What to Bring With You Exercising Outdoors

What to take and what to leave behind? If you’re a what if sort of person you might consider roll behind luggage or a bike trailer. Others who like to keep it simple might end up skipping something thinking, “when will I ever need that”? But its not that simple is it? Some longer workouts you might want to take more or less. At least some times for some workouts I tend to take more than others, but I was a girl guide (not a very good one…) and our motto was always be prepared. While I have had some pretty weird experiences exercising nothing ever truly bad happened to me that could be considered a real life emergency. That could all change in a single day though so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Since each object isn’t quite cut and dry I’ll explain it where I think it might need some more explanation. This stuff really does cover pretty much every scenario you might find yourself in from natural stuff to crappy humans.

For Everyone

  • A charged cell phone with a good battery, data and a GPS coordinate app.

Unless and even if you have man tracker like outdoor skills its best and easiest to take a reliable cell phone with a GPS co-ordinant app pre-loaded. You never know right.

  • Good protection for that phone

It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy but taking a good ziplock bag in case you get stuck out longer than you expected and it rains. Face it cell phones are our lifelines now and yes people did do stuff before that, I was one of them, but taking one is just so much easier. Also consider a charging case or battery pack if its cold out, your battery isn’t as good as it used to be or you’ll be in a low service area. In some cases it might make more sense to leave it off unless you need it.

  • Water

This is the first thing we need to live and if you get stuck somehow having water dramatically increases your chances of survival.

  • A plan

If you can tell someone what you’re doing, where you’re going and when you expect to be back it never hurts. If you do someone will start looking for you when you’re late rather than happening to find the body. Trust me your mom is happy to get these planning on doing this now texts. Just make sure to let her know you arrived home safe and sound too.

  • Some cash

I don’t always do this but you might drop your water spilling it, need to grab a cab back or you know nothing is free these days.

  • Toilet tissue or a substitute

For runners (and walkers)

  • Fuel (food) if you will be much more than an hour
  • Tunes and earphones for most

If you don’t love music check out podcasts. There are podcasts about running like this one by Ali on the run, true crime is super popular and strangely addictive these days but my favorite is about advertising called the age of persuasion and they recently made their entire back catalogue free if you want to check it out.

On Instagram I’m usually not wearing my running fanny pack but trust me it’s always with me!

For road cyclists

You kids love to travel light and save weight, it’s like a religion to you. That’s cool and all but might I suggest a few modifications because life happens.

  • Patch kit and a spare tube

Road bike tiers are delicate little creatures and you should defiantly carry an extra tube but for the space it takes up a patch kit might help you limp home if disaster strikes twice.

  • A pump actually capable of pumping up your super fancy tire

I could practically get enough air in my mountain bike tire by blowing just to ride it, but road tiers require a lot more pressure. Most compact pumps don’t deliver those sorts of pressures so make sure you test yours out in a non-emergency situation before you really need it. I found an inexpensive one last summer that delivers which you can check out here.

  • A bike tool and something to pry the tier off

Last year I finally learned to change a bike tier. I even bought these cute plastic pryer deals which broke as soon as I used them. What worked well for me was two chainsaw wrenches but make sure what every pry tools you have on hand actually have the strength to stand up to your tier.

  • A tiny cute first aid kit

Road rash sucks no matter what but it does suck a bit less if it’s clean, poly-ed and covered it does suck a bit less. Do consider a first aid kit with band aids, wipes, polysporin and butterfly closures or steri-strips.

For mountain bikers

You should obviously take everything in the above section but I think it’s best to have basic survival gear should you have to wait for rescue for a day. Thankfully we tend to have more of a pack mule mentality but here are some things that I think are worth including. Since we venture into thick woods often without cell coverage I think we have a responsibility to be able to keep ourselves safe for the night should something happen.

These take up so little space and can be so useful in a real emergency. They can provide warmth as a blanket, make an instant shelter and potentially help you save yourself should you be injured enough to go into shock.

Sometimes we have no choice but to get ourselves back to the trailhead even if were injured. An ace bandage can be used for so many injuries. It can act as a tourniquet to stop bleeding, be paired with the perfect stick to stint a broken bone, keep a sprain from swelling or just keep make shift bandages in place for a cut or road rash so you can keep moving.

  • A knife 

A knife can be used to start a fire (supposedly but probably not by me), let you free yourself from something, fix your bike, modify things in our environment or as a stick on an open fire maybe. For how useful they seem to be on TV, maybe just bring one.

  • A lighter

So if you’re really outdoorsy maybe you can start a fire with two rocks or sticks, a single spark or bird droppings. Even with unlimited time I’ll probably need a lighter. Besides keeping you warm and dry in cold wet weather starting a fire can also keep animals (and bugs) away or act as a signal if you need it.

  • Water you never plan to drink

I keep a liter of water in a collapsible bag in my pack with I could drink in an emergency, I could also use it to flush out a wound or put out a small fire I started to stay warm.

  • Some basic food think a couple of power bars

I’ve tucked into my secret and stale stash when I’ve hit the wall unexpectedly and while you don’t need food to survive for at least a week it’s certainly nice to have if you need it.

  • Cyclemeter app

I’ve written in detail about this amazing app. The coolest thing it lets you do is send automatic location email updates to someone you choose that can access your current location. It engages automatically when you launch it in addition to tracking your speed and generating a map. Check out the full post here.

For boaters (and paddlers)

Kayakers, paddlers and the like have the additional challenge of potential wetness to deal with all the time and our gear is expensive to start. We have to be minimal by nature but if you’re going on a longer journey it might be worth investing in a system like a board tie and waterproof pack to figure out how to carry some stuff with you

  • Consider finding a way to bring your phone

Sure it might get wet and you might be out a phone but for some journeys the potential reward outstrips the risk. I found this waterproof floating photography phone case after I went on a 4 hour paddle out of sight for groceries (and bragging rights) but it’s a gem. That time I just took two zippy bags.

One thing that sucks is the fact that our gear is high value, highly visible and pretty darn portable. Plus we tend to paddle away from some of it at least like say the car with the keys in it. I worry about people stealing my board on the roof rack when I’m out of sight, my trolly on shore and my bike or car while I’m enjoying myself. A stolen bit of kit would totally harsh my vibe after a great SUP yoga session. The beach where I park my gear most often is really popular even after dark and caters to a younger party crowd. Plus every community has a few kleptos, around here they could arrive by car or water. So here’s what I’ve come up with. Take the key only off your fob and sick it in your bra (boys wear a bra), and the other stuff can be fixed with one or two cable locks. I chain my trolly (and sometimes bike) to a guard rail and sometimes take another with me to chain my board at my destination. While they aren’t impenetrable a deterrent is often enough.

Ball sports

  • In my experience a full face shielding helmet but I might not be doing it right

So that’s my list of what you should take with you outdoors for a few sports. What item was most handy for you in an emergency or most often? Is there anything else I should consider adding to that suitcase?

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