Camping, Hiking, And Biking Tips for National Trails Day
National Trails Day is coming up on Saturday and we want to make sure that you are prepared for whatever adventure you take to celebrate. Whether you go for a hike, or a trail ride on your bike, or even go out camping in the woods for the weekend, being prepared is essential.
Camping, Hiking, and Biking Packing List
Whether you are going camping, hiking, or biking on wilderness trails, you’re going to need to pack a few necessities to keep yourself warm, safe, and fed. There are also a few luxuries that you may want to pack to keep yourself comfortable while you’re roughing it out there. Check out our packing list below to make sure that you’ve packed everything that you’re going to need while you’re on your National Trail Day adventure!
If you’re camping you will most likely want to pack and bring a tent to protect you from the elements. The alternative to a traditional tent is a hammock with a rope and tarp. Setting up a hammock allows you to truly sleep outside, while the rope and tarp will provide you with marginal protection should it start to rain. The size and shape of your tent should be based on how many people you’ll be sharing it with, as well as how long you’ll have to carry it.
If your trek is fairly long you may want to invest in the smallest tent possible for your number of campers, so that it’s easier to carry. But if you will be parking at the campsite, and won’t have to carry the tent far you may want to get a tent that is a bit more spacious.
Unless your adventure involves camping, you shouldn’t need a sleeping bag, but if you are camping it is definitely one piece of gear that you won’t want to forget. No matter what season you are camping in, cold nights are always a possibility, and it’s best to be prepared to protect yourself.
If you are camping with your significant other, consider investing in a two person sleeping bag, which helps to keep you warm with the help of double the body heat.
Whether you’re camping, hiking, or biking, you’re going to need some supplies. The ISOPack is the perfect backpack to comfortably carry everything you need for your outdoor adventure. It can even keep your food cold for up to sixteen hours within the insulated meal compartment, with the use of ISO Bricks. The various compartments and pockets, give you convenient access to your necessary tools and gear.
A flashlight is an essential piece of equipment for any trail adventure no matter what you’re doing, or what time of the day you’re out. This is a “just in case” tool when out during the day, because you may not need to use it, but once again it is better to be over prepared for the unexpected than unprepared and desperate.
Tick Deterrent & Insect Repellent
When you’re out on the trails in the middle of the wilderness nothing is more important than tick deterrent and insect repellent. Nothing will ruin an outdoor adventure faster than itchy insect bites, or possibly lyme disease infected ticks. To ensure maximum protection be sure to use permethrin (a clothing only repellent) on your clothes, and DEET (a skin only repellent) on your skin.
You may need to start a fire to keep warm, provide yourself with light, or cook your food over at some point during your time on the trail. For this reason it’s always a good idea to carry matches with you when you’re out in the elements. To ensure that you can always light your match be sure to glue some sandpaper to the container holding your matches.
First Aid Kit
It’s easy to injure yourself while you’re in the woods, but if you come prepared with a well built first aid kit, you shouldn’t worry. A well stocked first aid kit should include rubbing alcohol to clean any open wounds, adhesive bandages, gauze pads, moleskin to protect your skin from blisters, trauma shears, tweezers, aspirin and/or other pain killers, antihistamine pills and creams, rubber gloves, and activated charcoal in case of accidental poison. Personal needs may require additional first aid supplies such as an epipen.
Toilet paper is especially important if you are going camping, but also should be packed for any extended hiking or trail biking trip. Since you never know when nature will call, and whether or not available bathrooms will be well stocked, or even if there will be bathrooms available for use, it’s important to make sure you come prepared.
A towel can keep you warm and dry when the weather gets cold and wet. If the weather gets too hot you can even dampen the towel and wrap it around your head or neck to keep you cool. Packing a microfiber towel when camping, hiking, or trail biking is both more space efficient and lighter, for easier carrying.
There are various sizes and types of firestarters that you can carry with you depending on the distance that you will be traveling on foot or on bike. For trips with further distances you may want to pack and carry smaller firestarters like cotton pads drenched in wax, or altoid tins with rolled up cardboard and wax inside. These options don’t take up much space, and are much lighter to carry. If you aren’t traveling far you may instead want to opt for a firestarter made of an egg carton full of charcoal. This will provide a longer burn for a better chance of lighting other kindling.
Aluminum foil should absolutely be packed if you plan on cooking, or even reheating anything over a fire whenever you’re out in the wilderness. Seriously, anything can be cooked in aluminum foil, plus it’s super simple clean up that doesn’t require the use of any of your precious water reserve.
Whether you plan on being out for an extended amount of time or not, it’s important that you pack food for yourself on the off chance that something happens and you are out longer than expected. Always prepare yourself for the unexpected and you will never be caught off guard. If you’re camping you will obviously want to pack a bit more food than if you are going for a day hike or a trail ride, unless you are planning on catching the majority of your meals.
Always, always, always, pack plenty of water. I cannot stress this point enough. This is the number one, most important item to pack. In fact, once you have packed all of the water you think you are going to need, pack a bit more. You can never have enough water, especially if you are going to be out in the heat of the summer. You can only survive for three days without water before perishing, and even mild dehydration can do some serious damage to your body, so always pack enough, or even more than enough, anytime you hit the trails.
Packing extra clothes is of course especially important when you are camping, because you don’t want to have to wear the same clothes everyday. Even when you are taking a day hike or a trail ride though you’ll want to pack at least one set of extra clothing in case the clothes that you are wearing become caked in mud or wet. Mud caked clothes could make moving, walking, and biking difficult, while wet clothes could end up making you sick.
Camping is a great way to escape the hassles of day to day life, and embrace the beauty that exists only in the natural world. It even provides a perfect escape for reconnecting with friends and family without the distractions of technology. To make sure that you get the most out of your camping trip, it’s important to first decide what kind of camping trip you’re interested in, and then plan your adventure accordingly.
Campground or Wilderness
You can either camp at a campground, or you can camp out in the wilderness. If you plan to camp at a campground, be sure to call ahead and make sure that if you need a reservation, you have one. If you plan to camp out in the wilderness you won’t need reservations, but you might need to do a bit of research on the area and call your local Forest Service office to ensure that you follow any local rules or regulations regarding fires and waste disposal. It is imperative to keep in mind that camping in the natural forest is a more self-contained way of camping, but still partially regulated for the safety and preservation of the natural wildlife.
By Car or By Foot
If you decide that you want to camp out in the natural wilderness, it is unlikely that you will be able to drive your car right up to your campsite, meaning that you will have to pack up your equipment and hike or bike with it to your desired location. If, on the other hand, you choose to camp at a campground it is unlikely that you will have to carry your things very far at all. This may mean that you are able to bring more luxuries with you to a campground.
Leave No Trace
Many states have adopted the ‘leave no trace’ philosophy to their camping styles. Basically this ideal states that you will leave the land in the same condition in which you found it, or better. That means that you will clean up after yourself, throw away your own trash, and dispose of your waste properly. By leaving no trace of your existence you are essentially allowing the next campers to come in and enjoy the same beauty that you did, while simultaneously ensuring the health of the environment.
To some people hiking means putting on some sneakers and heading out to their local foot trails with nothing but a bottle of water and their iPod. For others hiking is a completely different kind of event involving specialized gear for trekking up mountains and taking on the natural lay of the land. In both of these instances it is important to be as prepared as possible to avoid injury and make the most of your excursion.
Wear The Proper Footwear
No matter where you are going to hike you should always make sure that you are wearing the proper footwear for the occasion, which means investing in a quality pair of hiking sneakers or boots (depending on the terrain).
Always Bring Water
Staying hydrated in any situation is always of the utmost importance, and venturing out on a physically demanding excursion without a supply of water is not only inconvenient, but it could also be dangerous. Even mild dehydration can cause unpleasant symptoms, and when your body is active it is much easier to become dehydrated, faster.
Don’t Forget The Essentials
Even when you are going for a quick hike on flat foot paths or rail trails, it’s a good idea to pack a small bag with essentials, for the most likely just in case scenarios. These items may include: water, a quick snack, a basic first aid kit, dry socks, a light jacket, bug spray, and a flashlight. An ISOPack will keep all of these items tucked away on your back, for convenient carrying and easy access, when necessary.
Never Hike 100% Alone
Hiking can be a deeply relaxing or exhilarating experience when you go alone, but going with a friend or even a group of people can be just as rewarding, if not more so. When you do go hiking alone, be sure that someone knows where you are going, and when you plan on being back. That way if something happens while you are out, like you get lost and don’t have any service on your cell phone, or you get injured and cannot make your way back, someone will know how and where to find you.
Trail Ride Tips
Rail trails were created to provide a safe area for people to be active outside whether on foot or on bike, without the dangers associated with sharing the road with motor vehicles. Another alternative includes riding on paths marked through nature, near your home. Whether they are dirt paths through the woods or forests, or sandy paths along beaches, these remote paths can add an element of excitement and difficulty that some rail trails cannot.
Never Ride 100% Alone
Trail rides are great group activities, and there is always safety in numbers. If you decide to go for a trail ride on your own though you can still be safe. Always let someone know which trails you plan on traveling (and don’t deviate from the plan), also let them know when you plan on being back from your ride so that in the event that you become hurt or get lost, they will know that you are missing, and not just on an extended ride. There are also apps, like “Map My Ride” that you can download on your phone that will track your ride and report your coordinates to your friends and family for a small fee.
Stick To The Trails
Sometimes when you’re out biking on a trail it may be tempting to deviate from the path for a bit to explore the land around you. Perhaps you hear, but cannot see a creek, or you simply want to see what’s beyond the treeline. Unless you are familiar with the lay of the land, or have gps and map training (and are actually carrying these items), it’s important to avoid leaving the safety of the trail. No matter how good you think that your “natural sense of direction” is, it can easily be beat by the vastness of the wilderness. The woods is not a place that you want to become lost, especially if you are not equipped to handle it.
It’s hard to know what you’re going to encounter on any given day out on the trail and that’s one of the reasons that it’s so important to be prepared for the unexpected. Since biking takes you farther in a shorter amount of time than hiking does, it’s easier to become lost if you deviate from the trail. It’s also easier to lose track of the distance that you’ve traveled, causing you to work harder than you anticipated to get back. This may mean that you’re spending more time away from civilization than you intended. When that happens it’s important to be prepared with: water, a dry pair of socks, a light snack, a flashlight, and a basic first aid kit. Carrying all of that on your ride may seem like a hinderance, but when you pack it all away in an ISOPack, it’s a hands free convenient carrying choice.
Have Fun And Stay Safe Celebrating National Trail Day
These tips are simple suggestions to help keep you safe, and the environment healthy no matter what outdoor adventure is right for you. The perks of camping, hiking, biking, and participating in other outdoor activities go beyond health and fitness. They also include: reconnecting with friends and family, unplugging from technology, reducing stress levels, minimizing your carbon footprint, and most importantly just having fun. Life is too short to spend it doing something that you don’t love.
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