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A Girl & Her Blow dryer – From Car Camping to Backcountry Camping with Algonquin Outfitters

Paddling our gear out to Tom Thomson Lake.

Growing up as a tomboy, I’ve always appreciated the great outdoors. My parents nurtured that love for nature by taking me and my two younger brothers camping every year – and it was always Algonquin Park.

Over the years, my list of camping staples has changed significantly, and I truly thought I had the entire camping thing mastered. Have an electrical site, will travel. We rarely got a non-electrical site so we were able to bring many home comforts. One year, we even brought our Tassimo!

My husband and I had often toyed with the idea of going interior camping… it never happened. The kids were too small, we didn’t know where to start; the list of excuses kept us within the corridor of Highway 60. Then, I won a 3-day canoe trip through Algonquin Outfitters, and it changed everything.

In the midst of Covid-19, it was difficult to say whether the trip would happen, but we went for it. A lot of communication went back and forth with AO about the kind of experience we were looking for, the distance we could cover, how much previous experience we had, and food preferences.

As a huge plan-ahead-er, I felt a little out of my element, being required to only pack clothing and toiletries.

When we arrived, the staff were super friendly and helpful – and just about as excited as we were. Having previous experience helped, especially when it came to gear. We could figure out a tent and a single-burner camp stove, no problem. Then, the staff talked us through the food they were putting together for our trip (we can EAT so this was thrilling for all of us). The variety was amazing and there was definitely no way we’d starve unless a bear got a hold of our food.

Some of the food the staff was getting ready for us.

Some of the food the staff was getting ready for us.

We paddled our way to Tom Thomson Lake, and we were really hoping for the bottom island site. We couldn’t believe our luck when we came around the corner to find it available. Then it was time to set up and get better acquainted with the supplied gear.

Tom Thomson Lake Campsite

Tom Thomson Lake Campsite

Gear Upgrades

We had recently purchased a Biolite camp stove and brought it with us. In addition to the single-burner stove that was supplied with our gear, making meals was a snap. We knew that if it rained, using our Biolite could be a big challenge, so it was nice to have a propane stove in addition to ours. We enjoyed the space-saving aspect of the single-burner camp stove, as compared to the two-burner Coleman we’d been using for years.

Our trusty Coleman two-burner camp stove and our new single-burner camp stove.

The next big difference in the supplied gear was our sleeping bags. They were extremely thin and compact, and when bundled up, they were about the same size as a camp pillow you might buy from Canadian Tire. Our sleeping bags from home often took up the majority of our Sportrack, so this was revolutionary to us. They were not only compact and lightweight but also comfortable.

Our old sleeping bags compared to our new ultra-compact sleeping bags.

The kitchen gear was impressive overall, but we were blown away by the folding sink. We probably would never have considered swapping out our trusty plastic bin and drying rack unless we’d gone on this trip. After cleaning up from our meals, we’d hang it to dry and pack it in our food bag, to be hung from a tree before bed.

Our old sink and drying rack next to our folding DOUBLE-sink. Still so tiny

As avid campers, my husband and I are always on the lookout for smarter gear. As we would love to retire in a tiny home one day, we know how important it will be to switch to compact versions for storage and transport. So, when we returned to Algonquin Outfitters, we checked out some of the items that made the biggest impact on our trip. A couple of days after returning home, we were able to test out our new purchases during another camping trip, and we were not disappointed at all.

Happy campers at the portage.

Happy campers at the portage.

I’m happy to report that my hair DID survive the trip without a blowdryer – despite the rain on the way back – but I’m hoping that, soon, someone will come out with a USB blowdryer that I can charge from my Biolite.

Happy canoeing, friends!

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Denise Riches

Wife - Boy Mom - Virtual Assistant - Wine Lover - Chocoholic - Camping Enthusiast. Denise was the Grand Prize winner in our 2019 Safe Paddling photo contest. She won a 3-day Ultimate Canoe Trip Package with Algonquin Outfitters for up to 4 people, valued at $1367.30.

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