Remember summer? When you rode your bike in the sun and watched sunsets from your campsite at 9pm? Keep that dream going by adapting your outdoor activities and staying stoked for the outdoors all year long.
Here’s our advice on getting outside in fall and winter:
1. Sort your stuff out early
If there’s cold-weather gear you’ve been thinking about – snowshoes, bike lights, a really good rain jacket – pick it up now. In summer 2020, the Great Bike Boom left late bike shoppers scrambling across North America. Now’s the best time to find the size, colour and models you need for any fall or winter gear.
2. Stay fit on the trails
Need room to run? Trail running gets your heart pumping with a healthy dose of nature. Yes, there might be puddles. Yes, there’s a high likelihood of mud. Yes, treating yourself to a coffee and donut after soaking-wet run will be the highlight of your weekend. Pick up some grippy shoes and dark-coloured socks, and learn beginner trail running tips to dive in.
3. Assess your layering system
It’s time to break out the fuzzy fleece, base layers and shells. Learn how to create a good layering system, especially when you’re heating up from activity, then cooling down when you stop. If you have a jacket you love, give it some TLC; learn how to re-waterproof your jacket. Don’t forget the kids – it’s Toaster Suit season.
4. Don’t forget about your feet
For everyone who hates cold, wet feet – which we’re assuming is everyone – dig through your closet to see if last year’s winter boots are still good or if it’s time to upgrade. Another hot tip: traction devices are awesome to keep moving, even when trails and sidewalks are sheets of ice.
5. Become an all-weather rider
Don’t let twilight, rain or frost slow your roll. With fenders, bike lights, wet-weather cycling clothes, and a good pair of gloves (trust us), you can keep biking well past summer. The truly dedicated even use studded tires for icy, snowy routes. Of course, indoor bike trainers are totally an option to rack up kilometres in your own Tour de Living Room.
6. Go nuts for fall leaves and spring flowers
Pop on a toque and prepare to snap a hundred photos. Bursts of fall colour are motivation to hike to golden larches, orange sugar maples, and bright red oaks. Ontario Parks even has a whole fall colours peak viewing map, so if one spot seems busy, there are lots more to choose from. In spring, a bike ride that takes in your local blossom trees is a guaranteed mood lifter.
7. Be a beacon of brightness
Stay safe and laugh in the face of 4pm sunsets. A headlamp makes you visible to traffic on snowy neighbourhood walks, lights the way on trails at dusk, and keeps your hands free to hold an umbrella and your dog’s leash at the same time.
8. Three…two… one… dropping
COVID-19 has changed the way ski hills operate. Don’t be caught off-guard when you head to the slopes. Research what reservations systems are in place, and sign up for avalanche training courses if you’re planning to escape lift lines for the backcountry.
Also essential: ski flicks. Tons of trailers are now out, and this year’s Banff Mountain Film Fest is completely online and guaranteed to build outdoor stoke.
9. Is snowshoeing the new biking?
Many Canadians re-discovered cycling, camping and hiking over the summer. So what’s hot this winter? Snowshoeing. It’s family-friendly, a great way to get fresh air, and opens up new scenery. Read our beginner’s guide to snowshoeing to get started, and look into local snowshoe areas to see if there are any special COVID-19 guidelines to know about.
10. Set the mood for the season
Find tracks to play on the way to or from the trailhead. Download a Spotify playlist: the Fall Trail playlist or Soulful tracks to put on after a day playing in the snow. Follow MEC to be the first to hear about the next round of playlists dropping throughout the season.
Keep warm, stay safe, and we’ll see you out there.