Although we are very fond of stating “Adventure is a Mindset” let’s face it mindset alone will not be enough as you try to expand your adventures. A little knowledge goes a long way. As you seek bigger and wilder experiences, you will require gear and some key skills. Be careful at this point though not to fall into the gear trap. Everyone loves new kit and it is all too easy to get carried away, the quote “All the gear, no idea” always springs to mind and is so true when it comes to the outdoor industry.
It is even worse when you factor in social media with its so called outdoor influencers seemingly more concerned with collecting brands than with skills. Without learning some key skillsets, any new flashy outdoor kit will never be used to its full potential and your adventures will either be limited or at worst could put yourself and possibly others at risk (no matter how cool you may think you look on your latest Instagram post).
So if you’re ready to get out into the wilder parts of the world and move away from the beaten path what skillsets do you really need to master?
Navigation; Good old fashioned land navigation using a map and compass. Sure technology such as GPS and phone apps are great but batteries can run out and tech can fail – knowing you can navigate with map and compass gives a better understanding of the tech and leaves you with the confidence to plan adventures further afield. I often think that to do well in life you need to know where you have come from, where you are now and where you are going as well as how you are going to get there and this is also essential in wilderness travel. It’s no accident that navigation is my favourite subject to teach and for me is my number one adventure skill.
Medical; A good knowledge of first aid is key in the more remote areas of the world as well as closer to home. It’s amazing how many so called outdoor experts are out messing around with knives, axes and getting up to crazy stuff in the hills with a minimal first aid kit and only a basic understanding of trauma and how to deal with it. Much like navigation Medical skills allow you to be a little more self-sufficient, prepared and build confidence so you know that should things go wrong you are equipped and skilled to take care of yourself until further help can reach you. Medical really is the skill where “All the gear, no idea” can become dangerous with many people carrying kit they have no clue how to use if ever required.
Fire; The first time someone ever starts a fire with natural materials and a spark is something special. It is primal and we’ve not met anyone yet that hasn’t grinned like a small child the first time they succeed with this. If you have the skill to create fire from natural materials in poor weather, this is a true confidence boost and to coin a military phrase a real “Force Multiplier”. With fire we can purify water by boiling, cook, dry off wet kit, stave off hypothermia, protect ourselves from disease carrying insects, ward off predators and of course signal for help.
Our business was formed from a conversation in a tent close to Everest Base Camp. We personally chose not to go with an established trekking company or even pay local guides. We simply bought maps, booked flights, chose the right gear and went for it! It was a great adventure which has resulted in many more and was possible due to the confidence in our own abilities thanks to the key skills listed above. Although there are many outdoor related skills these three will stand you in good stead and build confidence to get out and push yourself. They alone can form a solid foundation to advance your own scope of adventure and be safe in doing so.
Do we run courses teaching on these subjects? Yes we do, but this is not a sales pitch. Whether it is from a (qualified) friend, a YouTube tutorial or even one of our competitors, go out and get a working knowledge of each of these skills, push yourself and remember to ask questions. Of course, feel free to ask our advice as we're always up for a chat. Most importantly, stay safe and have fun.
Author: Marc Cherry, MDA.