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Get Out and Go - Removing Barriers to the Outdoors

Get Out and Go - Removing Barriers to the Outdoors

We all have a million things going on, and it can be a daunting task making time to get outdoors. It’s something we all want, but excuses always pop up - the weather is unfriendly, not knowing where to go, our there’s just not enough time. In the end, we realize we’ve put our time outdoors on the back burner, even though fresh air and exercise is an important way to decompress and keep you healthy, happy, and more grounded. Here are a few tips to help you overcome those barriers and embrace the great outdoors:

Photo: Nate Stephenson

Where do you go?

Oftentimes when we think of getting outside, we have grand ideas of what that looks like - hiking with Yosemite Falls spraying in the background or getting ski or snowboard turns miles deep in the backcountry. While trips like that are great, the benefits of being outdoors can be achieved much easier, and views can be found in unexpected and easily accessible places. There are several good resources for finding places to recreate locally and close to home. And remember, outdoors is just outside your front door, if your feeling like finding a place to recreate is tough, just take a walk around the block. 

Find local county or state parks, forests, or BLM lands - while these natural spaces are often less impressive than their National Park brethren, you’d be surprised what these little parcels of public land offer. Many have extensive trail systems, beautiful waterways, or secret vistas.

Alltrails – This is an app you can download for your phone that shows hikes in your area. Download it, open it up and find your location, and it will show you new trails within a certain radius of where you are. It will also give you great trail stats so you know what you’re getting into with each one.

Photo: Mason Strehl

The gear is too expensive.

Safety is important, especially when you get into overnight trips. You want to be well prepared with gear that will keep you protected in any possible weather you might encounter. But all that gear adds up to an expensive bundle. Check to see if there is a used outdoors shop in your area, you can often find boots, jackets, and other equipment at a good price with plenty of life left in them.

When you're ready to invest in new gear, search for sales, and buy it in the offseason when everything is marked off or being liquidated. Buy gear that is multifunctional and has multiple uses both on trail or off - a backpacking quilt that can be used around the house on chilly days, or in your car emergency kit is great and can be used in a ton of places.

Photo: Mason Strehl

Who to go with?

Spending time in the outdoors with friends or family is one of the greatest experiences you’ll find. Take the lead and plan an outing and invite friends along to do a quick hike, or even just meet up for a walk through your local park. If it all goes well, think about making it a weekly outing!

If you don’t have anyone to get out with, there are still options. Most areas have local hiking or outdoors groups that meet regularly, you can check with your local outdoors store and ask if they know of any such groups. These groups can also often be found on social media.

Alternately - and this is my favorite option - just get out and learn to be comfortable in nature alone. This can be a long road for some people, so I encourage you to start slowly. Hike on local trails, where there are plenty of other people, and slowly work yourself up to the backcountry trails. This is an incredible way to clear your mind and get away from the hustle-bustle of daily life.

Photo: Mason Strehl

I don’t have enough time

This is the number one reason people don’t get outdoors. Life is busy, and it seems like it’s impossible to find the time - but it's all about prioritizing the health benefits and making time for yourself. Set goals, and even if it’s just a 15-minute walk or jog around the block, you’ll be happy you did it. Build it into your routine and before you know it, you’ll just be wanting more.


Photo: Nate Stephenson

What do I do out there?

Even the most experienced outdoorsmen and women started somewhere. The outdoors is an incredible place to learn, and just like any other skill, learning how to do things outdoors takes time and practice. But for each challenge you overcome, you’ll get a boost of confidence that will carry over to your non-outdoors life too. There are several ways to learn. You can ask that outdoorsy person in your life to take you out and show you some things. You can find how-to books on almost any skill at a local outdoors store, and many stores also offer classes as well.

I hope this guide can help work through some of the barriers often found when then looking to get outdoors. It can be a scary place out there, but with practice and familiarity, natural spaces become a place to play, explore, and reset your mind away from the city.

Photo: Mason Strehl
About The Author: Mason Strehl is an avid outdoor adventurer and photographer based in Washington state.  When he's not handling media here at Zenbivy, you can find him hiking in the backcountry, climbing peaks, or surfing. He has logged over 500 nights in a Zenbivy in almost every condition imaginable. Cover Photo: Cassandra Jostes
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