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BC Car-Free:

Exploring Southwestern British Columbia Without a Car

by Brian Grover


The entire 340 page outdoor guidebook BC Car-Free: Exploring Southwestern British Columbia Without a Car is now posted online for the benefit of all. For less than the price of a tank of gas, BC Car-Free will introduce you to the finest in outdoor recreation that coastal British Columbia has to offer. All excursions begin in Vancouver, British Columbia and can be undertaken without a car, using existing public transportation infrastructure. Topics include hiking, kayaking, backpacking, cycle touring, whale watching, horseback riding, birding, river rafting, canoeing and cave exploring. To begin exploring, look no further than the Table of Contents on your left.

Just the Facts...

  • 340 pages
  • 94 separate trips
  • 52 maps
  • 130 photos
  • 25 sidebar illustrations

12 activities including...

  • Hiking - 41 Trips
  • Backpacking - 10 Trips
  • Ocean Kayaking - 13 Trips
  • Cycle Touring - 10 Trips
  • River Rafting - 3 Rivers
  • Horseback Riding - 1 Location
  • Cave Exploring - 3 Caves
  • Canoeing - 1 Trip
  • Whale Watching - 3 Locations
  • Birding - 5 Species
  • Salmon Watching - 3 Locations
  • Getaways - 3 Trips

By far the best place in Vancouver to buy new outdoor equipment is the member-owned Mountain Equipment Co-op [130 West Broadway.] Staff are extremely well-informed, prices are very fair and quality is excellent. Lifetime memberships cost a mere $5. Stores like the Army and Navy or 3 Vets [now closed] only sell outdoor trash that can cause real problems in the field. As a bonus, staff at the latter one used to yell at you if you walked into the store with a knapsack. No wonder they failed.

MEC also has a gigantic notice board for those interested in picking up their equipment second hand. Craigslist is another good bargain sources as well. For many newbies, the outdoor lifestyle becomes a consumer experience. They buy all the name brand gear, head out into the outback, despise it, then, after a hiatus of several years, sell off their equipment at garage sale prices. Look for these guys.

Renting is always a possibility but it does tend to be expensive, especially if you intend to take up the great outdoors as a lifestyle. Rental shops seem to find it difficult to survive in Vancouver. Until recently, about the only one that seemed able to make it in the local market is associated with the outdoor club at the University of British Columbia. Though inconveniently situated for most of us [6000 Student Union Boulevard, UBC; 604-822-1684] UBC Outdoor Equipment Rentals nonetheless has the goods if you need them.

In the last few years Mountain Equipment Co-op has stepped in to fill the rental gap on a more permanent basis.

The End

Notable Quotes

...the best thing about BC Car-Free is that it challenges the assumption that you have to have a vehicle to escape the city.

-- Briana Doyle; MOMENTUM Magazine