. Instead, just add a few spoonfuls of your favourite ground coffee to a filter and seal it with a string to create coffee bags you can steep in hot water, just like tea!
#9: Have Your Water Pull Double Duty
Clean out some empty plastic jugs and use them to freeze your drinking water before your trip. Then, keep them in your cooler to preserve perishable foods and thaw them out as needed when you need a nice cold drink.
#10: Make Campfire Hash
This versatile recipe makes a great addition to dinner, but can also be jazzed up to make a standalone breakfast or lunch! The whole thing can be prepped and cooked in under an hour, making it as convenient as it is delicious.
#11: Create Instant Lanterns For Your Campsite
Having a flashlight is great, but sometimes you want to see where you’re going in the dark while keeping your hands free. Just wrap a headlamp around one of your empty plastic jugs and tie it to a tree. Let there be light.
#12: Make Onion Bombs
We had to include at least one eccentric camping recipe on this list, and here it is! Onion bombs are just as odd and exciting as their name implies. They’re basically meat packed inside an onion, then foil-wrapped and baked over a campfire. Truly an explosion of flavour.
#13: Build a Handwashing Station
Roughing it doesn’t mean you have to forego basic hygiene. Stay healthy and keep your hands clean by using an empty laundry detergent container as a handwashing station. You can even add a roll of paper towels on top, like this person did.
#14: Use Corn Chips as Easy Kindling
Not sure you’ll be able to scrounge up enough sticks to start your campfire? In a pinch, you can actually burn corn chips like Doritos or Fritos. The grease in these products will burn easily, and can help you get a fire started when all else fails. Just don’t use them for the whole fire, since grease fires create a lot of smoke.
Put A New Spin On Summer Camping
With these new activities, campsite tips, and recipes to try, you’re about ready for your next adventure! Use what you’ve learned to get creative this summer and make this upcoming trip a truly memorable experience.
Warm weather is finally on the way, and you probably can’t wait to get out to the mountains for that summer camping trip you’ve been planning. However, planning for the weather is important when camping in any season, and summer is no different. You might not have sub-zero temperatures to contend with this time around, but how can you stay cool if the weather turns too hot?
We love to camp in all conditions, so we’re here to help you plan a no-sweat summer camping trip. With our advice, you’ll be able to chill out and stay cool no matter how drastically things heat up.
9 Quick Tricks to Cool Off On Your Next Summer Camping Trip
1. Bring a Hammock
We don’t necessarily suggest replacing your tent with a hammock—after all, you’ll be left out in the cold (literally) if the temperature suddenly drops overnight. However, bringing a hammock in addition to your tent can give you a cool and comfy way to rest on hot summer nights when the tent just feels too confined.
2. Remove Your Tent’s Rain Fly
You’ll want to check the weather report for your area before you do this—but if no rain is in the forecast, consider removing the rain fly from the top of your tent. The fly normally traps rising body heat while you sleep to keep it inside the tent, so taking it off lets this heat escape and keeps you cool as a cucumber (if cucumbers went camping).
3. Set Up Your Tent in the Shade
Tents can absorb a lot of heat from direct sunlight, turning your sleeping space into a veritable sauna as soon as the sun comes up. Avoid accidentally cooking yourself by setting up your tent in a shady space. Just remember, the sun changes position in the sky throughout the day—so either find a big patch of shade, or try to predict where the shade will be when you’ll most likely be using your tent and set it up accordingly.
4. Take Your Tent Down During the Day
This might require a bit of extra work on your part, but it’s an excellent way to prevent your tent from soaking up sunlight and storing heat all day. If you’re camping in a particularly warm area, it’s best to store your tent in a cool place throughout the day and set it up fresh each night before you go to sleep.
5. Bring a Battery-Powered Fan
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but we’re putting it on the list anyway because—well, it’s just a good idea! Few things can cool you off on a hot day as quickly as a refreshing breeze, and when the weather won’t provide one, why not use a device that can make it for you?
6. Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is essential for regulating body temperature in hot weather, and can also improve your athletic performance. If you’re planning any warm-weather activities during your trip, make sure you have lots of fresh, potable water on hand. We recommend investing in an insulated water bottle that can keep your water cool, too—after all, room-temperature water can kind of make it feel like you’re just drinking sweat, and that’s… gross.
7. Wear Light-Coloured Clothing
You might not remember this from elementary school science classes, but light colours reflect heat from the sun while dark colours absorb it. That means you’re going to be much cooler camping in white garments than black ones (even if black is mysterious and slimming). Maybe leave your band t-shirts and little black dresses at home, no matter how much fun you think it might be to wear them in the woods.
8. Go Soak Your Head (Before Sleeping)
Immersing yourself in cold water is an easy way to lower your internal body temperature before going to bed, which means it will take longer for you to heat up during sleep. Additionally, a soak in cold water may improve your circulation and promote deeper sleep, so consider pitching your tent next to a lake or river if you can find one in your area.
9. Relax Under a Moist Towel
Laying a damp cloth or towel across the back of your neck allows it to suck heat out of your body, cooling you off in the process. If you don’t have a towel (for some reason), you can pull this same trick by wetting your hat—or even your t-shirt!
Make Summer Camping Cool Again
Summer is the most popular camping season for many good reasons—the warm weather encourages plants and animals to thrive, opens up areas that aren’t accessible throughout the rest of the year, and lets you run around without needing to wear a bunch of heavy layers all the time. Just make sure you don’t overheat, and use the suggestions above to find relief from the heat when you need it!
Spring camping offers incredible experiences—the fresh scent of new flowers blooming, more baby animals to admire (at a safe distance), and way fewer insects to worry about than your typical summer trip. However, spring camping isn’t always guaranteed to be a walk in the park, so you’ll still need to pack and prepare for your trip responsibly.
Below, we’ll cover the environmental conditions you should expect to face when camping in the spring and how to be ready for them. We’ll also include details about the best gear to take on a spring camping trip (and a few tips for setting up your campsite). Read on—adventure awaits!
Spring Camping Weather: What Should You Expect?
It’s tempting to pack for warm conditions when planning a spring camping excursion—after all, spring is when the snow starts melting, right? While that may be true in a general sense, it’s vital to remember that inclement weather still occurs in spring and pack accordingly.
Furthermore, spring is the least predictable season in Canada when it comes to weather, offering much more variety than the others. Our winters are typically harsh, our summers tend to be short and relatively hot, and even autumn is easier to prepare for since people tend to anticipate the gradual onset of cold conditions once summer ends.
What you don’t want to do is anticipate summer conditions while packing for a spring camping trip—or you can easily find yourself at the mercy of unexpected wind, rain, snow, and hail. All it takes is one look at Trip Advisor to find horror stories of underprepared spring campers who were forced to find motels when things got too cold and wet for their light clothing and thin sleeping bags.
See also: 12 Ways to Stay Warm While Camping.
Hot (But Not Too Hot) Weather Tips for Spring Campers
- The days might be getting warmer, but the nights can still get cold. Stay cozy by packing warm layers and a suitable sleeping bag (more on this later).
- Many mountain lakes will likely still be frozen until late April, so don’t plan on canoeing. However, you also shouldn’t plan on walking across the ice because it will be in the process of thawing and more likely to break.
- Canadian springs have more rain, wind, and temperature fluctuations than any other season (unless you happen to be camping in BC’s Lower Mainland during the winter, in which case we’ll just assume freezing rain is something you enjoy). You might be tempted to leave behind your windbreaker, raingear, or waterproof bags, but don’t.
What to Pack for Successful Spring Camping
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about what to take if you want to make the most of your spring camping experience. The following is a list of items we consider essential for staying safe and comfortable throughout the season:
- A 3-season sleeping bag is designed to keep the average person warm in temperatures ranging from -15°C to -1°C. Don’t just look for this rating, though—you’ll want to consider other factors as well, including the bag’s fit, features, and insulation type.
Also, make sure to check the forecast for the area where you’ll be camping ahead of time so you can tell whether a 3-season sleeping bag will actually offer enough warmth. Certain regions can drop below -15°C even in the springtime, and it’s best to use a bag rated for a few degrees colder than the conditions in which you plan to sleep. If you’re camping in elevated or remote northern regions, you’ll probably want something warmer.
- Tents have similar ratings to sleeping bags. A 3-season tent will likely be adequate for spring camping in most regions, but it never hurts to take a 4-season tent just in case. For best results, take the 4-season tent as a backup (you should have a backup tent anyway, just in case the one you’re using becomes damaged during your trip).
- Appropriate layers are a must for springtime campers since the weather can be so mercurial. Pack moisture-wicking base layers with long sleeves and pant legs, an insulated hoodie or jacket for your mid-layer, and an outer shell that provides high resistance to both wind and rain. If you’re going somewhere colder, put an insulation layer made of down or synthetic material between the mid-layer and the shell as well.
Springtime Campsite Setup Tips
Finally, here are a few key considerations for setting up your campsite during a springtime trip to the woods or mountains:
- Bring a pad to go between your sleeping bag and the tent floor. The ground is still thawing during springtime, so it will be colder and harder than it would be during the summer.
- Take along a tarp to shield your tent from rain and provide a covered space for activities such as cooking. It can be hard enough to start a fire outdoors without rain falling on top of it.
- Consider bringing a portable propane or electric range as a backup cooking solution.
- Be extra careful when disposing of leftover food and garbage. Baby animals are more likely to be out and about in spring than any other season—and while they can be adorable, you probably don’t want them (or their parents) digging through your campsite for scraps while you sleep.
Master Your Next Spring Camping Trip
Spring can be fantastic for camping—as long as you prepare accordingly. Use what you’ve learned above to pack the right gear, plan for appropriate activities, and optimize your campsite so that you can enjoy all that nature has to offer on your camping trip this season.
Those who truly love camping love it year-round. Weathering the winter winds can be just as rewarding as sleeping under the summer stars. Of course, the keyword there is “weathering” — so if you’re going camping in the cold, make sure you pack the proper equipment!
The following items will help you stay prepared for the elements on your next winter camping adventure. Read on to discover what you’ll need, and how it will keep you and your party protected.
What Makes Winter Camping Different?
Camping in the winter will be colder than going during other seasons — but that’s not all that makes it different. In addition to planning for extreme temperatures, you’ll also need gear built for environmental conditions such as ice and snow. Winter campers in backcountry regions will also need protection from howling winds, freezing rain, and avalanches — you know, all the fun stuff!
Finally, make sure you carefully study the area you plan to camp in before leaving home. That’s common sense for campers at any time of year, but in winter, it’s especially crucial since emergency help will likely be harder to reach and will take longer to arrive if you need it.
The Winter Camping Gear You Can’t Go Without
This gear can be useful on any camping trip — in fact, we don’t even recommend that you go camping in the summer without it. However, winter camping trips usually require specific versions of the items listed below, or additional knowledge on using them. Read carefully, so that you’ll know the difference between a sleeping bag that will save your life and one that will just turn you into a frozen burrito for bears.
Layers are the law when it comes to camping — but in winter, you’ll need to choose them extra carefully. Just throwing a sweater and some wool socks over generic long underwear won’t necessarily be enough to stop a chill from seeping in through the fabric. We recommend the following three-layered approach:
- An inner layer of thermal underwear made from moisture-wicking merino wool or synthetics
- A mid-layer made from either flannel or fleece
- A top layer that offers strong protection against wind and moisture (such as a ski jacket with a GORE-TEX membrane)
As a general rule of thumb, winter campers should avoid clothing made from cotton. Cotton fabrics can absorb as much as 27 times their weight in water, and don’t hold body heat nearly as well as synthetic or merino wool products.
As we’ve mentioned in other posts, high-calorie food is your friend when you go camping in the wintertime. The more energy you consume, the more heat your body can produce while burning it, making fat- and protein-rich foods ideal. Stock up on bacon, pre-cook a pot of chilli, and pack a few frozen beef burritos — you’ll need to eat roughly double your regular daily caloric intake to keep your energy up. Yum!
What, did you think you could just melt snow to make water? Well, you can — but only if you have a way to purify that water before you drink it. Bringing water purification tablets and a portable stove will allow you to top up your supply if you’re camping in a snowy region. That said, it’s still a good idea to fill your canteens and hot water bottles before embarking.
Pay special attention to your tent and sleeping bag while packing for a winter campout. It’s vital to take a tent that is rated appropriately for the conditions you expect to face.
We strongly recommend taking a 4-season tent, as they are made from stiff materials and generally designed to be more compact. These qualities make them sturdier in high winds, less likely to collapse under snowfall, and better at insulating heat.
Mummy bags are generally better for cold-weather camping than standard rectangular sleeping bags. The extra room in a rectangular bag may seem more comfortable at first, but your body will have to produce more heat to warm the excess air between you and the bag as you sleep. Mummy bags are much more snug, meaning you’ll lose less heat at night.
Finally, make sure to carry an emergency shelter on your person to use if you get separated from your campsite and can’t find your way back. Tarps and spare blankets can serve this purpose in the spring or summer, but it’s a safer bet to carry a bivy sack in winter.
You always need a way to start a fire when you’re camping, but winter campers can’t always rely on finding firewood at their campsite. Snowy tinder will most likely be too wet to burn, so you’ll need to bring your supply or pack an artificial heat source. Portable stoves will also help you melt snow into water, as mentioned above.
There’s no such thing as a knife just for winter, but you’ll want any utility knife you bring on a winter camping trip to satisfy a few criteria. Firstly, you might want to bring a knife with a brightly-coloured handle so that it won’t get lost if you drop it in the snow. Secondly, consider bringing a knife with a padded grip so that you’ll be able to use it comfortably in the cold.
Winter first-aid kits should come with a few items not found amongst typical medical supplies. Most of these are for preventing hypothermia by raising a person’s body temperature. You’ll want:
- Hand warmers
- A mylar blanket
- Waterproof matches
- An instruction manual for dealing with hypothermia and frostbite
Finally, make sure you take along a safety whistle and a pack of flares. You’ll need them if you become separated from your party or need to be found by a search and rescue team.
Don’t count on electronic navigation tools when you’re camping in sub-zero temperatures. Battery-powered devices are notoriously unpredictable in the cold, so take a map and compass along — and make sure you know how to read both of them. Pace counting beads can also help you determine how far away you are from your campsite if a blizzard obscures your tracks or covers up landmarks.
Flashlights are great for lighting your way in the dark, but they’re not as good for helping you work in dim conditions — since you need an entire hand just to hold them. Lanterns are a great alternative when you can rest them on solid ground, but they’re more likely to sink or tip over when you put them in snow.
Headlamps provide reliable and controllable illumination while leaving your hands free. Just remember to take an external battery pack if you’re camping in the cold since these devices can be just as susceptible to battery problems as an electronic GPS.
We know — now that summer’s over, you’ve already stowed away the sunscreen. Well, you’d better dig it out of the closet and pack it into your winter camping supplies, because the sun still shines in the wintertime.
What’s more, snow and ice can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays into your eyes and skin from unexpected angles, causing damage and obscuring your vision during potentially dangerous activities. Besides sunscreen, always bring a pair of polarized sunglasses on a retainer leash, plus a sun-hat and SPF-rated lip balm.
With Winter Camping Gear, Details Make the Difference
While you might enjoy camping in any season, not all of your gear will serve you year-round. Learning how to augment your regular loadout will ensure that you stay protected from bad weather and ready for action — even in the harshest environments.