Camping gear 101: beginner to advanced

Whether you're a camping novice or seasoned pro, we have all the gadgets you’ll need to make your next trip comfortable

We spoke to media relations manager Tim Southam from Mountain Equipment Co-op to get expert camping advice. Ask yourself three questions before picking out appropriate camping gear:

1. Where will you go?
2. What will you do?
3. What weather will you most likely come across?

These questions allow you to tailor your gear to weather, location and activity without over-spending on unnecessary equipment.

Beginner: Three camping basics

Southam recommends making enough of an investment on good-quality camping gear to make your first few trips enjoyable. Here are the three things you’ll need to get off to a good start.


There are three things to look for in a good quality tent: the fly sheet (the water-proof sheet that goes over the body of your tent) comes all the way to the ground, the floor is water-proof and the poles are made of aluminum or fiberglass. Southam warns that many inexpensive tents have fly sheets that only partially cover the tent and have the potential of leaking.

Sleeping bag

The weather is one of the main things to consider when buying a sleeping bag. Southam recommends down, barrel-style sleeping bags for summer camping in the western provinces where it gets cool at night and synthetic, barrel-style bags for camping in provinces like Ontario and Quebec where nights can still be considerably warm in the summer.

Sleeping pad

Your sleeping pad will determine how well you rest while camping. The best advice is to test out a variety of sleeping pads, if you can. If you’re uncomfortable on a sleeping pad on the flat floor, you will be uncomfortable in the uneven wilderness.

Intermediate: Gadgets

Intermediate campers have the basic equipment and a few camping trips under their belt. You may be in search of either a closer-to-nature experience or more luxuries to make camping even more comfortable. Once you know that you enjoy camping and intend to do it frequently, you can invest in some extras. For example, a portable camping stove or separate kitchen tent are handy, or why not splurge on an LED lantern with a crank-powered rechargeable batterywhich provides up to 70 hours of light and is eco-friendly.

Advanced: Glamping (glamorous camping)

“Glamping is all about bringing the luxury of home outdoors,” Southam says. He recommends investing in a pricier down-filled sleeping pad which provides luxurious warmth and insulation. And if you can’t wake up without your morning jolt of espresso, look into purchasing a portable espresso maker. Or a Coleman Camping coffee maker from Canadian Tire will do the trick.

If your kind of advanced camping means a barebones, Survivor-style experience, Mountain Equipment Co-op carries a line of folding dishware that are compact enough to stow away in even the smallest backpacks, or camp stove toasters to make an easy breakfast.

To learn more about camping across Canada visit Parks Canada. If you’re looking for a good day hike, check out Canada’s top walking trails.