There is nothing more thrilling than lumbering into the wilderness with just a backpack and grand plans to savor every sunrise and linger over every drop of dew. Whether it’s a new stretch of land calling you, or an old favorite you find yourself returning to from time to time, the anticipation of venturing out to untouched lands is enough to invigorate the soul. Before you head out, there are a few things you should do in preparation, so you are as safe as you are wild.
- Figure out where you’re going – the first step of any trip is deciding where to go.
- Make a plan – familiarize yourself with your destination by studying maps, tips of fellow travels and park rangers, so you do not wander in blindly. If you can bring a compass or cell phone with GPS, that is ideal.
- Share that plan – now that you’ve got your itinerary sorted, make sure to share it with a close friend or family member, so someone back home knows where you are. It is super important to let them know exactly when you plan to return, so they know when to check your Instagram for pictures, or to alert the authorities.
- Bring a friend – while solo backpacking adventures are incredible, memories are even richer when shared with someone. Another bonus to bringing a friend? There is safety in numbers. Even just one more person can highly alleviate a troublesome situation by sharing their knowledge, going for help, administering first aid, and making sure you’re safe.
- Learn first aid – there’s a reason the Scout motto is ‘Be Prepared’ as you never know what may happen, especially when you’re in the wild. Having basic first aid can go a long way should something happen when you’re out on the trails, or if you come across a fellow adventurer in distress.
- Practice survival skills – reading guidebooks and manuals is well and good, but nothing can beat hands-on experience, practicing how to pitch a tent, start a fire, or any of the myriad of survival skills you may need to call upon while in nature.
- Pack your backpack wisely – this is not a situation in which more is necessarily better. Instead, pack smartly, narrowing down your backpack to the essentials. Ensure you consider all situations – making a shelter, starting a fire, drinking clean water, the weather, obtaining nourishment, navigating. Though you may feel confident in your outdoors skills, you never know what may happen, and it is better to be prepared in case of an emergency, so bring along a first aid kit. Keep in mind any activities you plan on doing – kayaking, hunting, rock climbing – and pack for those.
- Dress for the weather – keep a watch on the weather forecast and dress for it. Layers are a good idea, even in summer, as the nights quickly get colder. Synthetic wicking materials are also good for time spent in the outdoors. Again, this is a situation of understanding the terrain and climate of the outdoor destination you are exploring.
Gearing up for an outdoor adventure, whether a weekend or a couple of weeks, is an exciting time and part of the fun. By making sure you are fully prepared for any instance or emergency that may occur while you are in nature, your wilderness explorations will be adventurous and safe.