This is the second part in our series on preparing for your visit to the wilds of BC. Read part one: What to Expect when Hiking Around Vancouver.
There are a few key items that will help keep you safe and comfortable as you explore the hikes around Vancouver. The following are meant as some suggestions that we find useful, it is by no means an exhaustive list. You are solely responsible for taking the appropriate precautions and equipment for entering wilderness areas. Now, on to the gear!
10 Backcountry Essentials:
Do you know the 10 must-bring items for wilderness troubleshooting? You can likely guess a few of them (hint, map) but here is the complete list; 10 Backcountry Essentials. The Vancouver area trails are wild enough that it wise to bring the 10 backcountry essentials even when heading out for a half-day trip. Better safe than sorry!
Due to a variety of parasites present in the streams and lakes in BC, it is not advisable to drink directly from water sources. Rather, water should be filtered or purified before consumption. There are a variety of easy methods of doing this. Outdoor shops carry water filters, as well as purification drops and tablets. Always plan to carry about 2 litres of water per person when hiking around Vancouver. Not all trails have places to refill water, and with our steep trails, you will find yourself drinking a lot of water.
If you are concerned about encountering bears, you may purchase a bear bell to hang on your backpack to alert bears of your approach. Bear spray is also available at outdoor shops if you wish to carry this hiking. However, it is important that you learn how to use bear spray correctly, or you may end up spraying yourself! If you plan to camp in the Vancouver area, you will need to either store food and scented items such as toothpaste and sunscreen in a bear cache or can, or else learn to do a bear hang, and bring an appropriate bag and rope to do so. You can learn how to do a bear hang from this video.
Since the weather around Vancouver is highly changeable, it can be hard to know how to dress for a hike. Your best bet is to dress in layers, and always bring a waterproof jacket. It really does rain a lot here, even in the summer. For winter snowshoe trips, we often wear a long sleeve merino wool layer under a Gore-Tex jacket, whereas in summer a short sleeved shirt with a raincoat in the backpack is often sufficient. Whether to wear long pants or shorts is up to you, but keep in mind a lot of our trails are overgrown or involve scrambling over rockslides, and legs can get scratched up quickly in shorts.
Due to the rocky, slippery and root covered nature of many of Vancouver’s trails, study footwear is a hiker’s friend. Although you will see people going up the Grouse Grind in flip-flops, we feel this is asking for a twisted ankle. Find something that is comfortable for your feet, and your budget, but ensure that your shoes or boots have a strong sole for gripping wet rocks. Waterproof uppers are also an asset on our muddy trails. Good socks that are not going to give you blisters when they get wet, as well as gaiters to keep mud out of your boots, are also recommended.
Where to Stock up in Vancouver:
Being an outdoorsy kind of place, Vancouver has several places to buy all the essentials for hiking around Vancouver.
The largest store is Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). You need a membership ($5 and valid for life) to shop there. You can buy the membership in the store.
Valhalla Pure is another outdoor shop in Vancouver.
Deakin Equipment is known for their selection of maps and electronics such as GPS.
Atmosphere is the outdoors branch of a large sports retailer, and offers some options for boots, clothing and outerwear.