Phila Holmes, a female outdoor athlete and #PaddyStaffer, made the most of her months stuck inside, dreaming of the outdoors. She has some amazing tips to share about what you can do to keep the trail in your head when it can’t be under your feet! We hope you’re taking care of yourselves, and continuing to dream about your next adventures.

When you’re someone who lives and breathes the outdoors, it can be hard to go about your everyday routine without knowing when you can plan that next big outdoor adventure. There are always small, close to home camping, hiking, biking and climbing trips that you can do on weekends, but I can’t blame you for wanting a bit more.

So what can you do to help your future self get organised for when the time comes to pull out the tent, fill the pack, tear open the doors and burst into the wild unknown?

The answer is an intense amount of research! You can chat online in Facebook groups and forums and gather information about the walks you’re interested in doing. Luckily for me – and I can’t be the only one – I love trip planning. I pull all my maps, books and resources out for easy access whenever I get the urge to think about where I want to go next. I fill in those details for trips that are on my wish list but still have logistical questions surrounding them: How many days do I need? Where should I camp each night? Is the water source reliable? What are the bailout options if the weather turns bad? What are the transport options to and from the trailhead? I love planning, but I love actually going on the trip more. So when the time comes, I’ll be able to grab my map and my notes and have a bunch of trips ready to go.

Australian maps and map books

Something I like to do after each trip is think about the gear I took, make note of what I actually used, what I didn’t use, and what I wanted, but didn’t have. This ties in with the first point of trip planning which is gear planning. I’ve started compiling gear lists for each trip based on which season I would like to do the trip in. I’ve been lucky and have only had to use my emergency blanket once and my first aid kit a handful of times, but I will never leave home without them. I’ve got a pretty good kit list of versatile gear that covers most of the trips I’ve planned so far, but there are always a few bits and bobs that differ between trips. Notes I’ve added so far include things like waterproof pants with a bigger zip on the side, two extra pegs if going in shoulder season to a known windy area, a smaller tarp and lighter cookware for solo trips, and a bigger, more liveable tent for bikepacking trips when I’m sharing with another person. There is a constant note of more chocolate on every “End of Trip Report” I’ve ever made so I should probably take action on that. 

 A tree from Phila's walk where she is testing out equipment including her Suunto 9 Baro Watch and her Garmin

The less exciting but equally as important activity you can do is go over all your waterproof gear to make sure it’s up to scratch. Not only have I washed my garments and gear, but I’ve re-waterproofed them as well. Check out our guide on how to wash and care for your technical gear here.  You can also show your down gear some love and care and get it lofting like new by using a specialised down cleaner. In between trips, I like to go over my tents to check all seam seals and stitches, as well as clean and wax my leather boots. 

Another great thing to do is to learn how to play with your current toys – a.k.a. get efficient with the gear you already own. I recently purchased the Suunto 9 GPS Watch but I’m not very good with technology and didn’t know how to use a lot of the features it offered. I’m learning though. I created a route in my neighbourhood of streets I hadn’t been down and on my daily walk outdoors, I followed the breadcrumb trail and learnt how to use the navigational features of my watch. I am going to be playing with my Garmin inReach in much the same manner to see how accurate it can be in different settings each time I head out. I have had fun creating a waypoint order to collect on my next jaunt out in pretend places of interest. If you need a refresher on how to use a map and compass, in between trips is the best time to do it. The ‘Basics of Navigation‘ blog article is a great resource and provides some exercises to work through, to help with learning by taking bearings from maps. Ask your local orienteering club if they have some maps they can send then check out the app maprun for local orienteering/urban rogaine courses in your area. The app pings so you know you have got the ‘kite’/location correct even when a course isn’t set up as an event. 

Suunto 9 baro watch for outdoor adventures

In between adventures, I sometimes do things like pitch my tarp on the balcony. I’ve been wanting to practice pitching it in smaller and tighter places so I had a play with knots and also used the wheel from my bicycle to help pitch it, as this is something I’ve wanted to do for bike packing trips, but never got around to learning how.

Playing with my gear and learning different ways to use it makes me excited for the trips that will come!

Phila's home camp set-up with her bike.

If it gets all too much, load your pack up and keep fit for hiking by pounding the pavement. I’ve seen some of my more committed friends in the UK and USA with fully loaded bags on their treadmills and doing stair repeats in their houses. I don’t think I would ever run out of that many things to do, but if maintaining hiking fitness is imperative to you, there are some great ways to keep it up. Luckily, we have some amazing weather, so this shouldn’t be too much of a worry!

Fireplace at home while we're unable to go camping


I am a bit lazy too, and I like sitting, looking at the sunset and watching the clumsy scrub turkeys try and climb the tree from my balcony. Or if I am missing camping out under the stars I have a fire in my courtyard and enjoy the warmth. If for whatever reason, you can’t be out in the bush, don’t worry! For now, we must reminisce and share in stories of hikes and adventures we’ve been lucky to have had in the past, while we keep dreaming and working towards creating memories on adventures that we will be on soon enough. 


If you want to share your stories and help keep the spirit of adventure alive please drop us a comment below. 

#ExperienceIsEverything | #PaddyPallin 


About The Author

Phila Holmes

Phila is traveler and hiker. She is a scientist that loves taking on challenges and adventures in the big wild world. Whether it be solo hiking, independent travel or endurance events she has a passion for it all. She has travelled solo to nearly 30 countries through South America, Asia and the Pacific. She loves 4WDing, hiking and camping through Australia. She also works in the Fortitude Valley store and loves a good chat so make sure to swing by and say ‘hey’.

3 Responses

  1. Dori

    Loved reading this! I am currently planning my Bibbulmun Track adventure, and I truly think that much of the effort goes into planning instead of walking 😆.
    Great information, thank you! 👏

  2. Nick

    Philia, All the tips on gear, skills and research are great BUT … I want a ‘Mountains are Calling’ mug! Where did you get it?

  3. Pru

    I love trip planning and dreaming up adventures. Sometimes I spend more time doing this than on the trip, often I am flexible and don’t follow my plans exactly but the preparation is often half the fun 🙂


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