Backpacking for Beginners @ Gem Lakes (May Long Weekend)


Backpacking for Beginners:  A supported backpacking experience for those who want to take the first steps toward independence and adventure freedom!  Enjoy the early season beauty of the Gem Lakes trail for two nights!

In partnership with SaskParks – May Long Weekend

Saturday May 18th 1pm – Monday May 20th 11am (2 nights)

This is a participatory learning experience for those who aspire to build confidence, skills, and experience of backcountry adventures in a supportive learning environment.  Although Back40 will provide instruction, organized learning experiences, and ongoing support – you will be expected to independently participate and take care of your own needs.   In other words – set your own tent up, cook your own food, and bring most of your own gear! 🙂 We are THRILLED to guide, demonstrate, problem solve, and give you a helping hand throughout the entire weekend – but the goal is for you to build independence and self confidence.

We will provide support throughout the entire process from packing / prep to camp set up to the chores you have when you return home.  While many will have their own gear to use, please do not let gear be a barrier to participation – we have lots to share and rent if you are missing a few essential items but still want to learn / participate!

Group Size:  8 participants (18+)

Experience Highlights:

  • Build independent skill to set up camp, tarps, and emergency shelters
  • Improve sense of self-security while on trail – including bear spray practice experience and food/waste management in bear country
  • Leave No Trace principles throughout program to lower your impact on the natural space you want to enjoy.
  • Practice with a variety of water filters and camp stoves at meal times.
  • Campfires – fire prep & starting (site and fire bans allowing)
  • Sleeping Warm – best tips
  • Trail navigation, map reading, and orientation
  • Lots of conversation around gear and trips.

Hike in and camp for two nights!  Our time on the trail will not be wasted!

  • Trail navigation / orientation
  • Trail safety tips
  • Emergency shelters
  • Gear essentials for day trips

COST:  $265+GST

WEATHER: This program will run regardless of weather forecast.

NECESSARY PERSONAL GEAR: (A suggested packing list will be provided.)

  • Your personal gear appropriate for camping away from your car for two nights!
  • Clothing & footwear appropriate for weather, and changing weather conditions.  Consider evenings will be cold.
  • Footwear appropriate for outdoor activity.
  • FOOD for weekend
  • Tent – Sleeping Bag – Sleeping Pad/Pillow (we do have gear to rent if you need!)
  • Headlamp

We have a variety of gear items to rent or share with those who do not have their own gear!  Please do not let gear be a barrier to participation.  

Group Items available to share:

  • Tarps, rope, axe/saws, and other campsite essentials will be available to share.
  • Water filters and camp stoves available to share / try out.

NOTE:  Planning ZOOM Meeting Wednesday May 1st 8pm for those who want to talk about preparations and Q/A beforehand

WHATSAPP:  Every registered participant will be added to our group WhatsApp for ongoing communication and connection.

Cancellation / Refund Policy:   Due to intense planning efforts & small group availability  – no refunds will be given for cancellations received less than 6 days in advance.  You can transfer your spot to someone else and recoup the cost privately.  



This event is a reflection of my own personal growth in the outdoors over the years.  I wanted to do more (and still have so much I wish I could do!) but I didn’t have anyone to go with me and I was starting from nothing.  I had next to no skills, didn’t really know where I could go, and was most likely going to be going solo.  10 years later I am much more confident in myself, my gear, and my abilities.  My adventures have now expanded to be a mixture of prairie camping & hiking to multi-day backpacking in the mountains.  I wish I would have had something like this way back then – so here we are!

Who is this program for?

  • You.
  • For anyone who has lived vicariously through others or the internet but aspires to get outdoors, especially backpacking, on their own or with friends/family.
  • For those who lack confidence in themselves to take the first step towards backpacking or camping on their own.
  • For those who want to shake the winter cobwebs off and hike/camp with a small group before summer hits.
  • For those who may dabble in car camping but want to expand to multi day trips or more remote experiences.
  • For those who have limited social connections who share the same interests and aspirations to get outdoors.
  • For those who are wanting a weekend to connect with others in a low stress learning environment.
  • For those with gear they have never (or hardly ever) used.
  • For those WITHOUT gear who need to wrap their head around what is essential and what is luxury items.  We have lots to share!

Any activity that takes you outdoors, especially overnight, fits within our program intention.


  • 1 planning ZOOM for Q&A May 1st 8pm
  • 2 full days of instruction and campsite support
  • Guided hike with trail skills / instruction
  • Campsite fees
  • Surprise essential gear item to keep – approx. $30 value
  • INERT Bear Spray practice – approx. $30 value
  • Several gear prizes to be won
  • Cook stoves (several options) available for group use – but we will share the load to carry them.
  • Group water filter
  • Bear spray, camp event safety plan & group first aid kit
  • Smiles, fresh air, challenge, rest and human connection with likeminded people

What is NOT Included:

  • Travel to & from site (we can help with carpooling arrangements with other participants)
  • Provincial Park Pass
  • Meals (we will HELP you plan food but you will bring / cook your own)
  • Tents – we have a variety of tents to rent (+$10)
  • Sleeping bags – we have a variety of options to rent (+$20)
  • Sleeping mats – we have a variety of options to rent (+$10)
  • Camp chair – we have a variety of options to rent (+$5)

A detailed SUGGESTED packing list will be sent with registration.  The intent of these lists is NOT to expect you to have all the items!!! These are just lists that help me pack for my own adventures that might help you!  We will have ample items to share in camp – just ask! Not having certain things should NOT be a barrier to participate!

B40 MultiDay Packing Checklist


General Plan for the Program:

Arrive by 1pm Saturday to Gem Lakes Trail Head:

  • Meet & Greet
  • Gear Checks
  • Safety Plan
  • Bear Spray Training BEFORE we head out
  • Set-up Tents / Camp
  • Knots & Tarps Instruction – especially for Bear Hangs
  • Water Filtering
  • Stoves & Camp cooking (supper!)
  • Health/Hygiene & Waste – Leave no Trace principles
  • Sleeping warm – prepping for night & bed
  • Fires – may or may not have depending on Fire Bans and wood availability

Day 2 – Sunday

  • Breakfast
  • Low Stress Morning – Pack up to leave around 11am
  • HIKE TO OPAL CAMP – We will take the LONG way to get there for more trail time. 
  • Trail Skills:  Navigation/trail orientation
  • Supper at Camp 2 – Opal
  • Evening Connection & Quiet Time

Day 3 – Monday

  • Breakfast
  • First Aid Kits
  • SOS Devices
  • Camp Takedown & Hike Out!

Some of you may also be interested in this program for the social connection and outdoor escape .  Many people feel they do not have friends or family that share their same aspirations and we have proudly experienced complete strangers connecting in friendship during our programs.  The opportunity to be outdoors is one we will never get enough of so this may fulfil that for you as well.  Consider this your personal invitation!

Some of you may also come with some experience in camping and hiking/backpacking etc.  SHARING is what makes these programs so valuable!  Never will I claim to be an expert.  I am merely a facilitator and voice for good advice that was once shared with me.  Our space is an open platform for others to share tips, experiences, and advice as appropriate.

Whatever brings you to this program, I wholeheartedly appreciate your time and investment over this long weekend.  I hope you leave refreshed but also inspired, feeling more confident and with a few more skills to take forward on your own adventures.