6 ideas for getting outdoors this winter (when you really don’t feel like it)

Dark mornings and cold weather are no match for a little creativity.

get outdoors winter

Sports like snowshoeing and fat biking are usually one-time investments. Photo: Jereme Rauckman/Flickr

Winter seems to stretch on forever when it's dark during the morning commute and pitch-black by the time you eat dinner. We may be past the winter solstice, but we're still in the midst of dark days, my friends.

But getting outdoors isn't impossible — it just takes some adjustments. Here are some ideas for skipping the Netflix marathon and marinating in the fresh air instead (don't worry, people will stop talking about “Making a Murderer” soon).

Upgrade your tent

Camping can be a year-round activity if you own the right gear. A zero-degree sleeping bag, a warm mattress pad and an all-season tent will typically keep you comfortable in any type of winter weather.

Look for a tent with less mesh and a sturdier design to keep the cold wind at bay.

Invest in a winter sport you don't need a lift ticket for

get outdoors winter

Cross-country skiing can be a great workout when your running path is snowed over. Photo: Greenland Travel/Flickr

“Snowfall” can be synonymous with “season pass” if you live near a mountain resort, but if you don't have time to filter through the chairlift line during the week, it might be worth investing in another winter sport.

RELATED: Don't just walk, run in your snowshoes

Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat biking and even ice climbing come with very few ongoing expenses. Seeing that gear in your garage will serve as a reminder to get outdoors all winter long.

Commit to waking up really early, but just once a week

Take a page from Fast Company writer Rachel Gillett's book, and challenge yourself to wake up at what you consider an “insanely early” hour — a few hours earlier than you would normally wake up.

Maybe that's 6:30 a.m., maybe it's 4 a.m., but the idea is that you can use that extra time to log some time outdoors, and it won't interfere with the rest of your schedule.

It's basically bonus time, and if you commit to doing it just one day a week, it won't feel as torturous trying to alter your entire schedule.

And on that note …

Use that headlamp

get outdoors winter

When it’s dark, always use a headlamp and go outdoors with friends whenever possible. Photo: Eli Duke/Flickr

When sunlight is scarce, light your own way with a powerful headlamp and some extra batteries. Always play it safe, and buddy up with a friend when you can.

Pack some work clothes and sleep at the trailhead

Wondering what to do with those bonus hours we mentioned above? Why don't you go for a hike?

One night a week, pack up a bag of work clothing, a hearty breakfast, a Thermos of coffee, some hand warmers, a winter sleeping bag and a headlamp and spend a night camped out at the trailhead of your favorite hike.

You'll be out and back in time to make that morning commute (and have a good story for the water cooler, too).

Sleep in your base layers

get outdoors winter

Waking up a few hours earlier makes it easier to get outdoors in the winter. Photo: Severin Sadjina/Flickr

Give yourself a head start for any early morning excursions and sleep in your base layers and wool socks. Then, all you need to do is roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and continue piling on the layers.

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