How To Be Outdoorsy
So you want to be one of those outdoorsy people, eh? Wearing Chacos with socks, living a lifestyle that is socially acceptable to being dirty most of the time, standing near blissful vistas of expansive wilderness...there is certainly a lot to love!
So, what does it take to be outdoorsy? Well, it is actually pretty easy all you have to do is...wait for it... go outside!
Truthfully though, that’s not the total answer. Getting “out there” takes a little bit of work. From finding the right gear to the right adventure partners, just getting out the door can seem like an uphill struggle (not the good, mountainous kind) so this is a mini-guide to help make adventuring a little easier!
ONE: CHOOSE AN ACTIVITY
There is an infinite number of activities that you can do outside. From foraging to stargazing, freediving to stand-up paddleboarding, trail running to ice climbing.
For a novice, while the choices are never-ending, some outdoor sports and activities are easier to get into than others. For example, when going on a day hike (usually under ten miles round trip) all you really need is a small backpack and tennis shoes.
For the outdoor tenderfoot, here are my top recommendations to start with:
Nature walks led by rangers at local state and national parks
Renting canoes or kayaks at the local river, lake, or beach
Renting bicycles and trying out the mountain bike trails in your area
Going car camping at a State or National Park
These are great starter adventures because you can gain a simple appreciation for nature, figure out what type of challenges you like most, and start working yourself into shape for more strenuous activities.
STEP 2: MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
In order to get outside more often, you will need to feel like going outside more often. It is the same drill as usual:
Getting eight hours of sleep is always a good rule of thumb, especially for good physical and mental performance
Eating your veggies (I’m talking tons of veggies!)
Eating less greasy, highly processed, and sugary food as well as drinking alcohol
Eating organic as much as possible. Surprisingly you are not meant to ingest pesticides! Go figure!
Exercising several times a week
STEP 3: INVEST IN GOOD GEAR
As mentioned previously, hiking is the cheapest and simplest outdoor activity to get into. If you want to start camping you may want to invest in some gear, such as a nice tent with a waterproof cover, camp stove, and a comfy backpack for longer hiking trips.
From my experience, the most essential gear is the gear that is going to keep you from being miserable. Simple things like toilet paper, bug spray, sunscreen, a rain jacket, waterproof gear, water, and snacks - lots of snacks.
Humans don't really need $500 hiking boots for basic stuff or moisture-wicking, zip-off pants that can turn inside out to reflect the sunlight in case of emergency situations and also glow in the dark. Believe me, as a self-admitted gear whore, it is hard to ignore the beautiful shiny fabrics and features of high-end gear, but for the most part, avoid the overwhelmed and stick with the bare essentials while you're starting out. You'll be able to figure out what you actually need and save money in the process! Sooner than later you will be spending a disgusting amount of money on all of that glow in the dark, ultralight gear so look forward to in the future and stick to the basics for now.
STEP 4: MAKE SOME FRIENDS
If you have friends who seem to get outside frequently give em’ a call and see if you can tag along next time. If not, never fear! There are thousands of outdoor groups online. From private Facebook groups to groups on meetup.com, it can be very easy to find like-minded people who want to get outside more often.
Simply Google or Facebook search for something like “(your area) Hiking Club” or “(your area) Outdoor Adventures”. You can also try putting out a post on social media or Reddit to see if anyone you know has a similar desire to get outside more often!
STEP 4 (PLAN B): GO ALONE!
A lot of people don't seem to like journeying out into the wild by themselves. Please don’t let that stop you! Going it alone can be some of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of your life.
It requires a little bit of courage and a little bit of calm to not have someone to talk to you all day. One thing to keep in mind is that oftentimes there are solo adventurers headed out from trailheads at the same time you are, so it is very easy to stick with someone. Just ask! I have made countless new mountain biking friends just by riding up the same trails as them at the same time.
STEP 5: LOOK THE PART
As silly as it may sound it is a lot easier to find outdoor friends if you look like an outdoor person. It is a very real social signal to look like the kind of person that you want to be.
Take pictures of your adventures and post them on social media
Buy some decent gear and actually use it
Learn the diction of the activity. For example, in mountain biking, being able to use terms like “berm”, “shred”, “gnarly, and “loam” in an English sentence helps with your street cred. Just don’t overdo it.
Wild Tip: At all costs try and avoid being the classic newbie. Across all sports and disciplines, you can always spot em’. Everything bit of gear is brand-new, overkill, top of the line, with the tags freshly removed. It's fine to go all-in like that but because I care about you, I want to help keep you from walking around with a metaphorical paper “dweeb” sign on your back. No one wants to be a dweeb.
STEP 6: JOIN THE CAUSE
If you are new to being outdoors then you are probably relatively new to the current battles that we are facing. Public land is being taken away. There are serious climate change issues going on. Pollution is an ever-growing threat to wild places. There are a lot of problems that are affecting our time spent outside and everyone needs to become part of the cause. Here are the basics:
Pick up your garbage (and other’s too!)
Stay on trails, especially in sensitive areas
Be respectful of homes near areas of recreation
Give proper right of way. Generally:
Uphill travelers have right of way.
Horses have the primary right of way, then hikers and walkers, then bikes.
Additionally, I strongly recommend doing some research and finding out what is affecting the outdoor areas you love the most. If it is possible, donating time and money to various nonprofits that you will begin to care most about is always a great idea to ensure that the future of our trails and environment remain accessible and beautiful for years to come. Check out these awesome nonprofits for starters:
Wild Tip: Dig around in your area for local groups that need volunteers and support. From local trail maintenance to various types of activism, it just feels good to be involved!
NOW WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, CLOSE THE COMPUTER AND GET YOUR ASS OUTSIDE!
Article By Callie Waldschmidt
Callie is a mountain-obsessed skier and mountain biker based in Bellingham, Wa. She’s the founder of Wild Grit, teaching online courses and creating videos for outdoorsy-minded adventure lovers everywhere.
Follow her on Instagram, here!