Picture this… a few years ago I went camping on the Welsh coast. The tent was situated on a hill overlooking the sea, it was sunsets and scenic views galore and it sounds perfect right? Well it nearly was except we chose to camp mid winter with a tent designed for the summer and suddenly that sea air didn’t feel too romantic. We’d had a few sunny days prior so didn’t feel it necessary to bring any warm clothes and the moral of the story is, we froze!
Still winter is one of my favourite times of year to get outdoors. I like to do land based activities such as hiking and camping. Over my 4 years of learning to not be a nuisance to myself and the environment, I’ve picked up some obvious (to me now) and valuable winter tips.
I’d love you to contribute yours….
1. Seek out the right kind of information
If you’re an avid blog reader like myself, I’d recommend that you seek out people who are credible – easy said than done, in this soup of information. Mountain Rescue and the RNLI are always sensible sources of information. I like to read the blogs that belong to Outdoor instructors because 9/10 they know what they’re talking about. I’d always treat general outdoor blogs (like mine)! as guidance and encourage you on a journey of further research.
2. Invest in your kit
You don’t have to spend lots but it’s worth taking some time to read reviews online. I’d recommend you invest your money into a decent base thermal layer, 3in1 waterproof coat and light weight waterproof hiking boots. These three items have been a god send! I go to Mountain Warehouse for a lot of my things because they’re great value for money and ideal for those new to the outdoors. You may find yourself upgrading the more you get in to the outdoors.
Oh and if you’re picking sleeping bags and tents for this time or year, go for season 4 and over.
3. Don’t choose a big walk, to break in your boots
It’s taken me years to find the right type of hiking boot. I’m still dreaming of a custom made pair! I’m testing out some from Hi Tech currently which are certainly proving their worth but I’m only taking short walks with them. There’s nothing worse than blistered feet and rubbed ankles so early on, whilst on a long walk.
Get in to the habit of wearing them around the house, then in the garden, maybe on a dog walk or a trip to the local shop and go from there.
4. Take something warm to eat / drink
There’s been times when soup and hot chocolate has saved my soul. I think so much emphasis is put on warm clothes (and rightly so) but food and liquid is just as important. Even if you’re not a coffee / tea drinker – take some hot water, lemon and a hint of honey in a flask.
5. Tell someone where you’re going
It may sound cool to just take yourself off in to the wild and not tell anyone but it’s not cool if something doesn’t go to plan and you need help. Even the most independent types know it makes sense to map their whereabouts. And this doesn’t include announcing it on social media (you never know who is lurking). Tell a trusted family member, partner or friend and if you’re able to, invite someone to join you.
6. Don’t take on too much
I watched some of the Children in Need program which covered a lot of rambling and hiking type of stuff. I was moved by the girl with prosthetic legs who hiked around the Lake District – things like that really motivate me to get out more and conquer fears and what not. However, I also think many and myself included (in the past) are in danger of taking on too much in such a short space of time. Learning to be safe outdoors is the most important thing ever and it really is one step at a time. Weather conditions play a big part in adventure, so does physical and mental fitness. Start off small and build up….And remember with planning and preparation, you can do anything!
Got something to add?
Every time I get back from an activity, I say ‘Oh I should have or I could have taken…’ it really is a learning curve and even ‘the professionals’ make mistakes as I encountered recently with some instructors. Ultimately it’s about constantly learning, asking questions, gaining feedback and never assuming you know it all because when Mother Earth’s involved, you don’t!