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Ep. 19 Backcountry Camping 101 with John Dowsett

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What makes backcountry camping different from front-country camping? Well, apparently a whole lot! You’re really disconnecting from the world, so you can connect with nature. You’re hiking (or biking, or canoeing) into the site and being mostly self-sufficient. And, because you’re hauling in everything, you need to be thoughtful on what to pack! Cindy Dowsett, from Kids Who Explore, along with her husband, John Dowsett, are sharing their knowledge!

Cindy Dowsett, from Kids Who Explore, along with her husband, John Dowsett, are sharing their knowledge!

How to Book for Backcountry Camping:

  • choose site via Provincial or National Park sites (
  • book a reservation and then it’s usually first come first serve for specific spots

How to Get to Backcountry Camping Site:

  • hike in
  • pack everything in a chariot and bike in
  • canoe in!

What to Expect:

  • usually zero service
  • many locations have bear locks and fire wood, but some have no amenities
  • don’t expect a lot of sleep
  • sometimes there are communal cooking areas, sometimes not

How to Start with Kids:

  • plan for one night (maybe two)
  • pick a close location (smaller hike to get into site, for example)

Safety Tips:

  • always watch kids
  • make a “safety circle” with a stick around the fire for kids not to cross
  • pack warm, “winter” gear even in the summer (plan for all weather)

Backcountry Camping Packing List:

  • Backcountry tent
  • Sleeping mats
  • Sleeping bags
  • Hiking backpack
  • Garbage bags
  • Clothes (layers)
  • Hiking boots
  • Hat/sunglasses
  • Food
  • Water
  • Water filter
  • Camping stove and pots
  • Backcountry plates/bowls/mugs/utensils
  • Propane for stove
  • Backcountry dish soap
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Fire starter/matches
  • First aid kit (Benadryl for allergies (bee sting), After Sun, After Bite, Band-Aids, Antiseptic wipes, Polysporin, Tylenol, Dehydration packages, Water filtration tablets, etc.)
  • Sewing kit/patch kit
  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Susncreen/Bug spray
  • Bear spray
  • Camera
  • Day hike pack, whistle, knife, rope, duct tape
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Extra batteries
  • ID
  • Backcountry permit (if required)
  • Rain covers
  • Satellite phone
  • Games

Backcountry Camping Additionals for Baby:

  • Baby carrier
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Layers (wool base layers and socks, fleece mid-layer, waterproof outer layer, neck warmer, mitts, boots or slippers) & extra layers!
  • Sleep sac
  • Milk
  • Soother
  • Toys
  • Sunhat/Sunglasses

*Don’t over pack! It will get heavy! Many items are backcountry camping specific, so they are much lighter and smaller to pack down.*

Borrow or rent to get started, if you don’t want to commit to buying everything.

Thank you to Rumpl for supporting today’s episode! Use EXPLORE15 for 15% your first order at

Production: @kpmediaproductions. Music: @michaelferraro_music.