Want to spend more time outdoors? Maybe get into better shape while you do it? There are plenty of ways to enjoy nature, whether it’s a leisurely kayak trip or a heart-pounding rock climbing adventure.
No matter where your plans take you, it’s vital that you pack the right gear to stay safe and comfortable. Here are 10 popular outdoor activities you can get into and the most important gear you will need to get started.
Hiking is an easy and enjoyable way to spend more time outside. It doesn’t require much in the way of gear and you can hike nearly anywhere, whether you prefer sticking to trails or you like exploring on your own.
The most essential gear you will need is a good pair of hiking boots. The right boots can make your hike fun and comfortable, but the wrong pair can leave you in misery before you’ve hit a mile. Light hiking shoes are a good choice if you’re going to do fairly short-day hikes while backpacking boots are for multi-day journeys.
Mountaineering boots fall somewhere in between and work well on tough terrain. Always try on hiking boots before buying and wear them while running errands for a few days to break them in before you hit the trails.
Along with boots, it’s a good idea to invest in the best boot insoles you can find. Boots don’t always come with the right support for your feet, but insoles can save you from sore ankles and tender soles. High volume insoles are most commonly used with hiking boots, especially for people with high arches.
There’s nothing better than spending the night under the stars, but it’s important to head out with the right gear for a safe and comfortable trip. The most important gear you will need includes:
- Tent with stakes and tie-downs. A very lightweight tent is best if you’re going to be backpacking while a large and luxurious tent works best if you’ll be near a car.
- Sleeping bag. A quality sleeping bag will cost about $150 but will last for many years. Make sure you consider the season when choosing a bag in order to be comfortable at night. You will likely want to pair it with a sleeping pad so you won’t feel the hard ground beneath you.
- First aid kit and essentials. Even for an overnight camping trip, it’s a good idea to bring a first aid kit that includes bandages, aspirin, bug spray, and aloe vera. You can either bring ready-to-eat food with you or gear to cook outdoors. If you want to cook on your trip, choose a basic propane stove, fuel, and a fire starter as well as a small set of cookware, bowls, and utensils.
Kayaking is a fun way to get in shape and explore the rivers, lakes, and oceans nearby. A sit-on-top kayak is the most stable and user-friendly, but you will get wet. With a sit-inside kayak, you can stay dry in cooler weather. Remember that the longer and narrower the kayak, the faster it will go. As a beginner to kayaking, a touring kayak is the best choice. This style offers a good compromise of comfort, stability, and speed, unlike a sea kayak, which is designed for rough waters.
As with hiking, the most essential thing you need for running is a quality pair of running shoes. There are a few types to consider. If you are running on off-road paths, choose trail shoes with better tread for good traction and stability.
Road shoes offer greater cushion and flexibility for running on pavement. Cross-training shoes, on the other hand, are best for working out in a gym or when you need good balance with more contact with the ground.
A proper pair of shoes can help you run more efficiently and avoid injuries, but you may want to have someone check your running stride at a running shoe store. This will help you choose the correct type of insole to counteract weak spots in your stride.
Aside from a basic helmet and pads, the most important gear for skateboarding is, of course, a skateboard. To determine which type you should get, consider where and how you want to skateboard.
A traditional shortboard is a good choice for a beginner as you can learn to do tricks or just cruise whereas a longboard is heavy and bulky. Next, determine whether you want to buy a complete board or build your own, which requires buying the wheels, trucks, bearings, and deck separately.
This option gives you the greatest customization, but it can be more expensive and it’s best for skaters who already know what they want. In general, you will pay about $50 to $100 for a complete shortboard or up to $150 if you decide to get a longboard.
Snorkeling is a great way to explore the underwater world without the expense or complication of tanks, equipment, and certification. This outdoor hobby doesn’t require much gear, either. Most places that you can snorkel allow you to rent fins so you probably don’t need to buy your own.
The one piece of gear you will want to invest in is a good quality mask and snorkel set. A good mask has tempered glass with the durability to last through many trips. Always test masks before buying. The mask should fit firmly on your face. When breathing in, the mask should stay securely on your face without the straps on. If you notice gaps when you breathe, choose a different size.
A fully-dry or semi-dry snorkel is the final part of your set. As with the mask, invest in a quality snorkel that won’t allow water to enter the purge valve.
Cycling isn’t just an easy way to enjoy the outdoors; it can also help you stay fit and even commute to work. Owning a bicycle can even save you money on gas and the gym membership you may not be using as much as you mean to.
To get into cycling, you should start by choosing the right type of bike. Road bicycles are built for speed and designed to ride on pavement while cruisers are meant for casual riding that you may do on a bike trail or boardwalk. A mountain bike is a good choice if you’ll go off-road at all.
Once you choose a bike, you’ll need to Padded shorts are a must for men and everyone can benefit from a properly fitted helmet. If you plan to ride at night, consider installing a front light and a flasher tail light for safety.
Swimming doesn’t really require much in the way of gear, but there are many types of gear that may be helpful, depending on where you plan to swim. Swimming goggles are helpful for more relaxed swimming without burning eyes.
If you plan to swim competitively, a Tempo Trainer Pro can be helpful. This device works as a race simulator to help you train for the big day. Many athletes also use swimmer’s snorkels to focus on technique without turning to breathe.
#9. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing doesn’t need to be intimidating; with the right gear, climbing can be very accessible, even for beginners. Sport climbing, which involves following routes with anchors already placed, is a good way to try rock climbing outdoors as a beginner. According to Alex Johnson, a 5-time U.S. national rock climbing champion, good footwear is essential. Soft climbing shoes are a good choice for better grip and feel of the walls as you climb.
You’ll also want strong rope, quickdraws or a carabiner, a climbing harness, and a belay device if you’re climbing alone. All of this gear can be rented at a climbing gym, with the exception of shoes.
#10. Ice Skating
If you have access to an ice skating rink, which is a great winter date idea, hint hint, the only gear you really need to worry about is a quality pair of ice skates. There are two main types of skates: ice hockey and figure skates.
Figure skates have a longer blade and small teeth called a toe pick at the front to stop, pivot, or land after a jump. Ice hockey skates have no tail or toe pick on the blade. For general ice skating or playing outdoor sports, ice hockey skates are the best choice.
When choosing skates, make sure they fit snugly to support your ankles and give you better control of the blade. You may also want to pick up a simple wire lace tightener to save your fingers and make sure your laces are properly tightened before you hit the ice.
No matter which of these sports or hobbies you plan to try, the right gear makes a major difference in not only your safety but also how much fun you’ll have. It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur or professional at these, choosing the proper gear should always be regarded as a must.