Why It’s Important to Be Prepared When Heading Outdoors

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyIt’s hard to think of a disadvantage to being prepared. You could make the argument that the more prepared you are, the less trouble you will get into out in nature, and the less exciting your stories will be, but that would be a pretty weak argument.

The truth is that being prepared allows you to handle unexpected – or even expected – situations much more aptly and comfortable than someone who isn’t prepared. Being prepared doesn’t mean that you can’t have an exciting adventure, and it doesn’t mean that you have to constantly fret over every little thing that’s happening. Plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

Being prepared sets you up for a fun and smooth-going trip, whereas not being prepared can lead to predicaments. The guy who prides himself on not being prepared might love telling people the story about how he almost died in a blizzard… or he might die in a blizzard.

In order to be prepared for the outdoors, you have to understand exactly what it means to be prepared. You can’t just grab some food and water and head out the door. There’s much more that goes into getting ready for day, weekend, or week out in nature.

Be mentally prepared.

Your attitude plays a big role in your overall experience out in nature, and luckily it’s one of the easiest things to control. Of course, expectations can dictate your mood, making the difference in a fun or rewarding trip and a miserable time that leads to cursing and vows to never again step foot on a trail.

If you’re prepared for a leisurely hike in great conditions, and you end up grinding out 18 miles up hill in the rain, you’re going to have a bad time.

In addition to setting realistic expectations, being mentally prepared is also about staying alert and taking note of your surroundings.

Be physically prepared.

Regardless of what you’re doing outdoors, you have to be in good enough physical condition to do it. You shouldn’t hop off the couch and expect to summit a mountain, and you shouldn’t try to thru-hike the PCT if your idea of exercise is walking to the refrigerator.

Not only will physical fitness improve your experience outdoors, it will also help prevent you from getting injured. While hiking is s relatively accessible activity, not all types of hiking are easy going. A 2-mile day hike on a flat loop can be done by anyone, whereas 40-miles in two days with a 30-pound pack requires a higher level of fitness.

Make sure that you are in good shape for your activity.

Be prepared with knowledge and skills.

Basic survival skills, knowledge of nature, and a good understanding of how to use your equipment are absolutely necessary. Familiarize yourself with the flora and fauna of the area that you’re visiting. Get a map of the area and know how to read it. Practice using all of your outdoor gear to make sure that everything works, and you know how to use it.

Be prepared with the right equipment.

Mental and physical preparation are invaluable, and knowledge of the outdoors is certainly important, but without the right equipment, they aren’t very useful. We’ve been providing Northwest Arkansas with outdoor gear for over 30 years. Stop by the store and let us get you outfitted!

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