What You Need for the Perfect Outdoor Excursion
Warmer temperatures and longer days mean more opportunities to get outside. Whether you’re planning to spend a day outside hiking or planning for a weekend getaway, less is more. This is especially true considering you’ll have to bring most of what you carry with you on your person. As you pack for an excursion, there are a few must haves that you won’t want to be caught outside without. The items described below vary in price, but are all important necessities. They’re a worthy investment, especially if you’re looking to spend a lot of time outside this year.
- Hydration Pack
A hydration pack, like those made by Camelback, is one of the most important things you’ll need. Mady by many different companies, these packs are typically backpacks with a plastic bladder inside a larger compartment. The bladder is meant to be filled with drinking water. It is attached to a long straw that goes over your shoulder and is easy to drink from while you’re on the go. The compartment that holds the bladder is typically big enough to hold a few extra items, like snacks and a first aid kit. Often hydration packs contain additional external pockets, making it easy to stay organized while you’re on the move. The pack you choose depends on you. When choosing a size, think about how long you’ll be hiking for, what the weather will be like and if you’ll have access to drinking water on the way. Also consider what other items you plan to store on your journey. Most hikers feel comfortable with a bladder that holds about 2 liters. You should choose a pack though. Carrying water bottles in a traditional backpack takes up important space. Plus, traditional bottles aren’t as easy to drink from while on the move. They’re also more likely to get lost or dropped, resulting in unwanted litter in wild and picturesque habitats.
- Solar Charger
Though you may not need it for shorter journeys, a solar charger is a smart investment if you spend a lot of time outdoors. This is especially true if you’re planning to be without electricity for any length of time. You may be familiar with the benefits of using solar energy at home, like benefiting from the solar stimulus program, but there’s a huge benefit to carrying solar energy with you too. Like at home panels, solar chargers allow you to store energy from the sun to charge your cell phone and other devices. Many have other features, like flashlights and gps as well.
Look for a solar charger that charges within a few hours of time exposed to sun rays. It should be able to charge at least two devices via usb port at once. Both devices should be able to charge within a couple hours as well.
- GPS and Compass
If not included as a feature on your solar charger, a gps and compass are other important gadgets to have when on an outdoor trip. A watch with GPS or even cell phone can do the trick in most cases, but having an old school backup, like a handheld compass is a good backup. There aren't many worst-case scenarios more awful than being lost with no map, no cell service and no idea what direction you’re going.
Just as important as water and a map, having trail food with you can be beneficial as well when spending the day outdoors. Carry bars that are high in protein and carbs. As a rule, the longer you’ll be outside the more densely packed you’ll want your bars to be. When packing steer clear of bars that will melt easily, like those made of chocolate. If you want options that don’t come in bar form, look for snacks that aren’t bulky, like dried fruit and nuts.
- Dress Appropriately
Finally, make sure you’re protecting yourself from the elements. Weather on mountains or in the desert, can change quickly, so make sure you’re prepared. First, dress in layers that are easy to shed and secure on your pack. Choose fabrics that endure snags and also dry easily when wet. Try polyester or wicking fabric. A wool outer layer or wool socks can also be beneficial, as wool will go far to keep you warm, even if it becomes wet.
- Sun Protection
Especially going into spring and summer, look for ways to protect your skin. Pack sunscreen for sport, at least with an SPF of 30. A hat is always a good idea too. Hats have the added effect of keeping your head warm and protecting it from the sun. Bonus points if you find a hat you can pack away.
- Pack for Rain
Prep your pack with extra gear like a rain poncho and extra socks as well. Nothing is less fun than carrying on a long hike after getting soaked by a passing shower! Leaving room for this type of gear will keep you from being caught off guard.
Finding the right balance of what you need to stay safe and comfortable while outdoors is something you don’t want to neglect. Travel light and pack wisely!