What we packed for backcountry camping + portage. (attempting to be ecofriendly & sustainable)





Over the years I have gathered some useful tips for camping. You may laugh at the amount of times I've chosen to "live outside" or be homeless beside of a river in an attempt to connect to nature and nurture valuable life skills and survival techniques.


Let's just say you are going backcountry camping or even 'glamping', what necessities do you need to ensure your experience is as enjoyable as possible?


There are 2 goals I keep in mind while packing: REDUCE WASTE and TO KEEP THINGS AS EFFICIENT AS POSSIBLE.


Here's why:


  • With an attempt to be eco-friendly most cardboard waste can become burnable fuel. All waste produced is has to be stored in a smell-proof container (to prevent attraction to animals) and then lugged out if it is not burnable, e.g plastic, so the less, the better!

  • If it's not going to be made out of cardboard then we aim for a multi-use material. Exploring eco-friendly, and durable materials such as silicone, hemp, wool, bamboo, etc. can make life on the campsite and just life in general more dynamic and eco-friendly.

I would suggest a natural and biodegradable soap to keep things clean and reusable. We brought one of my favourite brands Dr. Bronner's and our hair2toe soap.



I look forward to a list of things "I wish I had" and "how to do better next time" & "what went well" while camping- I even do this at home to keep my life productive! :)


While camping this helps to adjust equipment and eliminate unnecessary items for future trips. We got fed up with some of our oversized old-school equipment this trip, so I'm looking forward to some new 2020, mini-sized, light-weight, super expensive but worth it items! Haha!


What we packed:


Items below can be found on Amazon, at outdoor stores like Sail, MEC & Basspro and Canadian Tire. Depending on if you have access to your car and a drive to town, you're packing list may differ from ours, since in this case our trip began the minute we left our truck and loaded the canoe. So perhaps a less remote trip or car access would change the need for some equipment, like water sterilizer kit, etc. Since it was August we expected some warmish weather, with cooler temperatures overnight and high probability of rain.



We travelled for 4.5 hours canoeing to our site and then stayed 3 nights/4 days. So nothing too extravagant but still an importance of clean water, warmth and calories.


We have a 100% dry sack (highly recommended) to protect things (*) incase our canoe flipped and to keep smelly items secret from wildlife.


I listed some favourite brands at the end of the post if you are interested.


Basic list of important things:

  • Tent & tarps

  • Sleeping bag, blanket & sleeping mats

  • Small hammock to stay off ground if it rains a lot

  • Hatchet & knives

  • Emergency kit*, including bandaid, alcohol wipes and emergency batteries.

  • Bear bell

  • Headlamps* / flashlight*

  • Lighters*, matches*, UV water purifier* / water purifier tablets*, pot & water bottles

  • Homemade ghee for healthy fat if can't get a fire

  • Coffee/tea* so we don't go insane

  • Our favourite protein whey powder for easy no-fire-required protein

  • Pepperettes from our favourite butcher

  • Extra rope & clasps for our bags



In our sacks we had:

  • Wool socks, underwear & bathing suits

  • Warm long-sleeve & pants

  • Toilet paper!!!!!

  • Toiletries such as essential oil bug spray, our CHAMOMILE WAX with added bug-repelling oils, & our THYME FOR OLIVE hair2toe soap, toothpaste, sunscreen stick, etc.

  • Hat, sunglasses, comfortable belt to attach knife around waist for safety.

  • Various things to pastime and have fun, e.g cards.

  • Some food that didn't need to keep dry, such as nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, mini coconut milk cans for pancakes (tastes so good and fills you up longer) and a can of smoked mackerel.


All food and sweet smelly things get transferred to the 100% dry-sack (making it smell-proof) in the evening to prevent attraction of animals. Foods in the cooler were in airtight containers or vac-packed.



In our cooler we had:

We made an order at out Butcher ahead of time, requesting our items to be vacuum-packed to increase preservation.

  • Frozen vacuum-packed chicken thighs (we ate first since chicken is more shifty for growing dangerous bacteria)

  • Frozen vacuum-packed flank steak second night

  • Frozen vacuum-packed peameal bacon first day

  • Dozen eggs in a hard egg container to prevent them from cracking

  • Frozen water bottles (convenient for drinking when they melt)

  • 2 oranges

  • Bag of nuts & dried fruits

  • Pancake mix and maple syrup

  • Rice noodles and chicken stock cubes

  • Sea salt and pepper



How we sterilized water:

I love spring water and lake water, delicious- finally no chlorine! In the past I have had no problems drinking straight from a lake that has no motor vehicles, or at least from way out in the middle of a clear lake. Out West Canada we would drink while swimming in waterfalls and it was the clearest water I have ever seen! True mineral-filled hydration, amazing!


That being said, our environment is getting more and more polluted every day and I am sooo not willing to sacrifice a trip with the shi@ts, so we invested in a low-effort new-technology solution! A steri-PEN.

  • To use it we swam or canoed out to the middle of clear water to fill up our stainless steel water bottles.

  • Used our steri-PEN. It's a device that flashes ultraviolet rays of light, killing bacteria that can make our digestion loose or infect us with something that will make us ill.

It's pretty convenient and I am very happy with the purchase, would recommend it!

Another way to sterilize water is to boil it, this just takes longer and evaporates flavour.


What we learned:

  • Arriving early is SO IMPORTANT

  • Light equipment and less bags is ideal for portage. So next year we are going to be browsing for lighter and smaller tent, mats etc.


STORY TIME:


I already have made this mistake before, and still my relaxation towards time gets me into less than optimal situations. We arrived to our campsite WITH HEADLAMPS and moonlight! LOL. Did you laugh there? I tried really hard to, but for the first 15 minutes as the sun was disappearing over the horizon I could only find tears to release and definitely realized that we had to stay focused and extra safe because our trip could take a turn for the worse.


I contemplated us sleeping beside a swamp.. since that is what we were stuck in due to our route being dramatically affected by low water levels, making a creek paddle, a mud shuffle.


I could feel the my little hairs all starting to stick up because what did Survivor Man always say? "You need to create shelter before the sun goes down!"


Blessed Brian is great dealing with my waterworks so we persisted forward and then casually strolled onto our lake, paddling across black glass. The reflection of the stars was the only thing that kept me calm because it was surreal. Silver lining to momentary terror was a unique experience. But still setting up camp in the dark, unaware of if your surroundings other than a light beam is a bit spooky. (I pictured our campsite being surrounded in bear poop, so sleep that first night was sketchy to say the least.)



Other random things we envison:

  • A folding saw

  • Our own canoe.. :)

  • Other ways to cook such as ceramic pan, versus our cast iron which tastes great it's just HEAVY

  • Mini kettle

  • Mini Yeti cooler

  • Thinner mats or a small blow up for 2 PERSON lol, slipping between the mat cracks was a struggle.



Our favourite items to bring on camping trips:

Thanks for reading! I do hope this inspires you, but I am also pumped to address this blog post again next year when we go!! :)))


Samantha