Adventuring in Ontario’s Great North is an experience anglers the world over are enjoying in more and more numbers. There are three levels of service offered by many outfitters and lodges specializing in remote off the grid angling experiences: full American Plan, where you don’t worry about a thing and all details are looked after for you; a housekeeping plan, where you are looked after by a camp manager but are responsible for all your own cooking, cleaning, fishing, and so on.
The last level of service, one that is becoming more popular year over year, is the DIY or Do It Yourself adventure where you are literally dropped in the middle of the bush, often on your own private lake, with your own private cabin. You are responsible for everything, as your outfitter will drop you off with all your essentials, then come and get you on a pre-determined date in the future.
DIY camps, or outpost camps as they are also called. are generally outfitted with the basics: dishes, gas powered lamps, boats and fuel, and maybe an emergency satellite phone or solar wifi for emergencies. In our experience at outpost camps, there are five things you need to ensure you have with you to make your stay as comfortable as possible in the wilds of Northern Ontario!
1. Toilet Paper
Be it single ply or triple down-padded feather glory paper, be sure you bring a few rolls of “rolled gold” just in case the camp is out of stock or they don’t supply it in the first place. Keep the extra rolls you have in a waterproof stuff sack or watertight case. Keeping your TP dry and rationing it over the length of your stay makes for a cabin full of happy anglers. The alternative isn’t pretty!
2. Flint and Steel
It may seem highly archaic; however, there is nothing quite like putting your head down on a pillow at night knowing if it were all to hit the fan tomorrow, you’d still be able to make fire to keep warm, dry your wets, cook fish, and purify drinking water. A small flint and steel kept tucked away for emergencies should be in your day pack wherever you go on your DIY adventure!
A smart addition to this is to add some of the lint from your dryer to the watertight container or a few corn chips as a fire starter (they burn in almost any condition). Plus, if you choose a sturdy pocketknife as your steel, you’ve covered your carving bases as well if needed.
3. Extra lantern mantles
Every outpost camp relying on gas lanterns for light should have extra lantern mantles at the camp. However, if you’re anything like me, I usually fry a couple in the beginning while figuring out each individual lamp. They can be finicky, and if not lit properly out of the gate will burn as quickly as a piece of birch bark. So, keep a couple of packages of lantern mantles in your emergency kit just in case you fry a couple in the beginning of your trip.
4. Iodine Pills or manual purification system
Let’s say it all does hit the fan halfway through your outpost camp adventure. The most important things, in order are 1) shelter, 2) water! Even if your flint and steel are lost or ruined and everything else is going south, you still need to supply yourself with drinking water. You can last days without food, but dehydration can be deadly, so bring along a backup water filtration system or purification pills just in case you need it in a pinch! You don’t want to risk the Beaver Fever!
5. First Aid Kit
This can save not only a day’s fishing, but your whole trip in avoiding an untimely emergency call trip to the hospital. Stuff happens in the bush, from fishhooks in fingers to lacerations, and even reactions to bugs; having a well-stocked first aid kit in the bush is a vital piece of equipment to have on your person. This first aid kit should be able to handle minor to medium events. If something serious happens, you should arrange with your outfitter to have an emergency contact system in place to evacuate you if needed.
Outpost camps are a fantastic way to experience unspoiled wilderness in fantastic settings with often trophy opportunities for anglers. Besides having all of your favorite lures, tackle, and your lucky hat and underwear with you, consider these top five items to include to ensure you have a safe and comfortable experience in Ontario’s North Country!