The Notepad is a monthly column written by @rubyclaireee exploring what it means to be a guest on this wild and abundant planet. Most of these thoughts have been scribbled, in some way, in the notepad she carries in her backpack (or pannier).


So you have the stoke but you’re still a little cautious to get out into the great outdoors? Ruby has you covered.


We all know a confident outdoorsy person. They can rattle off a long list of Hikes You Must Do But Haven’t Heard Of. They know what gear is Good and Bad. They can light fires with ease. They believe in their fitness ability. They can make it to the top of that mountain, or along that coastline, or down that cliff face. They know what to do if their tent leaks or their tires burst or if a lightning-heavy thunderstorm strikes.

But how do you become that person? How do you develop a basic level of confidence when you feel so unsure of yourself?

There’s so much shame around fear, especially when our fears aren’t deemed ‘serious’ enough, or aren’t fears for those in our immediate circle. If you’re struggling with confidence outdoors please know that you’re not alone. And that the fear exists for a very good reason.

Here’s how I address fears when they surface – outdoor-related or others. First thing to do is list them. On paper. With a pen. Every single one of them. The more detailed the better. If you’re afraid of something bad happening, define bad. Injury? Getting lost? Then, brainstorm ways to ease that fear. I’ll pop a few examples below:

Fear: I don’t know what to do if I get lost

Number one rule of hiking is never leave without a map. I’m a huge advocate for a paper map, so I’d argue it’s necessary to have one of those too.

For your digital maps, I’d recommend RideGPS if you’re on a bike and AllTrails if you’re on foot. You can download your map offline, so even if you’re without a signal you can see where you are, where north is, and where the trail is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve veered off trail and had to pull out AllTrails and bush-bash my way back. Even on routes I’ve walked 30 times!


The notepad, Ruby claire


It’s also important to tell someone you love where you’re off to and what time you plan to be back. If anything happens, they’ll have the information required to inform search and rescue.

Solution: Pack a digital and physical map, tell someone you love where you’re off to and what time you plan to be back

Fear: I don’t know what to do if I, or one of my companions, gets injured

Many of us would argue you shouldn’t leave for an adventure without an PLB, but it’s pretty financially limiting if you don’t head out all that often.

If you’re in a national park, most national park offices rent them out for a small fee. It’s worth picking one up, especially if you’re heading out with patchy reception. It’s also worth checking the signal maps of whatever telco you’re with. Do you get Telstra service in this forest? Nope? Good to know. Make sure you take a first aid kit either way!

There are a number of survival-based short courses you can do. One day, all the essentials. How to find water. How to keep warm if you’re without shelter somewhere cold. How to read a map. Consider signing up for one of these. They’re skills you’ll always appreciate having.

Solution: Check the signal maps with your telco provider before you go, rent an PLB, pack a complete first aid kit, take a short survival or first aid course.

Fear: I don’t know if I have the right gear or not

You probably know someone in your life, at least one, who loves the outdoors. If you don’t know whether you have the right gear, ask them. Give them a list of what you have and ask every single ‘ridiculous’ question you have. I guarantee the person who loves the outdoors loves people getting keen on the outdoors just as much. If you can’t find anyone, walk into an adventure store and ask the person behind the counter. They’ve got you.

Also, worth noting, you’ll never have the right gear. Never! Spend ten minutes in a room of gear freaks and they’ll argue the merits of Item A over Item B despite serving the same function, having a 5g difference and in a similar price bracket. Start small and you’ll eventually build up your gear arsenal.


The notepad, Ruby claire


Better to buy what you need as you discover the need for it, rather than buy everything on a list just because someone on the internet tells you to.

Solution: Talk to a friend or store clerk at an adventure store

Fear: I’m not as fit as my friends so I’ll just slow them down/maybe not even finish?

There’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to your fitness level. Absolutely nothing. But if you’ve got friends joining you, it’s worth mentioning your hesitations. Sometimes just saying it out loud eases the load.

If your friends are ‘much fitter’ and they’re always hiking, I assure you they’re just stoked they’ve roped another friend into the activity. Adventure isn’t a race. Sometimes we forget it’s supposed to be fun. If you need to catch your breath for 15, that’s okay. If you want to look at a flower for 30, go ahead.

Don’t forget you can start slow. Want to do a 20km walk but not sure if you’re fit enough? Start with a 5km loop around the block. Move to 10km. Don’t try and eat a whole burger without taking any bites.

Solution: Have an honest conversation with your adventure buddy, plan something smaller

A lot of your hesitations are the same hesitations we all have. Instead of seeing them as reasons NOT to do something, see them as opportunities to increase your knowledge and your confidence in something you really want to do.

Make friends with your fear, implement strategies to placate them, and get outside. You’ve got this!