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What to bring Backpacking
in Northwestern Ontario

Plan your hike on paper.
List your route, when and where you plan to camp, your entry and exit points.
List the vehicle Licence numbers, the names of the people going, and where you will be leaving the vehicles.
Make a copy of the Hike Plan, and leave it with your Group Commissioner.
Leave another copy with a relative, and Park Staff or Police at point of departure.
Someone at home should know where you are going, even if it is only a day hike.
If someone needs to find you, they will at least know where to start looking!

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Packing hints

Everything in your pack should do 2 or more functions.
One single burner stove will prepare meals for 6 to 8 people. Figure one stove for every 4 or 6 people, and you will have lots of hot coffee too!
There should be nothing loose hanging on your pack, everything should be "waterproofed" and stored in your pack, or fastened securely to the outside of the pack. Tie points or straps are provided for this purpose.
Have fun!

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To wear:

  • Comfortable walking shoes runners or hiking boots (proper fit and well broken in!!)
  • Socks (acrylic or wool preferable)
  • Long sleeve shirts & pants OR
  • Shorts, T-shirts (depending on Sun, Bugs, Location)
  • Outerwear for the season/weather
  • Hat

Essentials for ANY hike

  • Compass and Waterproof Map
  • Whistle and signaling device
  • Wind/Waterproof matches
  • Canteen or water bottle
  • Knife and Survival Kit (Fanny Pack)
  • Folding saw, or Wire saw
  • Toilet paper and Trowel
  • Small Flashlight and extra batteries and bulbs
  • Sun protection (glasses, hat, sunscreen)
  • First aid kit with blister kit
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Insect repellent (No Sprays!)
  • Spare prescription eyeglasses and medications
  • Rain gear
  • Trip Log Book or note pad & pencil
  • Licenses & permits

Day hikes

 add to the above essentials
  • Daypack
  • Extra clothes
  • Camera & film
  • Food
  • Cup
  • Mess Kit (Bowl, Plate, Knife, Fork, Spoon)
  • Water purifier
  • Litter bag
  • Binoculars
  • Hiking stick

Overnight or longer hikes


This can and should be shared equipment for your group.
  • Matches (wind/waterproof)
  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Cook kit and utensils
  • Cup/Bowl/Plate/Knife/Fork/Spoon
  • Sealed containers (for food, spices, coffee/tea, etc.)
  • Plastic bags (large and small)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Biodegradable soap, dish towel
  • Water purification tablets or filter
  • Food (Repackage to save weight)
  • Juice/Sport Crystals (to flavour drinking water)
  • Large stuff sack (to hang food in tree at night to protect from animals)
  • Kitchen Fly (Extra tent fly)
  • Ropes &amp: pegs for kitchen fly
  • Spice Bag (or Food repair Kit depends upon who's cooking!)


Bivouac bags or lightweight tarps are an alternative depending upon the insect season. Tarps and tents can be shared between 2 or 3 people, depending upon the weather, length of trip, size of tent. One sleeping bag takes up about 1 2/3 square meters!
  • Tent (seam-sealed, with fly, pegs and poles)
  • Extra tie-down cord (50ft.)
  • Emergency repair kit


to keep dry

  • Socks (acrylic or wool preferable)
  • Sleeping Bag with temperature rating of -1° C or better (This is a Summer bag in NWO!)
  • Lightweight underwear
  • Shorts, T-shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts & pants
  • Fleece Jacket (evenings/cool, wet weather)
  • Jogging Suit (PJ's and extra camp clothes)
  • Bathing suit
  • Insulation Layers (wool or synthetic fleece to suit season)
  • Rain/wind gear (jackets and pants or poncho-waterproof/breathable)
  • Toilet Kit: Comb, Toothbrush/paste
  • Towel
  • Biodegradable soap, shampoo
  • Moccasins/campshoes
  • Playing cards

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Backpack types

  • External frame (proper fit critical)
  • Internal frame (proper fit critical)
Backpacks are like toothpaste: no two will agree on the flavour!

External Frame

packs are the "Transport Trucks" of the hiking world. They allow air circulation between your pack and back, and are cooler. The frame transfers the weight to your hips, and has lots of pockets and compartments to keep your gear organized. All external gear is lashed to the frame to prevent movement. External Frame packs are comfortable, and are suited to open country and hiking trails.

Internal Frame

packs are great for rock climbing or cross country skiing. They are narrower than external frame packs, and allow more arm movement required for rock climbing or skiing. Packing is more critical, both for centre of gravity and back comfort. Your sleeping pad should be between your back and the potset and stove. Most internal frame packs have compression straps on the sides to make things more compact. Internal Frame packs are better suited for "bushwhacking." than External Frames.

Backpacking tips

Measure everything in Kilogram/Kilometers.

Use a pack volume that is at least one size smaller than what will hold all your gear.


Your ideal pack should weigh 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight (or less)

To "waterproof" your sleeping bag, put the stuff sack inside a plastic garbage bag, and that inside a second stuff sack. This will help prevent the garbage bag tearing and leaking. Don't forget to keep your sleeping pad dry too, or your sleeping bag will mop it dry for you!


This is a suggested list, and is only a start for your personal packing list. Add or subtract as your needs and experience change.
Ontario Provincial Parks have a ban on bottles and cans. Everything you take with you must come back, even the garbage. There are directions for the disposal of human waste. Ask for them when you make your Reservations. Find out the rules first!
Remember this: Leave only footprints--Take only memories (and lots of pictures!).

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Scouts Canada - Thunder Bay Area

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