The wheels of the Jeep crunched over the rocky, uneven terrain with ease as we pulled into our off-grid campsite. The mighty Squamish River rushed alongside the sandy bank we’d decided to call home for the night—a unique freedom made possible by our Maple Overland Jeep with a rooftop tent.

Based in Squamish, BC, Maple Overland rents fully equipped 4x4 Jeeps with iKamper rooftop tents, big enough for three adults or two adults and two children. My partner Tavis and I were ready for a long weekend of wilderness adventure. As local outdoor enthusiasts, we figured we knew what was in store for us—but even we were surprised by this epic backcountry experience.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

We met Igor Dochkov, the owner of Maple Overland, and checked into our new home on four wheels. Igor showed us the ropes, and I was impressed by the setup. The trunk was organized with high-quality compact camping gear including a folding camping table, battery-operated refrigerator, dual-burner camping stove and lightweight camping chairs. The camping mattress stores within the tent, no pump required.

Igor, an avid outdoorsperson himself, recommended some nearby camping spots—per his suggestion, we headed to a free, first come, first served location along the Squamish River.

Driving down a bumpy forest service road (FSR), I grasped the Jeep’s grab handle. I was delighted to have a robust vehicle to confidently tackle rough gravel roads and get to new adventure spots. Long after the cell reception faded, we arrived at the glacial-fed Squamish River.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

Through the trees, we could see a smattering of colourful tents and vehicles. We were lucky to snag a spot right by the river. The site is without any facilities—not even outhouses—so we practiced leave no trace principles (which are explained in an informative binder in the Jeep).

Alison Karlene Hodgins

After setting up our rooftop tent—which took us less than 10 minutes—we relaxed by the river. I felt the sun soak into my skin. I watched crisp leaves tumble slowly off trees and plop into the minty grey river, suddenly swept away by the current. The surrounding mountains, clothed with evergreens, met in a wobbly V-shaped valley. Tavis brought out the included camp kitchen gear and began to pan-sear two steaks in garlic and butter as the sky turned pale pink and blood orange in a spectacular sunset.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

I sat beside our propane fire pit, alternating between reading my book and staring into the flickering flames as the river rushed behind it. As darkness overtook the area, we climbed up the ladder into our large, comfortable sleeping area to play a card game before falling asleep. I gazed up at the night sky through the skywindow and watched a glimmer of silver dash across the darkness—a shooting star.

In the morning, we sizzled bacon and eggs over the camping stove and made campsite lattes with the included Bialetti moka pot, milk pitcher and frother. Packing up with ease, we bounced back along the FSR.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

Our next destination was a little-known recreation site just south of Pemberton. Located up a steep, rock-strewn FSR, a small, glassy lake framed by trees produces magical, reverberating echoes. We inflated our kayak and paddled around, the calm water and surrounding wilderness quiet and peaceful.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

We found a secluded spot to pitch our rooftop tent—with our hardy vehicle, we could access basically any spot we wanted; and with our accommodation on top of our vehicle, we didn’t have to find flat ground to set up. There were no other campers, traffic, artificial light or noise around.

As the sun descended behind the hills, silence enveloped us. I heard the wind nudge against the trees. Birds trilled, calling out to their mates and friends. Nature was whispering, and we were able to listen.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

We ate cheese and jalapeno smokies, opting to cook away from our rooftop tent and vehicle as we knew we had to be extra aware of bear safety out here.

After securely locking away any scented items, I crawled up the ladder and snuggled into my sleeping bag atop the comfy mattress. Then we heard a snort. A huff. A bear?

Tavis set off the Jeep’s alarm. The blaring noise screamed into the night, echoing off the nearby lake, alerting any wildlife of our presence.

He turned off the alarm and we waited. The stillness returned.

“Do you want to leave?” Tavis asked, sensing my fear.

“No,” I said. I was afraid, but I wanted to stay. I knew we’d left no reason for wildlife to bother us. We had bear spray in the tent and an emergency GPS communicator from Maple Overland. Being up high gave us an extra sense of security. The animal in the woods was probably just curious or roaming around their habitat.

I’m glad we didn’t pack up and leave. Part of a Canadian wilderness adventure is sharing the land with wildlife. We never saw a bear or telltale signs in the morning as we packed up, but we both knew we’d heard one in the night.

Alison Karlene Hodgins

As we returned the Jeep, Tavis and I were struck with the freedom, access and confidence this adventure afforded us. We were able to escape from the city and fully immerse ourselves in Canada’s serene nature. We discovered new places along rugged roads that our own cars couldn’t reach. With the increasing difficulty of booking a front-country campsite, we could safely access the outdoors in a new way. The Jeep transported us there; the rooftop tent allowed us to stay.

That is something precious, rare and wild.

For one weekend, we were wild, too.


Maple Overland donates to the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre and plants 10 trees for every booking.

This article was sponsored by Maple Overland

Our overland equipped Jeeps with rooftop tent and camping gear will get you deep into the backcountry of British Columbia in comfort and with confidence. Explore the abundant rain forests, rugged Pacific coastline, mountain meadows and the countless pristine blue lakes with one of our 4×4 rides. Each Jeep is outfitted with a large rooftop tent and all the essentials you need to camp in the wild.

Book your adventure now.