There seems to be more and more people getting involved with the outdoors lifestyle lately and that's wonderful! My passion is to share the beauty and serenity of nature with others. Just like with any other sport or activity there is some basic training and knowledge you should have before jumping into it. You wouldn't go fishing unless you had some kind of idea what types of fish were there and possibly what they're feeding on. You may check out a fishing report or two and possibly talk to the guy in the sporting goods dept. Point is before you go there's some planning involved!
With Social Media so incredibly displaying all of the most wonderful images and destinations, it's no surprise that more and more people are choosing to #OptOutside. I just suggest before you do make sure have an idea what to expect. There is a lot to consider before hitting the trail for your backcountry adventure. Things like weather, trail conditions, altitude and what to bring.
First things first, wear the right clothes for the conditions you're in. Sounds funny I know but I see it all the time. You don't wear soccer cleats to play basketball. Cotton based clothes are great for around town but really don't serve a good enough purpose in the mountains. Moisture wicking is your friend. Layers are the way to go to help keep your body at the right temperature. Plan as though you may have to shed a couple layers once you start hiking and your body is working. Getting sweaty in winter can lead to trouble. Breathable layers with a waterproof shell is a great way to go.
Footwear can really make or break a trip. Wet cold feet will make anyone miserable. You'll thank yourself later by keeping an extra pair of wool socks in your pack. Traction should be considered, are you heading into possibly muddy terrain, snow and ice? For winter hikes leaves leave the tennis shoes at home. Gators are a great addition to help keep you protected. I personally love my Kahtoola MicroSpikes and Outdoor Research gators for winter hikes. They have been game changers for me.
When I go out into the Wilderness I make sure I have different ways to stay hydrated, stay warm and stay dry. I always carry a water purifier even if it's just a small one. Sawyer and LifeStraw have great affordable options to check out. I have multiple ways to start a fire and never rely on just having 1 lighter or some matches and always have an emergency space blanket or bivy. You can get through some tough situations with those items.
Make sure you've got some extra snacks. I love to bring trailmix and almonds to give me energy boosts. There's lot of goodies out there. You'll be thankful to have them if you're ever delayed for whatever reason.
Please don't rely on your phone. Cell service is always sketchy at best. Bring a map and a compass, if you're not sure how to navigate by it, REI is always hosting free classes on map skills. They are definitely worth checking out. GPS units and cell phone fail. Invest in some map knowledge.
The whole point I hope to convey is the wilderness has so much to offer and to enjoy. If you head out with the right preparation you're going to enjoy yourself so much more then if you're out there on a whim. I usually have a pack in my car with my essentials and a few luxuries. I love to bring a hammock with me everywhere and usually have others wishing they had done the same. Take the time to prepare yourself right. Do a little research and ask some questions. The outdoors community is one of the most giving communities I've ever been apart of. Everyone want so to see you have a great time and also be safe.
What are some of your "must have" items when out on the trail?