It’s amazing how much getting outside can do for you. Just by enjoying nature, getting some fresh air and participating in any number of outdoor activities a bit more often, you will do wonders for your overall health, physical fitness and mental well-being.
The best part? It takes very little money and specialized knowledge to get out of the house. Anyone can start being more active immediately with some short nature walks, hiking trails or even longer overnight trips camping out in the forest.
However, there are a few things to understand and keep in mind before you head out. By adhering to the following three principles, you will stay warm, comfortable and safe on your next outdoor adventure.
1. Weather Conditions
Staying warm and dry is the first priority for all outdoor activities. When you’re close to home or have a vehicle nearby, this is mainly about comfort. But for longer hikes and overnight camping trips in the wilderness, it’s essential for staying safe and ensuring you don’t succumb to the whims of Mother Nature.
Fortunately, there isn’t much to it. A simple three-layer system, plus a rain jacket, is all you really need. This may sound confusing, but it comes down to a base layer (a thin, long- or short-sleeve shirt), mid-layer (light fleece or mid-weight wool garment) and insulation layer (down or synthetic jacket that can keep you as warm as the season requires). Add a waterproof outer layer and you’ll be set with the perfect hiking jacket insulation system for whatever the weather throws at you.
2. The Perfect Fit
When it comes to some types of adventure gear, there is broad consensus about what you should buy. Many people believe there is only one surefire tent, camp stove or trekking pole to bring along for your outdoor excursion. Such views are based on factors like strength tests, weight, price and practicality.
But some things are entirely subjective. Nowhere is that more apparent than footwear. Everyone prefers a slightly different fit for their uniquely shaped feet. Some like wide leather boots, others like lightweight trail runners. Some prioritize grip, others need ankle support. And some will pay hundreds of dollars for their must-have brand, while others only feel comfortable in the old running shoes they use to mow the lawn.
No matter which of these — or other — categories you fall into, be sure to find what you like. Don’t simply take the recommendation of a friend, expert or adventure author and assume it will work for you. We’re all picky about our shoes, and that’s fine. But the key is to get the best footwear for you so your feet will be the last thing on your mind while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.
3. Safety Essentials
Still, no matter how careful you are and how much you prepare, accidents do happen. You may cut your arm on a tree branch, skin your knee after tripping on a rock, or twist your ankle. Don’t worry. As long as you have a few first-aid essentials, you can rest easy knowing a small setback won’t become an actual emergency.
You don’t need to carry an entire doctor’s bag with you. But, at a minimum, you should bring a few bandages and gauze; aspirin, pain relievers, or other anti-inflammatories; and antiseptic wipes and cotton swabs to disinfect and clean any cut. Duct tape, Ace bandages and a small pair of scissors are also good to take, while many avid hikers also carry a knife, matches, compass, whistle and space blanket on longer outings.
Have Respect, Not Fear
There’s no need to fear the great outdoors. It’s not out to get you and can be safely enjoyed by people from all walks of life in most climates.
But you do have to use some common sense and have respect for the elements. By wearing the right layers to stay warm, ensuring your feet stay comfortable and carrying first-aid essentials, you will be prepared for just about anything.