I Backpack Canada » Travel Gear http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Thu, 30 Jul 2015 19:10:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Make Your Own DIY Backpacker First Aid Kithttp://ibackpackcanada.com/make-your-own-diy-backpacker-first-aid-kit/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/make-your-own-diy-backpacker-first-aid-kit/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 19:13:25 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7163 This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®. All thoughts & opinions are my own. When you’re on the road long enough, cuts, scrapes, bruises, illnesses, and general cases of “not feeling so hot” are all too common. After living and dealing with these uncomfortable experiences on a case by case basis, I got sick of […]

Make Your Own DIY Backpacker First Aid Kit is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

When you’re on the road long enough, cuts, scrapes, bruises, illnesses, and general cases of “not feeling so hot” are all too common. After living and dealing with these uncomfortable experiences on a case by case basis, I got sick of having to detour my travels in order to buy something as silly as a single bandage for a cut, but being forced to carry along a whole box of them. While you can pick up pre-packaged first aid kits, you’ll find they’re typically overpriced and usually have some items in them that you’ll never use. The folks at REACTINE® partnered up with me to come up with the perfect DIY Backpacker First Aid Kit.

 

altoid

1. Empty Altoids Tin

The trusty Altoids tin is used in countless DIY projects and crafts. Head to your local convenience store and pick one of these up, share those mints with your friends and family to get rid of them. Or maybe keep a few if you consider bad breath an emergency. In this DIY First Aid Kit we’ll be using an Altoids tin, or if you can’t find Altoids, any sturdy slim case will do. At the end of the day, you just need something that can take a mild beating.

bandaid

2. Bandages

Small cuts and blisters are all too common when you’re lugging around a bag filled with your life. I’d recommend keeping a variety of bandages, but really any will do. See what you can dig up around your house and throw 3 – 4 of these lifesavers in there. If you’re able to track down a small package of gauze as well, I’d recommend including that in there for anything more heavy duty than a small cut.

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3. Mini Ziploc® Bags

You’re going to want to find a tiny Ziploc® bag which we’ll use to keep a few important things dry. You can usually find these at craft or jewellery stores. My wife had a few that she had picked up from Michaels.

pills

4. Pain Management

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you’re not going to come down with a headache. Even for things more serious like sprains, I like to keep around 6 pills of either Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Rather than taking the whole jar, just grab few and throw them into one of those mini Ziploc® bags. I’d recommend using a Sharpie to mark that bag just as a reminder in case you have to store any other medicine in your DIY First Aid Kit.

reactine

5. Allergy Relief

Whether you suffer from allergies or not, chances are you know somebody that does. Cutting out a couple of pills from a package of REACTINE® Non-Drowsy Liquid Gels only takes up a tiny amount of space in the kit, and has the added bonus of fighting allergy symptoms for 24 hours. Nothing will make you look like a bigger hero than when that new travel friend of yours is complaining about their allergy symptoms and you bust out your DIY first aid kit and save the day.

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6. Tweezers

I’m convinced that there are few things worse than a nasty splinter. Tweezers are small enough that they can easily fit in your DIY first aid kit and can save you from having to deal with the pain and risk of infection that a splinter can cause.

Polysporin-Triple-Antibiotic-Ointment-15-g

7. Infection Prevention

If you wear contact lenses, or know someone who does, chances are finding an old contact lens case should be easy. Wash it out thoroughly, and you now have two airtight vessels for storing liquids or gels. I recommend storing POLYSPORIN® in one, and any other common ointments like iodine or betadine. I usually use something my family calls “brown salve”, but after Googling around for its name, I found out it’s actually called “petro-carbo medicated salve“. You want to store something that’s going to help with things like bug bites, burns, cuts, scrapes and skin irritations.

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8. Fire

You never know when you might need to make a fire. Hopefully you’ll never have to rely on these, but having them is smart. You’ve got a couple of options here. You could go for a cheap magnesium fire starter, which has the benefit of countless uses, or just track down a few matches (preferably waterproof).

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9. Earplugs

In my opinion you should keep several pairs of these scattered throughout your bag, as you never know when you’re going to have to find them. But keeping a spare set on hand in case of emergency, may very well save you a full night sleep when you’re sleeping in a hostel dorm, or camping near a beaver that’s living up to his busy name.

altoids tin

10. Rubber Band

You never know when you need to keep something together. You’re going to want a strong and thick band, like the ones you find on broccoli bunches in the grocery store. Wrap the rubber band around the packed Altoids tin to keep everything secure. It also has the added benefit of providing grip to the kit in case you ever place it on a hard surface.

Am I missing any other important first aid kit items? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Special thanks to REACTINE® for sponsoring this post and helping keep people safe & healthy during their travels. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

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Best Backpacks for long term travelhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/best-backpacks-long-term-travel/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/best-backpacks-long-term-travel/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:12:10 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6927 Picking the perfect backpack is not an easy task. First off, we have to acknowledge that there is no “one backpack to rule them all”. On the contrary, the market is vast and has a highly diversified supply of zillions of products to pick from. In my experience, choosing the right backpacking backpack really depends […]

Best Backpacks for long term travel is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Picking the perfect backpack is not an easy task. First off, we have to acknowledge that there is no “one backpack to rule them all”. On the contrary, the market is vast and has a highly diversified supply of zillions of products to pick from. In my experience, choosing the right backpacking backpack really depends on two factors: purpose and budget.

Every destination has it’s own challenges and unique requirements. You have to take into account climate, altitude, terrain and most importantly, the main activity of the trip. Mountaineering, hiking, trekking and sightseeing are all activities with very different requirements. The ideal backpack for mountaineering would turn out to be extremely cumbersome for lugging around to hostels.

After you establish the purpose of your trip, there are three key considerations you should always assess before choosing your backpack: your weight, your body frame, and the gear you will take along. What kind of stuff are you going to carry? Are you planning on bringing camera equipment? How much food are you going to need? Do you need compartments for smaller items or only larger items?

There are two types of backpacks:
  • The internal frame backpack
  • The external frame backpack

The backpack you pick depends mainly on your purpose as a traveller. Are you attempting to conquer every hiking trail you encounter? Or are you more of a casual tourist that just needs to keep their stuff organized during the move from destination A to destination B?

Internal or external frame backpack?

Nobody wants to spend a good amount of cash on something they’re going to regret. I will try to help you take the right decision by clearing out the differences between both styles.

Weight

External frame backpacks are able to carry much more weight because the packs stack above your head, placing the center of gravity much higher than in an internal frame backpack. And while it’s true that these backpacks can carry more weight, they’re also bulkier, making them difficult to deal with in small rooms and tight spaces.

Internal frame backpacks on the other hand are generally lighter and more comfortable to wear, but have less options for distributing the weight. As their weight concentrates at the middle of your back, they are not so suited for long hikes as they will wear you out faster.

Packing compartments

In most cases external frame backpacks have lots of compartments that allow more options to distribute the weight. That’s something that you don’t typically get from an internal frame backpack. Most internal frame backpacks have only 1 to 3 compartments (top, primary compartment, lower compartment). Less compartments means finding the key to your room could turn out to be the most painful memory of the whole trip.

Design

In an external frame backpack the tubular structure is clearly visible, while internal backpacks look more like the typical bag a kid could carry to school. The tubular structure in this case runs along the spine for lumbar support. Typically, internal frame backpacks are sexier in appearance, some having additional straps and zippers and others including locks to prevent the occasional pickpocket.

Price

The price of external frame backpacks is relatively higher than that of their internal frame counterparts. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re not going to do any extreme hiking, an internal frame backpack might give you more bang for the buck.

Best Backpacks for long term travellers / backpackers

Finding the best backpack for the hostel hopping backpacker is quite a bit easier than the die-hard camper. If your plan is to travel light and move from hostel to hostel, finding a backpack will be a bit easier. 99% of the time, an internal frame backpack with enough compartments and a few bells and whistles will suffice. These are my recommended internal frame backpacks:

Teton-Explorer-4000-backpack-product-shot Teton Explorer 4000 Backpack

Durable and affordable, the Teton Explorer 4000 has (as it’s name states) 4000 cubic inches of storage capacity, which will be enough for 2 – 5 day trips. Many rate it as the best hiking backpack in the market because of the comfort it offers and its ability to store over 15 essential items including a sleeping bag. You can find these for $70.

high-sierra-sentinel-65-internal-frame-backpack

High Sierra Titan 65

The High Sierra Tech Titan 65 is adored by campers and hikers because of its 65 liters of storage space. It’s durability makes the Titan 65 an ideal candidate for long trips. You can find these from $100 and sometimes cheaper if you’re shopping for used backpacks online.

osprey-packs-atmos-65-backpack

Osprey Packs Atmos 65

Osprey backpacks come in three models, small (62 liters), medium (65) and large (68) They’re all incredibly comfortable, the fabric is of excellent quality and the flashy colors make the three models quite attractive to look at. Compared to other backpacks offering similar features, the Osprey is one of the lightest in the market, and also one of the most expensive. You can get your hands on one for $ 200 – $400.

everest-deluxe-hiking-backpack

Everest Delux Hiking Backpack

The Everest hiking pack has been appreciated for a long time by the travelling community as the most popular entry level bag. It’s made out of 100% polyester and has a capacity of 3,170 cubic inches which is roughly equivalent to 40 pounds of stuff. They sell for around $53.

Arc'teryx Altra 65 Backpack

Arc’teryx Altra 65 Backpack

The Arc’teryx Altra 65 Backpack is used for all sorts of activities such as trekking, normal travel and hiking. Usually, these multi-purpose backpacks have a volume capacity between 73L and 75L. Extremely comfortable, it’s ultra light material is also very durable and doesn’t tear easily,  which of course is an added advantage for anybody embarking on long trekking. I’ve read reviews where people state they have used the Arc’teryx Altra for over 14 months without any visible wear, and I do believe it. This is a very high quality bag that sells for $400.

gregory-deva-60-backpack

Gregory Deva 60 Technical Pack

The Gregory Deva 60 Technical Pack has been specifically designed for women. Some of the features include an AFS suspension system, auto-cant harness technology and auto-fit waist belt system. Durable, lightweight and easy on the eye, it’s the ideal entry bag for a serious beginner. It costs around $240.

alps-mountaineering-red-tail-3900

ALPS Mountaineering Red Tail 3900

Just as the name implies, the ALPS Mountaineering Red Tail 3900 is a backpack specifically designed for your hiking needs. It has a capacity of 3900 cubic inches which translates to 64 liters, which is ideal for 3 – 4 day trips. The top of the red tail extends with a spindrift collar allowing hikers to overpack. It sells for $100.

cuscus-6200ci-internal-frame-backpack

CUSCUS 6200ci Internal Frame

The CUSCUS 6200ci is a 6200 cubic inch capacity bag with very sturdy stitching and strong zippers. It’s incredibly durable and has the best cost to benefit ratio of this list. It features a sleeping bag compartment, a heavily paddled back panel and high quality shoulder and waist straps. You can find one of these for as low as $40.

How to fit an Internal Frame Backpack?

Looking for advice on how to fit a backpack to your body size / type, check this video out by Tuja Wellness.

Best backpacks for hiking / camping

We’ve covered plenty about internal frame backpacks which are awesome solutions if you aren’t planning on long hiking or camping trips. But extreme trekkers, pro campers, and seasoned outdoorsmen usually choose external frame backpacks as their weapon of choice. This is mainly because they provide greater support for larger loads. If you’re going to be hauling cookware, large amounts of water, a tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag, you’re going to need more capacity than what an internal frame bag can offer.

Here are my picks for great external frame backpacks for hiking and camping.

alps-outdoorZ-commander-5350-external-frame-backpack

ALPS OutdoorZ Commander 5350 Cubic Inches

The ALPS Outdoor commander has always impressed because of its versatility, durability and incredible capacity. The backpack can be separated from the tube structure allowing for other items to be carried on the frame, which is a nifty feature specially for hunters. The ALPS OutdoorZ Commander is a very affordable solution at $93.

kelty-trekker-external-frame-backpack

Kelty Trekker External Frame Pack

The Kelty Trekker is made from polyester which makes it very lightweight and durable. The external frame is built with adjustable suspensions and plenty of additional accessories. You can find it from $127 to $180.

large-alice-backpack-external-frame

Large Alice Pack w/ Frame

Well suited for people who like to hike a lot, the Large Alice pack is extremely durable, made from waterproof materials with sturdy stitching. It provides an excellent cost to benefit ratio at $62.

outdoor-products-dragonfly-backpack-external-frame

Outdoor Products Dragonfly

The Dragonfly is a backpack especially designed for pre-teens and youth hikers. It has a capacity of 2780 cubic inches which is more than enough to meet the usual expectations of a entry level outdoorsman. It features enhanced padding which helps a lot when carrying very heavy loads. The Dragonfly sells at $50.

S-ZONE Sport Outdoor 60L Military Camping Hiking Trekking Backpack

S-ZONE Sport Outdoor 60L Military Camping Hiking Trekking Backpack

The S-zone sport outdoor 60L Trekking Backpack is one of the most beautifully designed of the list. I really appreciate the foam back panel which helps the pack to stay cool and dry. It also has a compression lid on the top that allows an extra load of gear beyond it’s native capacity of 60 liters. Great value at $64.

high-sierra-sport-external-backpack

High Sierra Sport Company 40

The High Sierra Sport Company 40 is specifically designed for a one or two day trip. This is an extremely comfortable entry bag for younger hikers taking their first steps into the outdoor scene. It sells for $100.

mountainsmith-eagle-external-frame-backpack

Mountain smith Eagle – Youth External

The Mountainsmith Eagle External Frame Backpack is another backpack specifically designed for pre-teens. It’s outward appearance may not be so captivating, but it has a respectable capacity of 45 liters and features an external frame made out of 6061 aluminium alloy. It includes a mesh back panel, a top flap with a zippered pocket, a rain cover and deluxe shoulder straps. You can find it for $75.

alps-mountaineering-bryce-backpack-external-frame

ALPS Mountaineering Bryce Nylon Ripstop External Frame Pack (3600 cubic inch)

One of the most durable of this list, theALPS Mountaineering Bryce pack includes a high quality telescoping frame, hydration compatible, ventilated lumbar support, and mesh pockets. Sturdy, durable and highly reliable it has a 60 litre capacity and sells for $159.

How to Pack a Backpack Properly

Looking for more information on packing your backpack the right way. Check out this great video by REI.

Looking for something more Waterproof? Check out my post on Waterproof Backpacks and Dry Bags.
What kind of backpack are you using? Comment below or tweet me @ibackpackcanada, I’d love to hear from other backpackers!

Disclaimer: Links to Amazon are affiliate links which earn me a small commission if you purchase anything through them. Support I Backpack Canada and shop! Or support yourself and save, your call!

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5 Things You Need To Bring Camping With Youhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/5-things-you-need-to-bring-camping-with-you/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/5-things-you-need-to-bring-camping-with-you/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:43:51 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7030 Wouldn’t trekking through the wilderness be so great if everything simply fit in your pockets? Unfortunately, unless you have one of those fancy inflatable Houses, you probably won’t be going camping without a backpack anytime soon. Filling it up can sometimes be too easy. We’re constantly reminded to prepare for the worst. Then also reminded […]

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Wouldn’t trekking through the wilderness be so great if everything simply fit in your pockets? Unfortunately, unless you have one of those fancy inflatable Houses, you probably won’t be going camping without a backpack anytime soon. Filling it up can sometimes be too easy. We’re constantly reminded to prepare for the worst. Then also reminded to pack light. What needs to make the cut in your pack? Without further ado, let’s get into the items I think you absolutely should bring on your next camping trip!

1. A Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife runs about $15 – $20 and the knife is well worth the cost. The one I linked above does slightly more than function as a knife (it has scissors, nail file/screwdriver, and tweezers), which makes it good for both daily usage and camping trips. I’ve had my own for around five years; I bring it everywhere because I use it almost daily, and I can personally attest to its dependability, though I have to admit those scissors are just a  waste of space.

Bringing a on your camping trip is a must. A decent knife can save your butt, and can be used in a variety of situations, including cutting rope, sharpening sticks, and even as an emergency weapon (albeit a Swiss Army Knife may not be a very effective one).

While there are definitely better knives out there, for entry-level campers the Swiss Army Knife is a great item to bring with you when you’re camping.

2. Cordage

The next essential for camping is cordage. Having rope can come in handy, especially for survival purposes. It’s cheap, and serves countless purposes, from bundling wood, to tying up an injury, or just hanging your wet clothes to dry. I personally use this small Bear Grylls bracelet cordage when I’m out in the sticks. While I may not think all that highly of Bear Grylls, his products are surprisingly decent.

Some varieties of cordage are brightly colored and highly reflective, making it a very handy tool for survival. Another product that you might consider is the Kelty TripTease Lightline, but I can’t say too much about this as I haven’t used it before. You can use cordage for quite a wide variety of things, such as attaching your gear to your pack and making a hammock.

3. A Compass

I won’t say much about having a compass. I believe you should always carry one around with you when you’re out camping, especially if you’re in an area with poor cell phone reception. It doesn’t have the be the fanciest most expensive compass, but something that can re-orient you is key. Of course, you should also know how to use a compass, but I’ll leave that to Wikihow to explain (I’m a lousy teacher).

Compass prices range from $10.00 – $100.00 depending on the quality and brand you’re after. :

Suunto M-3DL Compass

Suunto A-30L Compass

Silva Sighting Ranger CLQ Compass

4. Fire

Keeping warm is incredibly important for survival. If you’re going to be staying in an area with low elevation (< 10,000 – 12,000 feet), then you won’t have many issues with making a cheap lighter work. However, at higher elevations, due to the lack of oxygen in the thinner atmosphere, finding a lighter that strikes all the time can sometimes be a difficult task.

I’ve found that cheap Bic lighters that you can get at the gas station for a dollar or two work most of the time. However, I’m sure some die-hard campers would spit, snarl and scream at that notion. Sure, you can fight with striker sticks, matches, and or just rubbing sticks together and saying a prayer, I’m a bit of a lazy camper and have no shame in letting technology help me out.

If you’re looking for refillable lighters, I personally like Zippo lighters even more than the cheap Bic lighters. The Ultimate Survival Technologies Floating Lighter (seen above) is actually a waterproof-floating zippo style lighter, which is handy if you’re going to be on or near water at any time.

If you like to be extra careful, I’d recommend carrying a few waterproof matches as well as a Carbon Strike Fire Starter which produces sparks for those hypothetical emergency situations where none of your lighters make fire.

5. Water

Staying hydrated while outdoors is just as important as staying warm. Water is probably one of the most important resources, so finding a suitable container for it is important because you don’t want to risk having any contaminants in it. A good water bottle can be used to boil water or to melt snow, giving you a source of fresh water in a survival situation.

I use a Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Bottle because it’s both light and sturdy, and I usually clip this on to one of my belt loops (so I guess it isn’t really a “pocket item”). These are currently $25 – $32 USD on Amazon. An important thing to note is to avoid getting a double-walled container. Although they keep cold drinks cold for the entire day, the added insulation makes it difficult to boil water in when you aren’t near safe water. Or just be a smart camper and carry some Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

I hope you enjoyed this article! Remember to follow us on social media using the links below.

Disclaimer: The links on this post will send you to Amazon Products with my personal affiliate code. If you purchase anything Amazon will share 4% of the profit with me. It’s not big money, but any bit helps keep my site going.

Special thanks to @fakejourneys for contributing to I Backpack Canada! 

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The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver!http://ibackpackcanada.com/outdoor-adventure-travel-show-is-back-in-toronto-calgary-and-vancouver/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/outdoor-adventure-travel-show-is-back-in-toronto-calgary-and-vancouver/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:15:59 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7032 Want to get caught up on the latest products and services in the Outdoor Adventure industry? Over the next few months, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show will be arriving in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Outdoor Adventure show is one of the biggest consumer shows in Canada. This exhibit brings together buyers and sellers from […]

The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Want to get caught up on the latest products and services in the Outdoor Adventure industry? Over the next few months, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show will be arriving in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Outdoor Adventure show is one of the biggest consumer shows in Canada. This exhibit brings together buyers and sellers from across Canada to showcase the best upcoming products, and travel/tourism services that appeal to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

Update: The folks at the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show are giving away a few tickets to I Backpack Canada readers. Find out more below!

outdoor-adventure-travel-show

This multi-day event will provide some awesome learning about new destinations and products, with over 200 exhibitors set to show up. Exhibitors will be showcasing everything from camping, water sports, hiking, biking, climbing, outdoor gear and apparel, nutrition, education, destinations, clubs, associations and a whole bunch more!

I Backpack Canada has partnered up with The Outdoor Adventure show to encourage you to take part and check out what this whole event is all about. Adult tickets are already super affordable, but you can save a between $3.00 and $4.00 off your ticket (based on location of your choice) from that price by using the Promo Code: ibackpack when purchasing your ticket online.

Toronto Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Toronto Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: February 20, 21 & 22, 2015
Location:  International Centre, Toronto, ON

Toronto Show Hours

Friday, February 20, 2015, 11am – 8pm
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 10am – 6pm
Sunday, February 22, 2015, 10am – 5pm

Vancouver Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Vancouver Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: March 7 & 8, 2015
Location: Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Show Hours

Saturday, March 7, 2015 ~ 10am – 6pm
Sunday, March 8, 2015 ~ 10am – 5pm

Calgary Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Calgary Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: March 21 & 22, 2015
Location: Stampede Park, BMO Centre, Calgary, AB

Calgary Show Hours

Saturday, March 22, 2014 ~ 10am – 6pm
Sunday, March 23, 2014 ~ 10am – 5pm

Facebook

More info

Use promo code ibackpack & save on your tickets!

Win A Free Ticket to the Outdoor Adventure Travel Show

Let’s keep this easy. Comment below and you’ll be automatically entered to win. Please also indicate which city you’d like a pass to. Something along the lines of “Hey Corbin, I want in on that ticket to the place city here Outdoor Adventure Travel Show. Also you’re handsome.

Or Tweet: “@ibackpackcanada – Enter me in for a ticket to the @outdooradvshow #contest in #Toronto” (Please replace Toronto with Calgary or Vancouver if you’d rather attend those)

Contest closes: February 12th, 2015

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How to Survive 2 Day Train Trips Like a Champhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-survive-2-day-train-trips-like-a-champ/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-survive-2-day-train-trips-like-a-champ/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:50:46 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5372 One of the best ways to truly see Canada is by train. By traveling with VIA Rail you’re able to truly appreciate the vast distances of this massive country. While it is in my opinion the most romantic way to travel, after 24 hours on a train you can start to feel a little too […]

How to Survive 2 Day Train Trips Like a Champ is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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One of the best ways to truly see Canada is by train. By traveling with VIA Rail you’re able to truly appreciate the vast distances of this massive country. While it is in my opinion the most romantic way to travel, after 24 hours on a train you can start to feel a little too “seasoned”. Having recently taken several multi day train journeys across Canada with VIA Rail, I thought it would be great to share some of my tips.

dill-pickle-chips

1. Pack food

VIA Rail is famous for it’s incredible Dining Cars, their food is second to none! Unfortunately they aren’t located on every train; instead, a Snack/Lounge Car will take it’s place which does serve pre-made meals and offers snacks and beers; however, if you want something a little more healthy than pizza, beer, or a bags of chips, I would suggest making a stop at a grocery store and pick up some fruit or veggie trays. Or for those more adventurous, consider sampling some Canadian Junk Food.

On 2 day journeys this is particularly true. Stops are few and far between, and having something set aside to snack on can make all the difference in your comfort level.

macbook-pro-retina

2. Power can be a Commodity

VIA Rail’s cars are for the most part from the 1950’s. Despite their age they’re still comfortable and ride the rails as smooth as ever. But like anything built in that generation, certain things weren’t included off the assembly line that today many feel might be a necessity. For instance, the thought of each person requiring an outlet to power a laptop or charge your phone wasn’t at the front of engineers minds.

Fortunately VIA Rail has outfitted most of the lounge & snack cars with at least a couple outlets for passengers to share, as well as providing each economy seat with an outlet; however, if you travel in the berth section, you may find yourself confused as there are no outlets in this section. Working from the comfort of your berth or watching a movie in bed is pretty much out of the question unless your computer can hold a charge for more than a couple of hours.

Riding in Economy and working is surprisingly comfy so you might be better off going that route should you require to keep up with work. While I can’t say enough good things about VIA Rail, I feel if somebody is going to pay more for a lot of extra comfort, an outlet per bed just makes sense.

via rail train shower

3. A few Travel Items to bring

If you’re planning on riding in economy for more than a day, there are a few things I recommend bringing.

  1. Earplugs – drowning out the noise of children and the occasional loud train whistle can make for a better sleep.
  2. A good book or two – what better way to kill time on a multi day train ride.
  3. Baby Wet Naps – Feeling a bit gross in economy after going a day without a shower can make travel quite uncomfortable. Keep your face, hands, or body clean with the help of these trusty fellows.
  4. A pillow or Pillowcase stuffed with some clothes – Sleeping in economy can be difficult, having a neck pillow, or a pillowcase stuffed with some clothes can give your neck some extra support on these long train rides.
  5. Toiletries – such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc
  6. A Change of Clothes 
  7. Music 
  8. A camera
  9. A laptop – if you plan on working or watching movies on the train, a laptop is a must.

4. Stay Connected without Wifi

Many people are shocked to find out that VIA Rail doesn’t have Wifi on all trains. Given the remote areas that the train goes through, it’s fairly easy to understand why that is. While it would be nice if Wifi was as prominent on trains in the rest of Canada as it is in the Corridor (Windsor Ontario to Quebec), there is an alternative.

If you have a smartphone that allows tethering (iPhones, Androids, newer blackberries, etc) along with a plan that allows it, you should be able to stay connected and quickly grab your emails as you pass through a region with 3G. Sometimes these hot zones can be quite small, so play it smart. Grab what you need online and then leave the less important things (i.e. updating Facebook status) until you’ve got what you’re after.

Pro Tip

Consider phoning your cell phone provider to temporarily upgrade your data usage for the month that you’ll be traveling with VIA Rail. I had my plan temporarily upgraded to include 6gb of Data, unlimited long distance, and all the other bells and whistles you could really need, all for under 90 dollars a month. As soon as the travels were done, I called them up and went back to my regular cell phone plan.

5. Get Comfy and Meet your fellow passengers

Two days is a long time, and while you may plan on finishing a book, don’t be afraid to wander to the snack car to grab a beer and converse with some fellow travellers. I’m always surprised by how easy it is on the train. Socializing while being transported from one place to another isn’t typically done; however, VIA Rail doesn’t just break the mould, it completely shatters it. Where on planes you’re encouraged to stay seated at all times, and bus’s tend to be rather quiet, VIA Rail is fine with people walking around. Stretching your legs and meeting new people is half of the experience. You’ll find that you’ll meet some interesting people from all walks of life that may end up being a new friend by the time you get to the next station.

7. Ask Questions

The staff on VIA Rail are known for being some of the friendliest people, if you find yourself starring out a window, asking yourself “What am I looking at?” – stop an employee and ask them. They ride these routes countless times, and most have a superb understanding of the routes the train takes.

rocky mountains trains via rail

8. Relax

Part of the beauty of train travel, is that your brain isn’t required to be “on” at all times. There will be times when you’ll think “Well, I dont have to worry about the next stop, as my stop isn’t in another 20 odd hours”. Once you’ve come to terms with the speed of trains, you’ll soon realize that it’s okay to shut off for a few hours. Catch up on sleep. Catch up on a book. Travel doesn’t always have to be “Go! Go! Go!”. With the gentle rocking of the train, the rhythmic clicks caused by sections of rail, the distant sound of a train whistle, you can’t be held to blame for nodding off, so enjoy it!

Special thanks to the folks at VIA Rail for having me aboard their train and giving me access to shoot photos & video. 

How to Survive 2 Day Train Trips Like a Champ is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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These 15 Balaclavas Will Make You Laugh and Keep You Warmhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/15-balaclavas-will-make-you-laugh-keep-you-warm/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/15-balaclavas-will-make-you-laugh-keep-you-warm/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:55:40 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6924 Whether you’re keeping warm on the slopes, shovelling the driveway, or hiding your face from your upcoming bank heist. A balaclava is a must-own item for anyone dealing with cold weather. While you can always find a plain jane face-warmer at just about any outdoor store, sometimes you want something more. Something quirkey, weird, fightening, […]

These 15 Balaclavas Will Make You Laugh and Keep You Warm is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Whether you’re keeping warm on the slopes, shovelling the driveway, or hiding your face from your upcoming bank heist. A balaclava is a must-own item for anyone dealing with cold weather. While you can always find a plain jane face-warmer at just about any outdoor store, sometimes you want something more. Something quirkey, weird, fightening, or just downright weird. Make yourself and those who see you laugh with these 20 awesome balaclavas.

The Beardski Prospector Ski Mask Balaclava

Inspired by the gold-prospectors of the Klondike gold rush. The Beardski Prospector Ski Mask is water resistant and washable ski mask that will keep you looking stylishly hilarious and incredibly warm. Made with thermal fleece to keep you warm. This balaclava has adjustable attachment flaps, meaning one size fits all. This realistic beard face warmer is going to rock you socks.

The Free Fisher Knit Beard Face warmer

Find the realistic beard balaclava too creepy? Go quirkey with this knitted beard variety. Perfect for skiers, snowboarders, or cold people that can’t grow their own beard. Your face will thank you. The Free Fisher Knit Beard comes with both the tuque (or knit cap for you non-Canadians) along with the facewarmer portion.

Call of Duty Balaclava

COD players and winter-haters will rejoice with this awesome balaclava. Scare children, or just look like a total badass with this silk screened Call of Duty “Ghosts” Balaclava. I would like to add that this would be the perfect face warmer to pwn some n00bs on the slopes.

Cold Avenger Expedition Balaclava

I recently read that workers in Antarica that have to be outside for long periods of time have to breath in air from inside their jackets using a funky tube system. The ColdAvenger Expedition Balavlaca is sort of a consumer-take on that. Avoid breathing in cold air by breathing in air that’s been warmed up by your body. This type of funky / freaky balaclava is supposed to keep your core temperature up in the coldest weather. While more normal than the others, it’s included just because it makes me think of Darth Vader or something out of Battlestar Galactica (great show btw).

Creepy Clown Neoprene Face Mask / Balaclava

Keep your face warm and your friends thoroughly freaked out with this creepy clown neoprene balaclava. Fully reversible, this face mask stops extreme cold and wind. Comfortable openings for eyes, nose, and mouth.

America Face mask

Whether you’re American or not, wearing this red white & blue flag-styled balaclava can make just about anyone want to say ‘MURICA. This American Flag Balaclava could be a great mask to take along with you if you ever find yourself snowboarding abroad. Show a little American pride and don’t forget to sing the Star Spangled Banner if you find a crowd staring at you.

Santa beard balaclava

Ho ho ho! This Santa Beard Balaclava is a festive variation of the above bearded balaclavas. Great for that special time of year, or simply to show you kids that santa can compete with the rest of the snowboarders on the mountain. Match this with a red winter suit and you’ll be ready to take all the milk & cookies.

Venom Face mask

While this Venom Balaclava doesn’t technically use the official Marvel branding of “Venom”. It’s clear to any 90’s era Spiderman cartoon watcher that this is Venom, Spiderman’s nemesis. Show some teeth on the snowboard, psych out competitors, or just embrace the evil that is Venoms alien-goo lineage.

Bloody face mask

Nothing gets attention from passer-by’s like a bloody face. Save yourself a nasty face-plant and wear this Bloody Face Balaclava. From afar it does a surprisingly good job at convincing people that you just took a beating. As you get closer, you’ll be sure to crack a few smiles.

Monkey Face Mask / Balaclava

Embrace one of our closest cousins in the animal kingdom with this incredibly awesome Monkey Face Balaclava. Extra points goes to anyone who can pull this one off while imitating monkey sounds. You’ll either be the funniest looking fellow on the slopes, or the most annoying.

Yellow smiley moustache face mask

Support Movember all winter long with this oddly creepy and somewhat amusing Moustache Face Mask. The bright yellow face will ensure you’re easily recognized from afar. Nothing says “gentleman” quite like this moustache. Clearly a balaclava for the sophisticated skier or snowboarder.

Cthulhu / Zoidberg / Octopus Balaclava

I’m not completely sure what this weird looking Octopus Balaclava is all about, but all I know is that I like it. Inspired either by the elder-god Cthulhu, or perhaps Futurama’s Zoidberg, this tentacle face balaclava is sure to turn some heads.

Viking Balaclava

Nothing says badass of the mountains like a Viking Balaclava. Conquer and pillage the slopes all while looking like a very odd, very warm Viking. The perfect gift for anyone with family roots from Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

Creepy Bear Face Balaclava

Ever wanted to give a child nightmares? This Creepy Bear Face Balaclava is the perfect gift for that. Or… I guess… maybe fans of Care Bears? I’m not even sure – all I know is this balaclava creeps me out and makes me chuckle.

Sideburns Moustache Face Mask

Fan of sideburns? What about moustaches? Hate the idea of being without your facial works of art? Then this very weird sideburns-moustache face mask is perfect for you. Stay warm and grab some attention on the slopes, or just while you’re out shovelling your driveway.

Have you come across any other awesomely weird / freaky / funny balaclavas or face masks? Share them in the comments below!

These 15 Balaclavas Will Make You Laugh and Keep You Warm is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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8 Awesome Waterproof Backpacks That’ll Keep Your Gear Dryhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/8-waterproof-backpacks-dry-bags/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/8-waterproof-backpacks-dry-bags/#comments Sun, 28 Dec 2014 12:22:10 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5794 Last year, after buying a canoe, I began my quest to find a quality Waterproof Backpack or Backpack Style Dry bag that would keep my valuables safe when I was doing some extended travel on the water. All it takes is one tipped canoe to cost you, so I figured I’d rather spend a bit money […]

8 Awesome Waterproof Backpacks That’ll Keep Your Gear Dry is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Last year, after buying a canoe, I began my quest to find a quality Waterproof Backpack or Backpack Style Dry bag that would keep my valuables safe when I was doing some extended travel on the water. All it takes is one tipped canoe to cost you, so I figured I’d rather spend a bit money on a dry bag than on replacing anything expensive and valuable. While I opted for only 1 of these, they were all contenders on my canoe.

waterproof-backpack-dry-bag

Overboard Waterproof Backpack

Price: $66.78

This 20L waterproof backpack features fully welded seams, padded shoulders, back and lumbar, ensuring carrying this puppy isn’t too sore on your body. Adjustable straps on the sternum and waist keep it hugging your core. This baby can sit in water all day, no need to worry about your valuables.

DryCASE Waterproof Backpack

Price: $119.99

The DryCASE waterproof backpack sports a 100% waterproof main compartment. 35L of carrying capacity, with marine grade fabric and a unique inflation / deflation tool to float your bag, or use as a portable cooler or shower. Easy to pack, and easy to carry. The DryCASE Waterproof backpack is a quality pick for those in the market for a waterproof bag. Available in multiple colours and styles.

DOOMAGIC Waterproof Backpack

Price: $14.58

This neon wonder is a lightweight daypack, perfect for outdoor activities where you might get a bit soggy. 25L compartment and folds into a small pouch. I didn’t opt for this one because I wasn’t sure exactly how Waterproof it is. The bright colours make it easily identifiable if you’re throwing your bag in amongst many others. This Waterproof backpack is available in multiple neon colours.

Aqua Quest ‘Sport 30′ Waterproof Backpack Dry Bag

Price: $69.99

Made with high quality fabric, all stitches and seams are sealed. The waterproofing uses a velcro roll-over method, which when rolled over a few times, prevents water from entering. Padding can be found on shoulders, hips, and lumbar. A much more stylish waterproof backpack than others in this list, and bang for buck, the Aqua Quest Sport 30 Waterproof backpack / dry bag is a safe choice.

Aqua Quest Mariner Waterproof Backpack Dry Bag

Price: $29.00

This waterproof dry bag is backpack-esque, in the sense that it has shoulder pads. I ended up going with the 50L version of this item. It’s a superb Dry Bag, but when filled isn’t exactly the comfiest thing to haul, but given its price and ability to fit just about anything I could think of I’d still recommend this fellow.

Rage Powersports 50L Dry Storage Backpack

Price: $24.99

The 50L Rage Waterproof Backpack is similar to the yellow fellow above. A top rollover waterproofing method keeps your stuff safe and dry. The straps are a bit less padded, but again, if you’re not using this as your primary backpack and rather a dry bag, it should suit you.

Outdoor Research Dry Peak Bagger

Price: $60.95

I almost opted for this one, but at the time I was broke after having just paid some student loans. So rather than spending the extra 30 odd bucks, I went with the cheaper option. This dry bag features the roll-top closure and mesh shoulder straps. The front pouch makes for convenient storage of smaller items such as phones, or compact digital cameras. While it lacks several compartments and pouches found on other bags, its sturdy quality make it a decent option.

MAXXON 40L Wild Waves Dry Bag Backpack

Price: $39.95

From river rafting to cycling in the rain, this heavy duty waterproof protects from dust, sand, and water. Rugged seams with quality craftsmanship. The Maxxon Wild Waves Dry Bag Backpack is a great choice for keeping your valuables dry.

Still not sure which waterproof backpack or dry bag to get?

There’s a ton of great dry bags and waterproof backpacks out there, and something out there for every budget. If you’re not 100% which to get, don’t be afraid to head into your local outdoor shop and get the run through on how waterproof backpacks and dry bags work.

8 Awesome Waterproof Backpacks That’ll Keep Your Gear Dry is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Interview with Robin Esrock – Author of “The Great Canadian Bucket List”http://ibackpackcanada.com/interview-robin-esrock-author-great-canadian-bucket-list/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/interview-robin-esrock-author-great-canadian-bucket-list/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 15:43:48 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6072 Robin Esrock, author of the critically acclaimed book “The Great Canadian Bucket List” knows more about Canada than most people on Earth. He’s the former host of the world famous syndicated TV Series, “Word Travels”, has had travel columns in the Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun, Outpost Magazine, Matador Travel Network, and has been published […]

Interview with Robin Esrock – Author of “The Great Canadian Bucket List” is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Robin Esrock, author of the critically acclaimed book “The Great Canadian Bucket List” knows more about Canada than most people on Earth. He’s the former host of the world famous syndicated TV Series, “Word Travels”, has had travel columns in the Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun, Outpost Magazine, Matador Travel Network, and has been published in countless papers across the globe.

From the culture, to the sights and sounds, he’s seen more, done more, and experienced more than most people will ever get a chance to. He’s compiled his insights into a tremendous book that’s expanding into region specific Bucket List Books that showcase the best places to visit in Canada. I first met Robin back in 2010 when I won the a CTC GoMedia Travel Blog Award, and recently caught up with him by email to pick his brain.

robin-kamloops lake

Q: You’ve travelled the World, been a part of a hit travel series, survived and thrived in the wildest places on Earth. What keeps you exploring Canada?

robin-esrock-labrador-lowres-2Canada is so big, it’s effectively 13 countries wrapped in one. The more I dig, the more stuff I find that you can’t do anywhere else. Unlike some other parts of the world, a lot of the time Canadians just don’t make such a big deal of it, which is why we’re not as famous as we should be. This is a country of amazing natural assets, and people assets too. It’s been tremendous fun ticking off the Bucket List, getting familiar with the diversity of places and the people that bring them to life.

Q: What inspired you to write the Canadian Bucket List?

​I had travelled all over the world, over 100 countries, but didn’t know too much about my adopted home. Living in Vancouver, visiting a place like Labrador or northern Manitoba seemed as foreign as visiting Europe. More than an opportunity to see and do everything that makes Canada so interesting, this was the opportunity to learn what makes this country tick. I got my citizenship over ten years ago, but only started to really understand Canada once I travelled across it.

Q: Your Book is thick to the brim with advice, stories, and inspirational photos. How long did it take you to gather all of this?

​I spent the greater part of three years putting it all together, and another year adding new experiences for the upcoming regional books – The Great Western, Central and Atlantic Canada Bucket List. At the same time I was putting together the extensive companion website so people could actually follow in my footsteps, so they could find the information they need after reading the book for inspiration. No shortage of things to do when you archive the best experiences in the second biggest country on the planet!

Q: Are there any particular places in Canada that didn’t make the final cut that you think are still worth checking out?

​Absolutely. Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to add them to the new regional books, and hopefully blend it all back into the parent book for future editions. This summer alone I got to visit Cape Breton, cycle across Prince Edward Island, canoe in Algonquin, explore the backroads of the BC interior on a rented Harley, and take a Ford Escape across the Trans-Labrador Highway. The new books also feature snowmobiling in Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean, mountain biking in Burns Lake, the Bruce Trail, and other experiences that belong on the national bucket list.

Q: You’re originally from South Africa, but immigrated to Canada. What surprises you most about Canada, and the people that live here?

​Canadians don’t know just how good they have it. It’s an exceptional country in an exceptional time in history. There’s a lot of challenges and issues with the environment in particular, but there’s so much to be grateful for. Most Canadians haven’t explored their own country, which is understandable given the distances and costs. But I think there’s more of a burning desire these days to see one’s own country, and domestic tourism is on the increase. I think Canadians, and the world in general, need to realize there’s so much more to this country than the Rockies, Niagara Falls and Quebec City. For more of my thoughts, check out this Love Letter I wrote to Canada. I re-read it all the time. Helps put things in perspective.

Q: What’s on the horizon for Robin Esrock? More Books? TV? Films? Documentaries? Netflix original series perhaps?

​Right now I’m packing for Antarctica! I’ve got 5 regional Bucket List books coming out over the next couple years, and I’m incredibly stoked to be putting together The Great Global Bucket List for Harper Collins, my personal investigation into the world’s best experiences. That’s out in 2016, but I’m spending a lot of time filling in the gaps…Antarctica, the Arctic, Galapagos…bring it on! Would love to do more television, but unless I’m going to lose weight in a wedding dress while pawning off the mystery items in my storage locker, I doubt that’s going to happen. Television these days feels less about inspiration and more about a race to produce the dumbest, most mind-numbing filler one can imagine.

Q: Any advice for the backpackers across the world interested in visiting Canada?

​It’s a big country. If you only have a month, spend some time in one or two regions as opposed to trying to see it all, ​because all you’ll end up seeing is the inside of a bus or airport. There are so many activities and destinations here that are unlike any where else in the world. I know. I looked.

Buy The Great Canadian Bucket List

bucketlist-bookcover-canadaFull of adventure, humour, photos and fun facts, The Great Canadian Bucket List is the definitive list of things to do in Canada before you die.

Renowned travel writer and TV host Robin Esrock spent years visiting every province and territory to craft the definitive national Bucket List. Having travelled to over 100 countries on 6 continents, he never expected Canada to offer so much, and neither will you. This isn”t your typical travel guide – it is an inspiration for your next trip.

Spanning the outdoors, food, culture, history, adrenalin, and quirky, Robin’s personal journey to tick off the very best of Canada features well-known and hidden gems, infused with humour, trivia, advice, and unforgettable characters. Categorized by province and territory, The Great Canadian Bucket List gives readers a firsthand perspective on the ultimate activities and destinations Canada has to offer.

chapters-218The Great Canadian Bucket List is available at major retailers, fine independent bookstores, gift shops and online. The book also allows you to unlock ALL the experiences on canadianbucketlist.com

 

amazon-218Huge special thanks to Robin for taking the time to share his story. He’s an inspirational fellow, and if you ever get a chance to read his book, you’ll be amazed at the quality of content in there. And you may or may not find something I shared in there.

Interview with Robin Esrock – Author of “The Great Canadian Bucket List” is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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