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!
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!
With so many public places and businesses closing down or changing hours this year, this summer seems as good a time as any to learn to live off the land. Those of you who really want to rough it might even be interested in foraging for food on your next camping trip. The question is, can you do it safely?
Foraging is something of a lost art these days, but it’s still entirely possible to find food in the wild as long as you have the proper knowledge and a few essential tools. Below, we’ll tell you more about foraging and give you the knowledge you’ll need to get started next time you head out to the woods.
Is it Possible to Forage for Food While Camping?
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve seen at least one episode of Survivor or Man vs. Wild. But don’t worry; you won’t have to eat bugs or drink your own urine to survive for a few days in the Canadian wilderness. Camping can be rugged without being… well, gross.
That said, foraging isn’t as easy as just walking into the bushes to pick berries off the nearest tree. You’ll need to know what foods are safe, how to test them, and where to find them.
Eat This, Not That: Safe Foods to Forage for While Camping
Here’s a quick list of safe foods you can commonly find growing in the Canadian wilderness. We can’t guarantee that they’ll all be tasty, but remember: this is what you chose instead of bringing canned food!
That’s right; these common lawn weeds are actually safe to consume—as long as you prepare them properly and avoid those that have been sprayed with pesticides (shoot for the wild dandelions growing in a remote clearing, not the ones sprouting up next to the campground manager’s office).
Morel mushrooms are common throughout most of Canada, and while they might look kind of scary, they’re also quite delicious. However, they’re also elusive, rarely growing in the same spot year after year.
Morels are often used as garnishes in restaurant dishes, but they’re perfectly fine to eat on their own as well. Just sautee them in your campfire skillet with a bit of oil, and enjoy!
Leeks are similar to onions and tend to grow in clusters from late April to mid-May. They tend to grow mostly in forested areas, so you might have to trek a little to find them—but since the entire plant is edible, you’ll be handsomely rewarded if you do.
There’s no great secret to preparing leeks, either—like any leafy green vegetable, they’re pretty versatile. Put them together with those sauteed mushrooms we mentioned and make yourself a nice salad!
You won’t have to venture too far off the beaten path to find rhubarb—in fact, you might not even have to leave your vehicle, since it often grows right by the side of the road! Of course, as with dandelions, you’ll want to avoid picking rhubarb from anywhere that’s likely been sprayed with chemicals.
We have to offer a disclaimer here: there is no universal rule for making sure foraged food is safe, and we’re not legally responsible if you eat something that makes you sick. However, we can offer a few general guidelines for testing your foraged food:
Whenever you find a plant you might want to eat, separate it into different parts. Test each piece at a time so that you don’t accidentally eat something you’ve overlooked.
Smell each part of the plant. Your sense of smell is a strong indicator of whether food is safe—if it’s too funky, err on the side of caution and stay away!
Place a small part of the plant on your exposed skin for a few minutes. If it stings, itches, burns, or causes numbness or a rash, don’t eat it. As my uncle used to say: what ain’t good for your outsides won’t be no better for your insides, neither!
Next, prepare the plant the way you’re going to eat it. We often recommend boiling, as this can help sanitize whatever you’ve picked.
Before putting the plant in your mouth, touch a small part of it to your lips and wait for 15 minutes. Assuming there are no unpleasant sensations, put it in your mouth and chew it. Then hold it in your mouth for 15 more minutes—but if you experience a bitter or soapy taste, spit it out.
After a part of the plant has successfully passed all of the above tests, you can swallow a small piece of it. If a few hours go by and you experience no adverse effects, it’s usually safe to assume that part of the plant is edible.
Signs that Foraged Food is Safe (or Unsafe!)
Here are a few things to keep your eye out for when foraging for edible vegetables:
Look for brown or tan gills on mushrooms. Some mushrooms with white gills are incredibly poisonous, including the notorious death cap.
Don’t eat mushrooms with scaled caps or spots, as these are more common amongst poisonous varieties.
Check under the cap for a second, smaller ring of tissue. If you see one, don’t eat the mushroom. Many toxic mushrooms can be easily identified this way.
Be cautious of plants with particularly shiny leaves, as these are a feature of many unsafe plants.
When looking for wild fruits or berries, it’s best to bring a field guide along. There are so many varieties that you won’t be able to use a simple rule of thumb in every case.
Never Go Hungry in the Woods Again!
Foraging for food in the wild might not make for the most decadent meals, but you can certainly sustain yourself for a few days or more with the right skills and knowledge. Use what you’ve learned here to get started, and remember: if you’re not sure something is safe to eat, it’s best to assume that it isn’t.
It’s hard to overstate the amount of satisfaction that comes from cooking and eating in the wilderness—as long as you’re cooking good food. Chowing down on a hearty meal at your campsite can be wonderfully fulfilling, but scrounging around for snacks and eating cold food from cans in the woods can feel woefully pathetic. Unless you’re really into post-apocalyptic LARPing, you probably want to go with that first option.
Fortunately, we’re here to show you some delicious—and simple—meals you can cook at practically any campsite. Keep reading, and try not to let your mouth water all over your merino wool base layers.
We thought we’d start with some hearty breakfast suggestions (after all, it’s the most important meal of the day). Pancakes might seem a little elaborate, but trust us—these are dead-easy to make, and you only need a few simple pieces of equipment.
Best of all, camping gives you an excuse to eat high-calorie foods for breakfast since you’ll be burning more energy than usual to stay warm. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to eat pancakes for breakfast, this is definitely it.
Look, we get it—not everyone likes pancakes (okay, actually we don’t get it, but we still want to provide alternatives). This french toast jam-packed full of strawberries (see what we did there?) and mascarpone is an excellent choice for those of you with other early-morning cravings, and you’ll even manage to get a serving of fruit!
This dish can be prepped in minutes and usually takes under half an hour to cook. Best of all, you can do the whole thing with just a camp stove and a skillet—along with the ingredients, of course.
It wouldn’t be right not to provide a savoury breakfast suggestion, so try these hearty taquitos filled with eggs, cheese, and sausage links. You’ll get a good mix of carbs, healthy fats, and protein for an energy boost that can carry you right through the morning.
Let’s talk about beer—as a marinade for this filling and flavourful chicken dish, that is! Chicken is an excellent source of protein that can give campers energy to spare, and this recipe helps spice it up to keep lunch or dinner exciting.
You can’t get away with just any beer for this recipe, though, so keep your Kokanee in the cooler and bring along a bottle of something dark and rich like Negra Modelo. You’ll also need a dutch oven to pull this one off (although you might be able to use a cast-iron skillet as a substitute).
Plenty of vegetarians and vegans like camping, too, so we made sure to include a few ideas on making vegetables sizzle (literally) for your outdoor meals. Check out this recipe for crispy and delicious veggies grilled with oil, sriracha, and red pepper flakes in a cast-iron skillet.
One of the best things about grilling vegetables is that you can pick and choose your spices. Not a huge fan of paprika? Try switching it with garlic powder for an entirely different flavour profile—or go crazy and use both!
Okay, this one’s ridiculously easy—but it’s also ridiculously delicious, so you’re welcome. Best of all, you can make it using almost anything that won’t melt over a campfire: a cast-iron pan, a baking sheet, a pizza stone, etc.
The ingredients for this recipe are simple too. All you need is some frozen pizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese, oil, and whatever veggies or meat you want to use for toppings. We’ve put this one on the list because it’s a great way to feed picky kids if you happen to be on a family camping trip where they aren’t thrilled about eating more adventurous fare.
While we admit that french fries aren’t the healthiest snacks in the world, we also can’t stress enough that how you prepare them matters. In fact, it’s not even really fair to call these “fries” since you’ll bebaking them in foil packets on top of the campfire instead of deep-frying them.
These potato wedges (there, happy?) can be made in minutes, and they taste even better when drizzled with sour cream or covered in bacon bits. Plus, they go amazingly well with the last item on our list, which is…
Chili is practically a campfire staple, with its origins in the cowboy culture of the American Southwest. However, while most people don’t want to simply eat pre-made chili from a can, they probably don’t have the time to prepare dry beans, either. This recipe saves some time by letting you use canned beans—but gives you control over the flavour with easily-customizable spices and veggies.
With a mere 35-minute timeline for the entire meal, this is a terrific way for hungry adventurers to warm up quickly in chilly (chili?) weather. Put it together with the cheesy garlic fries in foil listed above, and you’ll have the perfect camper’s comfort food.
Make Cooking Your Favourite Campfire Activity
With these recipes in your back pocket (or backpack), cooking while camping can be fast and fulfilling. Who knows—you might even start making a few of these dishes at home after trying them out in the wilderness! We wouldn’t blame you… after all, do you really need to head out to the middle of nowhere to justify eating garlic fries? In any case, we hope you’ll love making this food as much as we did! Bon appetit!
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.
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.
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.