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Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

Perth, Australia
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Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

My wife and I will arrive in Canada for the 1st time at the end of May next year, we have heard that there are many beautiful and natural places to camp on our travels? We will get a rental car in Vancouver and spend at least 4 weeks , maybe 6 weeks doing some sort of a loop around some scenic places. My question is , where is a good place in Vancouver to buy all our camping equipment that we will need including, a tent , air mattress, gas cooker etc... ?

Also any recommended routes would be very appreciated (where we could pitch a tent and relax ,m hike and sight see), we would like to see Lake Louise and any other places of natural beauty that Canada is well known for, coming from Australia it will all be very new to us and we are really looking forward to arriving! Thank you in advance!

Dean

vancouver
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1. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

Try here www.mec.ca/Main/home.jsp…

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

MEC is great for high quality gear and I recommend browsing their website, but for most of your basic gear head to Canadian Tire, they are quite a bit cheaper. WalMart is another option.

For camping, start with the BC Parks website. I would recommend you try to stay in provincial parks as you are tent camping. They do fill up, esp on weekends, so you will need to reserve ahead.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

If you'll be camping during May long weekend (which in 2014 will be May 17 - 19), you will want to make a reservation -- it's a big weekend for camping (although it always seems to rain here). Weekdays in May/June should not be a problem. You might want to reserve for the weekends just to be safe. For camping in late May into June, be sure to have good rain-gear and get a water-proof tent (I would recommend MEC). If you're not planning on taking your equipment back with you, you might also look into renting some of it -- MEC rents tents, sleeping bags etc. mec.ca/AST/…rentals

Edited: 30 October 2013, 15:40
Vancouver BC
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4. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

For the casual camper I'd look at http://www.canadiantire.ca/en.html since they are everywhere.

Edited: 30 October 2013, 16:02
Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

The Canadian Tire tents are actually pretty good when they are new. It all depends on how long you are planning to keep and use the equipment. I've looked at the rental tents from MEC and for that length of time, you'd be much better off buying a Coleman tent from Canadian Tire. I would assume that you would find a motel if you hit some bad weather.

May is early. I would stick to the coast and Vancouver Island until about mid-June, then head into the mountains. This article will give you some ideas for routes between Vancouver and the Rockies

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154922-c120076/Briti…

Vancouver Island is a wonderful destination that deserves a week or two all on its own. Spend some time looking at the options on BC ferry routes to and from the island, as there are a few good options for circle routes using different ports on and off the island. If you are looking at heading into the US, there are also two US ferries that serve the south tip of the island.

North Vancouver...
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6. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

Dean

Dayhikes or overnights?

4 to 6 weeks is a nice amount of time.

Mountains, ocean, forest? What's your preference? How fit are you and your wife? Experienced or not?

MEC of course is fine but your first stop can be at their Broadway location. It's surrounded by other outdoors stores including Valhalla Pure, Altus, Taiga etc. All of these stores sell dedicated camping gear that can take a decent amount of wear and tear. Canadian Tire which others have mentioned is more for car camping and light use. Not to say that Canadian Tire gear is bad; more to say that it tends to be heavier and not take as much wear.

By the end of May the alpine will still have snow. Towards the end of June you *might* be able to poke your head in the alpine. This advice applies to almost all of Western Canada including the Canadian Rockies towards Banff/Canmore/Calgary and the Selkirks towards Revelstoke.

Try to stay flexible and watch for weather. The article linked to above is useful but misses out a route that winds into drier parts of the country but still with huge precipitous mountains and lots of hiking options - that route is Hwy 99 from Vancouver to Pemberton then on to Lillooett and then which joins back to the TransCanada Hwy 1 via Lytton. it's profiled here tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g154943-d1…

Keep drier options in mind when considering your plans.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

Good points - are you looking for car camping gear or backpacking gear? It makes a difference. If you are looking to do overnight and multi day backpacking trips as part of this, then the advice changes slightly.

Jasper, Canada
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8. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

We did a camping trip for two weeks at the end of May last year in the Shuswap and Okanagan areas, just after the long weekend, staying in popular BC Parks campgrounds in those areas. They were almost completely empty! I would definitely reserve for the long weekend (but it doesn't sound like you will be here then), but after that, I wouldn't worry about it.

You will want GOOD sleeping bags, since the nights are still cool in May and early June, especially in the Rockies. (We typically can have below freezing temperatures overnight until early June, and even later at higher elevations along the Icefields Parkway). I would suggest a synthetic 3-season bag, and I would suggest shopping for these (or renting) at MEC rather than buying at Walmart or Canadian Tire. These last two usually have cheaper but low quality bags. The key to enjoying a camping trip is keeping warm and dry at night.

Vancouver
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9. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

Yes, the area around Broadway from Cambie to 4-5 blocks east is full of choices. Canadian Tire and 3 Vets for basic stuff, MEC, Taiga, and Vallhalla (and many others on this strip) for technical gear. No, Canadian Tire gear isn't as high quality, but for a 4-6 week car camping trip, it's fine.

Do not under buy tarps and rope. If you tarp your site well, you won't test the waterproofing on your tent and other gear.

Think of taking the southern route on your way out, then driving north through Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, then looping back west from Jasper on the Yellowhead Hwy 16. The area between Prince George and Smithers is pretty amazing wilderness. Then head back down south on the 97, stop somewhere in the Chilcotin/Cariboo area for good fishing on uncrowded lakes (I had a great time this August at Green Lake, around 70 Mile, but there are many others). Then just north of Cache Creek, take the 99 back to the lower mainland, as outlined by Lee L above. Tons of spectacular parks through here.

Get a BC Recreational Atlas. It will show both Forestry Service sites (often free or very cheap) as well as Provincial parks. There are some absolutely incredible free sites on the 99 between Lillooet and Pemberton, but they can be tricky to find and might fill up on weekends. They are empty on weekdays though.

As others have already said, May/June is still early, and any of the above suggestions are very weather dependent. Some years it will be OK, some years impossible. If you have the budget to combine camping and motels, your range opens up as well.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Where in Vancouver to shop for camping equipment?

Army and Navy has good prices.....it used to be the "go to" place. Still is pretty good.

And, I would bypass the expensive Broadway stores like MEC and go to Three Vets.

It's been around for 50+ years and is the best.

http://www.3vets.ca/