While there’s still plenty of time for more ice and snow, winter is winding down for those in the northern hemisphere. It won’t be long before the sun is shining, the weather is warmer, and people venture outside to enjoy it.
Whether you’re an ardent outdoorsman or a novice adventurer, preparing for time spent outside – especially when venturing into remote areas far from civilization – is essential. Failure to do so could turn an exciting escapade into an agonizing struggle.
The good news is that preparing to explore the great outdoors isn’t difficult. Here are seven essentials for getting started:
The sort of equipment you’ll need will depend on what you’re doing. But generally speaking, common outdoor equipment includes hiking boots, mountain bikes, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents, hats, and sunglasses. The last thing you want is to get all the way out there only to discover one or more items are broken or otherwise unusable. With this in mind, it’s essential to inspect your outdoor equipment now to see if anything needs repair or replacement.
Updated first aid kit
Most households have a first aid kit that can be brought along for an outdoor adventure. However, the thing about first aid kits is that sooner or later, they get used, which means some items might be lacking or missing. Take time to do an inventory check on your first aid kit and update it as necessary. That way, you don’t have to worry about finding the right-sized bandaid when you’re miles from the nearest convenience store.
State parks, nature reserves, and other protected habitats are teeming with wildlife. Unfortunately, in addition to the sorts of critters we hope to spot on our adventures, there’s no shortage of ticks, mosquitos, and other bugs that bite pets and humans. Since pest control is not an option – not to mention it’s their home and we’re the ones intruding – the only effective defense is the application of insect repellant. Doing so will limit, if not eliminate, all those itchy bug bites we end up with while exploring the great outdoors.
Lyme disease testing
Lyme disease is a potentially dangerous infection transmitted to humans through the bite of ticks. If left untreated, Lyme disease can harm vital organs as well as the nervous system. While insect repellant is an effective way to prevent tick bites and thus avoid Lyme disease, it’s not 100% reliable. With this in mind, those planning on spending significant amounts of time in places where ticks are common should invest in Lyme disease test kits. That way, in the event you’re bitten by a tick, you’ll be able to determine if you’ve been infected.
Check the weather
It goes without saying – but we’re going to say it anyway; check the weather forecast before heading into the wilderness. The last thing you want is to be caught in a thunderstorm at mile five of a 10-mile trail. With this in mind, make a habit of checking the forecast before you leave the house. Doing so isn’t only about avoiding the rain; trails can become muddy, tree limbs can fall, and lightning can strike.
Bring water and snacks
Dehydration is a dangerous prospect, especially when you’re miles from civilization. It leads to mental impairment, physical exhaustion, and eventually death. While that sounds scary, there’s a simple solution: bring plenty of water! A few snacks wouldn’t hurt, either, in the event you or a companion start feeling peckish.
Practice hazard awareness
The great outdoors is rich in natural beauty and ecological splendor. However, it’s also home to many hazardous plants and animals as well as perilous environments. It pays to learn to recognize these hazards in order to avoid them. You should also heed any posted warnings regarding potential dangers in the area.
Winter is on the way out, and spring will soon be here. That means millions of people will be making plans to enjoy the great outdoors. Preparation is key in order to have a great time. Failure to do so can mean disaster or worse. The good news is that preparing for the great outdoors is fairly easy and straightforward.
Vivien Bell is a freelance writer from Maryland. She enjoys writing about education, family, home living, and pet care.