Maximize Your Comfort: Essential Ergonomic Tips for an Enjoyable Camping Experience

May 14, 2024

Camping Ergonomics – Calgary and Beyond 

The Victoria Day long weekend in May marks the unofficial start to camping season in Canada (we love camping here in Calgary).  Many people will leave the comfort of their homes and head for their favorite camping sites throughout Alberta.  Rain, snow, or shine, Albertans love to brave camping on May Long! 

Whether you will be “car camping” at one of the many Provincial and National parks or braving the elements and seeing rare sights through backcountry camping, the science of ergonomics can be applied to help you experience camping in comfort and reduce risk of injury. 

After your drive (prolonged sitting), you’ll want to warm up with some light movement. This should include a short walk and a campsite inspection before unpacking your vehicle, tackling any heavy work around the campsite, or heading off to a long hike (Work Warm-up Exercises).  

After setting up camp, chopping wood, or coming back from your hike, gentle stretching will help ease discomfort (Work Relief Exercises). 

A serene camping scene in a lush Calgary forest during daylight. The campsite includes a modern lightweight tents and ergonomic efforts

Campsite site set up and chores

Don’t let the excitement of arriving at your destination let you forget safe practices when lifting and carrying heavy objects such as coolers, tent bag, firewood to your site. 

  • Remember the basic lift principles: (read our Lift Safe Live Safe blog for more information) 
    • Staggered stance 
    • Get as close to the object as possible (keep elbows close) 
    • Bend at the knees and hips and pull the object close to the body 
    • Tighten your abs, lift with the legs and glutes, and maintain the natural “S” curve in your back rather than bending and lifting at the waist with straight legs. 
  • Think the item is too heavy? Get help from a fellow camper. 
  • Consider backpacks and a cooler with wheels and a collapsible wagon for hauling gear from the vehicle to the campsite if there are foot paths. 
  • Invest in a lightweight tent, camp chair, mini-camp stove and lightweight dishware – especially if you decide to go back country camping. (MSR Gear, Big Agnes, Mountain Equipment Coop, REI Co-op) 
  • Lighten the load by splitting the gear between campers rather than doubling up on items. 
  • Arrive at your campsite before it gets dark to ease the set up and reduce slip/ trips, and falls. 

Prepare your camp meals in comfort!

  • Work at a height that allows you to keep your back straight instead of slouching and crouching. 
  • Sit at a picnic table or work on a camping table high enough that you are not slumped over. This can be hard on both the back and crouching on the ground to prep is hard on the knees. Make sure you maintain the “S” curve of your spine at your work surface. Forward bending (sitting with a slumped posture) can cause fatigue and possibly injury because the back is not supported. 
  • Bring lightweight, sharp knives in protector sheaths and silicone cutting boards to make food prep easy and your load not as heavy. 
  • Protect yourself from the sun while prepping or eating meals by stringing up a large tarp to create shade. 

Here are some organizational and productivity tips so you can spend more time having fun and less time in awkward postures digging through your gear: 

  • Have designated bins for food prep gear, dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. 
  • Use clear bins to easily identify contents 
  • Use large zip-lock storage bags for clothing to identify, sort and protect your clothes from moisture or accidental spills in your pack. 
  • Wear a headlamp in the evenings to free up your hands instead of a flashlight. 
  • A mosquito head net will optimize productivity and ability to use both hands! 


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