We recognize that for many of you ‘Overlanding’ or a self-drive backcountry adventure is a new activity and as such comes with many unknowns and uncertainties. Over the years we have been operating, and during our time in Southern Africa we really have heard it all and been asked it all. So we thought we would create a little FAQ guide for your perusal.
If you have a question that you think should be added here please leave a comment at the bottom of this post or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly respond and add it to this blog article.
What exactly *is* overland travel or a backcountry adventure?
Around the globe, overland travel or ‘overlanding’ is self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations, where the journey is the primary goal. In Canada, and especially in British Columbia, the wilderness which includes a vast network of unpaved roads is lovingly known as the backcountry. On your backcountry adventure, you’ll be travelling off the beaten path, on unpaved roads, with a chance to discover one hidden gem after another in our spectacular province!
What is backcountry camping like?
As far as we’re concerned, it’s the best way to camp, hands down! You and your loved ones will be able to chart your own course, not just away from the city but also from jam-packed campgrounds and well-known outdoor attractions. Keep your eyes open and you could be setting up for the night on a ridge with gorgeous views of the sunset and sunrise, or close enough to be calmed by the tranquil symphony of a river or stream.
Are there restrictions on where we can set up camp?
Yes, there are some restrictions.
- On Crown Land, you are allowed to camp for free, for up to 14 consecutive days.
- On First Nations lands, you cannot camp without prior permission.
- In National Parks, you can’t camp without a permit.
- In Provincial Parks, you can only camp in designated camping spots.
- Some active logging areas may also have camping restrictions.
What types of campgrounds will I find in B.C.? How do I know what’s right for me?
- Private Campgrounds are owned and run by individuals or companies. Locations vary; they are often outside Provincial Parks and the scenery may not be as nice as other options. Private campgrounds can also be more expensive than Provincial Park campgrounds, but they tend to offer the best amenities: showers, flush toilets, running water, shopping etc.
- Provincial Park Campgrounds are very popular and almost always require advance booking. They are usually in well-shaded and beautiful settings, but generally offer limited amenities, such as pit latrines (no flush toilets). A few have shower facilities, and some have a playground for children and a park attendant selling firewood.
- Recreational Sites are located in more remote or hard-to-reach areas. They operate on a first-come, first-served basis, at prices ranging from free up to $20 per night. You won’t find flush toilets or showers here — the site may not have anything more than a fire pit and a picnic table. But we love recreational sites, which offer spectacular scenery off the beaten path for a beautiful and intimate camping experience.
- Wilderness Spots: Our go-to option! In our travels across Vancouver Island, we’ve found a network of unofficial campsites and wilderness spots that will allow you to fully reconnect with nature. Expect no amenities at all, and make sure you have a back-up plan if you encounter something unexpected. Your comfort level may be challenged a bit, but we won’t send you anywhere that we haven’t camped ourselves — usually with our three-year-old daughter in tow!
What’s the washroom situation?
If you’re headed into the backcountry, bring a trowel and follow the Leave No Trace camping principles. If you’re planning to be out for a while, you might also want to bring a travel solar camp shower with a privacy tent. Provincial campsites offer composting toilets — of varying ages and quality levels, while some private campgrounds offer flush toilets and hot showers.
How can we plan our itinerary for the best backcountry experience?
Start by following these five guiding principles:
- Make a plan, but don’t be too rigid about following it. Embrace your wanderlust and be prepared to go with the flow when things don’t go exactly as expected.
- Allow lots of time at every stage of your journey. Feeling rushed can make you feel stressed — and you might miss out on something incredible along the way.
- Work in times to return to civilization, to re-stock your supplies and look after your personal hygiene.
- If you’re headed out for more than a couple of days, aim for a mix of wildness camping, organized campsites and even the occasional luxury night. The more you balance your experience, the more you’ll appreciate every leg of the journey.
- Consider the needs of everyone in your travelling party. It’s only fun if everyone is comfortable and happy!
From there, we’re more than happy to help you nail down the details. We’re backcountry enthusiasts with years of experience of planning itineraries and routes around B.C.
What best practices should backcountry campers follow?
- Share your route plan. Tell people where you are going and when you plan to be in certain locations, then check in when you get there.
- Do not skimp on your first aid kit or your food and water supplies.
- Always carry spare blankets and warm layers.
- If you plan to leave your vehicle behind at any time, leave a note on your dash. Include your name, contact number, emergency contact details and your planned route with dates.
- Know your limits and stick to them.
What dangers should we be aware of when we head into the backcountry?
Being prepared is the first step toward keeping yourself and your family safe!
- Wildlife: B.C. is home to bears, cougars and wolves. Check out our Bear Safety 101 Blog, from our sister company, FarOut Wilderness with notes on how to keep your bear attractants to a ‘bare’ minimum. And no matter how well-behaved and responsive your pets are, keep them leashed at all times. An off-leash pet can attract wildlife to your campsite.
- Falling Trees: Storms and high winds are common in B.C., any time of year, and can come up suddenly. Check your surroundings carefully before setting up camp.
- Rockslides: Do not camp in areas that are prone to rock falls or rockslides.
- Flash flooding: Seasonal flash flooding is common in some areas. Be prepared and aware — flooding can originate some distance away from your location.
- No Cell Signal: Do not expect to rely on your cell phone in the backcountry, where service is inconsistent at best. We highly recommend the SPOT satellite GPS messenger tool. Its features include an S.O.S. button, one-touch roadside assistance requests, and the ability to connect back to civilization via email or SMS.