Best Places to Camp in Alberta

Best Places to Camp in Alberta

Best Places to Camp in Alberta

Alberta’s got it all: big skies, golden prairies, the rugged badlands, and the rolling expanse of the Rockies (well, some of them, anyway). But where in this incredibly diverse province should you choose to visit on your next camping trip?

Don’t worry; we know all about the best places to camp in Alberta (and beyond)—and we’re here to share our favourite spots with you. Read on and discover some of Wildrose Country’s most extraordinary places to pitch your tent.

Tent in forested campground

Athabasca

A handful of small, rustic towns north of Edmonton but southeast of Slave Lake provide plenty of ameneties in the Athabasca region, while the land gives way to thick forests and majestic rivers.

Campsites like River Meadows RV Park and Plamondon Whitesands Resort provide various levels of refinement for your next trip—put up a tent, stay in your RV, or enjoy a cabin in the woods. Check out other sites in the region here.

Water Valley

An hour from Calgary and an hour from Red Deer, Water Valley Campground doesn’t have the same name recognition as Kananaskis Country—but this hidden gem on the Red Deer River puts you near the mountain backcountry without taking you too far out into the boonies.

An excellent site for family camping and large group outings in the summer, Wagons West RV Park in nearby Sundre is also surrounded by three of the area’s nicest golf courses. Either of these locations makes an excellent place for a casual, low-key foray into the great outdoors.

Slave Lake

One of northern Alberta’s largest bodies of water, Slave Lake is surrounded by pristine nature and several appealing campgrounds. You’ll find places to fish, opportunities to enjoy watersports, and many kilometres of rugged shoreline overlooking the water.

Sites nearby include Lakeview Campground and Marina (just north of the town of Slave Lake) and Big Fish Bay RV Resort. Either of these sites will put you close to the beauty of the lake without getting you lost in the wilderness.

Silver Valley

For Albertans wishing to make a pilgrimage to the far north of the province, Silver Valley offers an embarrassment of pastoral beauty in a region less marked by urban conveniences. In the nearby town of Bonanza, you’ll find the same views that greeted Alexander MacKenzie in 1793, with unforgettable sandstone cliffs standing out next to acres of undisturbed parkland and thick, verdant woods.

South of Bonanza, you’ll find more campgrounds in Demmitt and Spring Lake, with plenty of hiking and fishing available. Trust us—it’s worth coming up this far north. 

Dinosaur statue next to Drumheller welcome sign

Drumheller

Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? If the answer is you, you’re going to be better off with one of the other spots on this list—but if dinos are your thing, head out to Drumheller and get ready to roar with excitement.

Nestled deep in Alberta’s badlands, Drumheller campgrounds offer a truly unique environment in which to sleep under the stars. Not only are the hoodoos a natural wonder, but if you go walking amongst them, you might even stumble across a fossil or two! See a list of nearby sites here.

Rocks visible through surface of water at Waterton Lakes

Waterton Lakes

Waterton makes a beautiful camping destination at any time of year (although you’ll certainly want to pack differently for a winter excursion—Southern Alberta is still well north of the Equator, after all).

You’ll find camping near Waterton National Park in nearby Cardston or just outside of Hill Spring. Amenities for these sites include a natural amphitheatre, camp kitchen facilities, and activities like whitewater rafting (plus plenty of hiking, of course).

Elk Island National Park

They don’t call it Elk Island for nothing (although the park itself is landlocked, which is slightly odd). Located east of Edmonton, this region serves as a refuge for bison, birds, and—you guessed it—elk. It’s also a short drive from a few of Alberta’s more interesting and off-the-beaten-path tourist attractions, like the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village.

As for camping, you can find sites near Elk Island National Park in Lindbrook (to the south) or Bruderheim (to the north)—both with power and water hookups.

Banff

This one’s a no-brainer. Practically everyone who lives in (or comes to) Canada is bound for a trip to this picturesque mountain town at some point—but you don’t need to stay in the Banff Springs or the Rimrock to get the best of what it has to offer.

Banff National Park is also home to some of Canada’s best camping, from Tunnel Mountain Village to Lake Louise. Check out a list of nearby sites here, including RV parks and cabins.

Boat on lake in Jasper National Park

Jasper

A bit farther flung from major cities like Calgary and Edmonton than the last two entries on this list, Jasper should appeal to your rugged side. From the imposing Pyramid Mountain to the gorgeous and remote Miette Hot Springs, there’s plenty to see here.

Northwest of Jasper, you’ll find camping in scenic Grand Cache, which will put you closer to numerous amenities. From there, route 40 will take you to highway 16, bringing you right into the thick of everything Jasper has to offer.

Kananaskis Country

Home to some of the province’s best backcountry trails, Kananaskis makes an excellent place to spend a weekend (or an entire week, if you have the time). Enjoy stunning summit views and winding paths through unspoiled wilderness.

The region is home to plenty of campgrounds, too—from Lac des Arcs to Dead Man’s Flats. Here’s a list of other nearby sites, all within a reasonable driving distance from this incredible part of the province.

Plan Your Next Trip Today

Alberta isn’t all just big cities and tourist towns. In fact, some of the best spots in the province are a little ways off the grid. Try a spot from the list above this summer (or fall, or winter, or spring—is there ever a bad time to go camping?) and let us know what you think!

Best Safety Equipment for Camping

Best Safety Equipment for Camping

Best Safety Equipment for Camping

Camping is usually a safe and relaxing experience—but it never hurts to be prepared for an emergency when you’re miles away from civilization with iffy cellular service. Packing a few essential pieces of safety equipment on your next camping trip can help you avoid an unforeseen incident that could ruin your trip (or respond properly to one so its impact can be minimized).
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most vital pieces of safety gear you can bring on any camping trip. From wild animal deterrents to medical supplies and signaling devices, you’ll find everything you need here to go camping with complete confidence. Let’s get started!

How to Choose Your Safety Equipment for Camping

Before you buy safety equipment to take camping, you’ll want to think about what distinguishes high-quality items from unreliable ones. Here’s a list of criteria you can use to make sure you’re buying the best items in their class:

  • Materials: Safety equipment of all kinds needs to be durable, but it also needs to be lightweight.

Tip: Stainless steel makes a great beginner’s material of choice for blades, due to its durability and relative ease of maintenance, whereas aluminum is light but strong and works well for containers holding consumable items like flares or first aid products.

  • Visibility: Safety equipment is no good to you if you can’t find it when you need it. Make sure anything you buy will be highly visible—even in the dark.

Tip: Look for gear with hi-vis color schemes (generally neon yellow or orange). Also, consider purchasing gear with reflective strips to make them more visible in low-light conditions (or use reflective tape to add your own).

  • Reusability: Not all safety gear can be used more than once. Consider how you’ll deal with an emergency if it recurs during your trip.

Tip: Consider buying value packs with multiple items of the same kind in them. And for reusable safety gear, ensure that it’s not too difficult to maintain or reset between uses.

Our Top Picks for Camping Safety Equipment

Morakniv Bushcraft Knife in Orange

Via Amazon

Morakniv Bushcraft Knife (Orange)

Price: $56-66 CAD

Where to Buy: Amazon

Fixed blade knives are generally better than folding models, since the hinge is typically a weak point where the blade can break off. This one also has a stainless steel blade, and comes with a highly visible neon orange handle to help you locate it more easily when you need it.

Fox 40 Classic Safety Whistle in Yellow

Via Amazon

Fox 40 Classic Safety Whistle

Price: $12 CAD

Where to Buy: Amazon

There’s a reason these are among the most popular safety whistles in the world. Not only are they loud as all hell (115dB, in case you’re wondering, which can be heard up to an entire mile away), but they also come in a ton of highly visible colours and are reliably made.

Adventure Medical Kits Backpacker First Aid Kit

Via Amazon

Adventure Medical Kits Backpacker First Aid Kit

Price: $33-50 CAD

Where to Buy: Amazon/MEC

Designed for 2 people on journeys of up to 4 days, this kit comes with easily labeled pockets and a quick reference guide to help you use it as soon as an injury occurs. The instructions are also bilingual, making it more accessible—and it has a reflective logo to help you find it in low-light conditions. The contents include medicines, patches, and bandages—plus EMT shears and a 10cc syringe to help you cut off clothes, prep dressings, and clean wounds.

2-pack of Frontiersman Bear Spray

Via MEC

Frontiersman Bear Spray (2-Pack)

Price: $90 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

What’s better than 1 can of bear spray? If you guessed 2 cans, you’re absolutely right. You don’t want to fend of one wild animal, just to end up inside another one because you ran out of juice. These cans from Frontiersman come in a highly-visible orange color, and have a range of roughly 9m. They also have glow-in-the-dark safety clips so you can find them easily at night.

Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern with Powerbank

Via MEC

Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern with Powerbank

Price: $100 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

This versatility lamp provides area light on one side and focused light for detail work on the other. But better yet, it can be charged via USB or by a hand crank on the side—meaning you’ll always be able to use it, no matter how far off the beaten path you get. Major points for reusability here.

Have Confidence in Your Next Camping Trip

Bringing the right safety gear on your upcoming trip will help you stay safe and enjoy your experience. For more suggestions on what to pack, check out our guide to the best camping cookware!

The Best Backpacks for Camping

The Best Backpacks for Camping

If you only go out to the woods occasionally, you might think any old backpack is fit to take camping—but you’d be wrong. After all, there’s an incredible variety of backpacks on the market, and many of them aren’t intended for anything beyond your commute to and from the office. But what makes a backpack worth taking on your next outdoor adventure—and where can you buy one?

We’ve got some ideas that can help you answer both of those questions. Below, you’ll find a list of essential qualities to look for in a camping backpack, as well as a few of the best such packs available right now.

If you’re looking to book a camping trip to test out a new backpack try Campreservations.ca

What Makes a Camping Backpack Great?

Before you trust any backpack to store and carry your essential camping items, you’ll want to make sure it has most (if not all) of the following features:

A Frame: Many commuter backpacks are frameless, but these prove awkward to carry through the woods when fully loaded, since they provide no structural support. Most camping backpacks will either include an internal or external frame to improve your stability while carrying them.

Access Panels: Bags that only open from the top aren’t practical when you need quick access to the items buried underneath your other gear (and making this mistake with something like bear spray can quickly turn you from an intrepid explorer into an easy snack for wildlife). Avoid this mistake by buying a bag that has extra access panels in the sides or bottom of the bag—just remember not to leave them open, or you’ll be spilling your gear out behind you while you hike!

Gear Loops: Hiking poles, ice axes, and other tools are often too large to store inside a backpack but too awkward to carry for long in your arms. That’s why the best camping backpacks usually have loops to which you can attach such items.

Waterproof Features: There’s nothing worse than putting sensitive items in your bag for safekeeping, only to have them ruined by a downpour that soaks through the lining. Look for a backpack with a waterproof lining to prevent this from happening—or better yet, buy one that comes with a raincover.

Container Sleeves: Almost every backpack comes with these—but you definitely don’t want to camping with one of the few that don’t. These pockets are specifically designed to carry water bottles (or cans of beer, if that’s the kind of camping trip you’re on—just remember to dispose of them responsibly when they’re empty!).

Comfort Padding: You might think extra padding on a backpack is an unnecessary luxury, but if you’ve ever schlepped a 50lb bag for hours on end through rough terrain, you know how sore your back and shoulders can get. Give yourself some relief by purchasing a bag with at least a little cushioning in the contact points.

A Sleeping Bag Carrier: Backpacks built for camping often come with a specific pocket for carrying sleeping bags. Having a dedicated sleeping back container prevents you from having to unload your entire bag whenever you’re bedding down for the night, saving you a ton of time and effort in making camp.

Air Vents: You know what happens when you hike for long enough?Sweat happens. And when it does, the last thing you want is a swampy back that gets stuck to the pack resting on it. That’s why backpacks intended for dynamic outdoor activities tend to have ventilated panels in the back—often in the form of “tension-mesh suspension”, which creates a breathable buffer between you and the pack’s frame.

Got it? Good. Then let’s take a look at some of the best bags you can buy with these features today.

Our Top 5 Backpacks for Camping in Canada Right Now

Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack – Men’s

Orange Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack

Price: $445 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

This backpack has over 60 mainly glowing reviews on MEC for good reason. Not only does it come with a sleeping bag compartment, an internal hydration reservoir sleeve, twin water bottle holders, and numerous removable loops for attaching gear, but it’s also got a wishbone-shaped aluminium wire frame to move the brunt of its load to the load-bearing regions of your body—which means you can fill this baby up and carry it around for hours with less effort than most other packs.

Gregory Deva 60 Backpack – Women’s

Maroon Gregory Deva 60 Backpack

Price: $400 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

Another heavy hitter from Gregory, this women’s backpack comes with a lot of the same features as the Baltoro, but in a more compact package with slightly smaller volume. Access panels in the front, top, and bottom mean your important items are always within easy reach, and it’s intended to hold up to 25kg. It also includes a removable daypack, so you can carry a lighter load on days when you won’t be venturing too far away from your campsite—tough and practical.

Mystery Ranch Terraframe 3-Zip 50L Pack – Unisex

Black Mystery Ranch Terraframe 3-Zip 50L Pack with orange trim

Price: $465 CAD<

Where to Buy: MEC

Fit for winter expedition camping as well as your typical backpacking excursions, this efficient and no-nonsense pack uses DWR-treated fabric in the construction of its shell and comes with attachment points for your poles, ice axes, or other larger pieces of gear. It also has a removable padded hip belt to keep you from getting too sore on your longer jaunts. Our only gripe with this popular backpack is that it doesn’t have a ventilation panel in the back—but that’s probably because it’s built for use on top of winter camping layers.

Osprey 50L Renn Backpack

Black Osprey 50L Renn Backpack

Price: $210 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

An excellent option for campers on slightly tighter budgets, this mid-sized women’s backpack is still plenty capable of seeing you through a multi-day adventure in the great outdoors. Tension-mesh in the back provides a buffer between your back and the frame, while allowing plenty of airflow to keep you from getting too sweaty—and an integrated rain cover provides protection from the elements in case of rain.

Osprey Rook 65L Backpack

Green Osprey Rook 65L Backpack

Price: $230 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

With the same tension-mesh back panel and integrated rain cover as its cousin above, the Rook is a larger and more robust version of the same bag, intended for men or campers with larger frames. It’s designed to be simple but effective—with an easily-adjustable harness, a straightforward pocket design that helps you stay organised without overcomplicating things, and soft-edged shoulder straps to make your longer treks as comfortable as possible.

There’s also an integrated safety whistle on this bag—just in case you do run into a cougar or two (and no, we don’t mean at the next campsite over). If you haven’t got your bear spray handy, that might just be the next best thing.

While you’re looking into camping gear & equipment check out our list for best camping tents.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Camping Gear for Christmas Gifts

Best Camping Gear for Christmas Gifts

To wrap up this year, we are sharing the gear wish list from our team and inspiration for our adventures in 2022!  These are perfect if you are looking for some last minute gifts for someone who loves camping and outdoor activities.

What camping adventures are we looking forward to in 2022?

Steaphanie in cliffside

Stephanie

I would like to road trip through BC and end at Harrison Lake. The area is surrounded by mountains, so there’s lots of hiking trails to explore, and the lake would be great for kayaking. I would love to camp at Cogburn Family Wilderness Resort!

Keith mountain biking

Keith

I’m looking forward to camping at Vezeau Beach on opening weekend and meeting all of the Bonnyville campground caretakers.  I plan to buy some Mundare sausage and perogies on the drive out to the campground.

Renee in mountains

Renee

In 2022 I would like to camp or stay in the cabins at Carbon East Campground.  It is one of my favorite campgrounds close to Calgary and I look forward to bringing my daughter to the playground, exploring the Badlands and hopefully going to a movie night hosted at the campground.

What camping gear is on our wish list?

Stephanie

Hiking and camping backpack – Osprey Talon 33

Hiking and camping backpack - Osprey Talon 33

Price: $160.00

Where to buy: Osprey

Kitchen kit for camping – MSR Quick 2 System Cookset

Kitchen kit for camping - MSR Quick 2 System Cookset

Price: $135.95

Where to buy: MEC

Sleeping pad for camping and backpacking – Thermorest Neoair Xlite Sleeping Pad

Hiking and camping backpack - Osprey Talon 33

Price: $240-290

Where to buy: Therm-a-rest

Keith

Camping light and lantern – Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma

Camping light and lantern - Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma

Price: $24.95

Where to buy: GoalZero

Warm Trapper Hat – Outdoor Research Sahale Trapper Hat

Kitchen kit for camping - MSR Quick 2 System Cookset

Price: $64.00

Where to buy: Outdoor Research

Outdoor hand warmer, flashlight, usb charger – Firecel Plus Warmer Charger Light

Outdoor hand warmer, flashlight, usb charger - Firecel Plus Warmer Charger Light

Price: $64.95

Where to buy: MEC

Renee

Comfy wool socks – Smartwool Light Hike Cushion Socks

Comfy wool socks - Smartwool Light Hike Cushion Socks

Price: $29.00

Where to buy: Smartwool

Cross-country skiing and hiking/walking down skirt – Craft Storm Thermal Women’s Skirt

Kitchen kit for camping - MSR Quick 2 System Cookset

Price: $99.99

Where to buy: Altitude Sports

Camping and Hiking water filter straw – Life Straw Personal Water Filter

Camping and Hiking water filter straw - Life Straw Personal Water Filter

Price: $25.95

Where to buy: MEC

We wish you and your family Happy Holidays!

The Best Camping Cookware You Can Buy Today

The Best Camping Cookware You Can Buy Today

Eating well is an integral part of enjoying (and surviving!) any extended trip to the great outdoors, but you’ll want to make sure you take the right cooking gear along. You might believe that all camping cookware is created equal, but that’s not quite true—some cooking tools are decidedly more equal than others, especially in certain situations.

We’ve put together this list of essential camping cookware to help you take the right cookery on your next camping trip. Rely on our expertise to show you what qualities to look for in your cooking gear, and try out a few of our recommendations!

What to Look for in Camping Cookware

When you’re looking for camping cookware, there are a few key criteria you’ll want to prioritize so you can buy reliable items. Here’s a quick breakdown of what separates the best products in this category from the clangers (yes, it’s a pots-and-pans pun, deal with it).

  • Materials: Just because you’re taking a piece of cookware into the woods doesn’t mean you should cheap out on materials. In fact, buying high-quality cookware is probably more important than ever when you’re going camping, because you’ll need to make sure your equipment is tough enough to perform in the conditions of your environment.

Tip: Look for pots and pans made from anodized aluminum—it’s light, tough, and conducts heat easily. Conducting heat easier not only means your meals cook faster, but also saves you fuel—meaning you don’t have to carry as much of that around, either.

  • Portability: Cookware can be heavy when it’s just going to sit on your countertop at home, but when you’re lugging it up and down mountains or through the woods, you need to make sure you can carry it. Materials play an important role in how portable your cookware is, but so does size and design.

Tip: Choose modular cookware, or purchase sets that can be stacked or collapsed to save space. This will make storing your items considerably easier when you aren’t using them.

  • Versatility: The more you can do with a single piece of cookware, the fewer pieces you’ll have to lug around. Look for cooking equipment that can help you prepare numerous kinds of meals so you can avoid stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into your rucksack and turning into a dinner bell for bears while it clunks around on your back.

Tip: Buy cooking gear that comes with plenty of room, balances easily, and has a handle with wooden or rubber grips so you can easily use it with a campfire and not worry about burning your hands.

Our Favourite Camping Cookware

Here are a few of our top picks for camping cookware—including pots, pans, and even utensils. Try some of these options out for yourself, or use them as guidelines when shopping for different products.

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove Kit on white backgroundMSR Pocket Rocket Stove Kit

Price: $135 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

This kit gives you the complete package: a durable and lightweight stove, multiple pots made from anodized aluminium, mugs, bowls, and even a spork set for two so that you and a partner can enjoy meals in the great outdoors together. The largest pot in the set even has a strainer lid, making it much easier for you to prepare a variety of different meals in the wilderness.

GSI Destination Kitchen 24 Set on white backgroundGSI Destination Kitchen 24 Set

Price: $65 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

You’re going to need more than pots and pans if you want to prepare truly sumptuous feasts during your outdoor adventures, and this 24-piece set from GSI has you covered. It includes a cutting board, knife, collapsible whisk, a mini-grater, and a pivot spoon and spatula. It even comes with condiment bottles and a spice holder so you can really jazz up your recipes. After all, food always tastes better in the wilderness—but a little paprika never hurts, either.

Jetboil Ceramic Fluxring 1.5L Cooking Pot on white background

Jetboil Ceramic Fluxring 1.5L Cooking Pot

Price: $90 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

Designed to help you boil food faster, this large ceramic pot with a non-stick coating also contains a built-in heat exchanger and a silicone-coated wire handle to prevent burns while handling it. It’s easy to clean, easy to carry, and you won’t have to worry about denting it too much either, since its exterior is made from hard-anodized aluminium.

GCI Slim-Fold Outdoor Cook Station on white background

GCI Slim-Fold Outdoor Cook Station

Price: $150 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

Having the best camping cookware in the world won’t matter much if you’ve got nowhere to put it when it needs to be used. Enter this elegant portable counter with a frame made from powder-coated steel and including no less than 4 plastic fold-out side tables. Not only will this item give you plenty of space to lay out your ingredients and other cookware, but it even comes with a hook set to hang utensils and tools when you’re not using them.

Now You’re Cooking

Roughing it doesn’t mean you have to scrounge for roots and berries. Any of the options above will make it easier for you to cook hearty and delicious food on your next camping trip—and these are just a few suggestions for where to start. Use what you’ve learned here to continue seeking out cookware that will take your camp cooking game to the next level, and let us know what you find!