Two people walking on a shoreline on a cold looking day

10 tips to stay active outside, even when it’s cold and wet

Remember summer? When you rode your bike in the sun and watched sunsets from your campsite at 9pm? Well, it’s over. But that doesn’t mean the end of outdoor activity – it just means adapting and getting stoked for a new season.

Here’s our advice on getting outside in fall and winter for 2020:

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, the Great Bike Boom of 2020 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

Not quite ready to return to the gym? 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 almost 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.

Smiling person wearing a rain jacket with water beading on the hood

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.

Person putting red light on back of bike

6. Go nuts for fall leaves

Pop on a toque and prepare to snap a hundred photos. Bursts of 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.

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.

Two hikers wearing headlamps at dusk

8. Three…two… one… dropping

COVID-19 is changing the way ski hills operate. Don’t be caught off-guard when the snow starts falling. 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. Will snowshoeing be the new biking?

Many Canadians re-discovered cycling, camping and hiking over the summer. So what’s going to be hot this winter? Snowshoeing seems like a good bet: 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 fall

Find tracks to play on the way to or from the trailhead. Download the new Fall Trail playlist on Spotify and 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.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

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