A City Girl Goes Camping: Camping Tips for New Campers!

Since moving to British Columbia last year, I’ve learned a whole lot about the outdoors but one area that I still consider myself a newbie in is camping. That said, thanks to MEC‘s gear rental program, last summer I got my first taste of camping and was pleasantly surprised by how fun and easy the whole experience was.

As a girl who grew up outside of Montreal and then spent most of her adult life in downtown Toronto, camping was never a part of my life. Before moving to Vancouver last year, I 100% considered myself a city girl. Fast forward a few months later, I would say that I’m now close to being 50% city, 50% nature. There’s still so much for me to learn about camping and the outdoors but working with MEC and being surrounded by so many adventure enthusiasts has really taught me a whole lot about the great outdoors.

So I wanted to share with you today some of my newfound wisdom and tips for camping so that all you who want to give camping a go or who are still novices to camping, can have a great time!

1) Packing – One of the major differences between going camping and going to stay at a hotel or an Airbnb, is how you pack for a camping trip. There are so many more variables to think of and therefore packing for a camping weekend can be more complex but it really doesn’t have to be. If you’re simply going car camping for the weekend (and don’t have an RV or van to store all your camping stuff in), I would first suggest making a packing list. I would also suggest breaking that list down into different categories: clothing, sleeping, food, safety, entertainment, transportation, etc. This will help get you organized and can easily be cross-referenced as you’re loading everything into the car.

2) Gear – In my experience thus far, I have learned that gear can make or break your camping experience. If you’re a city person like me, chances are you probably don’t own very much or any camping gear at all. Thankfully, MEC has a great gear rental program, which is available across Canada that allows people like us to rent all sorts of amazing camping gear at a super reasonable rate for your upcoming camping trips. You can rent anything from tents, to sleeping pads, sleeping bags, backpacks, kid carriers, etc. You can even rent a canoe or kayak, if you’re thinking of portaging or even doing some water sports while out camping. Rentals are available either daily or weekly.

If you’re like me and hoping to have a ton of camping experiences this summer, you can also purchase some of the best and top of the line camping gear at an MEC store or even online. For someone like myself who spent most of their life in a city, walking into a MEC is like a kid walking into a candy shop. This week, I had the opportunity to try out MEC’s Cabin 4 tent, which was totally revolutionary for me. Not only was it incredibly simple to put up (even a rookie like myself was able to figure it out and put it up in under 10 minutes!) but it was also tall enough so I didn’t have to crouch when in my tent. I could easily get changed and stand up in the tent, which brings the comfort level up a big notch. I also used the MEC Reactor 6.5 Sleeping Pad, which is a super comfy self-inflating pad that makes sleeping in a tent that much more enjoyable. Goodbye uncomfortable sleeps! And did I mention my MEC Hut Booties? As someone who always has cold feet, these are a game changer!

3) Food – Camping food doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless. Thanks to all the options that are now available, cooking while in nature is easier than ever. There are lots of great ways make food while camping. If you’re not someone that likes to cook, there are plenty of dehydrated snacks or even meals that you can purchase in advance and just re-heat or add hot water to. There are many vegetarian and vegan options to choose from, so being plant-based while camping isn’t an obstacle at all.

You can also make meals ahead of time or pack a lunch that you can store in this large MEC Muskoka Soft-Sided Cooler, that is light, durable and waterproof. You can also opt to bring some cooking items like this Primus gas stove or GSI percolator for your morning coffee or tea.

It’s also important to make sure that you dispose of the food your bring with you or any waste you create while cooking or even camping properly. For more information, I highly recommend you check out this post here (which also includes lots of great other camping tips).

4) Safety – Though I have yet to learn everything about camping safety, there are a few key things I now keep in mind when preparing for a camping trip or going camping. Packing things like a whistle, bug spray, first aid kit, headlamps, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, etc. is important. Since I am now camping in BC, I’m also careful to not leave any food in the tent or close to my tent. I’ll keep the food stored in a sealed container if I’m car camping. I pack lots of water and additional snacks for hikes and runs and I also make sure that someone outside of my camping group knows where I am and how long I’ll be there for. It’s also important to respect wildlife. Though it may be exciting to spot eagles, deers, bears, chipmunks etc., on your adventures, it’s important to not feed them and give them their space, not only for our own safety but also for the safety of the animals.

5) Entertainment – Not sure if it’s the city that made me a restless person or maybe it’s just my personality but one of the things I struggle with the most in life is not being able to just sit still or relax. And with camping being all about relaxing and enjoying the outdoors, this definitely comes as a challenge for me. That said, there are many ways to stay entertained while camping and tons of things to do. If you want to be active, chances are there are some trails located close to your campground, so going for a hike or a trail run (like I did below at Golden Ears this past week!) is a great way to not only get some fresh air but also discover the area.

A lot of campgrounds are also located close to a lake, an ocean or even a river, so going for a swim or taking part in some water sports (kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, etc.) may also be a possibility.

If you’re someone that prefers to lounge a little more, reading a book fireside on a MEC Park Chair or bringing portable boardgames or outdoor games like Bocce Ball is another way to have a great time. The reason why I’ve been loving camping is because it forces me to ditch my electronics and in many ways makes me feel like a kid again, just being outdoors and finding creative ways to pass time.

I’m really excited to take my camping experience to the next level this spring and summer. I’m even thinking of going from car camping to trying out camping in the backcountry… Got some camping tips that I didn’t mention in this post? Share them with me below!

If you’re planning a camping getaway for the May long weekend or later on in the summer and want to get more info on the MEC gear rental program, go here. For more camping tips go here. For a full camp kitchen checklist, check out the following article here.

This article was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

Go Camping with MEC’s Gear Rental Program

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Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.

Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!

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Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!

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What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.

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Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.

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The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!

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Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!

For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.

This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

Journey with Escape Campervans

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For the past month and a half, my husband and I have been living in an Escape Campervans. When came time to book our latest Californian adventure, we were on the lookout for a new low-cost experience that would allow us the flexibility to travel to different cities around the state while also providing us with some great accommodations. After doing a bit of research, I found a great van rental company called Escape Campervans based out in California. If you’ve traveled across the southern United States, you’ve probably seen some of their colorful vans on the road.

What I immediately loved about Escape Campervans was the two great campervan models they offer. We opted for the bigger model of the two, the Mavericks, seeing as we’d be living in it for quite some time and it turned out to be the perfect size. Their converted Ford E150 campervan was easy to drive, park, economical and also allowed us to travel to anywhere our hearts desired. The 17 ft truck was the perfect home on wheels with fully stocked bedding, 2-burner stove, sink with running water, refrigerator, cooking and eating utensils, tons of storage space, picnic chairs and everything we needed to be independent during our trip. I was particularly a fan of their solar-powered fridge and light, allowing us to make food even while off the grid.

Escape Campervans also offer a handful of different add-ons and options so that you can customize your experience exactly the way you want it. We opted for a roofbox to put all of our extra luggage, a GPS, a USB charger as well as one of their custom Insurance packages. The company also offers complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.

The thing about #vanlife is that no matter what you end up doing with your campervan or where you end up going, it’ll always be an adventure and a unique learning experience. I’ve learned so much about camping, the roads, National Parks, etc. in the past month and a half, things I would have never learned if I hadn’t partaken in this great once-in-a-lifetime journey. The danger with vanlife is, once you get a taste of it, you’ll want to keep doing it. After living in a van for almost two months, we’ve grown so used to it that we are thinking of getting our own van after this portion of our travels ends. Our love for the #vanlife just keeps on growing every day!

You can find Escape Campervans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Denver and Seattle. For more info, go here.

Video shot with: Huawei Nova Plus and DJI Phantom.

West Coastin’

Happy Tuesday from BC!

As you’re reading this, I’m (hopefully) on my way back from my first “bushwoman” adventure, which will have included a 6h hike and camping at the top of the Rockies.  I’ve been on the road a lot these past couple of months traveling for work, covering music festivals across Canada for BRBR but this is my first real vacation in a long time.

I’ve been going to California a lot these past couple of years for work and to surf but I hadn’t been back to BC since 2006, when I was tour managing The Expos and The One Night Band.  I’m happy to have taken a few days before heading down to California to explore more of BC.

The last few days have been spent, visiting Vancouver and exploring the beautiful small town of Squamish.  It’s my first time in Squamish and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Squamish is located in the middle of the rockies, just 40mins north of Vancouver.  Everyone here in the town here is really outdoorsy. Squamish is renown for its great rock climbing, mountain biking and also kite surfing.  So far, I’ve had the chance to check out “The Spit”, which is a famous place for kite surfing, swim and swing off Tarzan ropes in Brohm Lake, check out Squamish Days Logger Fest (super impressive logging competition) and visit the Brennan Park Aquatic Centre to do a few laps.  Check the pics below 🙂

Speaking of kite surfing, the other day I discovered this great kite surfing, surfing and SUP movie called “Antandroy” filmed on RED in Madagascar.  You can watch it here:

My next adventure will be my first EVER real hike up Whistler, with a night spent camping at the top of the rockies. I’m not gonna lie, this adventure is very daunting to me. Though I love nature, love being at the beach and surfing, I’ve never really been a “bushwoman”. I don’t like bugs, I’m scared of snakes, bears and whatever else lives in the woods.  So this should be interesting to say the least.  The thing I’m most looking forward to is the incredible view, flowers and lakes I’m supposed to see from up top.  I will definitely be posting some pics in the next couple of days.

Once I’m back, I’ll be staying in Squamish for a day or so to do some SUP and will then head back to Vancouver for a day before flying to California for the second part of my trip, where I’ll get to go SURFING!!!!! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m obsessed with surfing and everything surf-related. Though I’m not a great surfer, it’s the only thing I do that clears my head. For those of you who’ve never tried surfing, I highly recommend it!

That’s it for today. I leave you with Delta Spirit‘s rad track “California”, which they performed at Lollapalooza this past weekend in Chicago. Can’t get enough of this track. It rocks my socks off!

Much love,

Mel