How to Own it in the Outdoors: Things You Need as an Outdoor Woman

While every­one can ben­e­fit from own­ing the items and skills on this list, this one was put togeth­er with the ladies in mind. Many of us out­door women were intro­duced to our more rugged pur­suits by the men in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we need to be depen­dent on them. It’s easy to let a guy take charge and be respon­si­ble for the items below, but it’s so much more reward­ing to have our own gear and know how to han­dle it ourselves.

There are women and girls who cer­tain­ly break this mold, but many of us grew up in a cul­ture that con­di­tioned us to defer to the exper­tise of a man­ly man when it comes to any­thing sports relat­ed. Here’s a list of sev­er­al must-haves for a seri­ous out­door­swoman inter­est­ed in gain­ing more trust and lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence. If you want to feel capa­ble, con­fi­dent and inde­pen­dent in the out­doors, stop bum­ming the gear and skills from the guys and get your own. 

Pock­et Knife
Whether we are spread­ing peanut but­ter or prepar­ing ban­dages for a lit­tle back­coun­try first aid, we def­i­nite­ly need our own pock­et knife. It’s com­mon to slide under the radar with this one for a long time because it’s an easy item to bor­row from a fel­low camper. Hav­ing a trusty knife, how­ev­er, sends a mes­sage to every­one else in your group that you are self-suf­fi­cient and wor­thy of their respect. This small item is a sig­nif­i­cant one in build­ing the self-con­fi­dence of an expert woodswoman. 

All out­doorsy ladies should have the full camp­ing set up, from sleep­ing pad to head­lamp, but even though I had all that for years, it wasn’t until I bought my own tent that I felt tru­ly inde­pen­dent on camp­ing trips. Being depen­dent on the rest of your par­ty, whether it’s one per­son or a whole group, to bring a reli­able tent with enough room for you to squeeze into can be risky. A mem­o­rable back­pack­ing trip I went on a few years back involved the split­ting up of the group gear only to real­ize when we went to set up camp that the tent poles had nev­er made it into a pack. The expe­ri­ence left me deter­mined to be more proac­tive in mak­ing sure I am ful­ly pre­pared for an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence and taught me to not blind­ly trust mem­bers of my group to have what I need.

This may seem pret­ty basic, but it’s impor­tant! How many of us ladies have set out with an apple and trail mix only to be insane­ly jeal­ous of your hik­ing com­pan­ion’s jerky and PB&J after a long climb? Or how about the same sit­u­a­tion in reverse, when your body craved some healthy treats and all you brought were processed snacks? The point is, know what fuels your body and the amount of food you need to con­sume for any giv­en amount of exercise. 

First Aid Kit and Skills
Invest­ing in a small kit is a great idea. An even bet­ter idea is tak­ing a basic First Aid and CPR class. Feel free to take it a step fur­ther even, and get your­self WFA or WFER cer­ti­fied. If you feel pre­pared to han­dle any sit­u­a­tion that might be thrown your way, you will have a huge burst of con­fi­dence on your next out­door adven­ture. Your group will val­ue your exper­tise and be thank­ful to have you around. This step is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ladies who feel out of their ele­ment and ner­vous about being in the outdoors.

Basic Knots
If you don’t know when you would use a granny knot instead of a fig­ure eight fol­low through, I would sug­gest grab­bing a line, doing a quick google search and prac­tic­ing some basic knot tying skills. While expe­ri­ence with knots is more help­ful for cer­tain sports than oth­ers, it nev­er hurts to have that knowl­edge handy. You might want to rig a ham­mock or hoist your food in the air to pro­tect it from crea­tures who might want a nib­ble, and noth­ing makes you feel more capa­ble than whip­ping out a com­pli­cat­ed knot that you can trust to hold. This skill can also be essen­tial in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions that are hope­ful­ly few and far between. There are always oppor­tu­ni­ties to show off and impress the peo­ple around you by being a knot expert. 

Com­pass, GPS and/or A Good Sense of Direction
I’ll admit that aside from the apps I use on my iPhone, the only one of these three that I cur­rent­ly pos­sess is the last. It’s easy to rely on the more expe­ri­enced or nat­ur­al lead­ers in any group to step up and take charge on the trail, but I try to mem­o­rize land­marks, trail junc­tions, names, and any oth­er sig­nif­i­cant details when I’m out­doors. Like the rest of the items on this list, a good sense of direc­tion is some­thing that will facil­i­tate a grow­ing trust in your­self and your own capa­bil­i­ties. Make an effort to be more self-reliant and you will reap the benefits. 

Invest­ing in your own gear allows you to be respon­si­ble for your own expe­ri­ence in the out­doors. It makes you more self-reliant and con­fi­dent, allow­ing you to progress in your cho­sen sport or pas­time far greater than you can in bor­rowed or rent­ed equipment.