It’s great to stay busy with outdoor activities during the winter, but winter is also a good time to rest and get your stoke up for your next expedition while sipping cocoa.
Here are a few ideas for how you can use your winter downtime to get ready for your next expedition!
1. Set goals
Take some time to reflect and think about what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you’ll get there. This is the time for dreaming!
2. Plan the logistics
How will you get to where you want to go, and what do you need to know ahead of time? Some places, like national parks, require permits that may be difficult to get due to their popularity. If you want to head to a more remote location, spend some time researching transportation options. Doing a long thru-hike? Make sure you know where you can get resupplies of food and gear.
Start saving money, asking your friends for beta, planning ahead for time off work, and accumulating the gear you need so that you don’t panic if the unexpected arises. *Having a set plan may also help prevent last-minute backing out by your expedition-mates!
3. Get physically prepared
Work on developing the muscles and skills you’ll need for the activity you plan to do. Go for long hikes with a backpack on or, if that’s not possible, hop on a Stairmaster and pretend you’re smelling the alpine air. Build your core, lift weights, and work that fingerboard at the gym. Make a plan that will give you plenty of time to get fit for your adventure.
4. Review your gear
The off-season, when you aren't using your gear every day, is a great time to check for the wear and tear your gear received last season. Clean your gear and test it to make sure it’s still in good condition and appropriate for your trip. This way, if you find that there are things you need to replace or acquire, you’ll have plenty of time to take advantage of gear sales or to wheedle your friends and acquaintances into lending or selling you their gear.
5. Test your systems
This is a great time to experiment with everything, from new recipes to cutting weight from your pack. You can try new ingredients before buying in bulk, develop a creative meal plan, or learn to make dehydrated meals that last. This is also an excellent time to test ways you can save on your pack weight (and whittle down your toothbrush to cut some ounces).
*One way to plan ahead is to make a spreadsheet that includes all your gear, food, and their weight. This will help you stay organized and see which items you can leave behind or modify. Plus, when you’re ready to pack, you already have your plan set and streamlined.
6. Read and keep your stoke high!
Reading about where you plan to go will help give you the energy and motivation to stay psyched as you plan and to inform yourself about the area you want to explore. Take a look at the NOLS library and local guidebooks and history books for helpful stories and information.
Enjoy winter while you have it, but use your time well so that you’re ready to hit the ground running (when it finally thaws…).
Don't know where to go for your next expedition? Check out the places you can go with NOLS here.
Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber