Trail Tips: New Year Outdoor Resolutions You Can Keep

Dec. 26, 2012 By Tom Severin
How about making some New Year’s resolutions you can keep? Check out this list of outdoor-related resolutions for 2013.

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for handing out gifts, partying, stuffing our faces, having a jolly good time (too good, sometimes), and then the customary New Year’s resolutions. You know, that list of promises for the coming year that don’t last past Super Bowl weekend.

I’m here to add a new twist on that: a list of resolutions designed to get you more enthusiastic about outdoors and more involved in our exciting hobby. So while shedding pounds and cutting down on sweets are good for you, these steps are fun and have a higher probability of success!

As you know, we’re frequently under pressure by those who want to deny us access to public lands. By becoming more involved in our hobby, you help protect our off-road privileges.

Please don’t be intimidated by the length. I don’t expect you to do all of them. Instead, pick three or four that you can accomplish. Some go quicker than others. Perhaps after accomplishing those you’ll want to add another one. Good for you. The more the merrier, as we say, and not just during the holiday season.
The key to accomplishing a goal is to make it “SMART.”

A SMART goals is:
• Specific: It’s a well-defined task.
• Measurable: Results are quantifiable. For example, 10 camping nights completed, 25 geocahes found, new bumper installed. You did it or didn’t do it.
• Achievable: It’s good to set high expectations, but be sure you can accomplish the task. Otherwise, you will become unhappy and give up.
• Relevant: It is a worthwhile use of time; not some busy work. You need to accomplish this task, and you will benefit from it.
• Time-bound: The task is accomplished within a particular period of time. It has a deadline.

Here is an example of a SMART resolution: “I will update the expired meds in my first aid kit by the end of March, 2013.” It is very specific on what you will do, it is not hard and you know how to do it; therefore, it is achievable, and the result is an updated first aid kit. We know the deadline -by the end of March and it is easy to measure the results. It was done or not done

In no particular order, here are suggested resolutions for 2013:

1. Take more 4WD trips. Be specific – for example, schedule one day (or weekend) per month. Mark those on your calendar so you commit yourself now.

2. Do one of the big adventures. Go on the Rubicon Trail or Moab trails.

3. Finish those vehicle upgrades. Pick one or two that are doable. Could be a new front bumper, swing-away rear bumper, roof rack, new axle, whatever you need.

4. Purchase necessary additional equipment for your vehicle. There are a lot of possibilities: navigation equipment, extra recovery gear, first aid kit, onboard air, a winch, and so on. What can you add this year?

Try taking a major trip in 2013, such as the Rubicon Trail in Northern California or Moab, Utah (shown).

5. Buy a new (or new to you) vehicle or another one you can take off road.

6. Become more disaster prepared. This applies to home and vehicle. Perhaps you could use a 72-hour kit for home or a go-bag for the vehicle. Refer to the FEMA website or these columns for more suggestions: Urban Disasters No Match For a Prepared 4-Wheeler and Your Gear Is Not Complete Without An Emergency Packet!

7. Obtain more training. Become a Tread Lightly! trainer. Take a first aid course or renew your accreditation if necessary. Sign up for one or two of my off-road skills courses. Find a course on GPS. The key is to schedule it now. Don’t put it off, or you’ll never do it.

Tread Lightly Trainer:

first aid:

off-road skills:

Take a 4x4 Safety Training class – it will certainly come in handy while 4-wheeling.

8. Take your kids out. Commit to spending more outdoors time with your kids. Try to incorporate four-wheeling (they’ll enjoy it), but it’s important to enjoy more quality time with your kids.

9. Along those lines, teach your kids age-appropriate outdoor skills. These can include how to camp and start fires safely; how to use a map, compass, and GPS unit; knife safety; backpacking; tying knots; and so on.

10. Join all of these associations. Well at least one or two. These include
o California Association of 4WD Clubs,
o California Off-road Vehicle Association ,
o Blue Ribbon Coalition ,
o Tread Lightly!,
o United 4Wheel Drive Associations

Your support of and membership in helps keep public lands open to 4-wheelers.

11. Get a ham radio license. Ham radio gear is quite useful off-road. Plus, you can use it to participate in charity event and disaster training in your home community. Hamming is just plain fun - go to For a related column, see Commuincation Equipment is Critical for Off-Road Driving.

12. Once licensed, consider joining the Outdoor Adventure USA net We meet on VHF frequencies every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. PST to discuss outdoor-related topics, including maintenance and repair, disaster preparedness, and useful gear, to name a few. Though we’re located in California, you can participate in our nets from anywhere in the country via IRLP (Connect to the Western Reflector node 9251).

13. Go geocaching; this is a great activity to get the kids involved. You can combine kids, 4-wheeling and navigation into every outing. Set a goal to find a certain number of geocaches. For example a SMART goal might be “With the kids, find and log six geocaches each quarter in 2013.” Start at the geocache website and start with geocaches close to home.

14. Commit to bring back a full Trasharoo each outing. Pick up trash you see on the trails.

15. Give talks to area groups about 4-wheeling. Help dispel the myths, and encourage others to join the fun hobby (or at least support it). Talks to service clubs (Rotary, Lions, etc.), Chamber of Commerce meetings, and civic clubs.

16. Write about our hobby. Use blog posts, tweets, Facebook comments, letters to editor of local papers, and other venues.

17. Contact radio and TV stations and offer to be interviewed. This is especially important when negative stories break. Our hobby needs eloquent people to present a good side to 4-wheeling.

This may seem like a daunting task, but once you accomplish a few of these, you’ll find it’s a lot easier than shedding pounds and giving up doughnuts. Try it!

Off-road trainer Tom Severin shares insight and tips on a variety of topics related to preparing you for that next off-road adventure. With over 40 years of off-road experience, Severin operates under his business Badlands Off-Road Adventures. He is a certified professional 4WD Trainer by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is a member of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. He also is a certified UFWDA and a CA4WDC 4WD instructor.

For more information about Badlands Off-Road Adventures, visit

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