What Kit Do I Need To Be Active Outdoors?
People often ask what kit I need to be active outdoors? I spend a lot of time outside with my family and we have built up a selection of kit to make that time more enjoyable. Having the right kit can make your time outside much more enjoyable and could even save your life.
This is my current outdoor gear kit list
- Paddle boards
- Wet suits and neoprene swim socks
- Life Jackets
- Wet bags
- Outdoor cooking gear
To get started, borrow, hire or buy second hand. Even now I never buy gear that is currently in season or the latest version. I’ll look for sales or see if there is an outlet shop offered by the brand.
Paddle boards and Kayaks
We hired boards and kayaks for a few trips before we knew that we enjoyed doing this as a family and we wanted to invest in our own. This would save us money in the long term by not having to pay the hire fees. It also meant that we could use the boards in places that didn’t offer hire facilities. We haven’t invested in our own kayak as we bought paddle boards that have a kayak seat option. I’ve written another blog about SUPs here.
There are often offers on paddle boards and we ended up with a Bluefin buy one get one free type offer that we split with a friend and got one each. Bluefin also has an outlet store on eBay where we have just bought a new board from.
We already have wet suits that we use for wild swimming so we just use those when we are out on the boards.
My first wet suit was an ex demo suit from a paddle board hire shop in Wales. It had holes in the knees and a big rip on the shoulder. I loved it! It allowed me to stay in the water for longer and it showed me that I would use it if I invested in another one. I ended up getting my current wet suit as a birthday present from my brother! I also have a summer wet suit that I bought from a friend on Instagram.
Another bit of kit that I do highly recommend is swim socks. Basically these are wet suit socks to keep your feet warm. You can wear them to protect your feet from rocks too. I haven’t got any gloves yet as I’m a bit of a fair weather swimmer!
We have specific paddle-board life jackets from Decathlon. You need the correct life jacket buoyancy related to your weight so always do your research. For the kids we have a different brand and are slightly different in that they have leg straps to stop the vest coming over the head when they are in the water. Again, kids vests are linked to their weight so it’s important to keep checking them and upgrading as they grow.
I LOVE a wet bag. If you put wet stuff in the bag it will keep the water in the bag protecting anything outside from getting damp. Think wet suits or swimming costumes after a swim and keeping your car dry. If you want to keep stuff dry on a beach or when you are out on the SUP for example, putting that stuff in a wet bag will keep it dry if water gets on it.
I use wet bags for all sorts. We have one each so that all our separate wet suits and wet shoes and goggles are stored together by person. We have three kids so it’s easier to give them their own wet bag with their own stuff rather than searching through a mixed bag at the side of a lake. At the end of the day the wet stuff all goes into their own wet bag and transported home, keeping my car or van dry.
- I take a wet bag out with me on the SUP which is strapped under the bungees with a drink, sun protection and my phone (which is in a waterproof pouch).
- If you put a bin bag inside a wet bag it also makes a good day trip or car or camping bin.
- You could use different colours to help sort your recycling at a campsite. If a campsite doesn’t offer recycling then you can roll the bag up and seal it to bring it home without everything leaking or smelling bad on the journey.
- I have washed clothes in a wet bag. Put some water and detergent in a wet bag along with any clothes that you want washing. You could add a slider or a few balls to help agitate the clothes if they are really dirty. You can then just leave it in the back of a car or van as you are travelling. Empty out the water (into a toilet or grey waste disposal unless you use eco-friendly detergent) and then refill the bag with clean water to rinse the clothes.
- Some wet bags have thicker sides that stand up well if you fill them with water. This can be a bucket to wash dirty feet or even an emergency washing up bowl.
To start camping you literally only need a tent and some sleeping stuff. You can take BBQs to most sites (double check before!). You can also use the pans and cutlery etc that you use at home. Once you have been a few times and know that you will be going more you can invest in all the gear. Generally camping cooking stuff is lighter and smaller than the stuff you use at home.
This year I have got a Tentbox which sits on top of my car and is always ready for those impromptu nights away! It also gives us an extra room for when we go away with the kids to give them their own space.
eBay or Facebook marketplace is your friend if you are wanting to buy a tent. People often buy all the gear thinking they will go loads but then sell it all in a bundle. Search for camping bundle or tent bundle.
For sleeping you can use a blow up air bed and the duvet and pillows from home if you don’t have sleeping bags.
Look after your kit to make it last
Wet suits and SUPs should be rinsed off with clean water after every trip. This helps to extend the life of the kit but also prevents transfer of organisms like algae from spreading area to area. When washing wet suits check what the label says. I don’t use any detergent I just rinse with clean water.
To dry wet suits avoid direct sunlight as this can damage the neoprene. It is worth taking the time to do this as they can be passed down to younger kids or sell them on to fund bigger suits as they grow.
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