Summer may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great time outdoors. Going out in autumn may surprise you. The weather is cooler as we move closer to winter and the insects that were bugging you in summer are gone. The campgrounds are less crowded giving you more privacy and a little bit more peace and quiet.
But don’t let the beautiful changing colors of the leaves fool you into thinking everything is calm and always ok. Fall is fickle. You might find yourself falling asleep on a warm dry night only to wake up cold and wet. This sudden change in weather is normal during fall so it’s better to be prepared for anything that may come. That's why we’ve listed down a few things you’ll want to add to your typical pack to help you prepare for your outdoor activity this fall.
Dress in layers. When you're outdoors, layering is something you must know how to do. This tried-and-tested strategy lets you regulate temperature comfortably by slipping layers on and off as your activity level increase or however the weather changes. You can always peel off layers if the weather warms up, but you can’t put on layers that you didn’t bring along on your trip.
Take care of your feet. Mother Nature is fickle. Your hiking footwear should have solid waterproofing in the event you encounter short rain bursts or sudden full-on downpours on the trails. Having extra shoes on your pack might seem like a good idea, but the added weight on your pack makes it impractical especially if you’re hiking most of the time. What you can do is keep extra insoles on hand. Swap your insoles every night so that the insoles you just used can rest the next day and allow extra moisture or sweat to evaporate. As for socks, wool is much better at regulating temperature, wicking away sweat, and keeping your feet dry in rainy conditions.
Protect your hands. A pair of gloves is essential to your fall hiking attire. On cold mornings or on high altitudes hikes, gloves provide a warm lightweight layer while you're hiking or simply doing chores at camp. But if there is heavy rainfall in the forecast, you might need a pair of rainproof gloves or mittens.
Keep your pants on. Back in summer when the temperatures are hot, it's nice to hike on shorts or lightweight pants that barely feel like it's there. But in fall, it’s a good idea to choose hiking pants with added thickness and wind-blocking ability but still allows you to move well on the trail.
Beanies are cool and can keep you warm. Heat escapes from your head, and a regular cap won’t help you much in the fall. Go for a lighter-weight beanie made from wool. This type of hat will give you excellent warmth for the weight without soaking up a ton of moisture.
Repel the weather. It’s better to be prepared than to be soaking wet during your trip. That’s why even if you expect sunny skies, you should bring along a rain jacket just in case the weather turns. A lightweight weatherproof jacket should suffice for emergencies unless you’re expecting a lot of downpour during your trip. Then you should opt for a more suitable one.
Invest in a good tent. The weather in autumn can change very quickly from warm and sunny to cold and wet. So it’s best to get a shelter that’s built for both. 3 season tents are lighter than heavy-duty 4-season tents, giving you an easier hike to your camping spot. Though the 3 season tent is not designed for extreme weather like the 4 season tent is, these tents are more breathable allowing a cooler experience on warmer days.
Bring cold-weather sleeping gear
Bring extra fuel. Dry wood can become hard to find in autumn. As long as there are no burn restrictions in your campsite and you have a way to bring it, you can pack your own wood so you don’t have to risk going without a fire. If you do have to go and look for fuel, try to get deadwood that’s off the ground. Wood on the floor is usually wet and harder to burn. And if you’re using a portable stove, it helps to bring an extra gas canister as food will take longer to cook in colder temperatures.
It’s best to prepare for rain or snow. Go and get a waterproof or water-resistant backpack as the weather can be quite damp during fall. If you already have a backpack and don’t wish to spend more on a new one, you can simply line your backpacks with water-resistant materials such as plastics bags or pack liners. Spray-on water repellants are also available in the market. Although most of the sprays and sealers sold in outdoor shops are designed to be used in waterproofing a camping tent, certain varieties can be used for jackets and backpacks.
First-aid kit. Though this may be a given, accidents do happen and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It wouldn’t hurt to be reminded and to be prepared.
You’ll probably need more water than you think. The weather might be cooler but you’ll definitely sweat the same if not more during your hike. Bring enough water that will allow you to drink two cups for every hour of hiking. Make sure to familiarize yourself with possible water sources along your hike even if you have enough water. It’s best to know other sources in case of emergencies.
Snacks are important too. Remember to pack snacks for quick refueling sessions. Be sure to keep your treats within reach, either in a side pocket or toward the top of your pack. If you need to eat, you won’t have to dig through your entire pack for one power bar.
Dehydrated food is something to really consider. Dried foods are lightweight but are amazingly nutrient-dense. When you’re out on the trail, your body exerts a lot of energy and it’s important to replace that spent energy so that you can keep moving forward.
A simple meal goes a long way. Cold weather makes us want to enjoy warm comfort food cooked over the campfire. When you plan your camping menu, choose simple recipes with a lot of carbs and good fats to keep you fueled and energized. Simpler meals will take less effort to cook and will require fewer ingredients. You also won’t need to use a lot of utensils that you’ll have to carry towards camp.
Plan your meals and prepare them before your trip. Shorter hours of sunlight mean having less time to prepare your meals, and food may take a little longer to cook due to the cold weather.
Having your meals prepped and ready to go will allow you to cook meals faster. Prepping your ingredients before the hike also means you don’t have to carry the extra weight of peelings and trimmings that you usually would throw out anyway.
You might have all the things you need for your trip, but preparation and planning don’t end there. Despite the great weather, the outdoors is still very unpredictable and it’s better to be prepared for anything that may come your way. You’ll need to find the appropriate location that caters to the outdoor experience of your party. Even experienced hikers and campers can have a hard time on extreme and difficult trails. Always check the weather forecast ahead of your trip even if you’ve prepared for any weather condition.
Check out our safety guide on hiking and what to do in case any emergencies come up.