Top safety tips for heading out on an outdoor adventure

Challenge, fun and thrills await when you head into the great outdoors. Here’s how to be prepared for anything.

Two hikers walk along the coastline.
  • Danielle Ross Walls
  • October 2019

From planning and packing to preparing for changing weather conditions and food requirements, here is your six-point checklist for your outdoor adventure.

Do your research

Ensure your adventure is suited to your experience and fitness level. Know where you’re going, the track conditions and campsite availability. According to Tasmanian intensive care wilderness and flight paramedic Dave Brown, who has seen his share of mishaps, from twisted ankles to hypothermia, “The wilderness experience is magical but it can be harsh and unforgiving – plan well and respect nature.”

Pack right

An appropriate waterproof coat, a temperature-rated sleeping bag, a tent and a first-aid kit are all non-negotiables, in addition to personal safety supplies. Layer clothing so you can easily adapt to varying conditions; avoid cotton, which sucks heat from your body and opt for merino wool, which is warm and odour-resistant. Wear well-fitting waterproof walking shoes and carry a change of dry clothes.

A man helps secure a sleeping mat to a hiker's pack.
Be prepared for all weather conditions - regardless of the season.

Watch the weather

Conditions can change quickly. In some places, snow, rain, wind and sun are possible at any time of year so ensure you have equipment for all weather. Pack waterproof shell-wear and a beanie (even in summer). Be prepared to change or adapt your itinerary or even return home. And remember, what time the sun sets depends on the season.

Fuel yourself

Include carbs such as pasta and two-minute noodles in your meals. Dehydrated meals (from beef casserole to vegetable curry) are great options, as are snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, jerky, salami, cheese and chocolate. Remember your Jetboil for hot water and always carry sufficient water (a hydration bladder is ideal). Experts suggest packing 1.5 times more food than you think you’ll need.

A hiker eats a sandwich on a cliff.
Don't forget to load up on carbs to keep you energised.

Stay in touch

Log your trip with the closest visitor centre, in track and hut logs and with a reliable friend – include an itinerary and action plan as well as a 24-hour contact in case of emergency. Research mobile coverage and pack a personal locator beacon (PLB) – which can transmit distress signals to authorities – and a satellite phone; both can be hired at numerous places. Alternatively, the Garmin InReach Explorer + has GPS and SOS.

A hiker looks at his phone.
Having an action plan is essential in case of an emergency.

Plan and pause

Take time to think before you act if something untoward happens. “Unwise decisions are usually made in rushed moments,” says Dave. Take a deep breath and your survival instincts will usually guide you to the best solution.