As a former Eagle Scout, I was taught many important skills and tricks to enjoy the great outdoors responsibly. One of the most important lessons I learned is a simple, but at times complex one: be prepared. “Be prepared” is the Scout Motto, and in order to enjoy the outdoors responsibly (and comfortably) you really do need to be prepared. We often think of packing important camping gear, and sometimes we forget some of the smaller and easily overlooked items that make a big difference while outdoors. Below is a list of 9 easily forgotten items that will make your next outdoor adventure more enjoyable.
Chapstick. I live in Colorado, so I rarely go anywhere without this high-elevation necessity. This almost always tops my list of forgotten items, and it’s one of those things that you quickly notice you have forgotten. I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped at a gas station to buy a forgotten tube of chapstick halfway up the mountains.
First Aid Kit. This may seem overboard for some activities like a light hike in the woods, however having some sort of first aid materials will make a huge difference in case of a minor setback. I pack a small, basic kit when hiking, camping or biking that has bandaids for blisters and small cuts, tweezers for splinters, aspirin for an unexpected headache and a few packets of hydration salts in case of heat exhaustion. Depending on exactly what you are doing, you can add to this list whatever you think you need. A first aid kit doesn't have to be big or cumbersome, and having these items in case you need them will make you feel much more comfortable in the outdoors. A small setback like a blister or headache doesn’t have to ruin your trip if you plan ahead.
Sunscreen. I have a small tube of sunscreen that I always keep in my daypack. Weather can change quickly, and there have been plenty of times when I wish I had some solar protection to get me through the day. A sunburn is one of those free souvenirs that nobody likes to bring home from their adventure.
A hat. This offers additional protection from the sun and can make a huge difference on a sunny hike. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that I often forget. I’m slowly building a collection of gas station hats.
Face mask. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and just because you are outside does not mean you should not be taking steps to protect yourself and others against Covid-19. I prefer to bring a gaiter style mask to wear around my neck. While passing oncoming hikers on the trail, it’s super easy to just pull my gaiter up and lower it once on-comers have passed. I can tell you that this is now common practice on hiking trails, and almost everyone out on a hike does this. Gaiters are also extremely versatile and offer sun protection for your neck and extra insulation on a chilly day. Regardless of the virus, a gaiter will stay on my list for those two reasons alone.
Hand Sanitizer. Not only does this help slow the spread of the virus, it’s also a great way to clean up before eating or snacking. Personal hygiene is always important.
Extra Socks. Although most boots and outdoor footwear are waterproof, it takes just one “hidden puddle” to ruin your hike. Hiking with wet socks is terrible, and having that extra pair of socks in my day pack has saved me more than a few times!
External Battery. Whether you want to stay connected or completely disconnect in the backcountry on your trip, it’s always important to have a backup battery to charge your phone or other devices in case of an emergency. Although I prefer to completely disconnect from social media on my trips, I do use my camera and offline maps frequently which we all know drain your battery. Even if you don’t end up using it, having an external battery gives you some peace of mind.
Something that brings you joy. A huge part of really enjoying the great outdoors is being comfortable while doing so, I would encourage you to bring something that makes you feel a little more “at home.” This could be your favorite snack, a pair of headphones to listen to music, your journal, a good book, your dog, etc. Since you know yourself best, pick something that you know will bring you joy on your trip - this is a guaranteed way to ensure you are enjoying yourself outside.
You don’t need to be a Boy Scout to be prepared, this is a motto that everyone can take into account when planning their next outdoor adventure. Although it may seem like a chore, taking the time to plan out your trip well will allow you to enjoy your time outside. What’s something that you tend to forget when you head outdoors? Leave a comment below and let’s add to this list!