Get adventure prepped at these Toronto camping outfitters

Wherever your next adventure will take you, Toronto has you covered for wilderness-ready gear. The city and surrounding area host a slew of specialized shops and outfitters for any level of engagement with the great outdoors. Whether you’re shopping for a paddleboard for the cotty or getting outfitted for a three-month road trip, these local institutions will get you ready to take on the Canadian wilderness.

Camp Connection Inc

516 Lawrence Ave W, North York, ON M6A 1A1

This independent superstore is well known by parents as the spot to get their kids outfitted for their days and nights away at summer camp. But it’s also the ideal store for families to get the goods for a group camping trip on a budget. The stock is condensed to outdoor apparel and active wear, so you won’t be wandering aisles looking for the one or two things you need. Eco-savvy campers can also pick up a Citronella Survival Kit, which comes with a chemical-free bug spray, lotion, shampoo and soap that wards off mosquitos with the plant-based natural repellent.

Drift Outfitters & Fly Shop

199 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A 1S2

Fishing experts and anglers take note: this downtown fishing cartel is the boutique for specialized fishing gear. In 2015, the shop opened its doors at the corner of Queen and George Street, setting up eager Toronto fishers with everything from steelhead flies, to state-of-the-art rods and reels, to guiding expeditions and lessons (for those looking for angler extraordinaire status), to native artwork of Ontario fish species for that coveted spot on the cottage mantelpiece.

Bass Pro Shops

1 Bass Pro Mills Dr, Vaughan, ON L4K 5W4

An emporium that is an ode to the great outdoors, this massive outfitter in the Vaughan Mills Mall is a one-stop-shop for everything from two-person tents to Teva sandals. Sprawling men’s, women’s and kids sections are complete with rain jackets and long underwear (for a colder night in Algonquin Park), athletic swimsuits (perfect for snorkelling through the Thousand Islands), or waterproof cameras (for cliff jumping in Tobermory). Rigorous outdoorsman can get their fix on specialty products like state-of-the-art casting reels, solar chargers for the boat, or laser rangefinders.

MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op)

400 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K2

Outdoor experts or first-time campers – come one come all to this downtown co-op, celebrating journeys into Canada’s no-man’s lands. Conveniently located on King West, MEC is the go-to for the urbanite/nature loving hybrid. Stock up on everything you’ll need for your next stage in the Ontario wilderness. This is the type of place to pick up safety equipment for the most intense mountain summit and a basic reusable water bottle for when you reach the top. It’s also one of the best spots in the city for both urban cyclists and mountain bikers to get geared up.

Rack Attack Toronto

116 Laird Dr, East York, ON M4G 3V3

Urban dwellers with big hearts for the backcountry but small cars for the city flock to this Bayview Village specialty shop for car and bike racks. Investing in a good car rack means that this year, you can bring along your most trusted outdoor supplies and tools-for-fun no matter what size sedan you’re rocking at the moment. Whether you’re strapping on your canoe, a pair of mountain bikes, or a surfboard, Rack Attack has a uniquely designed and state-of-the-art mechanism for your distinct needs.

Flaherty's Outdoor Store

2066 Dufferin St, York, ON M6E 3R6

A favourite among Toronto locals, this independent hunting, fishing and camping institution has been settled in its Dufferin Street digs since World War II. Originally an army surplus store, the shop has a long history of supplying Torontonians with quality gear for the bush, from wool socks to night vision goggles. Although it has the comprehensive selection to compete with big box retailers, it maintains a local vibe and has a long-time staff of hunting, fishing and camping experts.

The Canadian Outdoor Equipment

199 Lakeshore Rd E, Mississauga, ON L5G 1G2

Head over to Mississauga and get stocked up for your next camping trip at one of Toronto’s largest independent outdoor outfitters. Pick up a new Kanguk tent, handmade in Quebec, or a Woods industrial prospectors tent (complete with mosquito net interior and storm flap). It’s also an ideal spot to pick up camping and hiking backpacks in both wind-breaking Gore-Tex and durable waxed canvas. Many of the knapsacks even come with an axe sleeve in case you’re seduced – in true lumberjack style – by the shop’s hickory forest axe.

Fogh Marine Ltd

901 Oxford St, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 5T1

Need a few dozen feet of mooring line or a brand new fork swage? City-dwelling sailors get their marine necessities at this sailboat and sailing supplies store on the Etobicoke-Toronto boundary. Not only is this sailing institution a one-stop shop for nautical accessories that are often hard to find at other outdoor outfitters, it is also a premier spot for buying yourself a non-motorized boat when the day comes, be it a $900 recreational paddleboard or a Hobie fibreglass catamaran for just south of 30 grand.


1-137 Chrislea Rd, Vaughan, ON L4L 8N6

The name of this outdoor superstore – just a short trip up the 400 in Vaughan – is in fact a bit misleading. The sprawling warehouse, conspicuously spottable from the highway, doesn’t actually sell sailing supplies (apart from boating must-haves like life jackets), but it is packed with a cutting edge stock suitable for your next backcountry adventure, namely apparel and outerwear, fishing and hunting gear, canoes and kayaks, as well as camping and orienteering supplies.

From second-storey terraces to canopy-covered courtyards, 2016 has been a good year for Toronto’s patio game. We’ve got the goods on the brand-new brewery on Roncesvalles and the Lakeshore’s most recent party-worthy spot. East to west, these resto-bar newcomers have created inspired outdoor spaces so you can start patio season off right. [Image credit: Pavone] 
Looking for a bleach alternative that isn’t terrifying? Maybe an all-purpose cleaner that won’t make you bat an eye when you find your toddler licking the countertop? There’s no doubt that the demand for all-natural, biodegradable, and chemical-free cleaning products is on the rise in TO. Lucky for us, the city is home to countless markets and shops with a ton of sustainable goods on offer.
We know, we know. Trying to find something excellent for your best pal while staying within the agreed-upon budget is just a big ol’ holiday can of worms. Lucky for us, Toronto is stocked with affordable and locally made treasures that cater to just about any hobby or taste. For this year’s gift exchange, check out these general stores, vintage spots, and specialty boutiques. [Photo courtesy of Northwood General]
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