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How to Reserve a Backcountry Campsite

Written by Jenna Nodding on . Posted in Stories.

International and interprovincial travel is still frowned upon. It's time to check out your own backyard.

The options to explore close to home are endless! Few are lucky enough to have the beautiful Canadian Rockies in their backyard. Get Outside and explore this beautiful land on foot. Here are a few trips on how to set yourself up for success!

"Few are lucky enough to have the beautiful Canadian Rockies in their backyard"

Pick a Date & Book a Backcountry Campsite

Planning your vacation? Head on over to the Parks Canada Reservation site.

Follow the steps; select backcountry camping, the date you plan to spend the night, and fill in the remaining prompts. The site provides you with an interactive map showing you the location of the campsites. It even provides rough hiking distances.

Parks Canada Reservation Site  

Plan Your Meals and Get Cooking

Treat yourself to food that is delicious and nutritious!

Sure, MEC and other outdoor stores provide many "food in a bag" options. But, you're on vacation! Treat yourself to food that is delicious and nutritious! For a small investment in time you can create amazing and lightweight meals. All you need to do is go to the grocery store!

Some of the staples to look for are:

  • 10 minute brown rice
  • Dehydrated veggie flakes
  • Dehydrated soup packages - a great appetizer after a long day of sweating and hiking
  • An assortment of spices

Here are two of our favourite recipes. Try them out and let us know what you think.If you're looking for more options check out our backcountry recipes

Peanut Satay      Best Vegetarian chili   Backcountry Recipes  

Gear to Pack

Dress in layers and know your gear

Dress in layers. I cannot repeat this enough. When looking at your clothing think about how each item compliments the other. It's like lego blocks, they should stack on top of one another. Short sleeve, long sleeve, soft shell jacket, puffy jacket, rain jacket. With this combination you'll have everything for all weather situations. Here is a short video on how to dress in layers. The video was directed at winter hiking, but the premise aplies for all seasons

When starting to explore the backcountry try renting gear. Once you've figured out what you like and need purchase your own here are gear lists that you can follow for your winter and summer backpacking adventures. Looking for advice on where to find affordable gear? Check out our other post for our secret gear hot spots.

Summer Gear List      Winter Gear List 

Check the Weather

Nothing sucks more than getting to the trailhead in the pouring rain.

Leading into your trip you'll want to check the weather to ensure it's safe. Calling for lightning storms? Heading into the alpine is not a good choice. Adjust your plans to stay low in the trees is the better option. High temps and sunshine? Wahoo!! You'll want to pack extra water!

Spot Wx and Mountain Forecast are great resources for weather forecasts. Spot Wx allows you to drop a pin exactly in the region you will be exploring. Mountain Forecast allows you to pull the forecast from a nearby mountain. You can see the freezing level and the weather for various elevation points on the mountain. The freezing level is great for shoulder season adventures, helping to determine if you'll get rained or snowed on.

Check Trail Reports

Wondering if bears were reported in the area? Is there still snow? So many questions!

Parks Canada uses reports from volunteers and other trail users to update this site. It's a great resource for determining the current state of a trail. 

Trail Reports  

Plan for the "What If"

Before heading out let someone you trust know where you are going

Also let them know when to expect you back. Provide instructions on how long overdue you should be before they contact authorities. Know how to reach local authorities. We are very lucky with the rescue infrastructure we have in place. Yet, they are only useful if you know how to reach them. Here is a list of the emergency contact numbers. Finally, it's a good idea to invest in some form of an emergency device. Inreach and Spot are the two most common. Get one and know how to use it!

Emergency Contact Numbers  

Try New Things & Have Fun!

These are some of the resources that will help you prepare for a backcountry outing. Still uncertain if this is for you? Check out our Women’s Intro to Backpacking. Or gather a group together (any gender) and we will plan a custom trip for you. If you decide to head out with friends we've put together some advice on how to stay COVID-19 safe while backpacking with those not in your bubble. 

Backcountry COVID-19 Safety  

Looking for other information? Check out the resource page on our webpage. It’s a great spot to refer to when planning any future trip. Set yourself up for success. Prepare your body with the hiking fitness program, reward your muscles after a hard days hike, and check the weather before you head out. These are some small steps to ensure you have a successful hike. Have fun!

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