Throughout the course of your life, I’m sure you’ve heard an inspirational quote or two about how important it is to be prepared for any task you are trying to conquer. Going on an outdoor expedition is probably one of the times that careful preparation is most important. I mean, think about it…if you go out in the woods without the proper gear or enough water and food, you’ll not only be miserable but you might find yourself starving or dehydrated. What if something goes wrong, you get lost, and are out in the woods for hours or days longer than you expected? We aren’t trying to scare anyone from wanting to go explore the outdoors, but we are trying to stress how important it is to plan and prepare until you’re blue in the face. Once you do it several times, you’ll be a pro and it won’t seem as overwhelming to you.
There are many different variables that come into play when you are preparing for an outdoor excursion so you want to answer these questions before you do anything else:
How long will you be outdoors?
What is the weather supposed to be like?
What is the terrain you will be traveling like?
Will you just be hiking, or will there be other activities involved like rock climbing?
What wild animals are native to the area you will be exploring?
Everyone plans and packs differently, so don’t feel like you have to follow our guide step by step. We just want to make sure you cover all the bases and don’t forget something important! There’s nothing like getting 10 miles into your hike and realizing that you left your knife at home! One important thing to remember when packing is that you have to carry it all, so the lighter weight and smaller the items, the better.
Clothing: Plan to wear layers to keep warm and to be able to remove as you warm up. You do not want to sweat, so moisture wicking materials are best. Be sure you have really good socks and shoes that fit well so you don’t develop blisters. You’ll be outside and you’re naturally going to get dirty, and wearing the same clothes for a couple of days is completely normal.
Food: Plan to snack throughout the day to keep your energy level up and think small items like granola bars, trail mix, and things of that nature. A lot of areas do not allow open fires, so be sure to research whether or not you’ll be able to cook anything for supper while you’re out in the woods. Outdoors stoves are great, but can add a lot of weight to your pack. Just remember that food is one of the most important things you can plan out before your trip. There are tons of resources online to give you ideas about what you should and shouldn’t take to eat.
Water: Another super important part of any type of outdoor excursion is your water supply. I always take slightly more water than I know I’ll need just to be cautious. If you become dehydrated, there can be some serious consequences to your health and well being. Water is heavy, but you never know if there will be a water source where you are going, so it’s best to bring it with you. You can also bring a water filtration system with you or water pills if you know you’re going to be around a water source.
Gear: We could go on and on and on about gear, but for the purpose of this post, we will try to keep it short and sweet. You need some sort of shelter to sleep in, like a tent, unless you’re feeling bold and then you can sleep out in the open. A lot of people carry lightweight pads to sleep upon because you never know where you’re going to end up camping, and a good night of rest is very helpful the next day. A knife always comes in handy, as well as a compass (cell phones with GPS can die), walking stick, first aid kit, toilet paper, matches, a headlamp (or flashlight), bug repellant, and some type of rain gear.
We will post an entire page of all of our camping/hiking essentials in the near future but wanted to give everyone an idea of the necessities when it comes to camping and spending time outdoors. Whether you are going on a 1 day trip or a 5 day trip, you will usually bring the same things, just adjusting the quantities of some. So make a list and follow it while you’re packing! Check out the Backpacking 101 tips from the Washington Trails Association for some great guidelines.