Backpacking / Camping Safety tips

Alot of planning goes into selecting the right camping gear and campground before you sleep under the stars. Before your next outdoor adventure you might want a quick refresher in campsite basics such as fire building and food prep safety.

Don’t forget the basics. Must-bring items for camping include a first-aid kit, compass and maps, and emergency equipment. It may be tempting to leave behind these essential, but seemingly boring basics, especially when trying to slim down your backpack weight. But even after minor trouble on the trail, you may find yourself wishing for the bug spray or band aids you left behind.

Tell someone where you are going. In case of an emergency people can only help — if they know where you are. Leave behind a detailed copy of your travel plans, so friends or family can follow-up with you to ensure you get home on time.

Check on campground’s pet policy. Before bringing along your 4-legged friend, don’t forget this step. While most provincial parks do not welcome pets, there are some private campgrounds require a small fee. If you do bring your dog along, pack a leash, tether, a collapsible water bowl and plenty of food.

Arrive before the sun sets. Pitching a tent much less setting up camp in the dark can be complicated even for veteran campers. Getting a jump start ensures you can explore your immediate surroundings and build a campfire for food and warmth while you have some daylight.

Follow local fire safety bans. To keep you and your natural surroundings safe from fast-moving fire, fire safety protocol is a must. Check on local campfire status to ensure that there are no fire bans on. Be sure you know how to build a fire properly including  building a fire if the site doesn’t have a contained fire ring. Resist the urge to pile on the firewood rather maintain a small and controllable fire; have some water nearby in case of sparks flying and to extinguish the fire at the end of the night, soak, stir, soak again and make sure the fire is completely out before turning in for the night.

Plan some variety.  Beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner?  You might be bored with the same meal the whole trip. With some planning and the right equipment, you can get creative with campfire cooking. Whip up eggs and pancakes in a cast iron skillet, and prepare fish (even better if it’s freshly caught!) steamed with potatoes and vegetables in a foil packet. Make sure you store your food correctly, you dont want anything to spoil and make everyone sick.

Don’t leave food unattended. Your campsite should be tidied up before you go hiking for the day or go to sleep. Follow posted signs or ask the camp ranger or campground attendant about proper food safety storage to avoid unwanted animal encounters. Some campgrounds provide bear lockers to store your food during your stay.

Leave your campsite as you found it. Communing with nature is great, so is being ecologically mindful. The most important way you can help is to leave with everything you came with, especially all your trash. Also bring along an extra trash bag to collect any litter left behind by less-considerate campers.

Remember, you’re not likely to encounter a 24-hour convenience store along the path to your campsite. Taking some time to organize and plan will make your time on the trail more pleasant. So be prepared and enjoy your hike and or camping trip.