Preparing for Your Next Outdoor Adventure
From the slopes of the Berkshires to the marshes on Cape Cod, there are plenty of places for you to hit the trails this summer. Before your next day hike or walk in Massachusetts, make sure you prepare a short checklist of items and precautions to stay safe no matter where you go.
Before You Go
The most important safety precautions happen before you even set foot on a trail: Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. Talk to a friend, family member, or staff at the visitor or nature center— that way if they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they know where to send help.
While phones are handy, there is always a chance you could run into technical difficulties. Batteries die, reception can be spotty, and sometimes technology just doesn’t work as expected. Pack more “old school” precautions like a paper trail map in addition to any GPS-based apps or digital maps downloaded directly to your phone.
When possible, avoid cotton clothing, which soaks up and traps moisture. It’s no fun to feel wet, uncomfortable, and eventually cold when trying to enjoy a hike. Instead, try to wear wicking fabrics like nylon, polyester, or wool.
If you have room, pack extra layers in case the weather changes. A nice, dry pair of socks is always welcome after a long hike or for extra comfort when blisters start to form. Remember to wear a sturdy, supportive pair of shoes or boots with good traction.
While you should always apply sunscreen and insect repellent to skin and clothing (and bring extra to reapply regularly), you could also invest in special clothing that is UV-blocking and/ or has insect repellent already infused into the material.
Pack It Up...
For all your outdoor adventures, bring plenty of water (at least a liter or two per person), food, a light raincoat, and a basic first aid kit. The latter should include at least:
- Assorted Band-Aids
- Ace bandage
- Blister care pack
- Over-the-counter painkillers (like aspirin or ibuprofen)
- Any medications you may need, such as inhalers or EpiPens
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Antibiotic ointment
- Alcohol wipes
- Medical tape (or duct tape)
- A knife, multitool, or small scissors (cover blades carefully)
For longer hikes, add to your list a small flashlight (and batteries!), a lighter or tinder kit, and a space blanket. For a quick trail snack, bring nuts, dried fruits, energy bars, or jerky and hydrate with electrolyte powder packs.
...And Pack It Out
Always respect the land, wildlife, and your fellow outdoor adventurers by sticking to maintained trails, leaving any neat nature artifacts you find, and taking all your trash with you. Even better, bring a plastic bag to collect litter left behind by other travelers.
A little planning and preparation go a long way toward a successful summer adventure, and a healthy respect for nature doesn’t hurt, either. Ready to hit the trails? Visit massaudubon.org/trails.
This article was featured in the Summer 2022 issue of Explore, our quarterly magazine for members.