The best way to experience nature is to get out in the middle of it. In colder climates, or in winter, snowfall can mean the only way to do that is on cross country skis. A cross country skiing trip can be a great way to exercise, make your way across the wilderness, and discover incredible new places. However, like any venture into the wild, it requires preparation and planning to keep yourself safe, knowledgeable, and to ensure you get the best experience from your trip. There are several actions you’ll need to take, including:

Research your location

As with any time you’re going somewhere unknown to you, you’ll need to research your destination. This can range from ensuring you’ll be able to hire equipment from your starting point, if that’s something you need to do, to knowing what wild animals live in the area. This information will help you prepare effectively (you wouldn’t go into bear country without bear spray and other protective elements, after all). Knowing the local wildlife, weather patterns, and what edible foliage you might find, will all help you to survive both during your trip, and if you run into any unforeseen issues.

Food and drink

Making sure you have enough sustenance and hydration is key. You’ll want to limit the bulk of what you’re carrying whilst taking adequate amounts. Professionals might make it look easy, but cross-country skiing requires a huge amount of balance, core strength, and control, especially over long distances. One of the best hydration packs for skiing will help you carry enough water on your back in a non-bulky manner that won’t get in the way of your movement. In terms of food, high energy, slow-release snack bars are a great way to complement anything you’re able to scavenge or hunt out in the wild.

Cold weather gear

Cross country skiing requires one thing, and that’s a thick layer of snow on the ground. Of course, this means it’s only possible where the weather is consistently cold enough to allow for this, and that means you’ll need to plan for this. Whilst you might be tempted to kit out in high-duty warmth, this would be a mistake. Cross-country skiing tends to warm you up, and chances are you’ll feel too hot after the first few minutes. Layers are always best, including light thermals and a wind-resistant covering, so you can modulate your temperature however you wish.

Take a class

If it will be your first time out on cross country skis, it’s worth taking a proper class to learn how to do it properly. Though it might share a name, cross country skiing has little in common with the more popular downhill skiing, and just because you’ve experienced one does not mean you can do the other. Learning the basics from an expert before you get going will save you time, effort, and potentially dangerous mistakes. Being prepared is about being informed and safe, so take a class to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you head out.