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Glamping: when you just can't leave home without a hot tub (4 photos)

Forget about the bugs and wet wood because this week, Back Roads Bill takes us glamping on the back roads

Last week I tackled sort of a new term, what a “social media influencer” means to the outdoors and the video is now live with Back Roads Bill.

This week I look at another relatively new word, “glamping” and how maybe it makes, the bugs, wet wood and tie-down ropes seem blasé.

A common thought is that glamping is a mash-up of the words “glamorous” and “camping.” It is also known as glorious camping, boutique camping, or luxury camping. It is much more than a nice tent. There is a great deal of diversity within the examples of what glamping can be.

But glamping has simply come to represent an experience with nature that doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort. It’s camping for those used to luxury hotels, or the majority who simply don’t want to buy new camping gear or find it in the garage.

It’s always in the outdoors and affiliated with special natural destinations. You have your own private space, plus resort-like amenities, lots of activities, and when it comes to food, in most cases you can order it.

But we are Canadians eh? We’ll change the definition to fit our latitude. (As a footnote March is the time for winter/spring camping; a new glamping tent was purchased, more on that in a bit.)

A little history, within the early 1900s in Africa wealthy American and European travellers demanded luxuries while on safari. Sure, they wanted to have a wild adventure outdoors but didn’t want to part with their king-sized beds and furniture. These canvas safari tents on platforms usually included nice Persian rugs, luxurious bedding, and a chef to prepare meals.

Fast forward to today and we find the first Google keyword searches for "glamping" in early 2007.

But now the way we travel has changed, especially because of the pandemic. We no longer want a generic, one-size-fits-all vacation. We want to explore and immerse ourselves in local culture, and we no longer just want to simply watch nature on YouTube channels and the like—we want to live in it and that means just about anywhere.

We checked out one of the definitive, worldwide sources of glamping, if for no other reason have a look at all the options. It's truly interesting to see where you could rest your head with no worries.

“The glamping movement is growing, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Across the globe, you’ll find incredible destinations, each offering its own unique advantages. You can wake up in a yurt on a mountaintop; reside in the forest canopy in a treehouse, take in the panoramic views in an eco-lodge,” and any form of roofed shelter you can imagine. They told me there is a wide range of choices from “cabins to trailers, cubes and pods, domes, lodges, cottages, tipis and tents;” each one has an applicable definition.

Then go to the Tents choice under Accommodations because that is what interests this one.

When you do the search for Northern Ontario you end up here.

Constantin von Flotow started this company back in 2013 after a lifetime of guiding canoe/rafting and ship expeditions.

“I wanted to offer the less adventurous public and families a way to enjoy the back country without having to know how to stay safe and dry out there. A turn-key solution, whose aesthetic and design reflect Canadian heritage and the golden age of exploration. Hence the traditional wall tents.

“Since I started in the world of 'Glamping', which did not exist in the lexicon when I started, has exploded and Canada is trying hard to catch up on this trend. The future of this segment looks strong and is currently being updated through more luxurious and interesting structures and programming all over the world.

"I see that micro cabins heavy on design will be the future of luxury camping experiences. There will however always be the draw of a pure wilderness experience that is raw yet comfortable and accessible.

“At OutpostCo our mission is to connect our clients to nature, in a safe, comfortable and stylish fashion. As a lifelong canoeist and guide, I have always felt that Canada’s north is only accessible to a very few and I would like to change that without disturbing the very thing we came to appreciate, namely our incredible Canadian wilderness.”

The past

Over too many years there have been many camping adventures including winter camping and sleeping out on the cusps of the changing seasons.

This has included canvas tents, double-walled synthetic tents and quinzhees. The latter is a snow shelter made from a large pile of loose snow, you wait for “sintering” to occur - that might be a new word - then you use that as the shape of the shelter and hollow it out.

This is in contrast to an igloo, which is built up from blocks of hard snow, and a snow cave, constructed by digging into the snow.

The word is of Athabaskan origin and entered the English language in the 1980s. A quinzhee can be made for winter camping and survival purposes, or for fun. I have made a few, survived and had fun.

The Canadian heritage writer, Pierre Berton’s famous quote has been often repeated, “A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe.” Back Roads Bill has an addition, “… and in a quinzhee.”

For all of these shelters, you need a winter sleeping bag or double up on two summer bags.

A pad or cardboard is a must as almost one-third of your body heat wants to escape downward.

You learn tips like placing hot water in your drinking bottles at the base of your feet. Not only comfortable but you have water, rather than ice at your disposal first thing in the morning when you wonder where you are.

Comfy additions to your appendages help, like those duvet slippers and a skull cap of sorts. You learn to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, maybe. You bring the frozen chili you made at home in a “boil-a-bag” and “Viking bread,” that’s the dark, coarse multi-grain pumpernickel bread in the specialty aisle. And there are “no bugs,” they exclaimed. Oh yes, that reminds me to review how to poop in the woods, winter style in a previous article.

I said March is the time to go camping because temperatures are manageable and the days are longer. When the temperatures slip to double-digit, negative numbers your body and your equipment have to perform. As you age both need to change.

Glamping maybe

So glamping in March, a new tent was needed. And during the supply chain challenge because of the pandemic, “the” tent finally arrived.

Go to the Dragons’ Den on the CBC this tent was featured.

Dragons' Den is a Canadian television reality show based on the internationally franchised Dragons' Den format which began in Japan. The show debuted here on October 3, 2006. Aspiring Canadian entrepreneurs pitch business and investment ideas to a panel of venture capitalists (termed "Dragons") in the hope of securing business financing and partnerships.

Trish Mills is the owner/designer of Backwoods Glamping and was on the show, here it is see the pitch here.

Trish I have come to know as I am a customer.

“Camping, and adventures in nature have always been a huge part of my life. Kayaking and camping have both been very therapeutic activities for me, but I like a little comfort and I don’t like to be cold! My other favourite activity to relax has always been to unwind outside in my hot tub.

"I’d often think to myself while getting out of my cold wet gear that I wish I could sit there and take in that beautiful scenery in a nice hot tub, or camping sitting around the fire on a freezing night in the mountains wishing for a hot tub to get rid of the chill in my bones.

“I finally started looking for a way to have a hot tub out at camp, and when I couldn’t find something that worked for us, we decided to design something.

"We had been talking about starting a family business for a while, to get us out of careers that neither of us was happy in. I had been looking for ways to work while being in nature. (was thinking retreats, guided tours things like that).

"When we had a solid concept in place for a portable hot tub, we made the decision that we would turn the hot tubs into a business, and it only stood to reason that if we were going to have hot tubs we also should have a sauna!”

They have added sauna tents.

“The messages of gratitude that we get back from our customers have been amazing!

"There have been lots of people who set up their saunas and hot tubs in their backyards during COVID who reached out telling us how it’s been amazing for their mental health.

"We have a hot tub customer who has an oceanfront vacation rental property who is always sending photos of their adventures from putting it in a floating dock and towing it behind the boat while they go fishing from it to watching the sunset from their dock.

"The different ways our customers use our products is my favourite part of this business. Well besides the fact that we now have an excuse to sneak out camping and have a hot tub and sauna in some of the most beautiful places that we can imagine.

"We are listening to our customers' feedback as well as our own experiences and looking for ways to make what we have even better. Seats and bubbles are likely things to come for the hot tubs.”

The thirty-second, pop-up tent is a welcome addition for small “g” glamping. The new tent is also constructed to be a sauna or ice shack, there is an optional, heavy-duty zip-in floor.

The tent and stove were less than the cost of one night at the Outpost Co. There are still pegs and ropes but it seems these are now inviting thoughts. The stainless steel stove is a beauty. Just as last week another self-question how can I find someone who wants to go glamping on the back roads?