It’s a fact: being outside is really, really good for you. Spending time outdoors can rev up your creative juices, relieve stress, and experts tell us it can even prolong your life in addition to providing a myriad of incredible health benefits. All it takes is a few hours a week, so get out there! With a bit of planning, you can almost guarantee a glorious day, weekend, or longer to soak up the bucolic surroundings – forest bath anyone? 

There are many resources to draw from to help plan an excursion for the neophyte ambler, a weekend warrior, or the seasoned Alpiner, whether you’re picnicking in your favourite park, or cross country hiking on a remote wilderness path. Mountain Equipment Co-op, has gear for most outdoor activities with experts to talk you through any challenges you can come up with. They provide comprehensive checklists and guides to get you on the right track. Patagonia is another outfitter that takes what goes on behind the scenes very seriously with a deep, rich backstory of passion and commitment to the planet we trod upon. Both shops care about social and environmental accountability, and sourcing quality products that have the smallest possible footprint.

The great redwoods of Yosemite National Park, California.

Here are 5 items you might want to take along on your next outdoor adventure:

Leica Travel Binoculars – I Spy with my little eye something that is… whatever you’re looking for, or at, trusty field glasses will make the search much more enjoyable while you focus on that specific something special. You never know what you might find – let the birdwatching begin!

Plantnet Plant ID – Walking in a forest or a back alley, intentionally foraging or out for a run, there will be plant life of all descriptions, and you can find out what they are by downloading a free plant app on your phone.

Life Straw Water Filter – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This straw will help purify water no matter where you are. Need we say more?

VSSL First Aid Kit – Being prepared is imperative when wandering far from home, even the smallest scratch can become a bother if you aren’t prepared. This compact kit has all of the essentials you’ll need on a day trip.

Leatherman Multi-Tool – It doesn’t matter where you’re going or what you’re doing, if you’re man or woman, handy or not, a multi-purpose tool is just a very good thing to own, period.

Pro Tips from travel experts Butterfield and Robinson:

The wonderful thing about hiking is that it’s so accessible. Don your hiking shoes, load up a backpack and you’re on your way – finding a beautiful trail is just the start. 

Beforehand:

  • You’ll get more out of your day by doing some basic research.  What’s the history of the area you will be exploring? If there are interesting geological formations, how were they created?  What’s the flora and fauna you can expect to encounter? If English is not the regional dialect, what are a few common local phrases you can learn and use along the way?  
  • If kids are tagging along, write down items for them to search for on a simple scavenger hunt — acorns, a maple leaf, a seasonal flower, scat. It’s a teachable moment that will keep the kids engaged. 

During:

  • Except for accessing the camera, commit to ignoring your device. Make the surroundings your sole focus and be in the moment. Stop to smell the flowers, gaze at the sky, marvel at the height of the mountains, and listen to the wind blowing through the leaves of the trees. Learn a greeting or say ‘have a nice day’ to the locals, in their language.
  • Celebrate lunch. A festive picnic blanket takes up little space, and why not indulge in some deluxe sandwiches or tapas you might not normally have. A small flask of wine or a thermos of hot coffee will satisfy much more than just your hunger. 

After: 

  • Find the best local restaurant and have a reservation secured to break up your drive home. There’s no better way to reward yourself and wind down an invigorating and restorative day in nature.

Renée Lalonde, Stifado

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