I recently had a chat with Amy Bushatz of Humans Outside where we unpacked our best tips for how to dress for outdoor activities in cold weather. As Amy and I talked about, winter layering can be really intimidating! We both feel passionately about helping to lessen this barrier and helping folks feel more confident outside in winter. That’s why I’m so excited to share this conversation with you.
Amy has spent at least 20 minutes outside for more than 5 years. She believes fully in the transformative power of spending time outside, even in small, simple ways. She encourages others to build the habit through her Humans Outside Challenge, which creates structure to help folks spend at least 20 minutes outside for one full year.
I was born and raised in Alaska, and Amy has been here for several years now. With our different backgrounds, we both offer our perspectives on winter layering, which helps highlight how...
Everything in life happens in cycles, in both nature and our inner worlds. Not everything can be a time of high-energy growth like summer. Seasons change, whether we want them to or not, and some seasons bring a slower pace.
If winter is hard for you, you’re not alone. It’s normal and common to be affected by the dark, cold seasons. Changing seasons can be hard! We can get comfortable in the season we’re in and we don’t want it to end. But we can learn to get through those tough changes with grace.
Let’s talk about how to navigate both natural and personal winters.
There are two types of winter transitions we’ll talk about. First, we have the literal changing of the seasons that we in the Northern Hemisphere are moving toward right now. Temperatures drop, the days are shorter, and the sun is weaker. During winter, we often sleep more. We might not want to leave the house as much. Our overall...
Whether breezing across an alpine lake or soaring down a frozen slough, Nordic skating is a rewarding way to experience both beauty and playfulness outside.
Nordic skating is awesome because it can be more accessible and simple compared to many winter sports. The equipment you need to get started is not too expensive, and it takes less practice to learn the movement patterns. You won’t have to spend years trying to master the basics. You can be gliding around having fun on the ice in no time!
Finding conditions for fun and safe Nordic skating takes some planning and some luck. In Alaska, skating is often an early winter activity, when temperatures drop below freezing so ice can form, but the snow hasn’t yet arrived. Midwinter skating can be fun too – some cities maintain a plowed lake rink area for skating after the snow, and sometimes skaters get lucky after a warm melt spell or a big windstorm that clears the ice of snow. In...
If you’ve ever walked into a ski shop, you’ve probably been floored by the cost of winter gear. Things don’t get any better when looking at lift tickets for your local slopes. And all that sticker shock can be really overwhelming.
Finances are a huge obstacle for so many folks, and nowhere is that more true than in winter sports! This form of gatekeeping creates an exclusive culture that we’re trying to break down. We want everyone to have access to winter sports, no matter their budget, and without the fear of getting shut out by high price tags.
The good news is that you don’t have to blow your budget to get out there. We’ve compiled a list of tips from outdoor recreation enthusiasts (across many platforms) to make winter sports more affordable. And we added a few from our own experiences too.
Let’s dive right in! Here’s our best money-saving tips for getting...
Shoulder season is a key time of year for any outdoor adventurer. It’s that in-between time when it’s not quite good weather for summer activities like hiking, but not cold and snowy enough for winter sports like skiing, either. When we say “shoulder season”, we’re not talking about training our arm muscles! What we actually mean is the transitional seasons between the big seasons of summer and winter, like spring and fall. (Wondering where the term comes from? Us too. Here are some theories.)
Depending on the climate where you live, the exact timing of your shoulder season might look a little bit different from others. The most important thing to remember is that it’s a time of transition. It’s the time when you’re switching focus. We all experience transitions differently. So, tune into your body and take a moment to reflect on when these yearly transitions happen for you and how they make you feel.
Weakest Link Syndrome refers to the experience of feeling like you’re the slowest one in the group and that it’s harder for you than it is for other people.
The origins of this term are under debate - I learned it from my husband Luc who credits his friend Erica, but Erica says it didn’t come from her! It’s a hot debate. Regardless of its origins, the experience of Weakest Link Syndrome is extremely common, very relatable, and there’s no shame in having it!
Let’s unpack what Weakest Link Syndrome looks like and the strategies we can use to work with it.
Whether we’re out skiing, biking, or backpacking, many of us have felt like we’re the slowest person in the group. Think of it as anytime you feel like you’re the ‘weakest link’ in the group. This could be struggling to keep up, learning new things, or being a beginner at something when you feel like you ‘should’ be further...
Whether you’re dreaming of days in the mountains, along coastlines, or through the desert, planning your first backpacking trip is an exciting process. Congratulations on making moves toward this rewarding new hobby! To make your experience as positive and fun as possible, it’s important to find a beginner-friendly backpacking route that suits your experience level.
Here are some tips for finding the best route for your first backpacking trip.
When looking for ideas for your first backpacking trip, where should you start? Good news: there are lots of great resources to identify beginner-friendly routes. As you’re researching, try to find information about the same route from multiple sources. If you find broad agreement across several sources about a route, you can feel more confident in that information.
Pop into a local...
Many adventurers go into backpacking trips with the mentality that they will “use the trip to build fitness.” While a trip will certainly help make you stronger, striking out on a big adventure with no foundation of training can easily lead to getting in over your head or hurting yourself. Not the best way to have a good time!
While simply doing more hiking can help us build our trail fitness, it’s important to remember that hiking isn’t the whole story. By training our bodies as holistic systems and reinforcing healthy, functional movement patterns, we can be stronger hikers.
Strength training before and between our outdoor adventures helps us build the resilience we need for injury-free outings. When we’re not derailed by pain or struggling to keep up, we can have more fun and focus on enjoying things like the beauty of our surroundings and the great company of our trip companions. As we build...
After you have gained a full picture of what risks you’ll be dealing with on your trip, you can then formulate your risk and emergency plan. In order to do that, educating ourselves around risk can build our confidence and mitigate the real risks we might face. For backpackers of all backgrounds and experience levels, the best thing you can do for your own safety is planning and preparedness.
Before diving into this post, read up on the basics of risk management and safety in our previous post, which will lay the groundwork for this discussion. In this post, we’ll get into more detail about specific concerns as well as creating your risk mitigation plan.
In our last blog post, we talked about how to identify risks and introduced the idea of each major risk as a (metaphorical) lemon. Consider creating a document with a list of risks and how severe the risk is (i.e., how...
Risk management is one of the most important elements of planning for backpacking trips. Whether it’s your first trip or your two hundredth, spending time thinking through the hazards you might encounter and what you’ll do about them is essential both for your own safety and for those with you.
While you can never completely eliminate risk, appropriate planning means you will be more prepared if something bad does happen. Having a safety plan can mean big wins like smarter decision making, shorter time to receive rescue assistance, or the ability to handle the situation on your own without needing outside assistance at all.
Let’s dive into principles of risk management in backpacking and how you can manage your safety proactively and mindfully.
The first step to managing risk is thinking through and understanding what risks will exist on your trip. Thorough risk...
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