Camping Reimagined

Mountain Equipment Company is upgrading your camping experience

By Michaela Ludwig

When it comes to camping, the idea of “roughing it,” of enduring uncomfortable nights just to be closer to nature, is a thing of the past.


Sure, campers today still want to be able to enjoy all the things the great outdoors has to offer, but they want to be warm, comfortable and protected while they’re doing it.



“We are seeing a lot more people getting out, but they may not have a lot of backcountry camping experience,” said Mark Knight, manager of advanced concepts with Mountain Equipment Company (MEC.) “This has led us to develop new frontcountry camping products that are easier to use. We want everyone to have a great time outdoors and we want them to be as comfortable as possible.”


Knight explained MEC has been melding the technology that goes into their backcountry camping equipment, making it lighter and more compact, with the convenience and ease that makes their frontcountry camping equipment so user friendly. And vice versa – MEC’s backcountry camping essentials have undergone a facelift to make them easier to use and more comfortable.


“We’re seeing a crossover where people can have it all,” he said.


For example, MEC’s frontcountry camping tents are taller, so campers aren’t having to crouch down all the time, and they come with more venting, pockets and storage options than previous versions. The DriBase waterproof flooring, as well as the sealed seams and the awning on the fly, all mean campers will never wake up soggy. The MEC Cabin 2.0 and the MEC Base Camper will both house four to six people comfortably, depending on the size you get.


MEC’s frontcountry tents are designed with families in mind, but Knight agreed they also make a great option as a base camp set up for those looking to camp and spend their days out hiking, biking, boating, etc.

MEC’s advancements in camping technology don’t stop at the tent, however; they want the ease and comfort to carry on inside, as well, with items such as their sleeping pads and sleeping bags ensuring campers stay warm, dry and comfortable all night long. The MEC Reactor 10 Double Sleeping Pad is a double-wide mattress that will rival your mattress at home when it comes to its power to lull you to sleep after a busy day outdoors, while the Reactor 6.5 Sleeping Pad is made for a single person looking to count sheep from the safety of their tent. The technology that has gone into developing MEC’s sleeping pads ensures that their reduced weight and compact size doesn’t impact their comfort and the R-value of these two pads makes them ideal for winter camping excursions.


When you combine a MEC sleeping pad with one of MEC’s deluxe sleeping bags, such as the Fireside Double Sleeping Bag, the Creekside, the Centaurus Wide or the Centaurus Junior (for kids), camping has never felt so luxurious. The MEC Fireside Double Sleeping Bag, for example, is big enough for two, the dual zipper allows you to open up the bag if one of you gets too warm in the night and it comes with adjustable straps that hold the bag in place on the pad. The Creekside is a single-person sleeping bag that offers the best bang for your buck and is perfect for your summer camping experience. The Centaurus Wide is also a one-person sleeping bag, but it’s designed in what’s called the mummy shape – wider at the top and narrower at the bottom for your legs and feet. This bag is ideal for backpackers, so you know it’ll pack up small and fit nicely in your SUV, but it’s also a perfect solution for those shoulder-season camping trips when the nights are chilly.


If you’re aiming for a top-tier camping experience, then you can’t forget to top your MEC sleeping pad and sleeping bag with the MEC Deluxe Pillow. Yes, a camping pillow. No more bringing the perfect-for-your-head pillow from your bed (only to bring it home again smelling like a campfire) – this pillow is compact and light enough to pack anywhere and you can inflate it as much or as little as you want for that perfect fit, it only takes a few breaths. The pillow is made with open-cell foam scraps left over from making the sleeping pads, so nothing is wasted. Knight said he finds the MEC Deluxe Pillow so comfortable that he packs it when he travels, not just for camping.


For an all-around enjoyable camping experience, MEC also has high-quality, durable furniture and storage products available, such as the Ultralight High Back Chair, the Base Camp Deluxe Chair and the Kids Camp Chair, as well as the MEC Hammock, a Compact Towel that absorbs water better than a regular cotton towel and dries faster, too, and the Scully Duffle Bag, which is waterproof and perfect for storing all of your gear or clothes.


When asked about their favourite products, Knight and MP Alary, MEC’s equipment designer, didn’t need any time to think.

“The Reactor 10 Sleeping Pad,” said Knight. “Once you’ve tasted that comfort, you won’t go back. It’s hotel quality. And it’s easily justifiable to buy – you could use it for guests in your home instead of an air mattress.”


“The Scully Duffle Bag,” said Alary. “It can be used for all kinds of things. You could leave it outside, all packed up, and it’ll save space inside your tent. We’ve even had people bath babies in it.”


MEC’s staff members are passionate about camping and often draw from their own experiences or desires when it comes to planning and developing for new products. The company also relies on market research and user feedback.

“We bring people in to give our products a try,” Knight explained, recalling a situation where staff were working on a new tent design and decided to bring in camping enthusiasts to see how well they could set up the tent by themselves, without help from another person or the instructions. This situation simulated a family going camping, pulling into the campsite and one parent trying to pitch the tent while the other parent wrangled the children. “We want to try and design out all the kinks.”


Looking toward the future, MEC wants to continue to provide “home-away-from-home comfort,” said Knight. “We want to elevate this experience even more; provide you your living room, but outside.”


Knight said MEC’s equipment designers are always thinking up ways to deliver these camping solutions in a more compact way. “We want to keep the comfort, but pack it up smaller,” he explained.


MEC also prides itself on its sustainability – ensuring its products are made in the most sustainable way possible and that the materials used are safe for everyone.


“These products are made to last,” said Alary. “The landfills aren’t being filled with MEC equipment. This is a true investment, and we treat it that way.”


If your idea of camping is freezing in a leaky tent all so you can take advantage of a dawn hike or get out paddleboarding before the crowd descends, or maybe you envision waking up still tired and sporting a sore neck from sleeping on the ground, think again. By infusing innovation and advanced technology into every piece of equipment, MEC is changing the camping game. Spending time soaking up all Mother Nature has to offer has never been more comfortable.

Camping Locations In British Columbia To Check Out

  1. Inland Lake Provincial Park: Close to Powell River, this park offers 6,812 acres to explore. Campers here can often be found kayaking, canoeing, hiking, swimming and fishing. There is also a 13-kilometre, wheelchair-accessible loop that will take you along the water and it’s perfect for hiking and biking.
  2. Gray Bay Campground: For a truly off-the-grid experience, you’ll want to check out Gray Bay Campground on Haida Gwaii. Located about 25 kilometres from Sandspit, down a gravel logging road, there is no cell or Internet service at this camping location. But the views cannot be beat. You’ll find trails to explore and a beach.
  3. Pye Lake, Vancouver Island: There are a few recreational sites to choose from at this campground, and with direct access to the beach and water of Pye Lake, you can’t go wrong. Pye Lake is located about 90 minutes from Campbell River, with the last third or so of the trip down gravel logging roads.


Make sure to check out some of our articles for the best camping spots in BC!


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