If you haven’t spent your life jumping out of airplanes, you may feel intimidated at the thought of trying a new outdoor activity. You’d be surprised, however, at the number of adventure sports that are accessible to even the novice outdoorsman. With the right precautions and equipment, the following activities are something that most people can jump right into.
Because the level of difficulty can be adjusted to your ability, hiking is an ideal pastime for the beginner outdoorsman. Start small when planning your first hike, and take the time to read online reviews of local trails. Most trails are rated as beginner, moderate or difficult; however, user reviews will also tell you whether there is an abundance of rock scrambling or steep areas on the trail. Something to keep in mind is that the way down a mountain can often be even more difficult than the way up.
To prepare for your hike, plan to purchase appropriate footwear. Wear your new hiking boots around town for a few days prior to your hike to break them in a bit and make sure there aren’t any problem areas.
When going on a day hike, be sure to pack a first aid kit, sun protection, twice the amount of food and water you think you will need and an extra layer of clothing. Although we rely on our cell phones for so much these days, you may find yourself without a signal while on your hike, so packing a paper map of the trails and a compass is also a good idea. Always be sure to tell a friend exactly where you will be hiking and what time you expect to be back, with a few hours of wiggle room for normal delays.
If you’ve never been camping before and the thought of sleeping out in nature without access to a refrigerator feels daunting, our best advice is to keep it simple on your first time out and plan a trip to a campground. Every area of the country has established campgrounds with basic amenities such as water access, electrical hookups and public bathrooms with showers.
When choosing a campground, be sure to see if they allow pets, have grills available and let you reserve a spot beforehand. Consider whether you’d rather be close to the bathrooms for convenience or further away to reduce the foot traffic passing by your campsite.
What is considered “essential” for a camping trip varies from camper to camper, but there are a few items you shouldn’t go without as a novice. When choosing a tent, select one that is at least one size larger than you need. This will give you room to store your gear. Consider the climate in the area that you’ll be camping in when purchasing a sleeping bag. Although it may seem impressive, a summer camper does not usually need a sub-zero sleeping bag.
A propane stove is the easiest way to cook outdoors. You’ll be able to boil and fry your meals with ease. Once camping becomes a regular part of your life, you’ll want to collect a tub of cooking gear specifically for camping, such as pots, pans, utensils, and dishes.
Don’t forget to pack bug spray, flashlights, a survival knife, matches, sunscreen, toilet paper, dishwashing soap, and toiletries. One benefit to staying at a campground is that there is typically a camp store where you can purchase any forgotten items.
Always do a dry run setting up your tent at home. Although tents have come a long way over the years, they can still be tricky, and the last place you want to be fiddling over tent poles is on site.
If you’ve always loved riding a bike and are ready to take it to the next level, try mountain biking. Before going out and buying a bike, take the time to consider what type of terrain you will be riding on to determine which bike will best fit your needs.
Due to the likelihood that you may have some falls when you are starting out, choose your safety gear carefully. Mountain bike helmets range from $50 to $300 and come with a variety of features. Choose a helmet that fits snugly and is well ventilated. The newest technology in bike helmets is called MIPS, which stands for multi-directional impact protection system. MIPS offers extra protection by reducing the rotational forces that can be caused by an impact.
It’s important to stay well hydrated on the trail, and although you can bring a water bottle, we recommend using a hydration pack. Also be sure to pack a fix-it kit that includes a handheld tire pump, a spare tube, and a multi-tool. The last essential item to pack is a pair of full-fingered bike gloves with a bit of palm padding. You’ll appreciate them because they will reduce hand calluses and protect your palms in the case of a fall.
Kayaking is an ideal beginner sport because of how easy it is to get the hang of. Think about what type of experience you are hoping to have on a kayaking trip. Taking a kayak on a smooth lake can be a relaxing, almost meditative experience while white-water kayaking will add a bit of excitement to your life. Prior to making the expensive purchase of the kayak itself, borrow one from a friend or rent a few different kayaks to determine which best suits you.
Consider taking a lesson so that an experienced teacher can show you the basic paddling techniques and how to properly use your weight in the craft. Ask your guide to teach you how to right your kayak in case you overturn it.
Always wear a buoyancy aid when kayaking. Buoyancy aids are similar to life jackets, but they have a slimmer cut to allow for the movement required when paddling a kayak. Purchase a bilge pump, or dry bag, as you are likely to take on extra water. Neoprene footwear is lightweight and dries quickly but will protect your feet if you should have to get out of your kayak. As a safety precaution, pack a signaling whistle. Just like any other water sport, it’s wise to bring a partner with you when are kayaking.
What are you waiting for? Your next adventure awaits. Get out there and give it a try!