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Summer Travel Tips from Acclaimed Explorer Bruce Kirkby

Summer Travel Tips from Acclaimed Explorer Bruce Kirkby

Canada has 79 days of summer and we’ve got Bruce Kirkby here to help you make the most of them, especially while enjoying one of Canada’s favourite pastimes — camping.

For Bruce, sleeping in a tent is no different than sleeping in a hotel room. He is an acclaimed explorer, writer, and photographer with journeys spanning more than 80 countries and 2000 days. His travels include the first modern crossing of Arabia’s Empty Quarter by camel, a raft descent of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Gorge, a sea kayak traverse of Borneo’s northern coast, and a coast-to-coast Icelandic trek. But when the summer months hit, there is no where he’d rather be than immersed in Canada’s wilderness.

“We spend so much time removed from nature, and I really believe people respond to nature in deep and powerful ways. I’ve seen it in my own children, in the adults I guide on trips, and it grows more powerful with time,” Bruce said.

Camping images

Camping: A Love Story

Growing up, Bruce’s family would spend their summers camping in Canada’s provincial parks, canoeing, swimming, and exploring.

“I’ve always loved the water,” he said, “and I was big into fishing. I would snorkel all day to find lures and hooks to fill my tackle box with.”

Bruce credits camping, and wilderness trips in general, with teaching him about being human. It enhances our ability to navigate challenge and put it in perspective, he said. While you’re camping, things happen. Your stovetop could stop working, your tent could fall down, and you have no choice but to deal with it. And by dealing with it, he said, you begin to realize that none of the wrenches thrown at you in life have to be catastrophic. Everything has a solution.

Must-Have Camping Gear: From Beginners to Experts

Bruce Kirkby

Having spent a good chunk of his life in a tent, Bruce knows exactly what you need to make your camping experience the best it can be.

The “must-haves” for camping are a balance between comfort and bulk, Bruce said. Too often, people, especially those new to camping, will gravitate towards these big inflatable mattresses and massive tents for comfort, but then camping becomes so bulky and cumbersome that you start avoiding it. You can prioritize comfort without overburdening yourself with equipment.

“I have a buddy that I do all my really hard expeditions with,” Bruce said. “We started travelling together about 10 years ago. The very first time we camped together, he pulled out an inflatable pillow, and I said, ‘What is this? Who are you? All you need is a big pile of clothes shoved under your head. That’s what real campers do!’

“Of course, that pile of clothes always slips out in the middle of the night, and you wake up with a kink in your neck. So, before the next trip, I ate my words and bought one of those pillows. It folds up smaller than your fist, and I still use it to this day.”

Whatever you need — tent, warm clothes, pillow, mattress pad, etc. — lightweight gear is your best friend to balance weight vs. comfort.

Essential Beginner Camping Gear

If you’re a beginner camper, Bruce’s first piece of advice is to not be embarrassed about your newness. People seem to think there is a secret about camping that other people know. There’s no one way to do it, Bruce said, so don’t worry too much about it. Just enjoy.

To get you started, you’ll need a tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. Borrow whatever you can to try out different gear and figure out what works best for you, Bruce said. Try to avoid those really big tents that are popular today, he added. They’re prone to wind and fall over all the time. Also, invest in a headlamp. It’s nice to have your hands free at night.

Essential Gear for the Intermediate Camper

As you increase in experience, Bruce said, you’re likely not driving into your campsites anymore. As soon as you leave the road behind and start walking or paddling to your site, the weight of your gear becomes even more crucial. The first big change Bruce recommends is finding a lightweight stove and fuel cannister — you can get a stove not much bigger than your fist and still cook food for your entire family, Bruce said.

You also need a solid series of outfits, Bruce added, so you are comfortable and safe no matter the weather. Don’t bring jeans and cotton t-shirts. There’s an old camping adage, he continued, cotton kills. You need to look for quick drying pants and synthetic shirts.

Your Canadian Camping Bucket List

As you can guess, Bruce has seen a lot of places. He has traveled Canada from coast to coast to coast. Many people ask him if he has started running out of ideas or places to visit. But it’s the opposite, he said. “The more you travel, the more ideas, opportunities, and possibilities open before you.”

Some of the places he recommends to fellow campers is Algonquin Park. He hitchhiked there when he was just 16 years old — seems crazy to think about doing that now, he added. He rented a canoe, portaged to the end of a lake, and marveled at the exposed Canadian Shield that surrounded him.

While Algonquin Park is known to many, a place that surprised Bruce is northern Saskatchewan. He and his family have taken several canoe trips along Churchill River. It’s similar to Algonquin, he said, with exposed Canadian Shield and a Group of Seven-style landscape. But there are no people, unlike Algonquin.

Other places Bruce recommends is Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and the coast of British Columbia, which is filled with beaches and rainforests. As well as the Canadian Arctic, which is hot and warm in the summer. You can’t go north and not fall in love with it, he added.

Hire Bruce Kirkby to Speak at Your Next Event

Bruce’s love of nature, exploration, and adventure is infectious. He brings this passion to every stage. His keynotes are built around stories as they are a powerful tool for connection, he said. It allows all of us — no matter where we are in our lives at the moment — to take in what we need. “I’m very aware I’ve been in places and situation that my audiences haven’t,” Bruce said. “I share stories to narrow that divide.”

Bruce’s travels have taken him from the world’s highest mountains to the wildest rivers and driest deserts. He draws on these experiences to provide real-world, practical lessons on resilience, risk management, workplace safety, and change leadership, helping individuals and organizations confront fears, embrace change, and find lasting success.

Contact us to learn more about Bruce Kirkby and what he can bring to your next event.

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