6 Ways to Improve as an Outdoor Adventurer

Just when you thought you knew it all.

By: Addison Klinke + Save to a List

Like many other outdoor enthusiasts, I was originally drawn to backpacking by the sense of adventure it afforded. However, after several summers of hiking and backpacking over 200 miles each year, I noticed that overnight and weekend trips started to feel less adventurous and more routine. This trend seemed to be due in large part to my increased experience. I had developed a fairly solid gear list that only saw minor tweaks here and there, and my efficiency hiking and setting up camp had reached the point where I executed most tasks habitually and without much thought. It wasn't that I didn't have more to learn, it was more that the types of trips I was going on weren't really challenging me anymore. After I realized this, I spent a lot of time brainstorming new ways I could challenge myself as an outdoor adventurer. So for those of you who, like me, are looking for something new to try, I'm sharing my goals list for some inspiration.

1. Multi-sport Adventures

Float the Yampa River through Dinosaur National Monument | Photo: Jacob W. Frank

  • Packrafting 
    • Research and buy a basic kit
    • Be able to analyze maps to determine areas suitable for packrafting
    • Learn and practice basic techniques
    • Get out for a trip!
  • Bike packing
    • Consider both on- and off-pavement trips
    • Repurpose as much of current backpacking gear as possible to minimize cost
  • Tenkara fly fishing
    • Continue to improve technique
    • Read up more on fish behavior/patterns 

2. Weather and Temperature

How to Predict the Weather for Your Next Backpacking Trip
| Photo: Michael Matti

  • Develop a gear list for continuous hiking in inclement weather 
  • Create a routine for drying wet gear so trips can continue uninterrupted
  • Be able to consistently setup camp and run stove in exposed, windy terrain
  • Have clothing options tailored to particular climates (cold/hot, humid/dry, sunny/shaded, etc.)
  • Develop better habits for regulating core temperature in snowy/winter conditions 

3. Terrain

How to Make the Transition from Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing
| Photo: Colton Marsala

  • Become proficient at basic glacier travel
    • Optimize a gear list for long distance, high-alpine traverses that allows for efficient switching between glacier/trail hiking
  • Start bouldering to develop basic rock climbing skills/muscles 
  • Improve river crossing skills
  • Be prepared to handle the challenges of desert regions - water scarcity, poisonous animals, blowing sand, poor staking ground, etc.

4. Duration

What Foods Should You Eat While Backpacking? | Photo: Dan Loch

  • Optimize a gear list for unsupported trips of a week or longer where food weight is the limiting factor
  • Learn about ways to produce food on the trail (sprouts, yogurt, etc.)
  • Quantify nutritional and caloric needs for longer trips
  • Quantify the amount of consumables needed (sunscreen, bug spray, TP, etc.)
  • Understand the logistics of packing, organizing, and shipping resupply boxes for thru-hikes

5. Navigation

3 Easy Steps to Navigating the Backcountry | Photo: Matt Hosford

  • Increase percentage of off-trail travel
    • Become better at studying mapping resources and trip report beta to inform off-trail travel 
  • Improve navigation skills both with compass and GPS

6. Social Responsibility

Every Backpacker Should Print Their Maps from Caltopo. Here’s Why. | Photo: Addison Klinke

  • Write more trip reports/articles to help other backpackers prepare for their trips
  • Donate more time and/or money to organizations like WTA that help maintain trails
  • Support websites like Caltopo that are valuable resources to the hiking community

Cover photo: Addison Klinke

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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