Adventure in the Backcountry

Your Guide to Long Distance Backpacking, Backcountry Canoe Tripping, Hiking, Outdoor Gear and Adventure

Tag: Camping

5 Tips for Planning your First Solo in the Backcountry

Has backpacking or camping by yourself always been a life dream of yours? Does solo adventure seem a bit intimating to you? I hope that by taking you through why soloing is such a fantastic experience and by giving you some practical tips on how to prepare, you will be ready and confident to try out your first solo trip!


Why Solo Adventure is Totally Awesome: 

While I love to hike and camp with friends and family, I gotta tell you that my favourite experiences in the backcountry are the ones that I have done solo. I find that it allows you to build more skills in the wilderness because you are forced to act independently. Essentially, you are not relying on others to do tasks for you and you have to learn through trial and error and overcoming your own challenges. There is something so empowering about being able to navigate the backcountry with your own map reading skills, your own paddle strokes, and your own determination. I promise you that adventuring solo will give you more confidence in knowing that you are truly capable of doing anything you set your mind out to accomplish.

Recenter Yourself in Solitude
Being surrounded by nature in silence and truly soaking up the landscape and beauty around you can be a pretty neat experience. Spending time alone with your thoughts gives opportunity to focus and be fully present in the moment. The alone time can also be great in reflecting or sorting through some inner conflicts, decisions, feelings, that maybe you’ve been putting off dealing with. Solo trips can be the best opportunities to work on your own personal growth. I’ve found solo experiences can leave you feeling centred and refreshed. Afterwards, you’ll reflect on all you accomplished and you might think “Well, hell, I’m pretty bad ass aren’t I?”


Convinced yet? I want to take you through 5 tips that I learned through personal experience that helped me in starting to adventure solo:

1. Practise makes perfect
Believe it or not, the first time I ever camped solo was right beside ‘civilization.’ When I was much younger, I set up my tent in a field at my family cottage to help me practise and get used to camping alone. I remember that night very vividly as I was nervous and woke up many times during the night as every bump had me thinking there was a bear coming to say hello. This set up was perfect because it allowed me to dismiss these fears and get comfortable with camping solo in a safe environment. I recommend trying out solo camping in your backyard, at your cottage, on your friends property, wherever you are the most safe for your first experience. If it takes you more than one practise session to get comfortable riding solo, that’s perfectly fine, remember that there is no rush.


2. Test out your gear beforehand
There’s nothing more stressful than bringing a brand new piece of gear out into the backcountry with no idea how to use it. No cell service means no internet to access YouTube videos on how to put together your water filter, or set up your tent. And whoops, you probably left the instruction manual at home. Make sure you test out all your equipment before you go, practise setting up your tent, using your portable stove, tying up a bear hang, anything you will need to know for your expedition. This will make you feel more confident and familiar with your equipment, and saves any last minute stress in the backcountry.

3. Ensure your first solo trip is an easy, accessible, and short route
Be realistic with you limits and goals when starting out. 3 portages, 4 lakes to paddle, and a 5 night expedition is going to have you way over your head. While it’s great to have ambition, maybe plan that trip for when you have more experience in the backcountry. Having a super intense trip plan is only going to make you overwhelmed, not to mention puts your own safety at risk. My recommendation is plan a trip that requires a small amount of paddling, or hiking and a route that you are more familiar with. In addition, one or two nights will give you a shorter more doable timeframe. This will help you feel more comfortable in doing your first expedition solo.


3. Research and trip plan
Before your trip, make sure to research everything there is to know about where you’ll be going, and how you will get there. Purchase a backcountry map and study it ahead of time to plan your exact route and a general estimate of how long it should take you. Make use of the thousands of online resources on the internet including videos on YouTube, outdoor blogs, and forums. Inform yourself on what gear you will need and what weather you’ll be expecting for your trip.


4. Don’t pack your gear the morning of your trip
I know from personal experience that packing your gear the morning of, will mean you will be rushing around, making you more likely to forget something. Packing well in advance, allows you to ensure everything is ready to go, and every item is double checked on your list. It will also allow you to leave early in the morning which will give you more travel time to get to your evening campsite or destination.

5. Tell your friends and family where your going and when you’ll be back
Inform someone close to you the plans for your trip including when you’ll be leaving, your trip route and your day of return. This will ensure your safety if something were to happen while you are out in the backcountry. It will also give you peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy your trip.


I hope all of these tips help you in planning your first solo trip in the backcountry. Remember to relax, have fun, and take the time to enjoy every moment. Allow yourself to make mistakes, after all that’s how we learn and develop our skills. Remember that confidence might take time, keep at it and continue pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone. I promise you that it will bring you a totally different experience of solitude and self empowerment.

Good luck on your journey and Happy Trails.

5 Reasons the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is an Incredible Tent

I purchased my Big Agnus Copper Spur HV UL2 in April 2017 and have completely fallen in love with it. I originally purchased it for my section hike of the Appalachian Trail, as I had done tons of research on lightweight backpacking tents and this one had incredible reviews and everything I was looking for. Not only did I really enjoy it on the trail but have taken it on backcountry canoe trips in Parks across Ontario. I am very happy with my purchase and here’s why this tent meets the mark:

Specs:

Vestibule Area 9 / 9 sqft / 0.8 / 0.8 sqm
Trail Weight 2lb 12oz / 1.25kg
Packed Weight 3lb 1oz / 1.40kg
Packed Size 4″ x 19.5″ / 10 x 50cm
Number of Seasons 3
Number of Doors 2
Head Height 40″ / 102cm
Footprint Weight 6oz / 170g
Floor Area 29 sqft / 2.7 sqm
Fast Fly Weight 964g

1. It’s super lightweight
When picking out a tent it was very important for me for it to be lightweight for long distance backpacking trips. Previously I owned an ancient and super heavy Coleman 3 person tent that I lugged around with me on backcountry trips so this was worth the money to do a major upgrade. Coming in at only 2lb 12oz this so lightweight and fantastic for what it offers. It stored super nicely in my Osprey Aura AG 65 backpack and I was very impressed with how light it felt in my backpack as I hiked.

2. It’s incredibly easy to set up
There’s nothing like being extremely tired from a long day hiking on a trail, or paddling the interior, only have to come to your site for the night and struggle with poles and clips in the dark. Having previously owned tents that were very frustrating to put together, owning the Copper Spur HV UL2 was a breathe of fresh air. The set up is beyond easy to put together, can be done solo in pretty much a minute or two, and I never had any struggles with it long term.


3. The mesh design will blow your mind

The best feature of the Copper Spur HV UL2 is hands down, the two-tone mesh design which starts about halfway up the tent. This allows for privacy but also allows you to take in outdoor sights including the scenery around you or even the stars at night. During the summer months, if I knew it wasn’t going to rain, I loved being able to fall asleep under the stars. Another amazing thing I will note, is this design is great during bug season. Camping in Northern Ontario during the months of May and June means tons of black flies and mosquitoes. This design was perfect for when I needed to escape their wrath. I could lay in my tent with a good book or a cup of coffee and still enjoy the the forest around me and all the critters (like the chipmunk above that came for a little visit).

4. The double door and inside mesh pockets features
One of the major selling points for me were the great features this tent offers. One of these features is the double door design. If you are sleeping with someone else in the tent then this is very important to have. It solves having to crawl over your partner in the middle of the night when you have to pee, and makes it just so much more convenient to get in and out of the tent. Another feature I loved was the 2 interior mesh pockets, and oversized mesh pocket with two cord routing portals. It was perfect to store my books, maps, cellphone, and items I wanted quick access to. It was especially useful for storing my headlamp so I could find it right away in the middle of the night when I needed it. The door and fly design also meant I could unzip and tie the sides to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning with full view of the forest which was extremely relaxing and gorgeous.

5. It has the perfect amount of space
It was very important for me to get a two person tent because I didn’t want to make a big investment into a gear item that I couldn’t use with my partner or with friends while camping. It was also important to have enough space to be able to stretch out and be comfortable and not feel claustrophobic, which many one-person tents tend to be.  Having a two person was also awesome because it meant that I could sleep with my backpack right beside me if I was solo and have access to everything I needed.

As you can see, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 was a fantastic gear choice for me. I can’t recommend this tent enough for ultralight long distance backpacking, thru-hiking, camping, and interior canoe tripping in the backcountry. It’s lasted me through storms, wind, and the all kinds of elements in the spring, summer and fall.

I hope it keeps you warm and dry on all your adventures.

Happy exploring!

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