There are so many outdoor fun activities and ideas for beginners. However, due to constrained budgets, it can be hard to fly out to the Caribbean for some sunshine or lazy time on the wonderful pristine beaches. What everyone needs is a simple guide for outdoor activity ideas like this one. If you are thinking of ways to get outdoor and enjoy yourself, you are in the right place.
Outdoor fun activities guide for beginners
Briefly, we will look at the things that you can do outdoors, the outdoor gear that you will need for such activities and so on. The good news is that apart from the gear, most of the outdoor activities are free of charge.
You can have a vacation every other weekend and you will enjoy yourself tremendously. From hiking, camping, backpacking, mountaineering, kayaking, road trips to trekking, there are so many things you can do alone, with friends or as a family and enjoy yourself tremendously.
When you will have saved more money in future, you can try some of these outdoor fun activities in other faraway places. For example, you can go for hiking in Scotland, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, or traveling in India. There is no limit to the fun outdoor things that you can enjoy.
As a beginner, always start with the simplest of them all. If the activities are free of charge, so much the better for you. Keep an open mind, and see just how much you will enjoy Mother Nature at her best. She really has many surprises waiting for you.
Learn how to start hiking and backpacking. You will love it and once you get started, be warned, there is no quitting. Yes! It is that addictive. This is the simplest of them all. The whole of America is going hiking and they love it. You too can join the bandwagon.
Hiking involves walking short or long distances. Many outdoor enthusiasts love hiking because it requires minimal preparation since in most cases; it is just for a day’s walk. However, if you would like to do overnight hiking, you should ask the trail authorities because in most cases, you are required to have a permit for that.
Identify the hiking trails
Hiking trails come in different difficulty levels. Some are extremely challenging, meaning that you will have a hard time making distance and that you should be at maximum physical fitness level. Other trails are rated as easy, easy-to-moderate, challenging and very challenging. If you will go hiking with your family, find a trail that is easy for the kids. If the kids are three to five years old, find trails with a difficulty rating of easy and easy to moderate.
If the kids are five to twelve years old, you can take them on trails with a difficulty rating of easy-to-moderate and challenging. Basically, find out information about the trails before you leave home and buy a hand-curated map for hiking.
You can also go hiking in the parks where there will be paved trails, well-maintained gardens and even zoos. Your children will have a ball. Shenandoah National Park is a great destination for that. If you would love to hike on the rough trails, try California. The Shasta and Trinity wildernesses have some of the best day hike trails in America.
What to carry with you
Get your mens hiking boots ready, your portable water filter and a small backpack. Be ready for some crazy fun on the trails and wonderful views of diverse flora and fauna. If you like, you can combine your day hike with fishing, bird watching and other activities.
My advice for a beginner hiker is to take it easy at first, choose the easy trails, learn everything about hiking and when you are ready for the big boy trails, you will know it. You will feel it in your blood. Just remember to break your boots. Never wear them straight out of the box and hit the trails.
Do not mistake trekking and hiking for each other. They mean almost the same thing. However, hiking is about a walk for a day, one day at a time kind of thing. Trekking on the other hand is hitting the Appalachian Trail, Inca Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail for days on end until you have walked all of it or a good section of the same.
The trekking trails are well defined and at intermittent points, there will be guesthouses, food houses and watering points. Trekking can extend for many days or for as long as someone wants to trek. When you go trekking, you will find well-defined trekking infrastructure, meaning that the trails you will be taking will be well set out. This is different from hiking which most people do in the wilderness.
If you are trekking in America, you can do it alone, or in a group of other trekkers. However, if you are doing it in Africa, for example, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, you will be required to register with an agency that will provide you with a crew. This crew includes a cook and porters. Before you go trekking in another country, it is important to find out their regulations.
Since you will be gone from home for some time, you will need to pack a backpack. Carry some clothes ideal for the place where you will be trekking. For example, if it is a high altitude, it will be cold so you will need to carry warm clothing. Do not forget to bring a men’s or womens sleeping bag rated for the temperature of the places that you will be trekking. You can also carry a sleeping pad. Remember, you need your beauty sleep to feel rejuvenated for the following day’s trek.
You will need to carry trekking poles. You can attach them to your backpack. Also, carry a small survival kit in your pack. Who know what can happen out there? Carry a first aid kit, portable water filter and most importantly, take the best hiking shoes with you. You can create a backpacking checklist to help you pack all the items that you need without leaving anything out.
There are a few things to remember when you are a beginner trekker. Here they are:
- Know how to pack right. You can refer to my article on how to pack a backpack
- Carry a trekking pole or a stick. It will help you to walk
- Trek as light as possible. The first items you set out to pack, divide them by half. You do not need all of them
- Instead of packing too many clothes, wear many layers if the weather allows
- The trekking shoes! We cannot overemphasize the importance of this
- Carry some bear spray. Not sure though whether this can scare a charging lion hahaaa
- Carry some sweets/candies and lozenges and suck on them at intervals
- Do not go trekking alone. Join a trekking group or program organized by management
- Decide in advance where you want to go so that you can prepare amply
- Carry food with you, and water too. Do remember to carry a portable water filter to drink from springs and brooks
What is backpacking? This is the most basic way of touring the wildernesses. With just a backpack on your shoulders, using public means of transport where you can and seeing the world at your leisure. This practice is very common with college students who take a year off from their studies to go see the world on their terms. However, even if you are long done with college, you can still enjoy backpacking.
Perhaps we can say that backpacking is a small budget way of touring the world for many days. Part of the package will include sleeping in cheap hostels, using public means of transport, getting free rides wherever possible, cycling and many more. While it is almost similar to trekking, back packing takes many days, living practically from your pack, and seeing the world on your feet.
It does not have to be a long backpacking vacation spreading over many days. It can be just a weekend or a few days worth of sightseeing, but you will love it very much.
Here are a few tips to help you along on your very first backpacking trip:
Buy a good handcurated map, learn how to read it and make sure it is waterproof too. It is easy to buy such from the park/trail management or from the National Forest Service
Choose short backpacking trips for your first tour. You can keep upgrading this with time until such a time as your experience increases.
Carry enough yet minimal gear. First-timers always have a problem with this. There is always that urge to take all the comforts of home with you, but that can break your back with time. Carry the basics only and keep your backpack as light as possible. You also need to keep the pack balanced on your back. You need to pack it with skill. Buy a frontloading backpack for easier access to your items.
Eat simple meals. Do not plan for a full buffet when you are out there on the woods. Remember, what you will eat is what you have carried along with you. You want food that cooks fast, probably in boiling water without the shenanigans of oils, coriander, onions and other accessories. If you are going to eat beef jerky and trail mix rations, well, that is even much better.
Carry the right gear. You will need a tent, a sleeping bag, personal hygiene items, flashlight and basically, other things that you may want to take with you on an overnight hiking trip since backpacking is like extended hiking. Just do not overdo it. For example, instead of carrying water, just find out whether the area you will be backpacking has water and then you can carry a portable hiking filter.
Do not go backpacking blindly. You need to know the route that you will be hiking and you need to prepare for the wilderness life. For example, practice pitching your tent in the backyard, know how to survive in the wild and most importantly, read up on backpacking tips for beginners. If you have new hiking boots, break them a week or two before taking to the road.
Keep an eye on the weather. Your safety is everything and if there will be rain, just postpone the trip. You can do it another time. Even when no rain has been predicted, do carry rain gear like a rain jacket, and when you buy a pack, ensure it is waterproof, or buy a waterproof cover for it.
Interact with other backpackers whenever you can. Choose to back pack in times when many other people are hiking. This will allow you to interact with many experienced trekkers, even thru-hikers who have been on popular American trails like the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. They will give you a lot of free advice that will assist you a great deal. When you are a beginner, it is not the time to be alone on the trails.
Do not go alone on your maiden trip. Find a good backpacking partner. That way, you will feel safer and more secure. It can be a friend, family or maybe you can just join a group program.
Camping is the mother of all outdoor fun activities and adventures. It is also a bit expensive as compared to trekking and hiking. When you go camping, it means you will be away from home for a given time. You will be living in a temporary home in the wilderness or in the camping ground. Most people do their camping vacations with an RV or in a caravan. You can also include camping in your backpacking package but that means you will have to carry your tent with you.
There are so many types of camping. Today, this adventure has evolved a lot over time, with the latest one being glamping which means glamorous camping. Here, you camp in commercial camping grounds with as many luxurious amenities as possible. It is not for everyone though, only for people who can afford it.
Some forms of camping are minimalist. For example, dry camping requires you to carry your own water since you will be camping in waterless places. Bicycle camping is for riders and as such, they cannot carry heavy luggage. Backpacking means you will carry everything on your back so you try to make your load as light as possible.
Other popular forms of camping include car camping which means you drive to camping ground. RV and caravan camping are also popular with specialized camping vans where you can cook, sleep and even go to the toilet.
Canoe camping has also become increasingly popular over time where you tow your camping gear behind your canoe and row away. Off-road camping means using your SUV to reach the toughest places and camp there, could be in the wildernesses.
There is a form of camping for just about every outdoor enthusiast. To camp in the wildernesses in the USA, find out whether you will need a permit from the National Forest Service or from the park management.
This depends on many things, but the chief determinants are where you will be camping and the type of camping you have chosen. For example, for backpacking, you will need to carry a camping tent, a sleeping bag, food, a stove, first-aid kit, portable water filter and clothing of course. Bring your cellphone too, flashlight, insect repellent and other items. Whatever cannot fit in your backpack should be left behind. You are going camping, not moving house.
The basics of all types of camping include tent, survival kit, trekking poles if you are planning to hit the trails, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, hiking boots and many more things. If you are going for glamping, car, RV or caravan camping, you can afford to carry more items with you.
Here are a few short tips for camping for beginners
- Buy a camping tent
- Choose the best camping site in the US or wherever you intend to go
- Practice pitching up your tent
- Decide the type of camping that you want to do
- Carry enough food
- Bring your insect repellent
- Always leave the campsite cleaner than you found it
- If you are going for car camping, carry a little extra of everything
- Carr enough water for dry camping – dehydration is real
- Read up widely on camping and the general conditions of the area
- Keep an eye on the horizon – for the weather
It might not be as popular as hiking and trekking, but it is one of the greatest outdoor adventures for everyone. Note that you cannot just up and go climb a mountain; you will need to train for the hard task ahead. You see, this type of outdoor adventure requires one to be in top physical form.
Choose where you would like to go mountaineering. For example, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mt. Kenya in Kenya are very popular for beginner hikers since they are not very demanding. Closer home, you can start with Mounts Baker and Rainier. Both of them offer a serious, but very enjoyable challenge.
One of the most important things that you should never forget about mountaineering is that up there amidst the rocks and the trees, you are as good as your gear, and there are no two ways about that. A poorly built tent will be blown away fast by a mountain wind, so you have to get your gear right.
Buy high quality gear and start with a 4-season tent. Know how to pitch it just right before you leave home. You do not want to be caught at the base of a mountain with a poorly pitched tent when a gale starts brewing.
Know where to pitch your tent. Keep it out of the flood way just in case there is rain at night and most importantly, keep it sheltered from the wind. Pitch it firmly too and if the wind changes direction, change the camp.
You have to pack very light. You just need to carry the essentials. When you go mountaineering, the most important requirements will be speed and agility, that is, can you negotiate obstacles fast? This is not about comfort. It is about setting out a challenge for yourself. So leave behind the comforts of backpacking and carry the bare basics only.
Because you want to climb as light as possible, buy high quality mountaineering clothes and wear them in layers as that saves space on your backpack. You will wear the same clothes for all the time that you will be up on the mountains, so make them as high quality as possible. Remember, wear long underwear – that will keep you jolly warm too.
Same as in trekking or hiking, remember the shoes! You are as good as your shoes. Buy the right womens climbing shoes if you are a woman. These shoes are different from hiking shoes because they are made specifically for climbing inclined grounds. They are very light on your feet. When ordering online, do read a few climbing shoes reviews. If you go to a brick and mortar store, ask specifically for climbing boots.
Carry a rain jacket. Mountains have a tendency of getting showers with little or no notice. Be safe all the time. You will find that climbing can be thirsty work. So carry a portable water filter with you since most mountains are well supplied with water. Do not ever drink it straight from the source. Look for a water filter that is built on a technology that can filter chemical compounds, viruses and bacteria.
What will you eat on the mountain trails? This is very important as it determines the kind of gear that you will bring with you. For example, foods such as beef jerky, biscuits, trail mix rations, dried fruits and so on do not need you to carry a stove.
Carry a climbing helmet. A light first aid kit will suffice. Some painkillers, athletes tape and iodine tablets will do. It is not as if you are planning to have a breakdown on the mountains, are you? Carry a headlamp with you, it will be very helpful if you have to leave before light in the morning. A knife is an asset for you. Buy a good knife made specifically for the outdoors, one that can withstand corrosion.
Lastly, you need a good rope. This should be treated against moisture and it should be the right length lest you carry one that is too short or too long. Look for the best climbing ropes in the market, maybe even read a few reviews before you order one online. A mountain man never leaves his rope behind.
Many people have died of pulmonary edema when they climbed high altitudes too much too fast. You do not want that to happen, so you should take some time to acclimatize your body with the climb. Climb slowly; take the longer routes to condition your body perfectly. Most people start to feel the effects of climbing once they get to 10,000 feet. If you are a total novice, do not climb that high on your first climb. You can always come back.
You have to be physically fit. If you have allergies, or chronic condition, consult your physician. It is a good idea to hit an inclined treadmill a few weeks before the actual hike.
If you feel sickly along the climb, you know, anything bigger than a headache or a headache that persists too much, just abort the mission. You can always come back another time.
There are many more things to know about mountaineering for beginners, but the above tips are good to get you started. The best advice for you is, start training now. Go conquer that mountain soon and see how you feel about it.
Kayaking for beginners
Kayaking is fast becoming a very popular outdoor vacation activity. It is so easy, it will keep you physically fit and you will love everything about it. Once you get started, you can be paddling away happily in a few hours time. Among all the outdoor activities that we have discussed here, this one is the most enjoyable of them all.
Anyone can learn kayaking! That is for sure. You, your spouse, your children, most probably your dog too, can learn how to hit the water running with a kayak. For everyone who loves water sports, this is one of the best.
Mainly, there are three forms of kayaking:
Sea kayaking – This is kayaking in the open sea, but close to the seashore where you can interact with wildlife. It is very enjoyable.
White water kayaking – This is for the adrenaline junkies. It gives a thrill rush going down fast waters and sometimes, even going down big rapids. It is only recommended for advanced kayakers. You will graduate to this with time.
Flat water kayaking – This is done in lakes. It is recommended that you begin here.
For a beginner, you will need to know a few, very important things. I will outline them for you here:
Get the right kayak
Kayaks come in all styles and sizes. Some are made for sea kayaking, some for flat water and some for white waters (wild). So perhaps even before you can buy a boat, you need to decide where you are going kayaking so that you can order a suitable one. Some boats are 14 feet long, some are 17 feet long. Some are flat-decks and some are made with sitting room sunk inside.
Get a lesson or two
You can go kayaking on your own and learn it firsthand on the water. However, when you hit the waters, you just want to sail away. You do not want to dilly-dally, going around in circles just because you cannot paddle your kayak in the right direction. Get a lesson from a good instructor and the rest, as they say, will be history.
One of the many things that an instructor will teach you is how to sit on your kayak, the posture. You will be taught how to hold the paddle and how to keep the boat straight. You will have the fastest captaincy lessons. If you do not know the right boat to buy, you will also be advised accordingly because not all boats are good for beginners.
Never go kayaking without a floater/buoyancy aid
This is for your own safety and it does not matter your level of professionalism. If you are going kayaking, you must wear a buoyancy aid. Luckily, there are many of them that are built specifically for this activity. Should anything happen in the water and you happen to lose your kayak, you can at least stay afloat until you are rescued.
Choose the right clothes
What shall you wear on the water? A pair of shorts only so that you can get that lovely summer tan? Believe me, it will be very tempting, but do not do it. You are not dressing according to the weather, but according to the water. Wear a kayaking wetsuit so that you can still keep warm should you fall into the water. Remember, you are a beginner kayaker and there are high chances of flipping over.
You need a spray deck
Also referred to as a spray skirt, it will keep the spray out of the boat. This is for people who will sit inside their kayak as opposed to sitting on top of their kayak, which of course depends on the design of the kayak. You do not need this is you are using a flat topped kayak, and besides, you will be wearing a wetsuit.
You need a kayaking/water helmet
This is very important especially for whitewater kayaking. If you fall into the water among rocks, your head could be in danger if you do not wear a helmet, so please wear one. If you are doing flatwater kayaking, you may not need the helmet, but wear one because another beginner kayaker might knock you on the head with his paddle.
Know basic water rescue
You may capsize in the water, or another kayaker may face the same fate. You need to know some basic rescue procedure for yourself and other people as well. Some people will tell you to stay by your boat if you capsize, but then it is better to lose the boat and save your or other people’s life. So if worse comes to the worst, just let go of the boat and other gear, and stay as safe as you can.
These are just a few of the outdoor fun activities that you should not agree to die before you do, at least one of them. Be warned though because the outdoors is addictive and once you have a taste of the same, it will be hard to let go. Other things that you can combine with these outdoor activities include fishing, swimming, bird watching, wildlife encounters and so on. There is no shortage of surprises when you are in the outdoors.