Well, if you have been following along with us so far it may be obvious that you like hiking, backpacking, and the outdoors. Sometimes when you are not on trail you can feel somewhat lost and yearn to get back into the woods. You may be wondering what to do or looking for something to hold you over until your next adventure. Below are 5 simple things that we should all be doing off trail to increase our enjoyment on trail.
1. Work on Skills
While this list is here to outline things to do off trail, no item may be more important than this one. Working on your skills, whether they are knots, techniques, or other necessities used on trail, improving your skills and knowledge is sure to improve trail experience. Increasing your skill knowledge will also up your distance covered, and confidence while in the back country. Tasks such as hanging your bear bag, navigating at night, or even navigating in general with a compass and paper map can allow you to hike longer and with less worry. This in turn can lead to better experiences, more enjoyable views, and a better overall trip. So get out on those local trails and challenge yourself to up your skills.
2. Dial in gear
Fine tuning is always a work in progress, and with each successive trip you’ll get better and better, but there is no substitute for working with your gear. Before you go out in the wilderness you should have a decent familiarity with your gear and how it works. Practice with your gear in all conditions so that when a situation comes about you won’t be caught off guard. Know how to use your gear not only during the day but also at night as well. There will come a time when you need to hike longer than expected and may have to come into camp at night. Knowing your equipment is going to help you efficiently set up camp and get to sleep quick.
You should also be figuring out if a piece of gear that you have is really necessary. To get your pack weight down, you should only be taking what you absolutely need so working with your gear can help you decide whether or not you need a certain piece of equipment. Another note is that you may not like how that piece of gear works or operates. Does it rub your skin wrong, is it too tight, is it comfortable? Not all equipment is built equally. You should decide where you can save money and where you need to focus more funds to make your adventures the best that they can be.
3. Practice setting up and tearing down
This should go without saying, but it does happen from time to time. Your confident in your abilities and you get some new gear and instead of setting it up prior to test it out your next hike becomes its maiden voyage. I think we all may have done this at one point or another and that’s how we also know that this isn’t the right time to be “figuring out” a new shelter. The best place to test out a new shelter is your own backyard or even a close public park.
You don’t want to have to figure out how to set up a brand new tent or hammock way out in the wilderness. This can lead to frustration and failed attempts, and you don’t want a failed hang if you’re trying out a new hammock. It could be devastating to your trip or even your health. So do yourself a favor and sort it out at home or on a local trail that you know. You should be familiar with your shelter enough to be able to set it up at any hour and under any conditions because there is a real possibility you might be setting camp in less than ideal circumstances. We’re not only talking about setting up and tearing down shelters.
You should also be well versed in how to assemble and disassemble your camp as a whole, which means packing and unpacking your pack. Get into the habit of doing it the same way each time. So that when those less than favorable conditions roll into the area you know where everything is and where everything goes. Don’t leave yourself searching for a crucial piece of gear when you need it due to ill packed backpack. As time goes on and you get more familiar with your kit setup and breakdown times will decrease significantly and You’ll become a pro in no time.
4. Research recipes for better meals
Another great thing to do is find different ways to obtain nutrition on the trail. on a longer hike it’s more important to obtain more calorie dense foods while combining weight efficiency. Items like tortillas, nut butters or pouch tuna combine carbohydrates, protein, and fats which are all essential fuels in the wilderness.
For shorter trips, you can experiment with vacuum packing. Instead of buying expensive freeze dried meals from the store you can make your own at home. repacking items such as potatoes, noodles, and spices can give you variety and flavor as well.
5. Plan the next hike
What better way to spend your time in between each adventure than to plan for others. Some journeys require m ore organizing such as thru-hikes or longer section hikes, but smaller day trips may require attention too.
Some items you may want to familiarize yourself with include water sources, trail features, trail conditions, or even trailhead access. Each trail is often unique and some hikes may require special gear so be informed and do your research. The last thing you want is to be without on the trail.
Conversely, you can also use this time to figure out what you don’t need. Water sources abundant? Leave a bottle and bladder at home. Save the ounces and space. What’s the weather? Pack appropriate clothes and ditch other items. Knowing these things could save you pounds of unnecessary gear hauling on the trail and increase your enjoyment.
We hope that maybe you’re already doing some of these, but if not there is no time like the present to start. Everybody should be able to enjoy the outdoors and with these 5 things you will be sure to have a better time. Be sure to comment below and let us know what you do off trail. Until next time…