8 Outdoor Skills You Should Know
Itching to get out and explore the great outdoors? We’re not surprised! Even the most urban-loving people experience the desire to temporarily escape city living and spend time in nature. But if you’re new to the outdoors or haven’t been camping since you were a little kid, getting out there can also be a little scary. To help you feel more at ease in the wilderness, we’ve rounded up a few basic outdoor skills that are worth learning before your next big adventure.
1. Planning an Outdoor Adventure
You want to get the most out of your outdoor adventure, right? Then plan, plan and plan some more. Knowing how to plan for your camping trip can be the difference between having the time of your life versus being completely miserable and calling off your trip early.
You should be able to answer the following questions before going on any trip:
- Where are we going?
- How long are we staying?
- What is the weather like?
- What activities will we be doing?
- What equipment/gear will we need?
2. Packing for a Trip
Once you know where you’re going and what you’ll need, you need to pack for your trip. Two of the most common mistakes we see new campers make are: 1) packing far too much for their trip, and 2) packing their gear incorrectly.
Try to pack as light as possible. If you’re carrying a backpack around, aim to keep it around 20 lbs. or less. And if you’re bringing expensive equipment along (guns, bows, camera, etc.), be sure to pack your equipment in hard cases designed to protect it from the elements.
3. Lighting a Fire
Knowing how to build a fire is the king of all outdoor skills. Not only is it key to making mouthwatering campfire meals (more on this below), it’s also a basic survival skill that can literally save your life. Fires can be used to purify water for drinking, ward off predators, create a distress signal and provide you with warmth when it’s cold. And did we mention that it’s essential for making s’mores? If that doesn’t give you the motivation to learn how to start a campfire, we don’t know what will.
4. Setting Up a Shelter
There is a lot more to putting up a tent than meets the eye. First, you need to find the perfect spot to pitch your tent. Unless you want to wake up with back pain, we recommend choosing a soft spot with flat terrain.
Never set up your tent underneath a tree! Tree limbs can snap off from old age or after a recent storm and fall on your tent, causing injury or death.
Finally, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to set up a tent. Seriously, it can take a while, especially if you’re a camping newbie. Be sure to an LED flashlight handy in case you run out of daylight before you finish setting up your tent.
5. Layering Clothing
Mark our words – layers are key to enjoying the great outdoors. When people complain about having a miserable camping experience, the reason is almost always due to a lack of proper clothing.
For the summertime, you probably only need a base layer made from moisture-wicking fabric and a lightweight windbreaker to go on top. For the winter, plan to dress in three layers: a base layer, a mid-layer and an outer layer.
By knowing how to layer clothing, you can stay at an optimal temperature at all times. You can remove a layer when you get too hot or add a layer when you start to feel cold.
6. Knot Tying Techniques
As far as outdoor skills go, knot tying may not seem like an important thing to learn. But knowing how to tie basic knots can be useful when it comes to tying down a tent or hanging a hammock up between two trees. To get you started, here are four common knots outdoor enthusiasts should know:
- Clove hitch
- Tautline hitch
- Overhand knot
7. Cooking Meals
Nothing beats the taste of a delicious campfire meal that you made all by yourself. The best campfire meals are easy to make, easy to clean up and have lots of nutritional value. Pro tip: Use a cast-iron skillet. If you season it well, you’ll get an amazing flavor. It’s also a breeze to clean up and you can use it over an open flame.
8. Basic First Aid
It’s always a smart idea to bring a basic first aid kit on any outdoor excursion. However, your first aid kit won’t be particularly helpful if you don’t know how to use any of the items in your kit.
Before you go on a trip, check out the items in your kit and make sure that you’re familiar with their uses. Consider tailoring your first aid kit to your specific adventure. For example, are you going camping in a heavily forested area? Knowing how to treat poison ivy and other poisonous plants could prove useful.
Level Up Your Outdoor Skills
This list of outdoor skills is by no means exhaustive. You’ll learn the most by getting outside and putting your knowledge to the test. But hopefully, this list gave you a good launching off point. Happy adventuring!