Close up of ferns

How to stay connected to the outdoors while you’re at home

Our community cares about staying connected to the outdoors and each other, especially at this moment in time. We’re all spending a lot of hours at home these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to keep in touch with nature, activity and our outdoor buddies. Here are a few ideas:

Give your gear some love

Now’s a good time to tackle the outdoor gear repair or cleaning project that’s been in the back of your mind. Some suggestions? Re-waterproofing your hiking boots, patching up a hole on your rain jacket, or cleaning your bike chain – nothing’s more satisfying than a chain that goes from creaky to smooth. Another useful project to work through is (finally) organizing your gear closet.

Check out this full series of product care tips and videos.

Applying chain lubricant

Have an outdoor movie night

There are so many outdoor movies to stream that you could create an entire at-home film fest just for you (and the other people you live with, of course). Some of our favourites so far:

  • Banff Mountain Film Fest: A curated program of Festival films, all free and online. Watch them now.
  • Where Dreams Go to Die: Created by The Ginger Runner, this documentary follows Canadian ultrarunner Gary Robbins at the infamous Barkley Marathons. Pure grit. Watch on YouTube.
  • The Fifty: Cody Townsend has a huge goal: climb and ski all fifty lines in the book “Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America”. Watch his web series to follow along and learn more.

Photobook or canvas project

Step 1: go through photos from hiking trips, camping weekends, bike tours and days at the crag. Step 2: pick out your favourites to build a custom photobook online. Or choose your absolute favourite picture and order a giant version as a photo canvas print for your living room.

Be safe if you’re out

Fresh air and exercise keep bodies and mind healthy, but it’s important to do it in a safe way. Follow social distancing guidelines, stay up to date with your local health authority’s instructions, and respect the closures for parks, trails and climbing areas. Also, dial back the intensity – this is not a time to try that new jump and end up with an injury that stresses our healthcare system further.

Be active when you’re in

Active is a mindset. You’ll be spending plenty of time at home, but you can still find ways to create a new routine that keeps your body moving. Turn your living room into a place where you can train for climbing, lift weights (or whatever you have), stretch out, or spin your legs on an indoor bike trainer. There are tons of free online workouts available to get your heart pumping, and many local gyms are offering online options to keep the community workout vibe going.

Test-drive a new camp meal

Have a cast iron pan or Dutch oven? Use them to try out a new campfire-worthy recipe in your oven. Enchiladas, cinnamon rolls, s’mores dip, skillet pizza – there’s lots of potential.

Dig into an outdoor story

Scrolling the news has increased greatly in many of our lives. Take a break and lose yourself in a story instead of the headlines. Some reading suggestions below – and MEC Ambassador Taryn Eyton also compiled an excellent list of women’s adventure books, along with tips on how to read books if you can’t leave the house:

  • Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris. “Beautifully written,” says one of our MEC copywriters, “and it’s got me thinking of a bike tour next year.”
  • Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredston. Recommended by MEC Ambassador and writer Bruce Kirkby, it covers a decade of expeditions across Arctic waters, going backwards in a modified rowing shell.
  • Lines on a Map by Frank Wolf: “His adventures are incredible,” says MEC staffer Sean. “Some of them will never be repeated, and they cover pretty much every part of Canada.”
  • Thirst: 2600 Miles From Home by Heather “Anish” Anderson: Our MEC editor and past PCT thru-hiker just finished this one. “It’s interesting because she became the (self-supported) record holder, but without fanfare or much ego – only about 1000% grit.”
  • The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen: Another pick of Bruce Kirkby, this is a crystalline account of the author’s spiritual quest while accompanying naturalist George Schaller in Nepal’s Dolpo region in search of the snow leopard.

Learn new knots

A few knots in your repertoire can make a big difference in your outdoor skills. A knot-tying guidebook gives you clear, professional instructions and tips on how to use them, or you can also browse videos online. Beginners: we recommend starting with sheet bends, square knots, figure eights, bowlines and clove hitches.

Get to know your local birds

With a pair of binoculars and a bird guide, you unlock a whole new part of the outdoors. “You’d be surprised at how quickly time can pass when you’re birding,” says MEC staffer Karen, “watching and listening makes you more aware of everything outside, even if it’s just your backyard or out your window.” Apps like eBird are great to track sightings.

Stick together, even when you’re apart

What makes the outdoor community amazing? The people. Reach out virtually to talk, laugh and videochat with your running, climbing, skiing, biking and paddling buddies.

If you used to meet up for group runs or rides, honour that same time but connect online instead of in person. Do yoga together over Zoom or other online platforms, give each other tours of your living room training set-up, and meet up on Zwift. Oh – and if you have a pet that usually joins your friends on adventures, we’d love to see their furry faces over videochat too.

Take care of yourselves and each other. We’re a community, even when we’re not outside together.

Stay tuned to @mec social channels for skills sessions, #goodtimesinside training tips and stories to keep you connected to the outdoors.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew of adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who love the outdoors.