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.
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.
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.