If you’ve ever embarked on an outdoor adventure, you know the Scouts had the right idea all along with their motto, “Always be prepared.” People who love all things nature may seem like fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants kind of travelers, but the truth is most outdoor trips require careful thought and planning.
So, if you’re itching to get outside and explore, here are three ways to make like a Scout and get the most out of your next outdoor adventure.
1. Scouting Your Location
Part of the beauty of embarking on an outdoor adventure is being able to go wherever the wind takes you. Still, it’s always a good idea to research potential locations beforehand so you know what kind of conditions (terrain and wildlife) you might encounter. There are plenty of resources to help you scout out the area and get a feel for the land.
Start with a good physical map or any number of GPS apps like Maps 3D Pro or Gaia. Dig deeper and get the on-the-ground (or water) perspective with a first-hand travelogue. If you have a specific trip in mind, search online for writers who have been there and done that, or look for inspiration from great adventure travel blogs like Adventure Journal and Expert Vagabond.
2. Making a (Packing) List and Checking it Twice
Once you have an outline of your trip nailed down, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to pack. Your list will vary depending on what your adventure entails, but some categories to think about include:
- Food and water: How much food will you need to carry to fuel your activity level? Can you resupply along the way? Make sure you’re able to answer these questions, as well as determine if there are reliable water sources nearby and what tools you will need to cook and prepare food.
- Shelter: If you plan to sleep outdoors, or if there is a possibility you might get caught outside overnight, make sure to pack the essentials (a tent/tarp/hammock, sleeping bag, bug netting, etc.) to keep you sheltered.
- Clothing:Make sure to pack clothing suitable for any type of weather you might encounter. Think in light layers, from rain or fleece jackets made for outdoor activities to wicking T-shirts and wool socks, that you can put on in the cold and take off in the heat.
- Safety gear: In addition to having maps of the area, it’s important to pack safety items like a first-aid kit, headlamp or flashlight, fire starter and emergency blanket.
Once you have a list, check your gear thoroughly and replace or repair anything in bad shape with quality-made items. After all, the last thing you want is to be caught in a rainstorm with a tent that leaks or be on a 10-day backpacking trip with a faulty fuel canister.
3. Preparing Mentally and Physically
Beyond packing the essentials, make sure your body is at a pique fitness level to undertake the adventure you’re planning. An outdoor adventure will require some exertion, so you always want to make sure you’re up for the task. At worst, being out of shape can put you in danger, and at best, it will lessen your enjoyment.
Likewise, you’ll also want to prepare mentally for your adventure. Injury isn’t the main reason only roughly half of those who attempt to thru-hike the 2,100 Appalachian Trail abandon the trek early on; it’s because they’re not mentally prepared for the realities (discomfort, weather, hunger, tiredness, etc.) of the trip.
Proper Preparation is the Name of the Game
Although it takes more planning, being prepared for any outdoor adventure on which you embark is extremely rewarding. So prepare yourself for your next trip by scouting your location thoroughly, packing carefully and getting yourself in shape mentally and physically, and create some great memories in the process.