Zen and the art of camping in style


Lauren Grindler

There are so many ways to spend your summer surrounded by the lush greenery, rocky peaks, and crystal-clear lakes of Western Canada, so heading out on your first camping trip certainly ranks as a rite of passage for many Canadians.

Camping is meant to be an experience that inspires Zen — a state of being that connects body and mind, no matter your preferred camping style. Discovering the magic of the Canadian wilderness, connecting to the earth, and maybe kicking your feet up and relaxing have all the makings of the perfect outdoor adventure.

But with the list of ways that the joys of camping can quickly dissolve – between a hectic lifestyle, unpredictable Canadian weather, and the risk of unwanted animal visitors, roughing it can often invoke anything but Zen.

So, whether you’re a veteran camper, a ‘glamping’ enthusiast, or a newbie to nature, here are some tips and tools to rekindle your love for the great outdoors and make your summer camping trips stress-free.

Go with the flow

If a bad back has you begrudging the idea of sleeping in a tent, a little morning yoga practice might just be what you need. Imagine waking up early after a night of sleeping on the hard ground to indulge in a quick sunrise vinyasa: not only will your joints thank you, but you will have ample opportunity to connect with nature and clear your mind for the busy day of camping activities to come. If you find your inner yogi and want to continue the practice post-summer, check out Camp Yoga Alberta happening Sept. 15 – 17 in Canmore. The adult sleep-away camp combines yoga and fitness with childhood favourite camp activities like archery, campfires, and overnighting in a cabin. (There will also be wine if you weren’t already persuaded.)

There’s an app for that

While camping is the opportune time to reconnect with loved ones by disconnecting from laptops, television, and smart phones, first-time campers can feel more at ease by doing a little online research before hitting the road. The Parks Canada Learn to Camp App was created to help dispel any camping woes. With the wealth of camping knowledge available at your fingertips, you will forget you are a novice. The app covers the basics for first-time campers: easily view packing checklists, Parks Canada campsite locators, food preparation tips, and more. The app is also handy for more experienced campers with innovative recipes, a list of the best campsites around the country, and some camping tips you may not have considered before.

Let the good times roll

If you aren’t quite ready for the full-blown camping experience, RV trailers are an ideal way to begin your foray into the great outdoors. Trailers allow anyone from a solo traveller to large families explore the country and experience the perks of camping while still having the creature comforts of home. A downside to mobile homes is that they are often pricey, making it hard to commit. Enter WheelEstate.ca, a Calgary-based company providing an affordable alternative to purchasing your own RV trailer. Think Craigslist for campers — with more than 1 million options to choose from, the website allows you to rent a trailer from its owner so you can make summer memories without the commitment of buying. Or, if you are already an RV owner, you can make a little extra money by listing your trailer for others to rent. Connect with millions of RV trailer owners who can provide you with tips and tricks for RV camping, and help you find the trailer that best suits your needs. Roadside assistance is also available through the website, so you are guaranteed to have a stress-free vacation.

A home away from home

Photo by Parks Canada

We’ve all been there: finally arriving at your camping destination after a long day of travel to find that your tent has a hole, is missing pegs, or won’t fit your family of six as comfortably as you had hoped. Parks Canada has the perfect solution for those that want an authentic camping holiday without the potential hassle of pitching a tent. The Parks Canada oTENTik combines the comfort and safety of a cabin with the rustic feel of a tent, making it a great option for families. The tent-shaped cabin features a wood floor (no soggy grounds here), a lock box to help keep critters at bay, and accommodation for up to six people. The cabins even come equipped with cookware and utensils to make your packing list a little shorter, and several of them come with a wood stove for those cooler summer nights. The oTENTik is available at almost all Parks Canada’s campsites, check out the website for full details.

Up, up, and away

Photo by Treeline Outdoors

Due to Alberta’s chilly night-time temperatures, British Columbia’s flair for unpredictable rain, and the high chance of setting up camp in bear country, sleeping on the ground can end up disastrous. While RVs, Aliners, and other mobile homes can solve these camping woes, many tried and true campers don't want to give up the opportunity to sleep in a tent. With Treeline Outdoors’ Roof-Top Tents you can have the best of both worlds. The creators of the Roof-Top Tent came up with the idea after a night-time run in with a grizzly bear that left them thinking about how to create a safer, yet still authentic, camping experience. These innovative tents sit on the roof of your vehicle allowing you to have the traditional tent experience while remaining a safe distance from crummy weather conditions and unwelcome furry guests. A built-in ladder allows easy access in and out of the tent and will bring back fond childhood memories of bunk beds. There are over five models to choose from, accommodating up to five campers, and come with features like a skylight for constellation viewing, removable PVC flooring, and mesh windows to keep bugs out.

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