My Parks Canada oTENTik Experience

This camping season, my family spent seven days in Fundy National Park. It was our first camping trip with our infant daughter and, safe to say, we were a little nervous. In hopes of easing the transition from solo camping to camping with a baby, we rented an oTENTik. The trip had its challenges, but was a success, in part, because of the warm and spacious accommodations.

I thought I would share a little about our experience renting an oTENTik. I’m a backcountry camper at heart, but this low-stakes way of camping was perfect with a small child. For one, we never had to stress about staying warm or keeping things dry. Or, squeezing a baby and Labrador retriever into a tent together. So, if you’re looking for a laid-back outdoor experience or you’re easing someone into camping, oTENTiks are a great choice.

What is an oTENTik?

oTENTiks are available at 30 Parks Canada locations. They’re a blend between a cabin and a prospector tent and give off a cozy and rustic vibe. They sleep 5-6 people between an elevated double bed and a spacious platform with multiple mattresses.

oTENTiks do not have a bathroom or indoor kitchen (some have outdoor cooking shelters with a barbecue), but are often located near both. In Fundy, our oTENTik was a brief walk from a kitchen shelter and a washroom with hot showers. The kitchen shelter had a wood stove and picnic tables. I saw people playing cards, reading, and knitting in the shelter on cold rainy days. Others used the kitchen shelter to wash dishes and heat food on the wood stove.

What’s Included in My Reservation?

Amenities in oTENTiks can vary between parks, so always check the specifics before booking. Typically, they contain a table, bench, and chairs, along with an interior light. Many are equipped with electric, wood, or propane heaters, with safety features like fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. At Fundy, our oTENTik even had a USB charger.

The outdoor space has a small deck with outdoor furniture. oTENTiks have either a cooking shelter, barbecue, or a fire pit. Ours had a fire pit, Adirondack chairs, and a picnic table. The lack of a cooking shelter at our campsite was a bummer, but we created our own by bringing a camp stove and a pop-up rain shelter which we placed over the picnic table.

What Else Should I Bring?

Parks Canada provides a camping check-list for your trip when you book.

You’ll need to pack your own bedding (fitted sheets, blankets or sleeping bag, and pillows). As well as any personal items (clothing and toiletries), indoor shoes or slippers, and warm rainproof layers.

oTENTiks are equipped with an indoor light, but it doesn’t illuminate the entire cabin. Bring extra indoor lighting and a flashlight or headlamp for navigating outdoors in the evenings.

Pack ample food, a camp stove (if your cabin lacks a barbecue and kitchen shelter), and a cooler. Note, all food must be stored in your car to prevent attracting animals to the cabins. Many Parks Canada sites have potable water within walking distance from frontcountry campsites, but be sure to verify ahead of time.

A first aid kit, sunscreen, and bug repellent are always a good idea. You might also wish to bring a book, radio, cards, board game, or other ways of entertaining yourself.

Booking an oTENTik

oTENTik bookings fill up fast! Even faster if you’re looking for pet-friendly tents. Reservations dates vary by park, but usually open around January-February. Mark the opening date on your calendar!

As of 2023, oTENTiks in Fundy National Park were $106.50 per night. You also have to pay a firewood fee of $13.45 and purchase a park pass. Here is a list of all parks and their fees.

Cancellation policies may vary by location, but it is possible to cancel your booking in advance and get your money back minus a non-refundable reservation fee. Short notice requires you to pay more. Parks Canada’s website reads: “If you cancel a reservation less than 3 days prior to your scheduled day of arrival, but before 11 am the day after your scheduled day of arrival: you will receive a full refund less the original non-refundable reservation fee, the cancellation fee, plus the fees for the first night of accommodations.”

Great for Families and Novice Campers

Renting an oTENTik is an excellent choice for families and novice campers. The biggest advantage is not having to worry about being cold and wet. Extreme heat and cold can make for a lousy or downright dangerous camping experience. The convenience of drying clothes indoors is a game-changer, especially during unexpected weather changes. In rain, you also get a cozy retreat without the confinement of a tent – which is a major win if you have children or a dog.

Renting an oTENTik also eliminates the need to own and store a tent. It’s great for those who don’t feel comfortable setting up and caring for a tent.

Downsides

Some parks have accessible accommodations, unfortunately none of the oTENTiks in Fundy National Park are accessible – hopefully that is remedied soon. You can find a full list of Parks Canada’s accessible accommodations here. Some parks also have all-terrain wheelchairs for rent.

Price is definitely a limiting factor when it comes to renting an oTENTik. If you are keen to rent, but price is a barrier, consider splitting the cost with close friends or another family. The a-frames will comfortably sleep 5 adults.

I camped in an oTENTik during the late summer/early fall and I can imagine the tent getting uncomfortably hot in the summer. There are lots of screened windows you can open, but I would hesitate to rent in a heat wave.

Pro Tips

At Fundy, a firewood fee is included in your booking. Paying it gives you access to firewood at the campground kiosk. Sometimes, as was the case with us, the firewood was damp and difficult to light. Bring along some firestarter to help you get a fire started. A mix of dryer lint and Vaseline works great.

In the dry season, fire bans may be in place during your visit, so don’t count on a fire to cook all your food. Instead, bring along a camp stove.

We brought a sound machine with us to drown out other campers because we had early nights with a baby. It also helped drown out sounds that might cause our dog to be on alert.

Pack strategically by keeping frequently used items easily accessible. Consider using bins or organizers to categorize and locate items quickly.

Before hitting the road, double-check your camping gear (stove, rain shelters, flashlights, etc.) to ensure your equipment is functioning correctly.

While planning is essential, be open to changes in your itinerary. Sometimes the best experiences come from unexpected detours or discoveries.

My Experience at Fundy National Park

Camping with a baby was A LOT of work. I can’t say it was relaxing, but we did make wonderful memories, hiked beautiful places, and ate delicious food in Alma. We’re very excited to do it all again next year.

The oTENTik made everything much easier than it otherwise would have been. My daughter and I co-slept on the bottom beds. My partner slept on the top bunk and the dog had plenty of space on the floor to stretch out and sleep. Everyone stayed warm and dry despite three days of rain.

We stayed in Chignecto campground. It’s a nice campground and it’s been relatively quiet every time I’ve visited. It’s not very private. There are other renters and oTENTik cabins nearby.

My favourite Fundy activity is hiking to the many waterfalls. Third Vault Falls is, in my opinion, the most beautiful. The Moosehorn – Laverty Loop is my second favourite trail. Both hikes are difficult and I don’t recommend them for people with babies and young kids. Instead, check out Dickson Falls Trail, Caribou Plain Trail, and Fort Folly First Nation Medicine Trail.

Happy Camping!

I hope this post was helpful to you! If you do end up staying in an oTENTik, I’d love to hear about your adventure.

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