Make this year the year you get outside more often.
Even now in a few parts of the country, there is the occasional warmer day that starts to break up the winter routine. On days such as that, it is easy to get excited for the coming spring, but what most people end up doing is talking big about their spring and summer plans right now and then not following through as they hoped when the days finally arrive. Instead of falling into this same old rut, make this the year you get several of those adventures accomplished. Here are five tips, organized by month, on how to make the most of your time now so you don’t lose it later.
First thing is first, the occasional warm ups come with their own advantages, most importantly the chance to ease back into the more active months around summer. This doesn’t happen all at once, and since the warm ups usually clear the sidewalks or trails of ice and snow, take advantage while you can and start working on your fitness and endurance. When the snow and colder temps descend back on your favorite exercise spot, do the best you can indoors like working on core exercises, jumping rope, doing lunges, etc. Once the cold recedes, get back out when you can and go for that walk or run again. This isn’t a New Years resolution thing, it’s just an effort to get you back into shape to actually accomplish those summer activities like climbing a mountain, biking a long trail, going on a spring turkey hunt, etc.
Your fitness might not be the only thing you’re deficient in to start the year. You may need to replace or add some key gear to make it through the season. This is another common problem for people who want to do more with the warm months but are not exactly prepared to do it all right away. What usually ends up happening is instead of checking their gear out now to see what works and what they may need, they leave their hastily packed gear stored for the entire winter, and then when their friends or family call to plan a trip, they pull it all out of storage at once only to find the tent is broken, the cookware is rusted, or the flashlights don’t work. Worse yet, they take it for granted and find out things don’t work after they’re out in the field.
Avoid this common mistake and pull your gear out now, inspect it, and then take note of what you may need for the coming year. This way you can budget some of the purchases now so you don’t have to slap down several hundred dollars for gear at the same time as other trip costs like food and gas. Take our word for it, that can really put a damper on a trip, or worse make it feel like this trip is the only one you can afford this year. Some common items to consider now are:
There’s likely much chatter about the places you’d like to go see each season picking up in April. National parks, hunting leases, new or favorite trails, or just the lake house / family cabin can all be common suggestions, but if you’re not careful with your planning, many of these ideas can be cast aside for smaller commitments as the summer progresses. This year start planning the must-see destinations now and get a few dates set in stone if possible. Don’t forget that campgrounds can book up, outfitters have their best weeks fill up, and even your friends and family start to make their own plans. Whatever matters most to you, get it scheduled now before the summer begins.
The majority of your most active outdoor days will fall between Memorial Day in late May and Labor Day in early September. This is not to say you can’t get a lot done outside of those dates, but residents in colder climates will be on a tighter schedule, which means a lot of these weekends will get filled quickly if you plan to get a lot done like you intended in February / March. Aside from those hardy enough to camp in the winter, most camping trips will come during these precious weeks as well. But don’t wait for June to come around, pack those extra jackets and blankets and hit an early season trip. Just remember that rainy, colder morning and chilly nights may be common obstacles during these early trips, so prepare accordingly.
One of the true bonuses of the summer is the extra day light that comes with it. There’s much more opportunity to set off early and do a day trip even with a few hours travel time back and forth involved. For scenarios like this, don’t forget to pack extra water in the form of hydration packs or bottles in a day pack. It is also a good idea to leave some on ice in your car for when the hike or sight seeing trip ends. During this time of year, you can also pull off those trips that start after work on Friday night and end Sunday morning / afternoon. The key here is to have a plan or know where you’re going. It can be very difficult to find that camping spot off the beaten trail after the sunsets, or worse year, plenty of weekend campers have set off at dusk just to find that all the camping spots in the area are also occupied.
Holiday weekends will be the worst when it comes to crowds, but there is a camping trick to consider if you have a little extra time on the week day and some extra gas money. Simply drive up to your chosen spot on a weeknight, pitch a cheap tent you don’t care about and set up a few camping chairs or tables, and you’ve got yourself a spot for the busy weekend in advance. Now is this sort of behavior ethical? Well that’s a good question, and it certainly irks most that get up to a place early only to find no one is there but the spots are all staked out. Then again, there’s no way to really police this behavior, and if you have to get a little crafty to get that spot you’ve always wanted, then so be it.
Stay in shape, get your gear prepped, and have a good year of camping, hiking, hunting and travels!
Interested in more? Check out: Tent Care: At Camp And In Storage.