Looking to spy on some Squatches? Planning for the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse? Just finished reading Hansel and Gretel and looking for a way to keep the kids in line? Or maybe you just want to knock an item off your bucket list? Whatever your reason, the outdoors are a great place to spend some time and enjoy the world around you. Before you step out the door, it’s important to keep these things in mind.
1. Always leave an itinerary of your planned trip with a responsible family member
If uncle Joey is going to drink beer all day in his underwear and use your itinerary as a cocktail napkin, don’t leave it with him. It’s important that you include the names of trails, ranger stations with phone numbers, planned excursions, and if applicable, the locations of tent sites if you will stay overnight.
2. Bring the right hardware
A camping trip is a mini-survival experience. If you don’t prepare appropriately, you may find yourself eating pine bark to survive! A shelter, generally a tent, sleeping bag, stove, water filter, and compass are essentials. Camping can be done without them, but it’s much more fun with the right gear.
3. Bring the right software
Always have a map of the area and study the surrounding locations. Are there trail spurs and splits that require the hiker’s vigilance. A guide to the area’s wildlife makes identifying local flora and fauna much easier. Keep score and see who can spot the most animals!
4. Always have backup for your equipment
Things fail. I’ve watched a stove catch on fire and be thrown into a lake to avert an explosion. It didn’t get used again…Better know how to build a fire and have the tools to do so. Iodine tablets will keep you safe when your filter gets so clogged from poor quality water that it no longer functions. Giardia is extremely unpleasant.
5. Always bring a sharp knife
It doesn’t have to be a Bowie knife, but bring a high quality, unhinged knife with a stout spine. Your grandfathers dull folder may have sentimental value, but it won’t help you if you actually need a knife. I could give you some reasons why you may need it, but c’mon, it’s a knife–you wouldn’t go into the woods without one!
6. Prepare for the weather
There’s little to enjoy about a sodden march through the woods with no dry clothes. Prevent the discomfort by bringing quality ponchos or rain suits. Get one for your backpack to protect your gear, too! And throw in a box of cocoa and marshmallows, just in case, because nothing beats hot chocolate on a cold night.
7. Bring a hammock
Dusk in the woods is magical. The sky bleeds from violent reds to purple blues, then all of a sudden it’s dark, and there’s a splatter painting of stars in the sky above. Enjoy it gently swinging between two trees.
8. Have a good book
There’s no way to stress this enough. Combine this with the previous recommendation and you’ll find it difficult to leave the woods behind. If you’d like a personal favorite, “The Old Man and the Sea” is the perfect story for a few days out in the woods.
Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts. Calories are so important this could have been number one, but we’re not playing favorites here. You will expend a lot of energy walking through the day, especially if you are new to the activity. Plan on eating more than you may normally, and always have plenty of high calorie snacks to munch on between meals. Dehydrated meals are actually pretty tasty when you’re famished, and you don’t have to carry as much weight!
10. Always bring a towel
Seriously, this practical advice can’t be limited to intergalactic adventures. There’s nothing more refreshing than cold, mountain stream water after a long, sweaty hike. Unless you have to shiver dry. Towels not only provide their intended function, but can also be improvised pillows and first aid accessories.
There are a lot of things to consider when planning a trip to the woods. The most important things are to stay safe and have fun, but by following these tips and being prepared, you will have the best to chance to make your trip unforgettable.