10 Rules For Outdoor Life

10 Rules For Outdoor Life

by Mark Thomas

10 Rules For Life Outdoors


First off, we hope you had a nice Independence Day! I've seen a lot of "rules" themes this year. Books, podcasts, bloggers etc...I didn't want to miss out on the bandwagon so here's mine. I only made it to 10 before it felt natural to stop. So here we go:

  1. Shoes are everything. Blisters, swelling, sogginess...all the results of poor footwear choices. Never hike in new shoes and certainly don’t wear unfamiliar shoes on a long trek. If your feet are comfortable, you’ll keep going. If your planning to get your feet wet, make sure that plan extends to your footwear and sock choices. Exploration is more fun when your feet are happy.
  2. Cotton is the devil. Several years ago I stopped wearing cotton when I hiked, skied, snowmobiled, mountain biked or did anything outdoors that might come with sweat. Cotton stinks when wet. Cotton doesn’t dry. Cotton doesn’t help you stay cool or warm. I think cotton is literally the worst fabric you can wear for outdoor adventure. I made the switch to merino wool layers or polyester nylons.
  3. Fitness counts. The first time I ever went mountain biking I ended up collapsed in a ditch on the side of the trail unable to move. I redlined the entire way up the trail without realizing it and my body shut down. I almost quit the sport. Then I came to the humbling realization that my fitness wasn’t adequate. Overtime I corrected it, and now love climbing trails. I also hike 10-20 miles a week and enjoy every minute. Fitness will help us love the outdoors.
  4. Drink more water. Many outdoor activities will dry you out. Elevation Just being at altitude causes you to lose far more fluids than at lower elevations. Conversely, a day at the beach in the sun can have the same effect. Much of the western world is chronically dehydrated. Make sure you own a good hydration bladder and day pack. A good rule of thumb is to drink about one liter every two hours while hiking. So plan accordingly.
  5. Start local. Not all of us live in regions with amazing outdoor access. But if you do, you’ll be surprised at the volume of experiences you can have by getting out a few hours each weekend. If you don’t live in such a region, it’s worth exploring the limited things you do have. Often we dream of big, crazy, international or faraway adventures. In my experience, there’s enough cheap or free options locally to keep us busy for awhile.
  6. Permits are more fun (sometimes). I like to find places that require permits. This typically means less crowds and little bit more adventure. The downside is you have to plan ahead a bit. I’ve done permit hikes like the Subway, Havasupai, Huayna Picchu, and the West Coast Trail. All were memorable. Search for some permit-only activities in your area. You might discover something really unique.
  7. Act like a guest in someone’s home. While Nature is our playground, we should act like a guest. Clean up, don’t carve your name on rocks or trees, and don’t destroy vegetation. Control your fires. Basically don’t be an a** :)
  8. Try new things. For awhile I was just a hiker. Then I picked up mountain biking. I experienced the same trail systems in a totally different way. Same thing when you go to a lake or a beach and experience it on a SUP or kayak instead of relaxing on the shore. The way we experience nature can be so variable that we feel its newness over and over.
  9. Give away your gear. I have a problem. I’ll admit it. This rule is basically for me to justify the fact that buying gear is always ok. I treat my gear like a surgeon treats scalpels. Each item has a very specific use case. When I no longer have need of certain items or I’m upgrading….I give away my older items. Kind of like gifting read books to pass on knowledge. Gifting gear can help others have cool new experiences.
  10. Post later. Every once in awhile, go out without a camera. Remember that scene in Secret Life of Walter Mitty where Sean Penn’s character decides not to take a photo of a rare tiger (mountain lion?)? He says, "If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it." If you want, take pictures. Make videos. Create and record memories. But for the love of all that’s holy….post later! Enjoy the present moment. Use the outdoors to disconnect. Get away from screens. Take some time to reconnect with loved ones or examine your own inner voice.

You can see our "latergrams" on our @wildhornoutfitters account. You can follow us here.


Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas

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