COVID-19 camping craze continues into 2021, number of Ontario sites booked already double compared to 2020

As the camping craze has continued on through the COVID-19 pandemic, how can those looking to try out camping get in on the action?

Sheila Wiebe of Ontario Parks says the number of campsites booked for this season has already doubled compared to 2020.

“The reservation system was up 110 per cent from the same time last year,” she said. “We are anticipating another busy year.”

She adds that since the outdoor life has caught fire during the pandemic, the influx of new campers means trends will be changing.

“Many people are working from home, remote working, so they’re time is a little more free,” said Wiebe. “It’s not just weekends now, we’re seeing throughout the week.”

For those who want to try camping, but don’t have the gear, Tia Ioannou and Andy Chow of Wellesley’s new business Campables rents gear like tents, flashlights, and tarp for first-timers.

“With all the extra gear sitting around in our basement we thought what an opportunity to give people in Waterloo and the surrounding area a chance to also go camping,” said Ioannou. “We know gear can be quite pricey, and for beginner campers they may not want to invest all that money for one year of camping.”

The couple also has a YouTube channel where they share their person reviews of camping gear and their favourite spots to go to.

“It’s also difficult to know what you may need and not overspend,” said Chow. “Renting is a great way to sort of get your feet wet.”

Chow and Ioannou add that they quarantine and sanitize all items between rentals.

Wiebe says not all bathrooms and shower facilities may be open due to the pending pandemic restrictions and that it’s best to check with the specific park closer to the visit. Not all sites are available for booking either.

“We’re holding back 20 per cent just for that physical distancing and capacity,” she said. “Should things change in our region we could open up some of those sites.”

The Grand River Conservation Authority is expected to open their campsite booking portal on Apr. 6.