The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping in Canada

The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping in Canada

Camping in Canada often means sleeping outside on cold nights—sometimes even in the summer! You’ll need a sleeping bag that helps you rest comfortably, while also helping you retain body heat so you don’t turn into a popsicle overnight. But what features should Canadian campers look for in their sleeping bags, and what are the best sleeping bags on the market right now?

We know a thing or two about camping, so we’ve got a few ideas to help you out. Below, you’ll learn what to look for when buying a sleeping bag to use in this wild and gorgeous country and find a few of our favourite models currently available for purchase.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Sleeping Bag?

Like tents, sleeping bags come in a variety of different styles and materials. Different sleeping bags are typically intended for different situations, so it’s vital that you think carefully about the type of trip you’re planning before picking and packing your bag.

Consider the following when selecting your sleeping bag:

  • Are you staying at a campsite or backpacking? Sleeping bags made for camping are designed to provide comfort and warmth. They’re also designed to stay in the tent once you pitch it, so they tend to be heavier and bulkier than sleeping bags for backpacking.

You won’t want to drag around a sleeping bag for camping if you’re hiking from site to site over multiple days (or weeks)—but you also won’t get as much comfort from a backpacker’s bag if you bring it on a casual camping excursion. Choose accordingly.

  • How cold is it going to get? Not all sleeping bags are rated for the same range of temperatures. Most sleeping bags fall into one of 3 different categories:
    • Summer Season: 0° and up
    • 3-Season: -15° to -1°
    • Winter: -15° or below

For best results, choose a bag rated for a few degrees colder than the conditions in which you plan to camp. After all, Canadian weather is notoriously unpredictable.

  • What kind of insulation do you want? Most sleeping bags come with either down or synthetic insulation. Here’s a quick overview of each:

Down Pros:

  • Lighter
  • Easier to compress
  • Remains fluffy for longer

Down Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Loses heat when wet
  • Made from animal products (feathers)
  • Must be carefully cleaned

Synthetic Pros:

  • Easy to care for
  • Not made from animal products
  • More affordable
  • Still holds in heat when wet

Synthetic Cons:

  • Heavier
  • Harder to compress
  • Does not remain fluffy as long
  • How does your sleeping bag fit? Sleeping bags generally come in the following sizes:
    • Rectangular: These bags are often more comfortable and affordable than others, but less efficient at keeping in heat and harder to pack or move.
    • Barrel: These bags are designed to be slightly tighter than rectangular bags, which gives them better thermal efficiency. They’re generally a bit more expensive, but are also lighter and easier to carry. Some also feature hoods.
    • Mummy: Mummy bags are light and cut to fit close to the body while you sleep. They are usually the most expensive kind, but also the easiest to move and the most thermally efficient.
  • What features or add-ons do you need? Some sleeping bags come with additional accessories to make you more comfortable, such as extra zippers to adjust ventilation and stash pockets to store items you want to keep close.

3 Sleeping Bags Ideal for Camping in Canada

We’ve picked out our favourite rectangular, barrel, and mummy bags for Canadian campers who crave comfort. Check them out below: 

The North Face Dolomite One Double Sleeping Bag on white background

The North Face Dolomite One Double +10C, -1C, -9C Sleeping Bag (Unisex)

Price: $290 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A 3-season rectangular sleeping bag with room for two, this high-quality offering from The North Face uses synthetic insulation made from 50% recycled material. It also comes with a multilayer zipper quilt system so you can swap out the insulation for maximum comfort in different conditions. It’s not the tightest or the lightest sleeping bag, but you’ll sleep very comfortably on a casual camping trip, whether you’re with a partner or by yourself.

The North Face One Bag +4/-7/-15C Down Sleeping Bag on white background

The North Face One Bag +4/-7/-15C Down Sleeping Bag (Unisex)

Price: $400-415 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A barrel sleeping bag that can take you from summer to mild winter camping, this product uses responsibly sourced down for insulation and comes with a large adjustable hood to keep your head and neck toasty on chilly nights. It also features multiple layers of insulation for different temperature ranges, which can easily be zipped in and out of the shell.

Nemo Disco -9C Down Sleeping Bag on white background

Nemo Disco -9C Down Sleeping Bag (Men’s)

Price: $420-440 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A mummy bag intended for backcountry use, this lightweight down bag offers lightweight 3-season protection from the elements. It also features a waterproof footbox and hood, so you won’t have to worry about a bit of moisture spoiling your sleep. The women’s version is nearly identical, and both versions are cut to accommodate back or side sleepers.

Sleep Easier on Your Canadian Camping Trip

The options above should give you plenty to choose from, but feel free to use what you’ve learned here to find a different bag that’s perfect for you! We wish you sweet dreams and warm appendages next time you venture out to camp in the Canadian wilds.

The Best Tents for Camping in Canada

The Best Tents for Camping in Canada

Canada offers some of the world’s best natural scenery, but much of it is located in some of the world’s harshest environments. Camping in this country can be a dream come true, but you’ll need an appropriate tent to make sure that dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare when snow, rain, or wind makes an unexpected appearance.

Luckily, we’ve got some tips you can use to choose the perfect tent for camping in any Canadian weather—during any season! Let us guide you towards gear that will give you confidence when planning your next camping trip.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Tent?

Not all tents are equal—most are designed for specific environments and applications. Choosing the best tent for your upcoming trek into the Canadian wilds will depend on where you plan to go, and when.

Consider the following when selecting your tent:

  • How far off the grid are you going? There’s a big difference between manicured campsites in provincial parks and backcountry bushwhacking. Tents designed for casual campers may not have the same sturdy designs and tough materials as those intended for more advanced adventurers.
  • How many people are in your party? Snug tents are great for single sleepers, but you’ll need more room for group outings. You’ll want a tent that fits every member of your party while leaving a few centimeters between each sleeping bag for comfort (although you’ll want to pack in tighter to share warmth if you’re camping in cold weather).
  • When are you going? If you’re camping in winter, make sure to take a 4-season tent. If you’re going in warmer weather, a 3-season tent will probably do the trick.
  • What kind of weather can you expect? Check the weather report for the area you’ll be visiting before you choose your tent. Some tents are waterproof and some aren’t—don’t find out which kind you have the hard way.
  • Will you need luxury features, accessories, or add-ons? We’re not a glamping blog, but if that’s the only way to get you out into the woods or mountains, we’re not judging. Just make sure your tent has the amenities you need to feel comfortable during your trip.

4 Tents Ideal for Camping in Canada

Based on the considerations above, we’ve picked out 4 tents ideal for camping in different Canadian environments.

Marmot Tungsten Tent on white background

Marmot Tungsten Tent

Price: $270 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

Ideal for single backpackers on trips in warmer weather, this tent uses colour-coded clips and poles to make setup quick and easy. It also includes a footprint for floor protection, making it more comfortable to sleep in when camping in rugged environments. Finally, the built-in vestibule offers room for your gear and a waterproof place to put your boots on before leaving.

Eureka! Alpenlite 2 XT 2-Person Tent on white background

Eureka! Aplenlite 2 XT 2-Person Tent

Price: $530 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A 2-person tent that can stand up to pretty much the worst weather imaginable, this tent is designed with 6 poles that give it plenty of support even in howling winds or under heavy snow. It also has a UV-resistant fly, which offers vital protection during long hours of sun exposure at high elevations. This is a 4-season tent you and a buddy can take right up to the top of the Rockies in the dead of winter.

North Face Homestead Domey 3 Tent on white background

North Face Homestead Domey 3 Tent

Price: $350 CAD

Where to Buy: Altitude Sports

A slightly larger 4-season tent that can sleep 3 people, this single wall tent is waterproof and comes with a duffel-bag style stuff sack for easier transportation. It’s not just for winter camping, though—warm-weather features include a mesh skylight perfect for stargazing on spring or summer evenings.

Northern Breeze 12 Tent on white background

Northern Breeze 12 Tent

Price: $670 CAD

Where to Buy: Altitude Sports

It ain’t cheap, but you get what you pay for—and in this case, you get a lot. A screen house that converts into a large tent by way of an optional floor, this shelter is as expansive as it is expensive.

Its lightweight aluminium construction makes it easy to travel with, and full external rain and wind flaps make it almost completely waterproof. All 4 flaps can be used as awnings too, making this an ideal product for the glampers out there. This is about as close to a luxury tent as you can get for a Canadian camping trip without getting impractical.

Pitch Your Tent Proudly

We hope one of the tents above provides you with suitable accommodations for your next Canadian camping trip (or at least that our criteria helps you find another tent that will meet your needs effectively). Next step? Book your campground and pack the rest of your items—adventure awaits!

 

How to Successfully Camp in the Snow

How to Successfully Camp in the Snow

Winter can seem like a more challenging time to go on a camping trip, but camping in the snow is entirely possible—in fact, it can even be a lot of fun! But if you’re planning to sleep outside in snowy weather, you’ll need to pack the right gear and take some safety precautions.

Fortunately, we know all about how to camp comfortably in all conditions, and snow is no exception. Below, you’ll find our tips on how to successfully camp in the snow.

Camping in the Snow: What Should You Expect?

Snow presents unique challenges for campers. Here are a few factors you’ll want to consider:

  • Wind: A gust or two can be irritating for campers in any season—but when the weather is snowy, wind can do more than blow your tent over. Wind can also blow considerable amounts of snow into your campsite, making your gear wet and buying exposed objects.
  • Avalanches: Not all snow falls gently—and if an avalanche occurs, you don’t want to be in the way.
  • Hidden Hazards: Snow can make rough or uneven terrain look smooth and flat, but don’t be deceived! Crevasses, hollows, and water hazards are just a few of the things you’ll want to make sure aren’t lurking under a thin layer of freshly fallen white stuff.
  • Orientation Challenges: Retracing your steps in the snow might sound easy—unless more snow starts falling. If you’re going to camp in snowy conditions, you’ll need other ways to make sure you know where you are (and how to get back to where you’ve been).
  • Extreme Temperatures: Snow cover changes ambient temperatures. If you’re in a snowy area, always assume you’re going to feel colder than you would in the same conditions if no snow was present.

Cool (But Not Too Cool) Tips for Snowy Camping

Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself for camping in snowy conditions:

  • Drink More Water: Your body still loses moisture in the cold—but since you’ll be sweating less, you might not notice. Make sure to drink water on a regular schedule to avoid accidental dehydration.
  • Eat Well (and Often): Your body also burns more calories in the cold, so you’ll need food that provides more energy. Nuts, chocolate, and energy bars make great snacks throughout the day. You’ll also want to cook plenty of hot and hearty meals for breakfasts and dinners.
  • Look Out for Frostbite: Learning the signs of cold-related injuries like frostbite and hypothermia can save your life—or the life of a fellow camper. You can also help prevent these conditions by avoiding factors that increase their likelihood (such as alcohol consumption).
  • Keep Moving: Remaining active during snowy weather will prevent the cold from making you tired and help your body produce more heat. However, it will also cause you to burn more calories and lose more moisture (which is why eating right and hydrating are so important).

What to Pack for Successfully Camping in the Snow

Knowing how to adjust your routine for camping in cold weather is one thing, but you’ll also need specific gear if you plan to camp in the snow. Here are a few items we consider essential:

4 Season Tent

A 3 season tent isn’t going to cut it if you plan on dealing with significant snowfall during your trip. 4 season tents, on the other hand, are built to handle extreme winter conditions. These tents are structured to let large amounts of snow pile up on top without collapsing, and are typically made from more durable fabrics so that they won’t rip and leak heat.

Winter Sleeping Bag

Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for at least a few degrees lower than the coldest temperature you plan to sleep in, and ensure that it fits snugly. Empty space in a sleeping bag makes it easier for your body heat to escape and prevents you from staying warm overnight.

2 Sleeping Pads

Camping on snow requires additional tent insulation to prevent heat loss through the floor of your tent. Double up on your sleeping pads, and make sure to use insulation with higher R-values.

A Winterproof Stove

Not all portable stoves are suitable for camping in snowy weather. You’ll need a stove that is resistant to cold weather, and it’s also wise to choose a model that produces significant amounts of heat so it can pull double-duty as a source of warmth. Consider the type of fuel your stove uses—wood produces a lot of heat but is harder to pack and carry, while liquid fuel often burns better at high altitudes.

Warm Clothing

Last (but certainly not least), make sure to pack appropriate snow clothes. We recommend warm socks, snow boots, mid-weight base layers, fleece pants, a warm coat, a waterproof shell (jacket and pants), a hat that covers your ears, thick gloves, and sunglasses.

Campsite Setup Tips for Camping in the Snow

Before pitching your tent in a snowy region, follow these tips to ensure your safety:

  • Stay Out of the Wind: Pitching your tent near trees (as long as they don’t look damaged or unsteady) is an excellent way to shield yourself from blowing snow while you sleep. If you’re camping in an open area, try building a wall of snow around your tent instead.
  • Avoid Avalanches: Don’t pitch your tent near rock walls or steep inclines if you think snow (or anything else) might slide down them. The last thing you want is to get buried under a drift while you sleep.
  • Pack Down the Snow: Prevent yourself from sinking into a drift overnight by packing down the snow at your campsite before pitching your tent.
  • Look for Landmarks: Snow that falls overnight can change the appearance of a campsite and disorient you in the morning, so try to choose a site with at least one or two obvious landmarks nearby.
  • Have Water Nearby: You don’t want to camp directly on ice, but having a water source nearby can prevent you from having to melt snow for drinking water if you run out.

Ideal Sites for Camping in the Snow This Winter

Here are some of our favourite snowy winter campsites:

Plamondon Whitesands

A family-oriented RV park and campground with onsite water near Lac La Biche.

Mossbank RV Park

A quiet campground located near numerous recreational facilities.

Bruderheim Starlight Campground

A peaceful and relaxing campground near Bruderheim Sand Hills.

Wagons West RV Park

A clean and quiet campground with 62 full-service sites.

Knouff Lake Wilderness Resort

One of the oldest 4-season run resorts of its kind in British Columbia.

Cogburn Family Wilderness Resort

A safe and enjoyable family-friendly campground.

Campbell Valley Camping Experience

A destination campground located on 5 acres of private property.

Don’t Let a Little Snow Stop You from Camping

Successfully camping in the snow can be easier than you think, as long as you’re prepared. Use the tips above to make sure your next winter camping trip is snow problem at all.

 

How to Beat the Heat While Camping This Summer

How to Beat the Heat While Camping This Summer

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!

Foraged Food? Learning More About “Living Off the Land”

Foraged Food? Learning More About “Living Off the Land”

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.

Finally, remember that while foraging is legal on public land in Canada, you can’t forage on private property without the owner’s permission. You also can’t forage on traditional territories without first obtaining consent from the appropriate First Nations communities.

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!

Dandelions:

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).

Dandelion roots can easily be brewed into a tea, and you can even eat them raw. They’re pretty nutritious, too! Just be aware that dandelions can be risky for people with specific health conditions (such as kidney or gall bladder problems).

Mushrooms:

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:

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!

Rhubarb:

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.

This naturally sweet vegetable is delicious on its own and can be eaten just like celery once you chop the ends off the stalks. But remember not to eat the leaves—they’re actually quite toxic!

How Should You Test Foraged Food?

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.
  • When foraging for other plants, avoid anything with yellow or white berries.
  • 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.

The Ultimate Guide to Weathering Spring Camping… Weather

The Ultimate Guide to Weathering Spring Camping… Weather

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.