Get a Hobby: Surviving & Thriving in the Great Outdoors

So, you’ve gone on a few hikes this summer, caught a sunrise or two, and maybe even went on an overnight camping trip. Still, do you feel like you haven’t gotten enough of Georgia’s vast wilderness? The best way to spice things up and take your hobbies to the next level would be to try a backcountry or primitive camping or backpacking experience.

Groups all over the state host experiences for outdoor adventurers of all levels if you’re looking for an added layer of protection and expertise. However, there’s no reason those really looking to immerse themselves in the great outdoors can’t host a trip of their own. You’ll just need to master a few survival skills and ensure the group is prepared for anything before hitting the true wilderness.

1. Pack Properly

The key to packing for any kind of backcountry trip is to work smarter, not harder. Whether you’re packing a backpack or your car, you’ll want to ensure all essentials are covered without taking up any unnecessary weight or space. Choose tools with dual purposes: a frisbee that doubles as a meal plate or a spork instead of a spoon and a fork. Basics like ropes, tarps and knives can be used for thousands of purposes, so be sure to include those in your packing lists as well!

2. Build a Fire

Whether you’re using a campfire for warmth, to ward off wildlife or for cooking, chances are you’ll need one at least once during your trip. Luckily, pretty much all of the fire-building materials you’ll need can be found in nature (but be sure to bring matches or a lighter of some sort).

Your campfire will require three parts that should all be added one after the other: tinder, kindling and fuel logs. Start by lighting a bundle of super dry and dead leaves, brush or grass with your match or lighter. Then, add thin twigs broken up into tiny pieces on top until those begin catching the flame. As you go, pile more prominent and bigger sticks on top until the flame is big enough to engulf large logs. From there, fuel your fire with logs long enough to use it and let it die out before hitting the hay.

3. Master the Art of Outdoor Cooking

Don’t let the excitement of your adventures distract you from mealtimes! You’ll need plenty of nutrients and electrolytes to get through each day, and while energy bars and trail mix are great on-the-go snacks, chances are you’ll want a real meal to sit down to at the end of the day. For that, you’ll need a small, portable camping stove and access to water.

You’d be amazed at the hundreds of meal possibilities that stem from a small pot of boiled water. In less than 10 minutes, you can dump the contents of a pre-packaged freeze-dried meal into the pot for dinner. Or, if you want the true comforts of home, cook noodles, oatmeal or couscous and add toppings like bacon bits, dried fruit or nuts to add variety.

4. Leave No Trace

No one should embark on a wilderness adventure without a knowledge of all seven Leave No Trace principles. We won’t go into each of them here, but they revolve around the core principles of leaving nature better than you found it and remaining conscious of wildlife and their natural habitats during your travels. Simple tips like carrying all of your trash with you, camping on durable surfaces and being respectful to wildlife and other campers or backpackers will help you be a friend to the trails and other outdoor enthusiasts!

5. Safety First!

Finally, only wander into an unfamiliar wilderness with a solid knowledge of wilderness first aid. Make sure to bring all necessary safety equipment and devise a plan to respond to emergencies that may arise well before embarking. Also, it’s best never to hike or camp alone! Make sure your hiking buddy is ready to call for help should something happen to you and vice versa.