Experience Life Outdoors in Western Canada: How to Pack Lightly for your Outdoor Adventures
If you love exploring the great outdoors, Western Canada is a fantastic destination. Whether you want to observe grizzly bears catching salmon in autumn, enjoy skiing and snowboarding in winter, or experience mountain-biking in the Canadian Rockies in summer, there’s something for everyone.
What you must pack depends upon the time of year and your plans. During winter, many people flock to Whistler and other ski resorts to enjoy Western Canada’s fantastic facilities for winter sports. During summer, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and sailing are popular.
Whatever you’re planning, it is important to ensure you pack everything you need to enjoy your time in Western Canada and stay safe. However, if you’re cross-country skiing along back-country trails or snowshoeing through the forest, you’ll want to pack as lightly as possible for your outdoor adventures.
List what you need
The best way to ensure you don’t leave anything important behind when packing your back is to make a list of what you need. Write out your list under these 6 headings:
- Key items
- Food & drinks
These are items that might save your life. For example, if you’re planning on trying snowshoeing through remote forests, you don’t want to get lost and wander into dangerous territory. A portable GPS unit will help you find your way and a locator beacon will inform the emergency services of your location if you run into trouble.
While you’re waiting for rescue, a portable first aid kit will come in handy. Adventurers with medical conditions should ensure they pack any medication they require. This also applies to people with serious allergies who should pack an EpiPen. Although bear attacks are rare, you’ll feel better with a can of bear spray to hand.
A lot of sports equipment is heavy and bulky. If you plan to pack lightly, inquire ahead about what you can hire at your destination in Western Canada. For example, you can likely hire your skis, snowboard, ski helmet, ski poles, and ski boots in Whistler. Snowshoes aren’t too heavy, so consider packing your own.
When deciding what to hire, keep hygiene in mind. For example, it is better to pack your own ski goggles because they touch your face. Consider packing sanitizing wipes to clean the contact surfaces of any equipment you hire.
For snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, a backpack is useful. For longer adventures in the wilderness, consider hiring a pulk that you can use to pull camping equipment across the snow easier than carrying it in a backpack. A camera and GoPro are essential for recording all the action on your outdoor adventure.
The kind of clothes you pack will strongly depend upon the time of year and planned activities. For winter sports in Western Canada, you’ll need layers. Aim to pack items that are simultaneously lightweight and provide good insulation, such as down jackets. Clothes that incorporate electrical heating systems provide excellent insulation for their size.
Some specialist clothes, such as a ski jacket, can be hired at ski resorts. This saves you a lot of room when planning. Where possible, choose clothing that serves multiple purposes, for example, a jacket that can be used for skiing, sightseeing, hiking, and snowshoeing.
In cold weather, it’s important to insulate your extremities. For skiing, wear a neck warmer to protect the gap between your ski jacket and helmet. Gloves, glove liners, mittens, and ski socks can prevent frostbite.
To save room in your backpack, buy the toiletries you need at your destination. However, if you’re headed off to remote areas where there are no stores, you must ensure you have what you need. Also, if you suffer from intolerance to some toiletry products or you have a strong preference for specific brands, you must pack your own.
In cold weather, it is important to protect your skin from temperature changes and harsh sunlight. Pack sunblock, lip block, and skin moisturizer. Band-aids are useful for blisters caused by skiing or other outdoor activities. In summer, bug spray comes in useful. Don’t forget to pack your female hygiene products. Baby wipes are handy on an adventure with children.
Food & drinks
Out in the wilderness, potable water is key to survival. However, water is heavy to carry, so consider packing a high-quality water filter that removes biological and mineral impurities.
When hiking or kayaking over a distance, you’ll require dehydrated foods that are quick and simple to cook. Remove dried food from its original bulky packaging and repack it in plastic freezer bags to save space.
You’ll need a pan and a portable stove to cook your food. However, a lightweight solar oven will save you the need to carry a butane canister and also be better for the environment.
You won’t get very far in Canada without the right documents. Except for US citizens, a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is required to enter Canada by air. You’ll need an in-date passport, your driver’s license, an international driving permit, and your travel documents. Although you don’t plan on problems, ensure you’re specifically covered for your outdoor adventures in your travel insurance and pack your insurance documents.
Of course, you won’t get far without cash or bank cards. Because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you will probably find some businesses only accept card payments.