The Outdoor Life: Part 2

Preparing for the Outdoors

WWe are back with Part 2 of The Outdoor Life blog posts. Now that you know which category you fall into, or want to get into, it is time to prepare. And if you didn't read last weeks blog and that last sentence makes no sense to you, go back and read Part 1 first.

Your plan can be as loose or rigid as you would like, but first you need to figure out what that personal “get outside” phrase means to you. It is interpreted many different ways and does not have to mean the same thing to everyone. Make it your own. Ask yourself what do you want to get out of being outside. Do you want to relax and unwind from your day or week? Get some exercise while enjoying nature and the quiet solitude it can bring? Do you want to see every highlight in the Rocky Mountains? Do you want to push the limits and experience a backcountry few people get to see? Maybe you just want to get outside more and are tired of sitting on your couch and watching TV. Whatever your reason, here are some tips on how to prepare for your next trip outside.

  1. Footwear is Key: Not matter how you will be getting outside, check the type of footwear you have first. Having uncomfortable shoes can ruin your time outside and may keep you from getting out as much as want to.

  • No Experience Needed – For a stroll in your local park make sure to have a comfortable athletic shoe. You might not be going very far, but it doesn’t take long to get a blister or sore feet from shoes that are not meant to have you walking in them for any kind of distance. If you don’t have an athletic shoe, you can find some for great prices at places like Shoe Carnival or your local Goodwill. Or maybe a friend isn’t using their shoes and you just happen to be the same shoe size. (Ask first of course!)

  • Average Joe – For a bit longer distance or time outdoors you may want to start looking into some reviews of athletic footwear especially if getting outside is going to become a habit (and we hope it does!). I have found that running shoes often do the trick. You won’t need anything too heavy duty or heavy in weight unless the trails and parks around you are very rugged. Comfort is the name of the game. You may want to try visiting a few stores or even asking family or friends that might be more outdoorsy what they like walking around in. With the uptick in distance for this category, there is a stronger chance of blisters.

  • Weekend Warrior – This might depend on the type of weekend you are looking to have. If it is an easy relaxed weekend with some shorter hikes on well-groomed trails, break out some comfortable athletic shoes. On the other hand, if you are looking to trek through some serious mud on uneven ground or tromp through the woods where there aren’t any trails, you will want to take a look at some lightweight hiking shoes. There are plenty of options from the likes of companies like Merrell, Salomon or Oboz.

  • Wilderness Adventurer – A hiking boot used to be a hard thing to find and you had to spend a lot of money on. These days the prices have come down and availability has gone up. Even though prices have come down, you will still be paying more than your everyday shoes. Good hiking boots can cost anywhere from $100-$300 per pair. A few of the brands we prefer are Vasque, Salewa, Lowa or Asolo. Although, I do have a pair of Adidas hiking boots (yes Adidas makes hiking boots now) that I really love. I have several hiking boots depending on the occasion: lightweight, midweight and heavy duty. I also have a pair for the colder season that are good to -60* F and a pair of Xero Shoes sandals that I really like to take on the trail if there is a little beach hiking or sandy trails.

  • Explorer Extraordinaire – Shoes for every occasion are abound and easy to find these days. They won’t come cheap but, be assured, if you are climbing Mt. Everest you won’t have an issue finding footwear to fit your needs. Specialty retailers like, REI or even Zappos has what you are looking for. A lot of times, if you are going on an expedition and it is guided there will be a list of gear that you need. Check with your guides and make sure you have the right kind of footwear for every condition.

  1. Accessorize: the other gear you take with you can make a large difference in how much you enjoy or dislike the outdoors. You may not go back if you don’t enjoy yourself.

  • No Experience Needed & Average Joe – We are combining these two categories because you won’t need a lot of extra anything. If you go to the park and take a walk or a stroll along your local river you may only need to carry a water bottle. No matter how far I am going I always like to carry a water bottle, just in case. I know a lot of people who also like to carry a watch that tracks their steps or distance. These are great for comparing each trek to one another. See how far your local trails are and then when you start to move up to do longer trails or start planning a day trip, you know what you are capable of. We also tell everyone this is a great time to bring a camera for all of you (including me) amateur photographers out there. It is a great time to test out different settings and to take a lot of pictures.

  • Weekend Warrior – Camping gear and a day pack are two essentials you will want to have in your storage closet. A good solid water bottle is also great to have. We like to make sure it is durable and can carry a decent amount of water. We recommend visiting your local outdoor store and talking with one of the associates there. We always find some great helpful tips and they can guide you through what you may or may not need if you have a specific plan or idea of what you will be doing on your next adventure. They can also walk you through tent options and are very knowledgeable about everything they carry. The internet is also a good resource, use it to your advantage. Look up reviews and get checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

  • Wilderness Adventurer – Well, depending on what your adventure is, there are a few things you should pick up. Backpack (larger overnight pack 55-80L), backpacking stove, compass and first aid kit and last but certainly not least, a water filtration system. We try and go as light as possible on some of these items. Your pack will start to feel heavy very fast as you start loading up on things you need. You will also learn what you actually need versus what you think you need after a few trips into the backcountry. My first trip I packed everything but the kitchen sink and regretted it the entire trip. The pack weighed about 75 pounds and I was sore for several days after the trip. Not including the exhaustion during the trip.

  • Explorer Extraordinaire – This will be very dependent on the expedition you will be going on. A polar expedition will be calling for pull sleds for your gear, winter tents and high end gloves and hats. If you are headed to Denali? International Expedition? Needless to say, your pack will be very heavy.

These two areas are what you should focus on the first when thinking about getting outside. If you fall in the first two or even three categories, you really don’t have to spend much time on preparing, but you should at least give it a couple of minutes. We want to make sure you enjoy the outdoors and keep going back as much, and as often, as possible.

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