Your camping wardrobe

It’s an Okanagan summer tradition — hitting the open road, finding a secluded forest, and pitching your outdoor home for a spell of unplugged relaxation. 

Whether you are in a tent or RV, storage space is always limited, so what clothing to pack takes some planning. If you camp a lot, either as a weekend warrior or a snowbird, it is worth investing in special outdoor gear. 

Over the past four years, I’ve camped from four to 195 nights at a time and in every kind of weather. Here’s what I’ve learned about creating an ideal outdoor living wardrobe. 


These days you can buy ultralight quality base layers affordably from MEC, Costco, SportChek, Lululemon and many other clothing stores. Some use synthetic fibres while others are created with merino wool for warmth. 

I always carry at least one basic long sleeve top and a pair of leggings. They are great for hiking on cool days and can be used under other clothes on chilly nights. 

Instead of multiple jackets for every conceivable weather condition, I only use two — a mid-weight cotton hoodie and a thin, packable water-resistant jacket. Using base layers plus these two options in various combinations will cover any situation from a steamy downpour to high-elevation snow. 

Cut up a throw

Another comfy option for around the fire is to take a throw blanket and modify it into a shawl. 

I got a 70” x 40” woven Mexican rug, cut it along the horizontal axis up to the middle point and sewed up the raw seams to prevent it from unraveling. 

It makes a super cozy wrap when temperatures drop, and can still be used as a sleeping cover or picnic blanket when needed. 

Use this tactic with a cheap micro-fibre throw or a wool blanket. I’ve often thought a Hudson’s Bay blanket would look fabulous as a shawl. 

Beach pareo

This is the warm weather version of the above. A large cotton or silk chiffon scarf takes up no space in your packing and can be used in a multitude of ways, such as a sarong dress, skirt, or around the neck.

You need a rectangle at least 40” x 55” to use as a pareo. It can be difficult to find such large sizes in quality fabrics around Kelowna, so this is when I turn to the crafter’s marketplace Etsy.com

Bra-style bikini tops
If you are like me, you want to wear as little binding clothing as possible in the heat. Bikini tops are my go-to during a heat wave. 

Aerie in Orchard Park Mall makes bra-style bikini tops with built-in padding, criss-cross straps, and underwire if preferred. They offer the same support as a bra without feeling so constrictive. 

In basic black or white, I use them under loose tanks, breezy beach tunics, and strapless dresses. 

Gardening crocs

Seriously. I know they aren’t attractive, but they are the easiest things to slip on and off when getting into or out of your tent. 

Plus, they have more foot protection than flip-flops so you needn’t worry about stubbing your toe on a rock or getting burnt by an errant ember. 

One special-occasion outfit

If you will be camping for an extended period or your travels will take you to an urban centre, pack one outfit you can wear out. It’s not fun walking into a nice restaurant or around a downtown core in hiking gear. 

This outfit doesn’t have to take up a lot of space or be overly ornate. I have a black T-shirt dress and my arsenal of scarves to create a simple polished look, plus space-saving flats. 

Just ensure your special day out clothing is made of wrinkle-free fabric and coordinates with other items in your camping wardrobe. 


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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