Tips for Your First Overnight Excursion
Are you planning your first overnight excursion? Are you wondering about what to pack in your backpack or where to find a perfect destination? How will you prepare for your first night sleeping outdoors, and what should you take into consideration in general when planning your first night in the wild?
Metsähallitus’ Nationalparks.fi website and especially its Outdoor Guide to Finland’s National Parks - Hiking in Finland section is there to answer these and many other questions that might be puzzling hikers. The tips and instructions on this website contain all the information that budding hikers will need for their first adventure.
There is nothing difficult about hiking, but embarking on your first outing may feel a bit daunting. Everything will go smoothly, however, when you keep in mind the few points given below!
Make your first night outdoors what you want it to be
Your first night outdoors does not need to be a long hike in the wilderness. You can choose to sleep in your own garden, in an interesting hiking area or in a national park. The setting of your adventure is for you to decide.
If your primary wish is to get used to sleeping outdoors, spending your first night in a tent in your own garden is a very good idea. If you are an experienced day tripper, why not head for a destination of your choice for an overnight adventure?
Whatever your destination and initial skills, you should start with suitable steps and extend your outings as you gain experience. You could start with summer excursions and gradually move on to colder conditions, and graduate from camping in your garden to national parks and interesting hiking trails.
For destinations, visit:
- Destination search on Nationalparks.fi
- Destinations at Finlandnaturally.com
- Municipal recreation area associations (https://virkistys.info)
When planning your trip, please always remember that overnight camping is permitted either based on public access rights or as set out in the rules of the area (such as a national park or a hiking area). If the rules restrict camping, you can find out about it on Metsähallitus’ Nationalparks.fi site or by checking with the landowner.
What gear do I need to sleep outdoors?
Many types of check lists are available to help you prepare for your adventure. Their purpose is to make it easy for you to check that you have the gear you would typically need. You can complement these lists with your personal insights. Not having to rely on your memory when packing will eliminate the need to worry about bringing the right gear, even if this is your first trip.
Most people already have many pieces of equipment at home, and if something is missing, you can ask your friends and family for a loan. The tent, sleeping bag and camping mat are items that you should borrow for your first trip if at all possible. Purchasing your own gear will be easier if you have a chance to test the items and time to consider what your personal needs are.
Essential items include:
- Clothing, footwear and headgear suitable for the weather
- Tent, sleeping bag and mat
- Backpack and rain cover
- Change of clothing and a set of thermal underwear in case you feel cold
- Windproof and/or rainproof shell layer and a cap/hat
- Camping stove and utensils, food and fuel
- Matches or lighter, map and compass
- Mosquito net
- Toilet paper and toiletries
- First aid kit and your personal medications
Backpack for carrying your gear
A backpack is an important piece of equipment when you intend to hike longer distances between campsites or your starting point and a campsite. Hiking will be more pleasant if you only bring a suitable amount of stuff and pack your backpack right.
Carrying an overloaded backpack is exhausting, but by good preparation you can avoid bringing unnecessary baggage and tiring yourself out. Did you know that your backpack should never weigh heavier than one third of your weight?
Find out more about how to pack your backpack and watch our video for handy tips.
After each trip, write notes about things that will encourage you to go out again
You can improve your hiking skills more quickly if you write down your observations after each trip and embark on the next adventure when the previous one is still fresh in your mind, or you have notes that help refresh your memory.
This will help you remember which amount of food was right for you and your party, and which equipment or clothes were good and functional. Your notes will also help you remember what you would have left at home or what would be useful to bring the next time. In other words, you will learn by experience which gear is right for you on your excursions.
Practice and personal insights are always the best way of building up your confidence, and this is why experience will give you building blocks for your new adventures! On top of this, you may find that successful experiences feed the hiker in you, while they also give you plenty of new resources and courage, also in other areas of your life.
Read more about planning a safe excursion.