Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Typically, I tend to put the "outdoors" into two sub-sections: Hunting/Shooting/Fishing and then Camping/Hiking/Backpacking...
I'll never refer to myself as an expert in any of these categories simply because I think we are constantly learning and becoming better at our hobbies. In my mind, experts have completed their studies and research projects, plus have decades of knowledge and wisdom under their belts. One day, I hope to maybe be an expert in an area or two, but when it comes to the outdoors, the potential knowledge is as vast as the landscape -- and it is ever-changing... similar to that of the Colorado weather forecast.
No matter what activity I'm engaging in outside, I have some essentials that I recommend for the outdoors-woman of any level. As a full-time working woman with student loans, a truck payment, and a ridiculously expensive fur-child, I am always looking for a great deal. To invest in a product, it has to be affordable, versatile, and have amazing reviews. I've done my fair share of research, as well as some trial-and-error, and I've found some great pieces. I hope they help you get ready for your next journey outdoors!
1. The best all-around boots.
These boots have been great for me! Walter has chewed on them a bit, but they're still intact! They are comfortable and sturdy, and I chose a taller pair to offer some ankle support without limiting movement or feeling like ski-boots. They keep my feet warm in cooler weather, but are still very breathable, so I also wear them in the field for upland hunting and on summer hikes. Plus, you can't beat the price!
2. A pack for all of the things.
I have a massive tote-like purse. I don't even know what's all in it. But I feel prepared at all times. I like to feel that way when I'm in the wilderness as well. Little goodies in different pockets and compartments... who doesn't love having lots of pockets?! You need a good pack to store all of your emergency items, water, snacks, rain gear, etc. Did I mention you can carry your snacks in there? This is a great day pack -- and I always recommend getting items in camo design so they can be used for a multitude of activities.
3. Hydration is key.
Many people have CamelBak's or similar products to carry their water. While I think it's a great design and believe water is one of the most important things we should have with us in all scenarios, I actually prefer a water bladder that I can put inside of a pack or larger bag. Plenty of water, BPA free, same great straw concept, and you can pack it pretty much anywhere!
4. Sun protection in many forms.
I absolutely love hats. I'm also a ginger and need the extra protection from the sun. Hats with a brim all the way around help protect our ears and neck, as well as our face. This hat is great because it has a pony-tail opening! Keep your hair up and off of your face, while not feeling an uncomfortable bump under your hat. There are multiple colors, great reviews, and super inexpensive!
If you aren't using a facial SPF on a daily basis... then you're grounded. Especially at a high altitude, and exposed to the elements, our skin needs extra protection. CeraVe is a great brand, and I am obsessed with this daily AM moisturizer with SPF 30. Great little pump bottle, and again, great reviews and inexpensive!
Another push for SPF... I love this brand because they are more natural than the mainstream brands we see -- good ingredients and great for your skin. You can buy single bottles as well, and other sizes. Zinc is the number one ingredient -- also has coconut oil and aloe so it is moisturizing which helps in our dry climate!
5. A lamp for your head... not just for night-time either!
Yes, you need a hands-free light in case you get stuck outside after sunset. And if you're like me, you also need a headlamp for walking your dog at night, and for finding something at the back of your closet, and for looking at mechanical noises under your truck... whoever decided a flashlight should go on a headband is a real genius in my book. You get two for a super low price! I keep one in my pack and the other hangs up by my keys.
6. A multi-purpose emergency survival tool.
My dad is a big believer in being prepared at all times. You never know what could happen! This multi-purpose tool was something I put in last years' hunting care packages for my friends and family (see my post on making my annual hunting season care packages). A compass, a fire starter, a whistle, and paracord all in one little compact tool! You'll be a real MacGyver in your group.
7. "Rain, rain, go away, come back when I'm not outside" poncho.
Experiencing an afternoon thunderstorm in Colorado is pretty much guaranteed during most seasons. It's a nice cool-off really, but sucks if you're unable to get to shelter and you -- and your gear -- gets wet. A simple poncho can go over you AND your pack. It'll ensure all of your things stay dry. As an added bonus, if you were to get stuck in the wild and have to survive like a real-life mountain person, you can use the paracord from your multi-tool, and string your poncho up for a make-shift shelter! Many colors and something that I have personally used MANY times.
8. Waterproof matches... because you really never know!
I included a box of these in each care package for this season's hunting care packages (see my other post!). When you think of essentials, I hope having a way to start a fire comes to mind... cause DUH! I do not like being cold. That's all I'll say about that.
9. Fuel. For your stomach.
One time I went on a hike with some friends. It was only supposed to be a three mile quick hike, then we were all going to grab lunch together afterwards. My dear friend who was leading our hike must have missed the turn at some point because we ended up hiking eight miles and running out of water along the way. Since we were going to dine together afterwards, no one thought to bring a crumb of food. I'll never do that again. I always, and I mean ALWAYS, have two or three Clif Bars in my pack at all times. It's important we keep our bodies properly nourished when we are exerting energy - -especially at high altitude! These are delicious and nutritious and compact! They also have a shelf life of one year! So they're perfect to keep in your bags and pockets for those moments when the hangry hits... which occurs frequently for me.
10. An extra boost for your H2O.
I used to be really bad about drinking water. There would be days where I wouldn't have a drop ALL DAY. I'd be laying in bed and realize that I hadn't hydrated, and instead of getting up and chugging a glass of water, I'd roll over and fall asleep and dream about being trapped in the desert. When I made a big effort to improve my health, drinking more water was a big priority. But water doesn't taste like anything, and that was an issue for me. So I researched a dozen of the current and most popular hydration powders out there, and Ultima is by far the best. It has zero calories, zero sugar, zero carbs, is gluten-free, and non-GMO. Potassium, magnesium, and electrolytes help boost your system, and there are many flavors to choose from! My current favorite is blue raspberry. Cheers!
Those are ten of my favorite things that I think will help you create a great foundation for your future adventures outdoors! As I research and try more things, I'll always share my favorites with you! Please share your feedback and let me know what your favorites are, too!