How To Scratch Your Adventure Itch During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Raise your hand if you’re feeling a little anxious, uneasy, and confused about what to do with yourself during social isolation, self-quarantining, and stay at home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. These are crazy times indeed, and honestly, I’m struggling a bit with my identity of being outdoorsy after cancelling a road trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and not even being able to visit my local trails per local regulations.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog post, it’s this: staying home doesn’t make you less outdoorsy. 
We’ve come up with a few ways that you can scratch your adventure itch right from your living room, because let’s be honest: most of us are really missing the wild right now.

  1. Give yourself permission to stay home & crush FOMO.

    We shouldn’t be heading to the trailheads, crags, or national parks right now, and that’s ok. While part of me had some serious FOMO (fear of missing out) about cancelling our short spring national park road trip, it’s helped a lot for me to recognize that I want to be outside right now, that I’m not really able to, and that that’s ok. It’s temporary, and it doesn't make me any less of an outdoorsy person to stay inside for the time being. It sounds a bit woo-woo, but giving yourself permission to stay inside right now and not feel ok about staying inside is a completely normal and valid way to feel. But recognizing and acknowledging that you’re missing the outdoors can take the angst out of it.

  2. Stay in shape.

    I usually stay active by hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter - so the first week of social isolation was tough. But it’s 2020, so there are plenty of ways for you to stay in shape at home. Do a simple bodyweight exercise, like this bodyweight routine for hikers I wrote for Backpacker Magazine. Or, try starting a yoga routine in the morning like us (thanks Yoga with Adrienne). Heck, one dude even ran a full-on marathon on his 23-foot long balcony last week just to prove he could do it. Sure, you won’t be getting the beautiful scenery like you usually get in the wild, but moving and getting your heart rate up feels amazing and is key to not going insane while spending so much time inside.

  3. Go camping at home.

    If you’re able to, set up your tent in your backyard and camp at home for the night. Brendan Leonard used to commit to sleeping outside 30 days a year without quitting his job, which is totally doable even with a regular office job. These days, it might be even easier to sleep outside before work if you’re working from home and have a backyard. No backyard? Tent on your patio or balcony. No balcony? Set it up in your living room and add some background noise like “Rain on a Tent” or "Primeval Forest” to set the mood. I used to set up my REI Half Dome tent in my college dorm to convince myself to study, because tents are rad even if you’re not at an amazing campsite.

  4. Plan a huge trip for next year.

    Vizualize and plan out a trip you’re going to take next summer instead of a trip next season. Start researching rad parks to visit or trails to hike, start learning about what gear you’ll need to pack, and start watching YouTube videos and reading forum posts to learn about the trip. By committing to doing it in 2021, you’ll have something to look forward to and keep you busy instead of feeling bad for yourself about not being able to do it this season.

  5. If you’re able, go on local hikes responsibly.

    Getting outside and away from people sounds like the perfect way to deal with COVID-19 right now, but here’s the problem: too many people are doing it. That means local hiking trails have gotten crowded - and that’s not social distancing, people! Check and follow your state, city, and local governments to see if there are any restrictions on outdoor activity (many national and state parks are closed, and city trails have been closing as well).

    If you’re allowed to get outside locally, remember to stay 6 feet away from people at all times (including passing people on the trail or parking at the trailhead). Avoid dangerous activities like rock climbing or skiing or mountain biking, because you (and the hospitals) don’t want to need medical help for something completely preventable right now. Finally, remember to disinfect afterward — it sounds crazy to disinfect after coming back from the great outdoors, but that’s just where we’re at right now.

  6. Cook your favorite backpacking meal on your campstove.

    This sounds silly, but believe me, it’s totally amazing. Pull out your backpacking gear and make your favorite camping meal on your cookstove. Bonus points for setting up a video call with your favorite adventure buddies to share a virtual backpacking meal together! Feel free to add a little garnish that you wouldn’t normally bring into the backcountry, like your big bottle of sriracha or salsa. Luxury backpacking meals at its finest.

  7. Organize and repair your gear.

    I don’t know about you, but the act of seeing and holding my outdoor gear gets me stoked. Now’s a great time to organize your gear closet and make sure everything is taken care of. Check your clothing for any broken zippers or holes - then learn how to repair them. If you have the right washer and soap, give your less-than-clean down puffy and old down sleeping bag a fresh wash (especially if you’re going to be camping indoors tonight. You’ll thank me later.). Re-waterproof your hiking boots and rain jacket. Research new gear that you might want to add to your kit. You might as well use this time to give your gear some tender loving care, if nothing else to just admire your rad gear and the trips you’ve taken with it.

  8. Explore outdoor areas on Google Earth.

    Sound boring? Maybe that’s because satellite view is a super boring way to use it. BUT if you click “3d” at the bottom of the web app to see actual topography of your landscape and make it much more interesting. I’ve spent way too much time virtually exploring Yosemite, Canyonlands, and random public land areas of Alaska. It’s also kind of fun to re-trace from memory past trips you’ve taken. If you don’t want to blindly explore outdoor areas, check out Backpacker’s new 3D Appalachian Trail explorer for a more guided experience.

  9. Don’t shower for 5 days to remind yourself of backpacking.

    Just kidding. If you have access to a shower, you should probably use it. Especially if your roommate is currently your work-from-home co-worker. Unless the stink works for you, in which case, by all means.

  10. Read, watch, and listen to media about the outdoors.

    There’s no shortage of YouTube videos, books, podcasts, and albums to remind you of the wild. Check out our last blog post to send yourself down the rabbit-hole of outdoor content to stay sane while being cooped up indoors. Plus, Banff Mountain Film Festival just curated the festival finalists from 2019 and 2018 that are available for free streaming.

If you’re looking in particular for articles about how to responsibly get outdoors during COVID-19, check out these articles:
How are you staying sane when we can’t get outdoors as much as we’d like? Share your tips in the comments below!

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