Planning big adventures in 2021?
Whether your goal is to simply get outside more, or you're planning to check off a bucket list hike, it's great to set adventure goals for the year. We know this can be a daunting task - don't worry, we've got your back. We put together 5 steps to planning a successful hiking trip, so you don't have to stress about conquering your adventure goals this year.
Step 1: Narrow Down Your Bucket List
The first step of planning out any year’s trips is deciding which ones you’re going to check off the bucket list. Here’s our first tip - start with practical adventures. Sure, you may have grandiose trips in the back of your mind, but let’s start with the smaller, more attainable plans first. To help you narrow down your options, here are some things to consider.
Time & Distance
How far are you willing to travel for your adventures this year? How long will each trip take? How much time do you have to hike the distance you want to go? If you’re limited on time, you could plan a series of shorter hikes in the same region to make the most of the effort that went into travelling.
Region & Climate
Are you looking for a specific environment or climate for this year’s adventures? Depending on the amount of time you have, it might be wise to choose somewhere close to home or a few trails that you can tackle in a weekend. If time is of no concern and wanderlust is calling you to expand your horizons, make sure you do your research on the climate you will be spending your time in (and keep in mind that climate varies throughout the year).
Group or Solo?
If you’re hiking solo, you don’t have to worry about others and their pace. However, if you’re hiking with a group, you’ll need to accommodate the pace of the slowest hiker in your group. No hiker left behind! When planning out how much time you’ll need for each adventure, base it off the amount of time that each trip will take the slowest hiker to complete. That way, worst case scenario, you’ll have extra time back in your trip, instead of having to cut out plans when you take more time than you originally allocated.
Preparation & Training
Some easier trails can be done in a few hours, easy-peasy. However, even simple trails require some amount of physical effort! If you were a couch potato last year (no judgement), be sure to factor in some pre-adventure training time. This could be as easy as walking around your neighborhood! For more challenging adventures, you’ll have to do some heavier training to prepare for the trip. Try finding trails with similar conditions to your planned trip in your area for practice sessions. That way, when you make it to your adventure destination, you’re all warmed up and ready to go!
Step 2: Choose Your Location
When you’re looking over options of places to go for your trip, keep in mind all the tips we gave above, and list out the pros and cons of each option before choosing a location. This makes it easier to make your decision and pinpoint your exact destination. You can always rank your remaining options in case you have time to squeeze in additional trips throughout the year. Bonus adventures, nice!
Step 3: Map Your Route
Even simple trails, or ones close to home, may look different than what you expect! Mapping your route before your trip will save you time in the long run. Be sure to do proper research before your adventure, so you don’t encounter any unwanted surprises. We recommend visiting official park websites for trail maps and guidebooks. You can even reach out to online or local groups to get their take on the area you’re planning on visiting. Social media research is also a great way to canvas a destination before heading out there yourself. Check for any hashtags associated with your destination to get a sneak peek at others’ experiences on the trail!
When you’re mapping your route, consider these questions; will this trip require multiple days to complete? If so, how many miles will you hike per day? Where will you set up camp and do you need a permit to camp? How will you get water? Regardless of the length of trip, what is the terrain like? Is there an elevation gain that you should be prepared for? If you know the answers to all of these questions, you should be pretty prepared for the adventure ahead!
Step 4: Gear and Supplies
This is arguably the most important step in getting prepared for your adventures this year. Each trip will require different gear and supplies, depending on the level of difficulty and the distance that you plan on traveling. One of the first questions to ask is what will the trail conditions be like? If it’s going to be cold and slippery, be sure you’re prepared with gear that will help you navigate harsher conditions. If the temperature is going to vary throughout your trip, bring lots of light layers and products made of breathable, adaptable fabric like Merino Wool.
Other things to consider are what kind of food can you bring to keep your energy up? What animals or insects might you face? Do you have the proper gear and knowledge to take care of yourself if things get sticky? One of the main problems that new hikers run into is getting lost once they're out of cell phone service range. An outdoor GPS map tool that never goes out of reception could prevent you from getting lost out on the trail.
If you’re using gear from last season, make sure to check your gear condition before heading out. There’s nothing worse than starting a hike and realizing that your sock has a hole in it or that the zipper on your jacket is busted. Speaking of socks, no need to check the conditions of your old, worn out pairs – treat yourself to a brand-new pair of Trail Socks! Stego Trail Socks will keep you comfortable during your 2021 adventures, and beyond with our Lifetime Guarantee.
Step 5: Packing and Final Preparations
Packing for any trip this year will be a breeze if you’re organized! Before you start, don’t forget to check the weather to make sure you’re packing appropriately. If you’re heading out on a day trip, dress in layers and leave a bit of room in your pack so you can store away any shed outer layers as you warm up. A pack for a day trip can be as simple as a water bottle or water bladder, a few snacks, and a first aid kit (you never know what may come up!)
For longer or overnight trips, be sure you’re only packing what you ACTUALLY need (no, you don’t need 6 pairs of underwear for a 2-night trip). You can use packing cubes for clothing and bedding to make the most of your pack space. Be sure to keep frequently grabbed items, like snacks and first aid items, easily accessible and not under bulkier items like clothing or sleeping bags. There’s nothing worse than having to dig for a snack when you’re hangry!
Finally, before you head out, leave your trip itinerary with someone you trust. Write down who to contact if you haven’t returned at your expected time - anything can happen out on the trail. It’s also wise to leave a piece of paper with contact information under the front seat of your car, just in case park rangers find your vehicle unattended after hours and need to check on you.
Hopefully these steps and tips will help you plan every adventure, big or small, in 2021. Trek safely and have fun this year!