Embracing Wilderness Respectfully: A Guide to Proper Backcountry Camping Etiquette

Make the most of your camping trip in British Columbia with our expert tips. From choosing the perfect campsite to packing essential supplies, we'll help you create unforgettable memories in the great outdoors.

8/3/20233 min read

person sitting near bonfire surrounded by trees
person sitting near bonfire surrounded by trees

Backcountry camping offers a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in the untamed beauty of nature, far from the crowds and distractions of everyday life. However, with this privilege comes the responsibility to practice proper backcountry camping etiquette.

By following these guidelines, we can ensure we leave minimal impact on the environment, respect wildlife and fellow campers, and preserve the wilderness for future generations. Join us as we delve into the essential principles of responsible backcountry camping.

  1. Obtain Permits and Follow Regulations: Before embarking on your backcountry adventure, check with the relevant authorities to secure any required permits or passes. Familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations governing the area you plan to explore, as each location may have unique guidelines to protect its natural resources.

  2. Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Adhering to Leave No Trace principles is the cornerstone of responsible backcountry camping. This means leaving nature as you found it (or better)—without any signs of your presence. Always pack out all trash, including food scraps, and dispose of waste properly following Leave No Trace guidelines. Consider this a way to pay back the land you are on.

  3. Camp on Durable Surfaces: Choose campsites that have already been impacted by previous campers, such as established camping areas or durable surfaces like rock, gravel, or dry grass. Avoid setting up camp on delicate vegetation or near water sources to protect both the ecosystem and water quality.

  4. Keep Campsites Small and Discreet: Maintain a low profile in the backcountry by keeping your campsite small and discreet. Avoid creating large fire rings or structures that could disturb the landscape. Disperse tent sites to minimize impact and preserve the natural beauty of the area.

  5. Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance, using binoculars or a zoom lens for close encounters. Never feed or approach animals, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and create potentially dangerous situations. Remember, we are guests in their homes, and we should respect their space.

  6. Minimize Noise: Allow the sounds of nature to be the soundtrack of your backcountry experience. Keep noise levels low to preserve the tranquility of the environment and respect the peacefulness for fellow campers and wildlife.

  7. Use Stoves Instead of Campfires: In many backcountry areas, campfires are prohibited to protect fragile ecosystems and prevent wildfires. Carry a lightweight camping stove to cook your meals and minimize your impact on the environment.

  8. Respect Other Campers: Give fellow backcountry campers space and privacy. Keep voices down and respect quiet hours to ensure everyone can enjoy the serenity of the wilderness.

And most importantly!!!

  1. Nature Calls: Relieving Yourself Responsibly When nature calls during your backcountry camping trip, it's essential to handle bodily waste responsibly. Follow these guidelines to minimize your impact on the environment.

    1. Use Designated Bathrooms: Some backcountry areas may have established bathroom facilities. Utilize these designated bathrooms whenever available to concentrate human waste in one area, making it easier to manage and minimize environmental impact.

    2. Bury Human Waste: In areas without designated bathrooms, practice proper waste disposal by digging a small hole at least 200 feet away from water sources, campsites, and trails. After using the restroom, cover the waste with soil, leaves, or rocks. This method helps prevent contamination of water sources and minimizes the chances of encountering waste by other campers.

    3. Pack Out Hygiene Products: When it comes to feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, or any non-biodegradable waste, pack it out in a sealable plastic bag. These items can take a long time to break down and may have a detrimental impact on the environment if left behind.

    4. Use Biodegradable Soap Sparingly: If you need to wash dishes or yourself, use biodegradable soap in small amounts and do so at least 200 feet away from water sources. Biodegradable soap helps prevent contaminating water sources with harmful chemicals and ensures aquatic life remains unharmed.

    5. Properly Dispose of Toilet Paper: Toilet paper should be disposed of properly. If you have a fire pit or designated burnable receptacle at your campsite, you may burn toilet paper in small quantities. Otherwise, pack used toilet paper in a sealable plastic bag to carry it out with your other trash.

Conclusion: Embracing proper backcountry camping etiquette is not only a responsible choice but a way to honor the beauty of the wilderness we hold so dear. By following these guidelines, we can enjoy memorable and sustainable experiences while preserving natural treasures for generations to come. Together, let's be stewards of the environment and leave nature as we found it, ensuring it remains a pristine sanctuary for generations of adventurers to come. Happy camping! :)