As much fun as winter can be, with spring a month away, there’s plenty we can do to welcome the warmer weather. While temperatures will start to rise and the sun might decide to make an appearance or two, getting outdoors in early spring can come with some unforeseen challenges. Be prepared by keeping these tips in mind, and let us know what tips you have to add!
1. Repair gear and apparel.
Have a little tear in your rain pants? A suspiciously slow leak in your sleeping pad? How about a camp stove that’s slow to light? Late winter and early spring are the perfect times of year to inspect some of your key pieces of gear before warm weather adventure season hits. You’ll have ample time to perform routine maintenance and repairs, and once you’re out on the trail, you’ll be glad you did.
Use Tenacious Tape to patch holes in rain pants, rain jackets, and other essential layers. Inspect your tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag for any rips or tears. I’d always rather try and repair a piece of gear or apparel before I shell out for something new. Take your camp stove out, light it, and make sure everything works as it should. (I speak from experience; getting to camp at dusk with a stove that doesn’t work is the worst! So is having your boots fall apart on a backpacking trip.")
2. Take a look at a few maps.
Maps can be an incredible way to inspire trip planning and new adventures. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a growing map collection of places you’ve been, places you want to go, and places you won’t likely go to, but looking at the map is still fun anyway. If you’re a hiker or backpacker, start looking at trails you want to try in advance, just in case your trip will require advanced permits, overnight campground reservations, or gear you don’t have yet.
3. Prep your battery-powered devices.
Even if I’m just going out for the day, I like to have emergency power sources for my electronic devices. Past subscribers received battery packs from Power Practical and Brunton, but they’re no good if they’re not charged ahead of time. Power them up way in advance of any trips you’re headed out on, and make sure you’ve got the required cords to connect them to your devices when you’re out. Then, protect your electronic devices from water with the aLOKSAK bags included in this month’s Cairn.
And check your headlamps to see if they need new batteries before you leave for a trip. I’ve made the mistake of expecting a battery to last all winter only to find myself in the dark on a camping trip after not testing my headlamp before I left. I also brought my Luminaid lantern on a trip this fall, but neglected to charge it before I left, and when we arrived in camp at dusk, it didn’t do me any good to have it! Replace batteries and charge up any solar powered devices before you go, just to make sure everything’s in working order. Cairn subscribers, this tip applies to the Luminoodle in this month’s box, too!
4. Dig out the sunscreen and bug repellent.
Though I tend to use sunscreen year-round, as the days gets longer and the sun gets stronger, it’s important to make sure you’re stocked up. The 1 oz. version of Aloe Up’s Pro Ultra Sport SPF 30 sunscreen is easy to carry around, as is the Elemental Herbs All Good Sunstick, but those little travel size items don’t last long. Grab backups now, or at least make sure you’re on top of how much you have left. I also always keep things like bug repellent stocked in as many forms as possible because the last thing I want to do right before heading out for a hike is to realize I’ve run out. Sierra Sage Bugs Be Gone is a great option, and it’s safe to spray directly on your skin. Finally, some cosmetics and skincare products come with an expiration date. Make sure what you’ve got stored from last spring and summer isn’t expired, and if it is, start looking for replacements.
5. Get ready for mud season.
With spring around the corner and warmer temperatures on the way, it’s about to get real muddy out there. As the snow melts, trails inevitably get sloppy, streams swell, and if you’re not prepared, spring conditions can put a real damper on outdoor fun. Start by avoiding trails you know will be particularly sloppy, and if you find yourself on a muddy stretch of ground, don’t walk off-trail to avoid it. Tromping off into the woods to keep the mud off your boots can damage vegetation. In general, trails at lower elevation exposed to the southern sun will dry out faster.
Then, make sure you’ve got waterproof footwear, and consider grabbing a pair of gaiters. Finally, be aware that water levels may be higher than normal. Streams you’d normally be able to cross without incident may be impassable, and you might also encounter fallen trees and limbs, so plan accordingly.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive; we’d love to hear how you make sure you’re good to go for spring adventures! What’s your favorite way to ring in the warm weather outdoors? If you’re a Cairn subscriber, what items do you plan on using to prep your gear? Sound off in the comments!