You know the saying failing to plan is planning to fail ?

It’s true. Particularly in the case of heading into nature, who can at times be a bit of a cruel mistress. The key to a successful outdoor adventure begins before you even leave your front yard and if you are going to get it right here is a rundown of what you will need to consider.

Research your objective

Before you crack open that guidebook or start searching online for places you want to visit it is very important to be honest with yourself on your personal limitations, skill set and comfort level for various types of trips. Once this mental checklist is complete pick your adventure. It may be a short day trip hike through the local forest, an overnight backpacking trip or a multi-day trek to summit a distant mountain.

You now have what you will do for your trip picked so the research begins. Learn everything there is to know about the area and reach out to others that you may have done it before. Read guidebooks, search out Facebook groups and visit websites.

A couple of popular websites for trip ideas and info are:

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Where will your trip take you this time?

Choose your trip participants

This one is important – not all trips or companions are equal. Maybe you are organizing a trip for your local club or possibly just inviting friends, regardless you need to be clear on what the trip entails for possible participants. Discuss with them the fitness levels and abilities required of the trip, experience they should have and what skills will be needed. You should know what size of group you are comfortable in (particularly if you’re leading) and how many can safely join for the objective you have chosen. Be confident in questioning participants on meeting your criteria and being able to say no if they aren’t a good fit for this particular outing.

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Is all of your group comfortable in the terrain of your chosen trip?

Check the weather and conditions

You have the objective, you have your participants and most likely have a date selected. Now we need to know what weather conditions to expect so we can determine if timing is safe to go and what gear we may need to adjust to accommodate the weather. Things like snow, heavy rain or seasonal avalanche conditions all play a factor.

The websites most recommended to help are:

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Alpine objectives often have fast weather swings and you should always pack for extremes

Choose your gear

Terrain, duration, technical requirements and weather all play into how we will select our kit. A winter ascent of an icey snow filled mountain gully would require crampons, ice axe and cold weather clothing. A multi day trek through the Canadian Rockies in summer might require a rain coat to sunscreen and bear spray. Understanding the objective, participants and weather will make this job easy.  Also consider sharing equipment between participants to lighten pack weights which reduces fatigue, does everyone need to carry a camp stove or climbing rope?

You may also want to refer to our previous articles 5 Necessities For Backpacking Bliss  and Whats in Your Pack? for additional ideas and suggestions.

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Did you pack everything and check it twice?

Have a safety plan

The final and most important key to a successful adventure should be SAFETY. Please don’t hurt yourselves.

Ensure that everyone understands the outdoor 10 Essentials and has them packed. Have a pre-trip discussion on hazards of the trip, open communication on any concerns, who has first aid training , comfort levels and roles in the event of an emergency.

Leave a detailed route plan & description with someone at home including expected trip duration with planned check in time, trip start & end point and how many are in the group. Also make sure that person has the appropriate contact numbers for Search and Rescue.

Bring a way to communicate in the case of emergency. Modern day devices such as SPOT , InReach and PLBs (Personal Locator Beacon) are affordable , dependable and should be a part of your kit at all times. Only in locations that have cell service should a smart phone be considered your communication device and should have a back up means of contact.

The final thought on safety is to always be proactive and think ahead. Nature isn’t predictable –  avoid putting yourself or group in a situation that may increase your risks, the unexpected does happen but remain alert and vigilant.

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I always carry my InReach emergency communicator for safety on all trips

Hopefully with these 5 categories we have just covered you feel ready to go on that next adventure or take the step up to lead the next trip for your friends or family. Embrace the outdoors, educate yourself, respect nature and most importantly have fun.

We love it when you #LiveOutThere

 

 

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