A Weekend Microadventure: Brave the Elements




Introduction: A Weekend Microadventure: Brave the Elements

The British adventurer Alastair Humphreys created the concept of Microadventure to motivate people to get outdoors and show how easy and rewarding is to escape the city for a few hours/days.

The idea is that there's no need to go far away to find great wild places, and that adventure awaits just out your doorstep, you just need to go and seek it. If you work 9-5, you have 16h to explore the great outdoors. If you are free in the weekend, you have 64h before going back in on Monday morning!

When you're out there lacking the comfort of modern houses, you'll be close to nature and facing the elements: you'll walk or maybe ride on the earth, enjoy (or suffer!) water, use (or try to!) fire to cook and maybe get a drone in the air to record your adventure video and get a privileged perspective! We have divided this instructable into four sections, one for each element, trying to give our modest advice and including plenty of links with a lot of information.

What this instructable is not: a detailed backpacking/bikepacking/camping guide.

What this instructable tries to be: motivation to get off the couch and get outdoors, a collection of ideas and information to do so!

Step 1: Earth

Cycling, walking, running... you name it, there are plenty of ways of enjoying a great weekend out!

Start with something you're familiar with, but do try something new next time, the secret is to stretch your comfort zone by trying new things. This way you'll keep learning and experience all sorts of wonderful adventures.

  • Walking: the easiest and cheapest way to get out there is simply by walking out your doorstep: put on your walking shoes, get your pack and walk somewhere nice. Most of us live close enough to wild places so that you can just walk there, or take a short bus/train/car trip and start your walk from there. Unless the terrain is too harsh, any kind of walking/sport shoes will do!

    A simple short walking adventure, plan a backpaking trip, very detailed hiking guide.
  • Cycling: a good old bike is probably the most cost-effective way of human-powered travelling. Cycling will allow you to travel much further than walking, so you can see many more places. Zooming down the road on a road bike or fighting mud on a mountain bike, the decision is up to you! This option is a more expensive than walking, as you need to get yourself a bike. The truth is that most bikes will do the job perfectly: we paid $/‎€/£50 each for our respective bikes (second hand store). One is a mountain bike with front suspension, the other is a hybrid with full wheel mudguards. They're both a bit old and quite heavy, but hey, they work fine and take us wherever we've wanted to go in the last few months.

    A bit about bike touring, everything about bikepacking!, inspirational video.

  • Wild camping: when night comes, it's time tosleep. Wild camping is absolutely great and the best way to spend a cosy night under a starry (or cloudy) sky! No need to worry about finding/booking/reaching a commercial campsite/hotel every day, just follow whichever path you happen to find and find a lovely place to spend the night. You don't need many things: sleeping bag and tent/bivvy. A tent will give you a warm(ish) waterproof area to sleep, eat, chat, drink, etc. A bivvy bag will give you total connection with nature and your surroundings, let you see the stars, etc. Do check local camping regulations and leave no trace!

    Wild camping for first timers, about safety when wild camping, inspirational videos.

Step 2: Water

Water can be the best part of your adventure or ruin it completely!

  • Wild swimming: ranging from proper swimming in a nice warm lake to a quick dip in a freezing pond, it will be a challenge and leave you feeling invigorated for a good while, making it a great addition to your weekend out! It all depends on the season and climate, although even in cold winter weather we've found that a quick in-and-out dip somewhere nice is one of the highlights of the weekend.

    Bring a swimsuit and a towel with you, and keep an eye open for water, be it a river/stream/sea/lake. Caution rules apply: wild swimming can be dangerous! A small quiet pond will probably present no hazard, but rivers and seas can be problematic: ask locals or check online for information about currents, deep holes, etc!

    Everything about wild swimming, a great river microadventure!

  • Rain: we can only think of a tiny number of scenarios where rain can improve things. On the other hand, rain can be successfully dealt with in most occasions using cheap equipment and keeping your spirits up!

    When walking, we usually wear a waterproof poncho: they're cheap, pack small and are great as they cover your backpack as well. Probably that yellow poncho you bought very cheap during your theme park trip last summer will break soon, so maybe get something sturdier, pretty much anything solid will do. One great thing about ponchos is ventilation, not being tight to your body they let fresh air in.

    If cycling (or walking somewhere very windy/technical), a poncho is not a good idea as it flaps around and restricts your movements. A waterproof jacket will keep you dry(ish)!

    Camping in the rain, using your poncho as shelter/tarp, info about waterproof jackets.

Step 3: Air

This is the most unusual topic of this instructable, but quite cool as well!

For nearly a year now we've been flying quadcopters, starting with small toys and currently flying a Phantom 3 Standard. Apart from the thrill of flying itself (:-), it's proven to be a great companion when enjoying the outdoors.

  • A quadcopter will offer a whole new perspective: just take it for a walk to that place you're very familiar with and put it in the air, seeing things from a bird's-eye view is just amazing!

    A great landscape video.

  • If you make videos of your adventures, a drone can be a massive improvement, both for beautiful scenery and selfie videos. With a bit of practise (certainly some quadcopters make this easier than others) you can record yourself cycling or walking in that beautiful place you've found, stepping the usual self-recorded video up to the next level.

    A great selfie adventure video.

For around $/‎€/£20 you can get a small drone capable of flying small distances and recording shaky and low quality video into an SD card (similar quality to a phone maybe 6 years ago?), which you can then watch at home. For a few hundreds you get something like a Phantom 3 Standard, which offers awesome quality, great flying distances (around 1km in some areas), totally stable footage and real time video on your phone while flying!

The problem with good video quality drones is their size: they're quite big unless you can afford a new GoPro Karma or DJI Mavic. That said, we've managed to pack the Phantom 3 and bring it to walking and cycling weekends out without much hassle in our backpacks.

Step 4: Fire

A good fire can keep you warm, dry your clothes, cook your food and make your evening great.

Many places are heavily regulated and fire making is illegal. Apart from regulations, caution and common sense must be taken at all times!

  • Making a fire: we're not very skilled fire makers, and there's a lot of great advise out there!

    Making a campfire, cooking on a fire, starting a fire without utensils.
  • Beer can stove: instead of carrying a gas stove (or similar) or starting an open fire, this nifty trick will allow you to easily transform a drink can into an alcohol stove. You just need any aluminium drink can, a pocket knife and burning (rubbing) alcohol, full instructions can be found here. We've used them quite a lot lately and they work great. They can be easily carried around inside a bigger can (baked beans maybe?). Its performance can be greatly improved using a windshield, which can be easily made out of an aluminium baking tray. Have a look at the pictures!

    Lots of different beer can stove designs.

Step 5: Final Words

We hope you've enjoyed this instructable and got motivated to go out to nature a bit more often.

If you have any suggestions or ideas that will improve this guide, please leave a comment below!

Brave the Elements 2016

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    2 Discussions

    Alex 2Q
    Alex 2Q

    3 years ago

    Great videos and Instructable!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! :)