Not all homes are made from wood, drywall, and stone. Some are fashioned out of denier nylon ripstop and fit in a backpack.
Tents have been around for thousands of years, however, tents today are much different than ones used in Roman times. They’re lighter and sleeker. For any backcountry enthusiast, a tent is a must-have. It’s a sanctuary against snow, ice, wind, rain, and the scorching sun. When your life fits into a backpack, you learn an item's value. You’ll only sweat, toil, and bleed for the important stuff. Of all the things that keep you alive in the backcountry - a tent is essential.
Camping beneath the northern lights in Banff National Park. Photo courtesy of Jon Dickson
In an age when some people have so much, it’s amazing how little you really need. Just 2.25 meters by 1.25 meters will do. Sometimes the cozier the better, as snuggling with your tent partner means a warmer night. Thus, make sure you share a tent with someone you don’t mind getting close to as it just makes the experience more enjoyable. Your “kitchen” may be an open meadow rich with wild flowers, while the “bathroom” could be an oak tree! In the winter, all the “rooms” are different sized snow banks.
Camping on the Wapta Icefields in the CanadianRockies. Photo courtesy of Liam Harrap
For climbers and skiers in remote corners of the world, a good tent is a necessity. Storms can rage for days, and although outside may be frightful, nestled in your sleeping bag reading Fifty Shades of Grey, can be quite delightful.
In the winter, when you’re high in the mountains and camping on a glacier, a good practice is building walls around the tent to offer some protection against the elements. Tent pads are dugout using shovels and flattened with skis. It’s easy finding a good camping spot in the winter, as you just dig one and make it to your liking.
Camp One on Mount Logan - the highest peak in Canada at 5959 meters. Photo courtesy of Liam Harrap
Canadians are tent people. We use them year-round for backpacking, climbing, skiing, hunting, car camping, and even tenting in the backyard as a “mini-vacation”. For me, my tent is my home. I’ve spent over a third of my life under fabric propped up with aluminum poles. It’s the only “house” I’ve ever bought!
A good tent for hiking is only around $300. A Canadian owned company that makes excellent tents and I recommend is Mountain Equipment Co-op, better known as MEC. Their return policy is key, as if you’re not satisfied with your “home”, you can return it, get your money back, or replace it with another. I doubt RE/MAX offers the same deal.
A great example of a tent to buy from MEC. Strong, light, and colourful. Photo courtesy of MEC
Although tents may be a poor person’s home, it can take the owner to sights worthy of kings. You can travel the world without the fret/fuss of motor homes and you can bring it on planes as a carry-on.
Tents are also an essential item to have in the home in case calamity strikes and can act as an emergency shelter. If you have to evacuate due to a natural disaster, grab your tent and sleeping bag. These items make up your home away from home. I'd recommend using a Taiga sleeping bag, they're a Canadian company and the bags are made in Vancouver. They're warm, water-resistant, and carried by the Canadian Air Force for emergency situations. If you had to evacuate, would you be prepared?
"Clifford": The Big Red Tent on the Clemenceau Icefield. Photo courtesy of Liam Harrap
If you’ve never slept the night in a tent, listening to trees creak in the wind, the pitter patter of rain, or a cricket’s love song, my recommendation is that you try it! However, be careful as you may become so enchanted that you’ll sell your house and travel the world. For me, home is where the tent is pitched!
For more information about traveling with tents, visit the Canadian website overstock.ca for more tenting advice.
Houseporn.ca has also celebrated the great outdoors in these previous posts:
Researched and written by Liam Harrap, a master's student in Journalism at Carleton University