Last month I touched on a few basics of preparation and have decided to continue along those lines and examine a few areas where we can go wrong when outdoors, these will apply to most outdoor pursuits and are not unique to off-roading.
I am going to examine a few general areas and not look at things like trail medicine, technical clothing or extreme outdoor activities-just the normal things we do! Or possibly do incorrectly
Okay we have checked the weather forecast, whoops lets take a step back, you have downloaded the weather apps to your tablet or Smartphone? And you have a rigid waterproof carrying case for them? Well done, then the last thing you need is a suitable charger to charge from your car whilst you travel, alternatively I saw a solar charger the other day called a “power monkey” an amazing piece of equipment well worth the investment. The little monkey is capable of charging a variety of devices, computers and cameras.
Well then you have checked the weather but have you paid attention to storm warnings? No matter what you are doing this is crucial, you could get caught outdoors hiking or washed away by a flash flood sweeping through a dry river bed.
Two relatively common mistakes are getting separated or pushing the limits, in other words doing something beyond your capability – don’t you could endanger other members of the group in both cases. Always watch the person or vehicle in front of you and learn to signal to one another.
Next is protection from the sun, wear a wide brimmed hat and liberally apply sunscreen, one can even burn through the windscreen whilst driving in your car.
Another great South African tendency is that of taking a short cut, generally they are neither shorter or easier and often lead to people getting lost or separated-stick to the route that you know or that has been mapped out for you, it’s safer.
Given that all went well and you arrive safely at the campsite with adequate light to make camp and tend to the evening meal lets avoid a few common mistakes:
- Try to set up camp near the ablutions and watch the fire if water is heated by means of a “donkey”, it may be necessary to rise earlier than the group to stoke the fire and ensure adequate hot water for yourself.
- Cook away from the tent or vehicle so as not to get smoke or cooking smells in your sleeping area.
- Ensure that you have adequate wood, lighters and water to handle your requirements.
- Buy sleeping bags that are adequate for the conditions, rather invest more in this area than simply buying off the shelf ,preferably visit a specialist store.
Lastly although the list could be endless, back up your GPS with a set of paper maps and a compass, it’s also a lot of fun to revisit map work especially if you have children in the group and want to make the trip a learning experience.