Credit: Kevin Callan

It seems every first trip of the year I forget something at home. In the past I’ve forgotten matches, rain gear, my camp mug, sunscreen, bug repellent, extra flashlight battery, paddles and even toilet paper.

This year, I only left behind hot chocolate and an extra wool sweater. Problem was, the average daytime temperature hovered around 4 degrees Celsius, night time temps dropped to minus five, and the rain turned to snow two days into the trip. I wish I would have brought that extra sweater. The only way to deal with this dilemma is to prepare an equipment list and then check and re-check it at least a-thousand times before heading out. Here’s a packing list for a five-day trip during moderate weather conditions


  • Two shirts
  • One wool sweater or fleece top
  • Three extra pairs of socks
  • One extra pair of underwear
  • Two pairs of pants (no blue jeans)
  • One pair of shorts (doubles as swim suit if you’re not into skinny dipping)
  • Hiking boots
  • Sneakers, moccasins or sport sandals for around camp
  • Bug hat (finer mesh for black-fly season)
  • Bandanna (useful for spraying bug dope on rather than directly on to your skin)
  • Wide rimmed hat
  • Rain gear (make sure to keep handy on the top of your pack)
  • Quality sunglasses


  • Beach towel (those light weight ones from Therm-a-rest are great)
  • Portable toothbrush and toothpaste (small travel sizes can usually be purchased at drug store)
  • Toilet paper (store in a zip-lock bag)
  • Hair brush
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Hair band
  • Razor
  • Contact lens solution
  • Glasses case and extra pair of glasses
  • Birth control

Kitchen Set:

  • One medium and one small cooking pot with lids and non-stick frying pan (to avoid expensive cooking sets purchase all three separately at a department store and simply remove handles)
  • Outback Oven
  • Travel mug
  • Metal plate (plastic Frisbee can also be used as a plate, bowl and toy for the beach)
  • Hard plastic spoon and metal fork
  • Metal spatula
  • Aluminum foil
  • Camp stove with extra fuel container and funnel
  • Waterproof matches in waterproof container plus a butane lighter
  • Scouring pad and sponge mixture
  • Tea-towel
  • Pair of garden gloves for grabbing cooking pot off the fire
  • Lightweight saw
  • Water bottle
  • Water purification gadget
  • Spices, jam, peanut butter, coffee, sugar, maple syrup, honey, margarine, etc...various size, shape and style of plastic containers
  • Meals packed in separate containers and in one large food bag

Sleeping Gear:

  • Tent
  • Ground sheet that fits inside tent
  • Large rain tarp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad


  • External or internal frame pack
  • Various stuff sacks for cloths and other items
  • Separate pack/barrel for food
  • Day-pack
  • Camera bag

Individual Items:

  • Maps with waterproof map case
  • Compass
  • Bug dope
  • Hand lotion
  • Sun screen
  • Camera, film and extra batteries
  • Playing cards, cribbage board, etc.
  • Fishing licence
  • Camping permit
  • First-aid kit
  • Repair kit
  • Roll of Duct tape
  • Extra zip-lock bags
  • Couple of strong garbage bags
  • Journal and pencil
  • Paperback novel
  • Hammock
  • Bird, tree, animal track identification guide
  • Binoculars
  • Star chart
  • Fishing rod and small compact tackle box
  • Pocket knife

Items (required by law) for Canoe or Kayak:

  • Two 30-metre lengths of nylon rope stuffed in a throw bag
  • Flashlight
  • Sounding device (whistle)
  • Approved PFD (personal flotation device)
  • Bailer
  • Extra paddle

Luxury Items

  • Collapsible camp chair
  • Camp pillow
  • Extra-long sleeping pad
  • Solar powered radio
  • Propane-fired hot-shower gadget
  • Two-burner camp stove
  • Miniature espresso maker
  • Java Press/Coffee Bowden
  • Thermos
  • Cast-iron frying pan
  • Reflector Oven
  • Bug Screen
  • Lantern
  • Hammock
  • Cooler packed with ice and an endless assortment of fresh food, spirits of choice, and ice cream
  • Oversized tent
  • Fold-out picnic table