Getting to the great outdoors, no matter the season, can be a great vacation. But sometimes your packing list can easily get out of control, especially in places like Western Nebraska where the weather can be fickle. You want to always be prepared, but you don’t want to be bogged down. Anytime you’re planning an outdoor adventure your main concern should be staying dry and comfortable while keeping the amount of stuff you have to haul to a minimum, especially if you’re the one hauling it.
Overall Plan: If you’ll be spending a significant amount of time outdoors during your next adventure, layers that fold up easily can be a lifesaver. If you’re camping, are you operating out of a car or truck? Or are you loading everything into a pack and hoofing it into the backcountry? If you’re packing in you’ll want a backpack, preferably one that’s ultra-light with an internal frame, but you already knew that because you’re the type of person who backpacks into the backcountry. If you’re car camping you’ll still want a pack, maybe just a daypack, but you’ll want a handy way to keep all of your essentials in one place.
What’s Essential? While blue jeans may seem like the ultimate outdoor outfit, they can get wet and heavy. It’s better to get pants that shed water, or can be converted into shorts. A pair of tights or long underwear can easily add an extra layer. Look for T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and hoodies or fleeces made from breathable, synthetic fabric that will wick sweat better than cotton. Don’t forget to pack an emergency poncho or some other form of rain gear to protect from sudden storms. Your footwear will depend on what kind of activities you are doing. Lightweight hiking shoes or boots can handle many conditions, but you might need something sturdier for rockier trails. If your trip involves kayaking, canoeing, or tanking, water shoes can be a great investment. Of course do not forget bug spray and sunscreen. Pack multiple pairs of non-cotton hiking socks to keep your feet dry, lightweight wool is best. Band-aids, moleskin, and duct tape can go a long way toward keeping blisters, cuts, and scrapes from ruining your outdoor fun throw in some Neosporin just in case.
If you’re heading into a more remote area make sure you have enough water, bring a flashlight and be sure to check in with the Rangers.
The great thing about getting away in the Sandhills isn’t what you need to bring, it’s what you get to leave at home. You won’t need any dress clothes, don’t bother with electronics other than a flashlight and a cell phone and feel free to turn off the phone and stash it in your glove box. Just be ready to have a great time, come out the Sandhills and find your next adventure.