Here are the things outdoorsmen and women should do before the year ends.
Can you believe we're already closing in on the end of another calendar? It seems like this year flew by before we knew it.
We hope it was a fun one filled with plenty of fun outdoor activities for you. Ones that will get your through the long, cold weather of winter.
But before you become snowed in for the year, there are plenty of things you should do before the New Year.
We have some suggestions on things to check off your list before the year ends.
Check out the outdoor sales
We know, we know. You'd rather be outside on Black Friday and so would we. But let's face it, outdoor gear is expensive these days. So, it makes sense to take advantage of special holiday season deals to stock up.
Maybe you're looking for a new Gerber survival knife for camping. Maybe you need some new headlamps. This is a great time of year to pick up backpacking and camping gear like tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, hatchets, hiking boots and camp cookware.
The more money you save on this stuff, the longer you can go adventuring in other parts of the year. Take stock of your outdoor gear, and see what needs replacement.
Right now is a great time to save by picking up a high-dollar item like a new rifle or a kayak at great discount. Just think of it as an early Christmas gift to yourself!
Start planning next year's adventures
It's never to early to plan your outdoor adventure vacation for next year. In fact, it's often cheaper to start booking hotels, campsites or other lodging near the most popular National Parks right now. Some popular places like Yellowstone fill up fast, and the best hunting guides are always booked in advance. Ensure your spot by searching and securing now.
You don't have to have everything planned down to the second, but It doesn't hurt to have a rough plan in place. I already have rough plans in place for a trip to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia next summer. Because it's going to require a flight, I'm already monitoring various travel booking sites waiting for deals to come up. If you can book several months in advance, you'll save a lot of dough. Who doesn't enjoy saving money?
Planning in advance also gives you a chance to really research your chosen destination spot and to find all the hidden little areas you might miss with less planning.
We know all this is a lot of work and it's hard to find the time, especially around the holidays. But you'll be glad you prepped well in advance when you're sitting around a campfire during the perfect backcountry camping trip.
Take inventory of your outdoor gear
Piled up a lot of outdoor items over the years? Who hasn't? This is a good time to take a weekend and inventory and organize everything you have. You might be surprised to discover what items you have or haven't used in some time.
Now is the time to clear out the junk items, and learn what you need and (more importantly) what you don't.
Maybe you have some old coats and gloves you don't use anymore that are simply taking up space. Consider donating them. It's the holidays after all, and it's a good time to be thinking of others. You free up more space in your home and you just might make someone's day.
Another thing to consider is selling off gear you don't use anymore. Maybe you have an old gun or bow laying around that's just been collecting dust. You can get a little extra cash ,which never hurts this time of year.
Squeeze in a winter camping trip
With the holidays upon us, things are about to get a whole lot more stressful. What with searching for the best gifts for loved ones, attending office Christmas parties and making time for family traditions, it puts a lot of strain on people. There is a reason this is the busiest time of year.
That's why we recommend a winter weekend to get away from it all. Just a couple days out enjoying nature's splendor can do you good. Turn the smartphones off and get lost for a weekend. Some campers may find the idea of setting up a tent in November or December intimidating, but trust us, it's awesome.
One big reason is that most popular state and federal campgrounds are practically deserted this time of year. You'll have the whole place to yourself! Also, when properly prepared for the cold, winter camping provides for one of the most refreshing nights of sleep you can get. It can make for a great little pick-me-up during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Start a new holiday outdoor tradition
Feel like you've just been going through the motions every holiday season? The same old Thanksgiving and Christmas parties can get a little dull after a while. Too many friends and family members end up standing around with their faces buried in their smartphones anyway. What fun is that?!
How do you break out of that? By coming up with a new holiday outdoor tradition. It could be something as simple as a Thanksgiving morning deer hunt with the rest of the family. Or maybe if the ice is thick enough, you invite everyone out for an impromptu morning of fishing followed by an afternoon fish fry.
Personally, I'm huge on geocaching. The outdoor scavenger hunt game allows you to host events for your friends. I always host two a year. One is a "Festivus" celebration. (Yes, the holiday from the TV show Seinfeld). The second is a less formal event on Christmas Eve morning, meant to help introduce folks to geocaching.
Amazingly, I've had incredible turnouts for both events every year and they've since become something of a tradition. I always hold these events outdoors in the park, no matter how bad the conditions might be. I provide hot chocolate and cookies, but the rest is up to the attendees.
People have really seemed to enjoy it, and it's become an event a lot of us look forward to every year.
Whatever you decide to do, get creative with it! A new outdoor holiday tradition will be bold, fresh and fun. If it's a success, don't be surprised if people are asking you to make it an annual thing before the first one is through!