A Few Tips for Athletes Trying Hiking or Camping Adventures

by | Aug 27, 2023 | Gear, Lifestyle, Training

(Namely, that we are not hikers/campers. We’re trying, though!)

But seriously, earlier this month, we did a really fun hiking trip in our favorite park with a couple of friends and we had an absolute blast. I would also say that it was our most successful hiking/backpacking trip we’ve done in terms of fun-to-blister ratio. Also, packing. So, I wanted to share a few things we learned… As this is the Consummate Athlete, but we know many of you are like us and more endurance-sport-focused, whenever we go a little outside of our comfort zone, I want to share what we did!

Hiking and Backpacking with Sara Quackenbush

Bring some cold weather gear

The forecast was pretty darn warm for this trip but it actually cooled off considerably… We went on the same trail as friends of ours but left the day that they returned, and while they had temps in the 90s, we were dropped into the 50s and even 40s at night. Having a puffy coat that I packed at the last second plus hiking pants was so nice. That and spare socks. It doesn’t take much to make cold weather tolerable, especially if worst-case scenario, you can just climb into a sleeping bag, but it made the campfire hangout nice. (Pro tip: my friend Karen shifts clothing that’s started to get a little hole-y or ripped into her camping kit, and I’ve taken her approach and now just have an old puffy that’s seen better days tucked in my hiking pack on a permanent basis.)

The same applies for rain: Again, it wasn’t in the forecast, but we did get some on day 1, and my lightweight raincoat (similar here) was super helpful.

Make cooking as easy as possible

I mentioned how we used backpacking meals as a non-essential upgrade in a recent post, but while I may not buy them every time, it’s worth noting that this trip went much smoother cooking-wise because we had our meals as simplified as possible, from pre-mixed oats to water-in-the-bag dinners to pre-portioned out trail mix and gummy bears for our hip pockets on our packs each day. The small things, like making those individual trail mix bags ahead of time (and DIYing the mixes to Peter and my preferences!) was so key in having everything go smooth, especially with DW along. This also means making sure you know how your stove works and any weird things that it does, BTW.

Backpacking Gear: Our Best Camping Upgrades in the Last Year

Shirts can be reworn

Underwear needs to be rinsed and dried, ditto shorts with built in briefs, but I’m finally starting to accept that the same shirt can get you through a few days of hiking.

You’re gonna get irritable

If you’re anything like me (Molly), you will have moments of irritation as you get tired and/or hungry. The best things you can do are:

  1. Have a snack immediately
  2. Remind yourself that your options are a) being miserable and making everyone miserable by letting yourself sink into your grump or b) rallying and remembering that you’re outside in nature and sure, you’re annoyed right now, but that’s not the person you want to be.
  3. Ask if there’s anything you can ask for. Often, I realize that I’m in a mood where I’m annoyed about something, but that something has no actual fix that I can ask someone to do. That alone is a good reset for me. But sometimes, there is a tangible thing I can ask for and will most likely get, especially if I can ask rationally, not in a pissed off mood!
  4. Deep breaths. You know the drill.

Just jump in the lake

Even if it’s freaking cold out, you will feel so much better. Bonus points if you bring camp-specific soap and can actually get a little clean. I can never get over just what a difference it makes.

Enjoy the planning

Because we went with other people, we had more back and forth with planning, and because we brought our puppy, packing was a much more thought-out process. Because of this though, I think we had a better time overall because we actually got to focus on it for weeks leading up to it! (Also, I got to make ALL THE LISTS, and you all know I love that.)


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