Mental preparation for your next adventure

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Mental preparation for your next adventure

By Amir Che



Right, here is the scenario. You’ve got your bag packed and ready to go. You’ve checked (and hopefully, double-checked) that you’ve got all your equipment and supplies all squared away in your pack.

Fast forward to the trail: Three hours in and all that excitement that you felt has now drained away. You’re legs feel like lead, your friends have moved on ahead, leaving you with other stragglers to bring up the rear of the group. You’re tired, wet and more likely than not, miserable.  Feeling utterly demoralized and defeated, you feel like you want to stop and you tell yourself you’ll never do anything taxing again.

So what exactly went wrong?

I admit might be a bit overdramatic, but it has happened to me, and I’m sure it has hit almost all of us at one time or another. The outdoors is a great place to be in. You’re away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and if you’re a professional, it does provide a most welcome respite from the rat-race. However, the outdoors can also be an unfamiliar place. Humans, having been so long disengaged from nature can have a hard time growing accustomed to the loss of the modern world when you’re out and about.

Whether you’re going for a short day hike, or a multi day climb across mountain ranges, remember the following tip:


5 Ps

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

Author’s note : I’ve always loved this saying when I was in officer training. Soldiers are expected to perform under arduous conditions, be mentally switched on to fight, often after having travelled on foot for long distances. Long distance event athletes also show the same trait. What makes these individuals able to push through where others falter? The mind of course!



Everyone has heard the expression “Mind over matter”, and when you’re doing voluntarily taking yourself away from the comforts of your home into the (sometimes) harsh conditions of the outdoors, you’re mind plays a very important role in A) Keeping you safe and B) ensuring you’re able to enjoy yourself and therefore gain more from your experience.

In this particular article we will be paying attention to mental preparation. Your biggest hurdle can sometimes be that little voice in your head, telling you that you won’t make it. So how do we mentally prepare for a hike/climb?

1.Know your abilities

Be honest of your abilities. This will help you know what you can physically carry out when you’re in the field. Being outdoors is a very physical activity. While a hike/climb isn’t exactly a constant test of skill and fitness, it can be physically demanding. Be aware of you can or cannot do, but constantly try and push your limits safely in order to challenge yourself and grow from it.

I was 12 when I went for a climb up Mt Nuang with my dad. Being young of course I didn’t know my limits, so after a long days hike, we set up camp and went to bed. Lo and behold, I was unable to even get up the next morning. I had suffered from exhaustion, and I didn’t even knew it. That experience has thought me to know what my body can and cannot do and what I need to do to improve it.

Don’t worry if you can’t tackle the big trails yet. Physical fitness can be built, so take your hikes slowly. There is no need to burn out on your first hike or worse still, injuring yourself.

2.Know your terrain

Know where your hike is going to take you. Do some research on what sort of ground you can expect.

Here in Malaysia, the mountains tend to be very steep, if not very tall. Be prepared for multiple false peaks as you ascent. I’ve seen people look utterly dejected when they think they’ve reach the summit, when in fact there’s one more peak to climb.

Rivers tend to be short and flows fast, unless you reach major rivers such as the Pahang or Perak rivers, where they widen out and span across wide distances.

Rain can quickly turn trails into a muddy squalor, and leeches can be prevalent in many areas, especially low lying trails.

Being aware of little things like these can mean that you pack the right equipment, be mentally prepared to tackle the hard trails and be more mindful of any dangers that the environment might throw at you.

3.Know your equipment

Always know how to use your equipment. If you have a compass, learn to use it. Learn how to pitch your tent in the dark. It may not seem like much, but when its suddenly pouring with rain , you want to know that you have the ability to quickly locate you tent/fly in your backpack and get it set-up to avoid being drenched through.

A piece of equipment carried that you do not know how to use is only wasting space and an extra weight to carry. Grams can feel like kilograms after a few miles, so be careful in bringing only the right equipment to the field.


Equipment weight can bog you down severely if you don’t take control of it (Applies to bicycles to!)

4.Break the journey down into sections

The prospect of walking 3-4 days can be quite daunting, so always try and break things down into bite sized packages that can be easily handled. Your hike “sections” can be between breakfast and lunch, and then another “section” between lunch and dinner. These small sections will boost your morale, knowing you’ve already completed a section of your trip. Guess what? Higher morale just means you get to enjoy the trip a lot more!

5.Set goals

Set goals you want to achieve for the day. If you’re planning to reach the peak of a mountain on a day walk by mid day, set that as a goal and pace yourself as you try and achieve it.


Be disciplined in your conduct when your outdoors. Of course you’re out there to have fun, but a little discipline will help in a lot of ways to make things better

Be disciplined in the care of your body and health when on a hike. – Look at where you’re stepping. Always take time to air out our feet; our humid environment means that infections and diseases ca easily affect your feet.

Be disciplined in the care of your equipment. – If you notice a tear starting to develop in your rucksack, take time to sew it back up before it becomes worse. If your pot/mess tin is dirty, take time to clean it and save yourself from food poisoning later. A lot of grief can be saved if people take the time to look after their equipment before, after and during when they’re out and about.

And of course, be disciplined in the care of the environment. You’re out there in the outdoors to enjoy what earth has got to give. Don’t destroy the very thing you love by

7.Be optimistic

And lastly, but certainly not least, always be optimistic. Don’t be overconfident, but rather, I’d say be cautiously optimistic. If the weather turns, be optimistic. If the terrain is worse than you thought, be optimistic. You’ve done all you can for your hike/climb, you can have some confidence that you’ll finish strong and enjoy the journey as a whole.

Fortunately, I’m of the character that when it rains, or if the weather turns, then I take it in and enjoy it. Wouldn’t call it being masochistic, but you have to see things beyond the immediate discomfort and you will soon learn to truly appreciate what nature is trying to teach you.


It can be a hard slog at times, but the end is usually very much worth it



You get what you give when you’re enjoying the outdoors. Remember the 5Ps when you’re mentally preparing (The 5Ps can of course be applied to when you’re doing your actual physical preparation). The journey is its own reward, and you’ll discover more about yourself out there than you would in your office/home. A favourite quote I’ve heard somewhere, which is I believe is by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, was along the lines of “Only from the extremes of comfort and leisure do we return willingly to adversity”

So get out there and find yourself!

P.S: My hard disk is dying on me, so will try and retrieve more pictures next time!


 About the author


      Amir is an outdoor enthusiast, with some of his earliest experiences climbing the mountains in the areas in his home state of Selangor. Constantly learning new skills (or at least trying!) to always improve his experiences outdoors as well as getting people to appreciate the physical challenges and the satisfaction that a person can achieve when you push yourself.



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