I could (and do) spend a lot of time at MEC and Atmosphere and Valhalla Pure Outfitters ogling all the awesome camping gear. I want all the stoves, all the packs, all the knives, all the stuffsacks, headlamps, water filters, sleeping bags and tents. Every single trip we do need specific gear.
I’m a product of modern marketing. It didn’t always used to be this way. When I started canoe tripping as a youngster with Kamp Kanawana all the space we were afforded in our canvas portage sacks were whatever could fit in our candy roll. Our what? Our candy roll. We were allowed to bring a sleeping bag, night clothes (because we’d always be wearing our soaking wet day clothes), a toothbrush and flashlight. Remember those giant useless flashlights back in the 80s? Where was I … right, the candy roll. All our things would get rolled up in our groundsheet.
You lay out the groundsheet, then lay out your sleeping bag. Lie your clothes on it, hide your toothbrush and flashlight somewhere like in your socks, then tightly roll up the sleeping bag. Then roll the groundsheet as tight as you can to waterproof your gear. Because those canvas packs are not waterproof, and kids dump canoes.
My gear didn’t change all that much when I started tripping on my own. Not only was I a young teenager with no money, but dry bags were far and few between. I used an army green rucksack and groundsheet to keep my gear dry. All I really added was a tent, a cooking pot, a bowl, a spoon, a knife, and waterproof matches. Oh, and food. Mmmm spam and pineapple!
I don’t know where I went wrong all these decades later. Eventually my kit grew to a large 115-liter drybag, a sleeping pad, a stove, more cooking gear, more spoons and knives, headlamps and spare flashlights and spare batteries and spare clothes and spare everything. I don’t know what I’m expecting. But every single time I wander in to one of those stores I wander out with one more thing. Sigh. I’m going to need a bigger boat.