After packing the day before, we left for Algonquin early on the Sunday morning. From where we live, Algonquin is ~3 hours from us so ideally we like to leave as early as possible to get as much daylight in as possible. We were using Entry Point 3 (Magnetawan Lake) and would be completing 5 portages today, totaling around 2130 meters, to get us to our camp site on Misty Lake for the evening.
The entry point was in good condition with one small dock to set off from. After entering the water you very quickly arrive at your first portage, a quick 135m from Magnetawan Lake onto Hambone Lake. The portage itself is in good condition, but as you can imagine, it gets quite busy during peak hours of entry and exit. Hambone Lake was a nice small lake with a couple of camp sites but before we knew it we were heading over the next Portage (420m) and heading towards the Petawawa River.
Due to the recent (and ongoing) rain the river was nice and high which made for an easy trip down. This section of the paddle was definitely a highlight for me and the time was definitely flying by. Of the portages on the river, the 450m portage ended up being the most muddy/frustrating of the lot. There is a 935m portage at the end which leads onto Misty Lake, but to be honest, we found this one a bit boring as far as the rest of them went.
We were fairly tired by the time we arrived on Misty Lake and took one of the first campsites available to the left of the lake. It had a decent section of rock to enjoy the sun that was left, but a boom box you would rather avoid. Dinner was a sausage, rice and onion concoction and was hugely satisfying after what felt like a long day. We ended up in bed fairly early, as the we knew the next day would be likely just as long.
Day 2 – White Trout Lake
Waking up a bit sore we were hoping our food barrel was going to feel at least a little bit lighter today, but it really didn’t seem to be that way. As you’ll see in our other posts, we don’t always pack lightly when it comes to food (We were looking forward to our steaks that very night).
After finishing our ‘gourmet’ Scrambled Eggs (Ham, Peppers, Tomato etc.) we were back on the lake and heading towards White Trout Lake. Today was basically going to be spent going over 6 portages which were bridging between narrow sections of lake and crossing the various waterfalls and rapids of the Petawawa River. The biggest of the portages today was 850m, and this was first up. The portage was a nice one, and we actually managed to see a couple of snakes on this trail. We continued most of the day winding down the river under a constant light and hazy rain.
By the time we reached Grassy Bay (the Lake just before our destination) the wind was noticeably stronger as everything opened out. Tired, and facing strong winds, we paddled hard through this somewhat confusing lake only to make it on to White Trout Lake for even more wind. The wind was coming directly against us, so we kept an eye out for a nice spot and paddled hard. The initial campsite that we thought was ours was ruined as we got about 150m away and saw someone walk out onto the point to admire their view. We were immediately onto our next spot, a relatively exposed (but nice looking) island near the middle of the lake. The island was great and had a surprising amount of shelter within the trees. We decided this would be home for the next 2 nights, and hoped the wind would cease by the time we had to leave (or AT LEAST blow in our favor).
After completing the usual chores like setting up our bear hang, water filter, tent & kitchen fly we jumped in the lake for a wash and got ready for dinner. Before leaving on our trip we had frozen a large steak which was slowly defrosting in a small cooler bag and this would be dinner for tonight along with some baked potatoes (like I said, the food barrel was not light).
Overnight we had a decent thunder and lightening storm which really kept me awake. It was the loudest storm I have ever heard (nothing like that in NZ) and it was definitely entertaining, if not a bit frightening. The following night on White Trout lake had a storm much the same, if not louder.
Day 3 – White Trout Lake
Spending a full day here was a great idea and allowed us to get in a bit of needed rest. The wind did not let up all day but that wouldn’t stop us enjoying whatever sunshine we could find.
Looking back I’m not sure what we did all day but there was definitely a lot of lying around, reading, Lauren drawing in her coloring in book and whisky being enjoyed. All in all, this was probably one of our favorite days as the relaxation felt well deserved.
Day 4 – McIntosh Lake
I had been using my Garmin In Reach Explorer the previous day in order to give me weather updates for today. Our hope was for less wind, or at least for it to be in the right direction. The Garmin was not predicting this, but we hoped it would be incorrect. It wasn’t to be though and although we woke early to avoid the worst of it, there wasn’t much we could do and we really had our work cut out for us.
We paddled directly against the wind, down White Trout Lake and into Grassy Bay. We didn’t have a particularly long paddle today, but this was definitely making it feel like we did.We continued paddling down Grassy Bay and into McIntosh Marsh, where we had a little bit of relief from the wind and also the opportunity to see a family of Otters. There were only 2 portages today (totaling 1255m) and thankfully neither were particularly difficult. Our final portage opened out to McIntosh Lake and it looked pretty stunning.
For the second time in a row we ended up staying on an island. This one was a pretty awesome little island, and would be a great spot to come with a few friends as it was very spacious and gave you plenty of room for swimming. You can hike the entire island in about 5 minutes, so you pretty quickly got a feeling of familiarity with your surroundings.
By this point in the trip, we were now into our dehydrated meals (We couldn’t quite justify having 6 nights of fresh food). After a bit of evening Cribbage and relaxing we decided to try them out. I had the Forever Young Macaroni and Cheese, Lauren had Pad Thai. These were pretty good, though if I’m being honest I still prefer thisMacaroni and Cheese as my favorite.
Day 5 – Misty Lake
By this point in the trip it did feel a bit like we were on our way home. We had planned this as a stop off for one night so that we didn’t have to work too hard in our last few days (This was supposed to be a vacation after all). The weather overnight on McIntosh and through in to the morning was very nice, and we were finally starting to see clear blue skies.
Between McIntosh Lake and Misty Lake there are only two portages (405m and 845m) with not a lot of paddling, which gave us a long day to relax on Misty Lake. We found a camp site near where we would be exiting the following day, which had a good section of rock to relax on and a nice entry point for swimming. We had a lot of the day left when we arrived, and we spent it the best way we knew how to with swimming, reading, fishing and more whisky to wash it all down.
Day 6 – Little Trout Lake
Today was the day that we hadn’t exactly been looking forward to.. a 935m portage followed quickly by 2435m portage was not exactly how we like to start our day. We had a full breakfast (oats mixed with coconut, trail mix and apples) and got on with it. The weather had continued to be remarkable, and we were beginning our biggest portage of the trip in no time.
To be honest, it was no where near as bad as either of us thought it would be. The track was in very good condition, and there was very little mud, rocks or hills to be wary of. By the time we finished we were both thinking the same thing.. that wasn’t so bad.
Coming out on to Little Trout Lake on the Friday of a long weekend (Labor day) meant we were very concerned with the quality of campsites that would be left. On our paddle in we saw 1 available campsite (That we really did not want) and continued to search for something a bit better. Every single campsite seemed to be taken, however just before giving up, we finally found a half decent site on an island. It didn’t have the sun we hoped for, but it did have more light than the other spot. This would have to do!
Again, we spent the remainder of our day setting up camp and relaxing in the way we usually do. I also had a cigar which I had been saving for the end of the trip so I had to sit down and finish off the whiskey while smoking my celebratory cigar. We ended up doing a paddle of the lake at sunset with our fishing rod, and though we had no luck it was a nice way to spend the evening.
Day 7 – Exit
Our final day exiting the park was spent mostly on Ralph Bice Lake as we paddled towards our original entry point on Magnetawan Lake. Although it was again a sunny day, the Garmin had once again predicted a pretty big wind blowing against us on the way back. I hoped once again for an inaccurate weather forecast, but it was not to be. The wind was really blowing on Ralph Bice Lake and the waves were picking up. We stuck to the sides of the lake and safely paddled our way through it all. Across this trip home there were 3 relatively easy portages, and before we knew it we were then back into civilization at our original entry point.
The trip had been a fantastic one and is an area of the park I would highly recommend. We met multiple people on the different portages, all completing slightly different loops with different lengths and time limitations. If you don’t have 6 nights to spend, I’m sure you can also navigate your own trip using Jeff’s Algonquin map online to meet your needs. If we were going to do it all again, we would likely book in an extra night on McIntosh Lake, as we really enjoyed this lake and an extra days rest is always appreciated.
To a beginner canoe tripper, knowing what to wear while you’re on the move from campsite to campsite isn’t always easy. Although every canoe trip is unique to the individual doing it, most experienced canoe trippers would agree that there are a few essential items of clothing one should wear while on their adventure. Here are four things you should definitely bring and wear on a canoe trip!
1. Multi-purpose Portaging Shoes
There is nothing more important than bringing the appropriate footwear on a canoe trip. The correct footwear can be the difference between an awesome time, or a completely miserable time. Depending on the intensity of your trip, your footwear needs will change slightly, but at the very least, you need something that can get wet (and dry quickly), is comfortable on your feet, fits properly and has decent traction.
Since your feet will constantly be in and out of water when entering and exiting portages, you’ll need to wear shoes that can get wet, and dry quickly. For this reason, Crocs are one of my personal portaging shoes of choice. They are super practical and tick all of the boxes!
I recently purchased the LiteRide Clog after using the classic Crocs clog for all of my previous canoe trips. This new twist on the Croc classic clog is light, supremely comfortable and dries quickly as it doesn’t retain any water. The LiteRide Clog fits a little more closely to the foot verus their classic clog, which makes it better for traversing varied terrain, including mud, roots, rocks, etc.
Crocs also double as a great campground shoe. Because they dry so quickly after being wet, you can continue to wear them around camp. I like to wear a nice thick pair of cozy socks with them, which makes them feel like a fully enclosed shoe. The great thing about this is that I only need to bring one pair of shoes with me while on my trip! Depending on the length of my trip, I will sometimes bring a backup pair of shoes in case something were to go wrong. But, to this day, my Crocs have never let me down!
With all of that being said, the one downside to Crocs as my portage shoe of choice is that the tread and traction they provide is not always the best. They work well the majority of the time, but can sometimes be a let down on muddy slopes or other slippery surfaces.
No matter what shoe you choose, ensure you’ve either broken them in or are 100 (percent) positive they won’t cause you blisters. Bad blisters are one way to put a damper on your trip!
2. Light-Weight, Quick-Drying Hiking Pants
Another item to wear canoe tripping is a pair of light-weight, quick-drying hiking pants. Depending on the temperature, I sometimes opt for shorts, but overall pants are a little more versatile as they keep your legs protected on brushy trails.
My preferred pair of hiking pants are the Splash Roll Up Pant by KUHL. These durable pants are made of a performance cotton blend, which dries quicker than regular cotton and offers stretch for freedom of movement. I love these women’s hiking pants for portaging especially for their roll up feature, which keeps the bottom of my pants dry when exiting and entering the canoe. I can then easily roll them back down when I’m headed out on the portage, to protect my ankles from brush and bugs. The many pockets also make storing various small items handy, like my folding knife.
While wearing these pants on a recent canoe trip, I actually ended up falling over into the lake while putting our food barrel into the canoe. The muddy banks of the portage exit were extremely slippery and I took a wrong step. My KUHL pants were soaked through. As unpleasant as it was to be in soaked pants as we paddled and portaged on, they dried extraordinarily quickly. I was very pleased!
3. Proper Rain Jacket
No matter how much you may pray to the rain gods to spare their precipitation on your trip, Mother Nature often has other plans. That’s why you must always be prepared! Often up north, in parks like Algonquin, the weather can change quickly without much warning. I always keep my rain jacket handy in my small Sealine bag in case the weather changes for the worst.
Staying dry is important during a portage, or when you’re out on the water. It can be hard to dry off and warm up after becoming soaked to the bone, so staying dry will prevent future discomfort. In order to do this, you need a rain jacket that will protect you from the elements!
The summer, I purchased the Helly Hansen Long Belfast Rain Jacket. I love this jacket for a few reasons. Firstly, the length. Having a long rain jacket protects your bottom and the back of your thighs from becoming soaked, which is great. It also comes in handy when sitting on wet surfaces, like logs or rocks, around the campsite. This jacket is also completely waterproof and windproof with an adjustable hood and full lining, so you can rest assured that you’re protected from the elements.
While this jacket is not the highest performance jacket that Helly Hansen offers, it’s a great looking, multipurpose rain jacket. For those that don’ want to splash out the cash for a casual rain jacket and performance rain jacket, this jacket is the best of both world. Suitable for portaging out in the wilderness, and stylish enough to wear to work.
4. Warm Merino Layer
Even during summer months, the weather in northern Ontario can be quite cool. So it’s a no-brainer when it comes to having a warm layer while in the canoe or on the portage. Having the correct type of layer is crucial though, as certain fabrics can be more detrimental than helpful when in the outdoors.
When it comes to layering, merino wool is where it’s at. The list of merino benefits go on and on, but it’s highly breathable, wicks away moisture easily, resists odours and dries quickly – all benefits that make it a great option for canoe tripping.
My personal favourite merino base layer is the Smartwool NTS 250 Zip Tee. It’s incredibly soft and durable and provides the extra warmth I need, either as a layering piece, or on its own.
Note: All of the opinions shared in this article are my own!
In order to get outdoors more often, I think you need to remove as many barriers as possible. These tips are based around reducing effort to go on your next trip, and to keep yourself comfortable while you are out there. They’re all little things, many of which you might already do, but hopefully you can pick up a couple of new ideas to keep in mind for your next trip.
1. Clean, dry, maintain gear immediately after a trip
For example, make sure if you notice your stove is running a bit sluggish that you maintain this upon return, your tent/everything is stored dry (and washed), your water filter is clean, First Aid kit is replenished etc. Although it can be tough this is a great habit to have and will extend the life of your gear, but also mean there is no nasty surprises when you get your gear out for your next trip.
2. Create a camping checklist for your gear
I personally have an Excel document for both Winter and Summer camping. Each time I go camping I often think of something that would be better or lighter and make a note (either on my phone or in a notepad) as to what I should change in my list. My list is constantly evolving to allow me to fine tune my gear and remove waste.
3. Wear in your shoes
If you have new shoes, make sure you wear them in before taking them out. I completely forgot this on one trip and paid the price in some blisters which I still have the scar for today. One of the tips I have successfully used is to sleep in the shoes (to Lauren’s delight), the warmth helps to mold the shoe to the shape of your foot.
4. Count ounces save pounds
I’ll often count the weight of whatever equipment I bring. Often it means spending extra money but every little bit counts. For example, the difference between a modern Thermarest and an older sleeping pad is huge in both space and weight. Though my pack is not necessarily always light, saving this weight allows me to ‘spend’ the weight in other ways that I enjoy e.g. a few cans of beer and to me this extra cost is worth the options it gives me every time I go hiking.
5. Store your gear in one (dry) location
I keep most of my smaller pieces of gear in one large draw in my room and some of the larger pieces in the garage. The key is that you know where everything is so that when it comes time to head out for another trip, your life is much easier when packing. I find I’m more likely to go on small weekend trips when the effort to get ready is minimized.
6. Line your backpack with a garbage bag
An ultra cheap and ultra lightweight way to make sure that the contents in your backpack will stay dry.
7. Vehicle safety at a trail-head
When you leave your vehicle at the trailhead I’d recommend leaving the glovebox, centre console etc. open. Doing this will make it obvious to a potential thief that there is nothing of value in the car so they will not bother to break a window.
8. Maximize the warmth in your sleeping bag
One idea that I see occasionally (but I’ve never actually tried) is to heat up some water, put it in a water bottle, then use this as a hot water bottle. Another, which I’ve used more often in below freezing temperatures, is to sleep with the clothes that you intend to wear the next day in the foot of your sleeping bag. This means in the morning you are not putting on freezing clothes, and the extra packing in the sleeping bag is a bit warmer on your feet too.
9. Zip locks for everything
They are a cheap and easy way to have waterproofing for any electronics you’re carrying, you can even use your touch screen through them. For your food, this is a good way to get rid of excess packaging and weight plus it will mean you can keep the food fresh if you open it earlier in the trip.
10. Take a ‘bush shower’
Whenever I go camping I enjoy bringing along a packet of biodegradable baby wipes with me. These are amazing for when you want to give yourself that clean feeling but do not want to get in a lake for whatever reason (or there isn’t one nearby). You’d be surprised how great it feels to grab a few of these and wipe yourself down after a hard days work.
Do you have any other tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments below. We’d really like to continuously add to this page as useful and unique tricks come through.
The day finally arrived in mid-June to depart for a 5 day boys fishing trip with a couple of mates in the Kawartha Highlands (Jason, James, Dusan and I). I had never met Jason or James before, but the great thing about doing a trip like that is the amount of new tricks you can learn from different people. The weather was forecast to be a bit miserable, but after months of waiting nothing was going to dampen our spirits. Since living in Canada I had not been out fishing at all, and this was the trip that was going to finally change all of that!
Leaving nice and early from Toronto we set off for Kawartha around 8am. Before arriving at our entry point we would make a few stops for food and groceries; including splurging on a few nice Tomahawk steaks at a local butchery for about $130! Not something I can say I’ve ever done before..
Once arriving at our entry point at Long Lake 2 of our friends stopped off at the rental office, which was conveniently located, to pick up their canoe. Putting in, the weather was definitely holding out well and the sun was shining. A gentle few hours paddle later (with no portages!) and we ended up at our first camping site. It was a decent site, though perhaps not as remote as I had hoped for.
After setting up the tents and general camp duties, we decided to try our luck with some of the fishier looking spots. First cast in and I was hooked up immediately! Great stuff for my first cast in Canadian waters! Although things slowed down from there, we had caught and released a good 6-12 small mouth bass over an hour or 2.
The highlight of the night though had to be our 6lb of Tomahawk steak we had purchased. Cooking it as thoroughly as we could over the camp fire we had a go at getting stuck into it. Sure, there were a few parts that were a bit rarer than I’d normally eat, but overall it was amazing! Not something I’ve ever thought to bring on a back country camping trip, but why not.
Definitely the biggest steaks of had in the backcountry
We all had a pretty leisurely breakfast of hash browns & eggs before packing up and heading off on our next trip further into the park. As we headed out at around 11am, the weather was again consistent with a slight mist which made the scenery all the more impressive. Today had only a few short portages, and 1 somewhat difficult portage due to the terrain.
After a few hours paddle, and coming out of our final portage, we couldn’t help but cast our line into what looked like some promising territory.. and it was amazing! Dusan and I hung around for a few hours with amazing success! Although we didn’t find anything more than 4 or so pounds, it was definitely one of the more memorable and scenic fishing spots I’ve ever cast into.
After giving the fishing a break, we carried on with our paddle to catch up with Jason and James who had already set up camp. Although there were more bugs, this site was much better than the first. Far more remote and peaceful, you could really feel yourself finding your groove in the wilderness.
Spot of fishing before getting out for the first portage
Once again, no one could resist a nice leisurely breakfast of hash browns & eggs before heading off to our next campsite. We passed through about 3 portages, with 2 being quite memorable around the 750 meter mark. We finally arrived on a larger lake which is where we planned to stay for 2 nights. Although this looked like a more popular lake, we had heard good things about the fishing and wanted to spend a bit more time in one area so that we could really make the most of it.
To be honest, compared to some of the more ‘remote’ lakes we visited this probably ended up with the worst fishing of the lot. Not to say it was bad, but we had been spoilt over the previous few days. To be fair, it did have a lot of beaver activity though, which is always cool to see.
Not the biggest fish, but a bit of fun so I’ll take it
With no where to be today, there was now definitely no reason to be rushing our multiple stages of breakfast and coffee! After getting this down we took advantage of a fishing map Dusan had purchased prior the trip and eyed up a spot in the north east corner of the lake.
After a 30 minute paddle and with high hopes for some large mouth bass, we cast in. Dusan almost immediately hooked a massive large mouth bass, but losing it in the final stages of pulling the fish out of the water and into the canoe. After about 30 more minutes of very little action, I noticed a huge large mouth following my lure up to the canoe. With a bit of jiggling the bass took the worm right in front of me. After a decent fight, this one too ended up getting away! the moment we pulled it out of the water the weight of the bass snapped my 12lb line and it was a goner.
The remainder of the day’s fishing was so-so but the weather was great. After getting back home we filled the remainder of the day with swimming, eating and sleeping. Before you knew it you were cooking dinner next to the final fire of the trip. This evening was the clearest of the lot. As the night sky came up, Mars was out in full brightness which was definitely something awesome to see.
Beautiful Kawartha sunset to finish off the trip
Not ones to break tradition, we finished off the remainder of the eggs and hash browns. Somewhat surprised by how well these kept, it is something I will likely bring on further trips. A bit of paddling and one of the easiest 400m portages of my life, and we were back at the car. Slowly packing up and preparing to return to civilization after a great trip.
Note: If you are interested in any of the fishing spots we visited, let me know in the comments, happy to provide GPS coordinates on an individual basis.
If you’re getting antsy for a back country trip, and no buddies who are keen to come with you in the near future, you have one option: solo camping. Doing anything for the first time can be a bit daunting. and requires a bit of thought on your own behalf as to whether your personally ready to pop that cherry. Over the years I’ve heard various and vastly different opinions on the topic ranging from “Give it a go” to “You should NEVER”. To me, this is one of those topics where you are probably going to do whatever you want to do, but I encourage to atleast consider the below questions on the topic beforehand.
What if I get lost?
If you are considering getting out into the wilderness on your own for the first time, you really should be picking a plan that is simple and very difficult to get lost on. For whatever reason, something else could happen though, and you have to deviate from your plan mid trip. So, make sure you understand this risk, and potentially do what you can to minimize the risk such as:
Carry a compass and map
Study the map beforehand
Carry a GPS with topographical maps
What if I hurt myself?
I think this is probably the most common concern, and probably the most valid to be asking yourself. It’s a real risk and something you should take seriously. There are things you can do to minimize this risk:
You shouldn’t ever be relying on 1 piece of equipment to keep you safe, so make sure you have the abilty to fall back on another piece of equipment or methodology to keep you as safe/comortable as possible. Some of the things I would take into account are:
Clean drinking water – Filter, Purification Pills, Boil
Shelter – Tent, Tarpaulin, Emergency Blanket
Warmth/cooking – Stove, Fire with multiple methods of starting the fire (matches, lighters etc. kept in separate waterproof places)
What if I am attacked?
Follow general guidelines for keeping safe e.g. hanging food away from camp, maintain tidy campsite etc. and this should not really be a big concern. Ensure you understand the wild life in the area and what you can further do to keep safe should an encounter occur. If the worst happens, use your First Aid kit and if applicable, activate an emergency locator.
What else should be front of mind?
Weather – This can change but make sure you have a close eye on the most recent forecast for your area
Daylight hours – Things take longer when you’re on your own. Make sure you plan accordingly.
Gear – I did have to buy some gear specific for solo camping, as it just made no sense to carry in big food barrels, pots & pans etc.
..So why do it?
I love doing the occasional solo trip, and I am by no means an expert in hiking/camping/canoeing. Perhaps I shouldn’t really be out there alone with this skill set, but there are a couple of reasons why I enjoy it and choose to do so (taking precautions and planning simple trips):
Develop your own skills rapidly
Build confidence in your abilities outdoors
Do exactly what you want, when you want to.
Any of the above risks COULD happen to you, and you should be realistic and comfortable with this risk. Personally, when I go back country solo I am still in areas where other humans are likely to come nearby over the course of the day (e.g. a day or two’s paddle from a popular spot). Depending on what you are trying to get out of your experience this may not be enough. I would then recommend some way to communicate with the outside world that you are in an emergency situation, such as the Garmin inReach Explorer. Otherwise, my own opinion is give it a go!!
After spending a cold and snowy winter with my Rab Xenon X jacket, I feel I am now ready to give you all a full review. The Xenon X is an insulated jacket made from synthetic insulation (Primaloft) compared to the usual natural down that I would normally wear. This jacket came with me on winter camping trips, day hikes & general errands most days. So, overall, what did I think? If I had to put it into one word it would have to be: Versatile.
When I first found the jacket in store I had a bit of a hard time deciding whether I should really buy the jacket. It is a lightweight jacket (343 grams) and compared to a natural down jacket, it just didn’t look up to the job. Based on what I had read online however, I figured I would at least give the Rab a shot. And overall, I am glad to say I did!
What’s to love
The Xenon X is water resistant, and being made from synthetic insulation it does not lose it’s insulation properties when wet. I first noticed this when tobogganing, and generally mucking around in some pretty heavy snowfall. I lasted the night in the jacket without ever really feeling cold or damp, which was more than what others in jackets twice the size could say that night.
The Xenon X is breathable. This is something you often sacrifice when you go to waterproofed jackets, which means you end up getting wet one way or another! I used this jacket when snowboarding for full days and I have to say, it did a great job. Sure, it still got a bit damp, but it definitely exceeded my expectations here as well.
The warmth in the Xenon X jacket is good, though given it’s size and weight, it really is amazing. I was able to wear this on many occasions running errands or day hiking (around 0°C). For winter camping or times where you will be stationary in below 0 temperatures, you will likely want something warmer or have a good layering system to work with. One of my favorite things about the jacket is that it is not too hot when you are on the move, so you can mostly avoid perspiration.
What’s to improve
I only had one issue with the jacket, the main zipper. After about a month of use the zipper box on this jacket broke on me and made it very difficult to completely do up the jacket. Manufacturing defects happen, and I’m sure this is rare, so I don’t hold it too much against the jacket itself. I will eventually return this to Rab under warranty, however in the meantime I have too many uses for the jacket so it still is with me.
Reading the online description for the Rab Xenon “designed for fast-and-light activities” I would 100% agree. If you intend to be active in temperatures that are somewhere between -10°C and 10°C this jacket is ideal. The Rab Xenon may not deal so well with some of the extremely cold days in winter, but for the large majority of weather conditions it works great. As much as being cold sucks, it sucks just as much to be overheating, which seems to happen all to easily with a lot of the larger jackets designed for ‘extreme’ weather.
Article written by Ben Faulknor.
Note: This article is not sponsored or endorsed by Rab. There has been no payment, or product given to us by Rab, and there are no affiliate links within this article.
The end of winter is near, but there is still plenty of time to get out there and try winter camping in Ontario!
If you’ve been on the fence about giving winter camping a try, why not ease into it by trying a weekend in a yurt or heated cabin? You’ll have access to all of the great activities some of the Ontario parks offer, without having to fully embrace the cold.
Ontario has seven parks that offer heated yurts and/or cabins during the winter months. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there are also plenty of opportunities for campground and backcountry camping.
If keeping warm at night is more your thing, or you’re not quite ready to dive in all the way, a yurt or cabin is a great option for you! Here’s where you can find yurts to give winter camping in Ontario a try:
One of Ontario’s most beautiful provincial parks, Killarney’s George Lake Campground is home to 6 yurts. Each yurt has electric heat, lighting and power and can sleep up to 6 people.
Outside of the yurt you’ll have your own BBQ, picnic table fire pit and food storage box. There is also access to washrooms with hot water and flushing toilets near the park office. The yurts are available year-round so there is no timeline that you need to adhere to in order to give it a try!
The only downside to the yurts at Killarney (and it’s not much of one) is that you’ll have to carry (or toboggan) your gear about 500 meters from the front campground gate to your yurt.
From the campground, you have access to over 33 kilometres of scenic hiking, snowshoe and cross-country ski trails.
A reservation is required to use the yurts and bookings can be made online.
Ontario’s most well-known provincial park, Algonquin, is open year round to enjoy and is just as spectacular in the winter as it is in the summer month (if not more!)
Algonquin’s Mew Lake Campground is located midway through the park on Highway 60, and is the only developed campground open in the winter. You can obtain a permit for this campground from either the West or East Gate upon entry into the park.
The campground features 131 campsites, and 7 yurts. Yurts must be reserved online prior to visiting. There are several comfort stations located within the campground, featuring showers and flush toilets.
There is plenty to do around the campground and nearby. You can skate or play hockey on the ice rink (a flooded parking lot within the campground), or snowshoe and cross-country ski on the extensive nearby trails. There is quick access to the Algonquin Highland Trail from the campground, which makes for a good day or multi-day hiking adventure.
Arrowhead Provincial Park is one of the most popular winter parks in Ontario for its wide range of activities on offer! It’s well known for its scenic ice skating trail that winds through the forest.
There are also plenty of other winter activities on top of skating, including skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. Cross country skis, skates and snowshoes are all available to rent at the main gate of the park. Tubes are provided free of charge!
Arrowhead has 2 yurts and 6 cabins that are available for reservation throughout the year. Inside, they are equipped with kitchenettes, tables and chairs, and a fireplace. Outside, you’ll find a BBQ and picnic table.
See another side of Silent Lake Provincial Park by experiencing it in the winter! This Ontario park offers a variety of great activities as well, including over 40km of cross-country skiing trails, snowshoeing and ice fishing.
The trails in the park boast a wide array of terrain, including hardwoods, cedar swamps and groves of White Birch. Some of the terrain is quite rugged, but is still suitable for all members of the family.
If camping here overnight is of interest to you, there are 6 yurts available to reserve. Three of the yurts have woodstoves, and all of them include beds, tables, chairs, BBQs, picnic tables and fire pits. If the glamper in you is concerned about facilities, don’t be! There are comfort stations with flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities.
Windy Lake Provincial Park is known for some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Northeast Ontario region. The park has a 15km long trail network that is suitable for both beginners and advanced skiers.
There are 4 yurts, which can be reserved online. The yurts are tucked away along the trail and require a short 16m walk to access them. If you’re unable to reserve a yurt, there are 93 drive-in sites, or 7 walk-in sites available if you’re interested in roughing it a bit more.