Outdoor activities have been all the rage during the pandemic. Here are a few that won’t break the bank


Louise Cabana stand-up paddleboards at sunrise in Shirleys Bay on the Ottawa River on August 10Ashley Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Outdoor activities were among the many things that became more expensive and difficult to enjoy when the pandemic hit.

In 2020 and 2021, the campsites were full and the pitches were resold at exorbitant prices. Bike shops were looking at delivery times of a year. Popular beginner hikes, like those in Banff and Vancouver, have become crowded. And the queues at ski resorts near major cities made you want to give up.

Now, Canadians must consider significant inflation and the looming possibility of a recession before deciding whether to invest in a new outdoor hobby.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some relatively inexpensive to average outdoor activities, whether you prefer to get active or relax in nature.

Whatever the activity, the people who participate in it all say that having an outdoor hobby is a way for them to disconnect, be aware of nature and improve their overall mental health.

Van City United Disc Golf Club member Gagan Singh throws a disc at a basket at Eastview Park in North Vancouver on August 9.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

disc golf

Some casual disc golfers – also known as frisbee golfers, or even frolfers – describe the sport as a ride, but with a purpose.

The principle is simple: instead of using golf clubs to hit a ball towards a hole, players throw a disc towards a basket. Scoring is also the same as in golf; there is a set par for each hole, and the lowest score at the end of a game wins.

Gagan Singh, spokesperson for the Van City United Disc Golf Club, says disc golf is addictive because it’s a sport that’s easy to learn and play, but takes a lifetime to master.

A major difference between disc golf and regular golf is the cost. According to an estimate by another Vancouver-area club, North Shore Disc Golf, 90% of the world’s disc courses are free.

In terms of gear, a starter disc wouldn’t cost much more than $20, and if you’re getting into the sport, most people can get away with just three discs: a putter, a midrange, and a driver. (The shape of the discs dictates the distance they travel or the curve they take.) Singh even says you can use a regular Frisbee if you’re trying the sport for the first time.

Disc golf has exploded in popularity in recent years, with growing interest in particular since the start of the pandemic. Statistics from North Shore Disc Golf show that the number of courses worldwide has increased to more than 13,000 in 2021, from around 4,000 around 2010.

With the cost of living continuing to rise, Mr Singh believes this will only increase interest in disc golf.

“If you have a family of four or five, that really helps, especially with the way the economy is doing right now,” he said.

Trail runner Adrian Lambert crosses the Dolomites in Italy.Matthew Reverse/Document


One of Adrian Lambert’s favorite things about trail running is the feeling of freedom. With just a relatively inexpensive pair of shoes, you can turn a grassy hill, mountainside, or your local town trail into a place to get away for exercise.

“There’s a huge freedom that you don’t have in other sports because you can really define your own adventure,” Lambert said. “I’ve even done trail running in parts of northern BC, and when you realize you’re above the tree line, you run wherever you want.”

It is also one of the cheapest high intensity sports. A pair of trail runners can range from $100 to $200. If you already have gym clothes, these will do. And a free app can easily track your progress.

Mr. Lambert’s main advice to people considering the sport is to take things slow. You don’t need to run particularly fast or for long periods of time; it takes a slow grind to finally be able to work consistently.

Where you live won’t usually be a limiting factor either – whether it’s a small town or downtown, Mr Lambert says the trail systems are usually there if you search.

And if it turns out running isn’t your thing, trail runners make great hiking shoes too.

Kelsey Magill prepares to head out on her stand-up paddleboard on the Ottawa River shortly after sunrise on August 11.Ashley Fraser/The Globe and Mail

SUP boarding

One of the advantages of living in Canada is the amount of water we have access to. And if your budget can reach around $750, stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, can be a great way to get out on the water.

Michelle McShane, chief executive of Paddle Canada, says the sport’s popularity continues to grow and the advent of inflatable boards has opened the door for people who live in apartments and don’t have a lot of storage space. , or people who own a car. but you don’t want to bother with expensive racks.

A set of entry-level inflatable SUP boards can cost around $750 and will sometimes include a life jacket, carry bag and paddle, says McShane. The set will fit in a backpack small enough to store in a closet, take in transit, or fit in a compact car.

“It was a whole different way of experiencing the water,” said Ms McShane, who said she still remembers the first time she tried a SUP board.

“When you’re sitting in a kayak or canoe you really only see the surface of the water…but the perspective when you’re standing on a board and looking down you can see the fish and the bottom , so that’s really cool.”

Ms. McShane also points out that SUP boarding can be as relaxing or as vigorous an activity as you want it to be. For those looking for a workout, it engages your whole body for balance and paddle strokes. And for families, an SUP board can easily double as a beach toy for the kids.

Ms. McShane says anyone wanting to get involved in SUP boarding should also consider taking a course, which can cost around $100 to $200. He will not only teach you the technique, but also the safety rules.

Kelly-Sue O’Connor goes bird watching in Erieau, Ontario.Handout

Bird watching

Kelly-Sue O’Connor was in her 20s and living in downtown Toronto when she started birdwatching. So she wasn’t exactly part of the population you think of when you think of this hobby.

She got into it years ago after spotting a brightly colored pet bird downtown, which got her interested in birds. world that lives above us. It’s what the birding community calls a “spark bird” – a bird that sparks your interest in the hobby.

Birdwatching has seen something of a boom during the pandemic, bringing more people, young and old, to parks in search of birds as a reason to be outdoors.

And as she points out, there’s another reason for its recent popularity. Birdwatching is relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to get to.

It costs nothing to get into the activity if you join a local birding club, whose members can pass on their knowledge and lend you a pair of binoculars. Most apps to help you identify a bird by song or appearance are free, though their accuracy can be mixed.

Ms O’Connor says the basics for getting started are a comfortable pair of shoes and maybe a birding guide from a thrift store.

Eventually, if you’re invested in the hobby, you can pick up a decent quality pair of glasses. binoculars for around $200. And by then it becomes a great reason going on hikes, walks in the park or even vacations in other countries.

For Ms O’Connor, it’s her escape from everyday life, and it’s had a positive impact on her mental health.

“It’s mostly about being aware and being present and that really helps my mental health,” said Ms O’Connor, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder ADHD.

“We all know it can be difficult to access mental health care, so while I was waiting or looking if I had any issues to work on or needed treatment, I cared for myself by being in nature.”

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