Contributed by: Jessica, a new addition to our Communications and Marketing Team
As an MEC employee, it’s hard not to hop onto every activity bandwagon there is. Cycling socials? Yes please. Run club? Mm-hm. Noon-hour yoga classes? Sign.me.up.
But then there’s camping.
While not complete strangers, “vaguely aware of its existence” is how I would best describe my life’s interaction with camping. Not this summer though. This summer, I’m determined to unearth my inner camper.
I asked Robin, store-employee-turned-website-merchandiser, to give me the rundown on how to pick the best equipment for my mission. He asked about the type of camper I am (novice; will likely not be undertaking an expedition any time soon), the season I’ll be heading out in (anytime it’s warm), and some of my personal preferences (I would prefer to not feel rocks in my back, and as a rule, I am cold though my preference is to not be).
Robin’s Advice: Tents
- MEC has four tent categories to help narrow your search:
- Buy the right size for the number of people using the tent so that rock-paper-scissors isn’t what decides who actually sleeps inside the tent.
- Know the season and anticipate the weather you’ll be camping in. A three-season tripping tent isn’t designed to stand up to gale-force winds and heavy winter snow. A four-season expedition tent will likely feel too heavy and not well vented for an easy overnight in the summer.
- Picking a sleeping bag is based largely on personal experience. Are you a cold-sleeper or hot sleeper? Find a bag that suits the likely temperature range and dial it up or down for comfort.
- Be mindful that there is no scientific formula used in determining a bag’s temperature rating, so don’t rely on numbers alone to make your decision. With experience, you’ll start to know how your body responds to conditions, activity levels, and outside temperature, and which rating will work best for you in those circumstances.
Decision: My sleeping temperature rivals that of a popsicle, so the Women’s -12C Aquilina Sleeping Bag seems right up my alley.
Robin’s Advice: Sleeping Pads
- Are you a “princess and the pea” kind of sleeper, or someone who would be fine crashing on a pizza box? The pad you pick will have a lot to do with your personal preference, as well as the weight of pack you’re willing to carry.
- You’ll want something that has adequate insulation for the season. There’s nothing wrong with using a winter pad in the summer but if you do the opposite and use a summer pad in the winter, you could end up being really cold.
- Most sleeping pads are designed more for insulation, than for comfort. The pad works by trapping air in its foam, or down insulation, which prevents your body’s heat from being leeched away by the ground. While being warm is a part of being comfortable, sleeping pads are not designed to simulate a pillow-top mattress.
Decision: In the spirit of setting myself up for success, I’m going to start off with the Exped Downmat 9 Pump Deluxe Sleeping Pad.
Robin’s Advice: Camp Stoves
There are basically two types of camp stoves to mull over:
- Canister stoves
- Canister stoves run on compressed gas (propane or propane mixed with butane) and are a great entry-level option for summer. They’re very convenient to pack and set up, and they’re super easy to get going – just turn on and light.
- But they do start to lose pressure and efficiency at about 0°C, making them less useful for winter camping.
- Make sure that the type of canister you need is available in the place you’re going camping. Remote spots or even some places in the US may not sell the proprietary brand of canister that you’re using.
- Liquid gas stoves
- Liquid gas stoves run on liquid fuels (white gas, kerosene, diesel, aviation fuel, and similar petroleum fuels). However, liquid gas stoves can be finicky and there is a fairly steep learning curve involved with using them. For your first few times out, this likely isn’t the right style of stove for you.
- That said, if you’re in high altitude, extremely cold temperatures, or are a frequent camper, then a liquid gas stove is exactly what you need.
Decision: I like my eyebrows too much to risk some sort of fiery catastrophe, so I’m going with the Primus FireHole 200 Stove. Once I get my camping legs, I’ll look at the Primus Himalaya OmniFuel Stove.
So it’s pretty much all decided, I just need to settle on a location and choose a weekend, but this summer I will be a camper.