Summer is here and there’s nothing better than becoming one with nature; hearing the birds chirping, bees buzzing and the smell of pine trees. Channel you inner eco instincts à la Les Stroud and go camping; however, unlike the Survivor Man you’ll be well-equipped to venture into the wild… or are you? If you haven’t taken inventory of your camping gear in the last few years, then it’s time for a 21st century upgrade.
There’s no other shop we can think of that offers quality outdoor gear than MEC (aka: Mountain Equipment Co-op). We selected a few items and spoke with Cam Dempster, the company’s outreach coordinator, to find out the 10 must-have camping essentials.
First and foremost you need a tent, because being the smorgasbord for mosquitos isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. Most tents are constructed for three season use (sans winter); look for one that is lightweight, portable, easy to set-up and has plenty of ventilation. Get it: MEC Volt A/C 3 Tent, $420.
There’s no guarantee you’ll have a table at your campsite unless you want to prep, cook and eat your food on the forest floor. Make sure to add a table to your essentials list; one that is collapsible, portable and flat will make your life much easier in the wild. Get it: GSI Micro Table, $34.50
Getting a good night’s sleep is like Gollum find The Ring – precious – so don’t leave home without a sleeping bag when you head into the woods. Ones made for three-season use will guarantee to keep you warm during the chilliest nights. Get it: MEC Mirage Sleeping Bag ‑5°C, $121-135.
Having a kettle on hand is great for boiling water for your morning coffee or tea, but what if it could double as a pot? Biolite Kettlepot is a brilliant invention which allows you to cook all your outdoor meals with a single cookware. Leave all your pots and pans at home and use this convenient all-in-one device when you’re roughing it. Get it: Biolite Kettlepot, $52.
Those who have a penchant for a nice glass of vino under the stars Dempster recommends Platypus’s Platyperserve Wine Preservation System, it “breaks down the barrier to enjoying wine in the woods. It’s a very popular item, easy to wash and re-use.” Get it: Platypus Platypreserve Wine Preservation System, $8.
Unless you have night vision goggles or supernatural abilities to see in the dark, light up the outdoors with a lantern. Dempster picked out Ultimate Survival Technologies’ 10 Day Lantern because it’s “Tough and light, has the ability to light up a whole room when hung, can last 10 days on its lowest setting or 26 hours on high.” Get it: Ultimate Survival Technologies 10 Day Lantern, $37.
Building a campfire can take time and cooking over one can be tricky at best. Biolite Camp Stove rates high on Dempster’s must-have list as it’s an “extremely handy mini stove which also charges” USB-compatible devices, saving you from going into panic mode when your phone battery goes into the red. Get it: Biolite Camp Stove, $135.
Condiment Bottle Set
Nobody is interested in carrying around full-size bottles of ketchup and mustard or any other condiments with their camping gear – it just takes up too much space and creates major hassle. We found this convenient, squeezable condiment bottle set which you can easily pack and ensure you’re hotdogs and pancakes are perfectly flavoured for outdoor consumption. Get it: GSI Soft Sided Condiment Bottle Set, $10.50.
Instead of drinking from a running stream in the wild or lugging around massive water containers, we know you’ll like Platypus Platy Water Tank. It’s made from polyurethane and polyethylene making this water tank lightweight, easy to carry and it can also be packed flat for storing. Get it: Platypus Platy Water Tank, $31.
First Aid Kit
When you’re in the woods you can bruise, cut, and scrape yourself on any number of things. Having a first aid kit in your pack to treat any aliments is unquestionable, whether you roughing it for a few days or more. Get it: Adventure Medical Day Tripper First Aid Kit, $24.75.