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Camping Tips: Backcountry Check-List

While BC is famous for vehicle-accessible campsites and gentle adventures, our backcountry experiences are gaining prominence. That's thanks in part to a new registration system that allows campers to get permits before their trip.

New to backcountry camping? "Backcountry" refers to an area in a park or recreation area that is primarily for wilderness hiking and backpacking. This "next level" of camping offers many advantages, such as more physically challenging terrain, and access to secret spots where often the eagles and the bears are your only companions.

That said, these areas are also generally free of the types of facilities many campers are used to.

Interested? Consider the following when planning your next backcountry trip:

  • 1. Look into purchasing your permit ahead of time by visiting http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/registration/. This will save you paperwork and fees at your site, but does not serve as a reservation.
  • 2. Pack with extreme care. Know the distance to your vehicle and be sure you can carry your supplies comfortably for at least this distance. Understand where freshwater will be available (if any) and plan accordingly.
  • 3. Practice "Leave No Trace" ethics. Click here for an overview of this philosophy that encourages you to "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints".
  • 4. Respect private property (do not trespass) and choose your campsite carefully.
  • 5. Plan for a campfire-free experience. Fires are forbidden in most backcountry areas as they contain sensitive ecosystems. Bring a portable gas stove.
  • 6. Do not "eat from the land" unless you have the permits and the expertise to do so.
  • 7. Consider all aspects of camping safety, including disease prevention, and good trip planning, by visiting this webpage. For bear and cougar safety you can read up on these tips here.
  • 8. Manage human waste carefully. Always use a toilet when available! When one is not, urinate at least 30 metres from any freshwater source. Dig a hole 15 cm into the ground for solid waste, and cover waste well afterwards.
  • 9. Leave your pets at home. Most backcountry areas explicitly forbid domestic animals.
  • 10. If you practice geocashing, kayaking and canoeing, or other special recreational activities, ensure you follow the specific ethics guidelines as outlined by BC Parks and other authorities.

Backcountry camping isn't for everyone. But with some care and precautions, it could be your ticket to some of BC's most pristine outdoor treasures.

Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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