Skip to main content

My First Event

Attending your first event with OutdoorLads might feel daunting. What will happen, who will be there, and what can you expect? Rest assured, we'll make you feel welcome! 

We know that new members in particular like to know in advance more about what an OutdoorLads event will be like. 

Whilst we have a wide range of events on offer, many people start their Outdoorlads membership by going on a walking, cycling, bouldering or hostelling event, or on one of many of our social events. 

Here you can find out more about what these types of event will be like, so you can decide whether they are right for you.

If you're still not sure, or would like more information, just get in touch and we will be happy to help.

An OutdoorLads group hiking across moorland

What are the different types of walk event?

OutdoorLads has different types and difficulties of walk event, so there's something to suit everyone regardless of experience or fitness level.

The easiest walks are called Leisure Walks. These are normally in the countryside, though sometimes you'll find Leisure walks in cities and urban areas. As the name suggests, they are designed to be gentle, and generally more sociable, so often there will be more rest stops, or perhaps a pub or picnic built into the route.

Leisure Walks can have up to 20 or 30 people on them, and you are unlikely to need any special walking equipment. They are a good place to start if you don't have walking experience or prefer a walk that's gentler and where it's easier to chat with others on the way around.

Next are Lowland and Hill Walks. These are typically longer and/or involve some height gain. They could include a full day hiking around a coastline or at low level in one of the National Parks or other mountainous area. The groups size is smaller, normally less than 20.

You will need to have some basic walking equipment such as walking shoes or boots and waterproof clothing. If you are generally fit and want to do a walk that is more challenging, then a Lowland and Hill walk could be your ideal first event.

Mountain Walks are more strenuous, and will typically take a full day. There will be several hundreds of meters of ascent and descent, and the terrain and conditions will normally be more challenging, and the weather can have a much greater impact on the event. The group size will be smaller to reflect the more challenging conditions. You will need to have more equipment to take part. If you already like hiking in mountainous terrain, these walks may be ideal for you. 

Mountain walks are often, but not always, found as part of OutdoorLads hostel weekends, simply because the more remote locations can take too much time to get to for them to be practical as day walks, especially on shorter winter days.

In Winter, a Mountain Walk can take place in snowy and icy conditions, but will not be of a type, distance, altitude or exposure that you would need specialist equipment such as crampons and ice axes to take part.

Winter Mountain Walks are the most challenging, as you can expect there to be snow and ice and the conditions will be much tougher. As a result, the group size will also be smaller, to enable the event leader to guide the participants safely. You will need to have, or hire, some specialist winter equipment such as crampons and an ice axe. 

Whatever type of walk you consider, the leader will also indicate how easy or difficult they think it is on the event page, and give a reason for their selection. That might include the distance of the walk, the height gained, the terrain, weather or season. If you're not sure if an event is right for you, you can send a message to the leader and ask them to advise you.

General Information

The event page tells you where and when the walk starts. Walks are usually chosen to be accessible via public transport.

Most walks are circular, finishing where they started, but if the walk is linear and ends somewhere else, the leader will have planned a way for the group to get back to the start, prossibly using public transport (in which case bring enough cash for the fare).

The walk leader may send a message in the days prior to the walk with final information about the walk and asking people to remove themselves from the event if they are no longer able to take part. Please do this if you can no longer attend. This then frees up a place for someone else who would like to attend to join the walk, and it means that the leader is not waiting for you to arrive at the start of the walk.

If you have any questions in advance of the event, you can send the event leader a message via the link on the event page.

Clothing

You can rarely predict the weather, and it's usually a good idea to be prepared for worse weather during the walk than you have at the beginning, at least then you are ready.

Jeans are a bad choice except in guaranteed sunny weather, as when wet they are cold, heavy and take ages to dry. Walking trousers are a much better option as they are very quick to dry and don’t get heavy when wet.

In the depths of winter it may be worth wearing warmer walking trousers or adding a pair of thermals.

Walking tops or "base layers" are good as they wick moisture away from the skin and so help keep you warm. You will probably also need a fleece. It is amazing how quickly the cold can seep in when you stop exercising, such as when you break for lunch. Try and get a fleece that is compact enough to be easily stored in your rucksack when you don’t need it.

Your outer layer will be a coat of some kind. Ideally it should be waterproof and include a hood. There are lots of modern fabrics that are breathable but still waterproof, and they are better at keeping you dry.

Some people also like to have waterproof over trousers. These are used if it pours down, and are designed to be quick to put on over other trousers. On longer hikes and at altitude they are invaluable, but on a low level walk are useful but not necessary.

Footwear

Walking boots are definitely the best option. On Leisure walks, trainers with a good tread will probably be OK in dry, summer conditions, or wellingtons if you are expecting wetter and muddier conditions. You can always ask the leader's advice before the event if you are not sure.

Other Equipment

For a day walk, a day sack (that's one with a capacity of around 20 to 25 litres) is perfect. Some have a hydration bag system capability, others have mesh backs that try and stop lots of sweat forming where the sack presses against your back. Any rucksack that is comfortable though with will do for a day walk.

Consider putting things in your rucksack into waterproof bags, Ziploc type ones will do, so that they stay dry if it does rain.

Walking poles can be useful for a walk with lots of climbing, especially if you have any issues with your knees, but they are purely optional.

Other Items to Bring

The event page will tell you if there's anything else you need to bring.

When it comes to refreshments, it will tell you whether to bring a packed lunch or money to buy food if there's pub stop planned on the walk.

It's a good idea to bring some cash anyway, as sometimes people decide to head off to a pub or cafe together after the walk. If the walks include a paid-for activity (for example a steam train journey or museum visit) the amount you'll need to bring enough to pay for that, and the amount needed will be shown on the event page.

Bring sufficient water to keep yourself hydrated.

You'll be glad you took sun cream, a cap and sunglasses if the weather is good. We can be out for several hours so watch out! But if the weather is bad, a hat will be worthwhile.

At The Start of the Walk

Plan to get to the start point of the walk 15-20 minutes early. You never know if there will be a delay on your route won't want to be left behind. If you have put a contact mobile into your OutdoorLads profile, the walk leader will have it and be able to contact you to make a fallback plan if you are running late.

When you get to the start point you will probably recognise us, as a group of men all wearing boots, outdoor gear and rucksacks usually can’t be missed! The event leader will sometimes have an OutdoorLads flag, or t-shirt, to help you identify the group, but will anyway make sure that they are obvious.

The event leader will be at the start point well before the walk starts ready to welcome participants as they arrive and check them off against the expected attendance list. If you are going to be late, or find out at the last minute that you cannot attend, it’s extremely helpful if you message the event leader so that the group won’t be waiting for you. Or you can call them if the event leader put their contact number on the event listing.

The leader will give an introduction and welcome everyone, which includes a reminder about lunch arrangements and what sort of route you’ll be taking. He will also check which participants are on their first event. This isn’t to embarrass you but to make sure that the other members can also help to make you feel welcome.

During the Walk

Once the walk starts people naturally break up into smaller groups, often depending on how fast everyone naturally walks. During the walk, these groups continually change and so you will be able to chat with different people during the day. If it’s your first walk you will find that you meet a bunch of people happy to say hello, OutdoorLads events are friendly and welcoming. 

At lunchtime, if it is a picnic, the leader finds a good spot to stop for around half an hour. If the ground is wet then waterproof clothing, a seating mat or even a plastic bag or bin liner will be more comfortable to sit on.

If at any time during the walk you need a comfort break and the bushes will do, be sure to let someone know that you’ll be hanging back for a couple of minutes so that you don't get accidentally left behind.If you feel unwell, or need assistance, please let the walk leader know immediately so that they can help you in whatever was is appropriate. Don't be too embarrassed to ask.

At The End of the Walk

The event leader will confirm the end point of the walk, and check that everyone is there and happy. They will help with advice on public transport for those that want it. If there is a pub or cafe nearby, the group may decide to head there before leaving to go home. It’s all part of the social nature of the group.

Leader Qualifications

The walk leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event. This includes following the route on a map or in a guide. This doesn’t mean that the group won’t ever get lost, but if that happens, the leader will be able to retrieve the situation and get everyone back on track. For walks in mountainous areas, the leader will also have a first aid qualification and be knowledgable on what to do should assistance from the emergency services be required.

More questions?

If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first day walk, or indeed any aspect of OutdoorLads, contact us!

bouldering instruction from Dominic

Indoor bouldering is a popular first event to chose, it's fun, takes just a couple of hours, and is a good taster of what ODL is like overall, as you'll meet a friendly bunch of people and you can make it as challenging as you want it to be.

Preparation

The event will take place at an indoor bouldering/climbing centre. Whilst there is no charge to attend the event, you will need some cash or a credit card to pay the climbing centre admission on the day. If the event listing doesn't say how much this costs, check the climbing centre's own website for admission prices. 

Some climbing centres allow you to pre-register online, which is a good idea as it saves time then on the event day. As part of the pre-registration there may be a safety video or information to absorb, and they will ask you to sign a form to acknowledge that you have understood and will respect the centre's rules, safety requirements etc.

If you have any questions in advance of the event, you can send the event leader a message via the link on the event page.

What to Take

As it's your first bouldering event, you probably won't have your own climbing shoes, but you'll be able to hire a pair at the climbing centre. Take some comfortable clothes to wear whilst bouldering. A t-shirt or vest, plus shorts or track pants will be ideal. And it can be surprisingly thirsty exercise so you could also bring a water bottle.

Arrival

Arrive a bit earlier than stated on the event listing, so you'll have enough time to sign in, check that you've been registered correctly at the centre, pay the admission charge, hire some climbing shoes, and just familiarise yourself a bit with the surroundings. At some centres you'll get discounted prices when you mention that you are with OutdoorLads.

There will be changing facilities, lockers and probably showers at the climbing centre, and sometimes cycle storage. Check the climbing centre's website for details if you need to know for sure in advance.

The event leader will have explained in the event listing exactly where to meet. You should be easily able spot them as they'll likely be wearing an OutdoorLads t-shirt or vest.The leader will welcome everyone, and check who is new to ODL and who is bouldering for the first time. They will make sure that everyone is comfortable and explain what's about to happen.

Warm Up

It's a very good idea to do some warm up exercises before starting the bouldering, you may well be using muscles that you haven't used for a while. There will be an area specifically for this, and the event leader will take the participants through some warm up exercises together.

Bouldering

The leader will explain how bouldering works and remind everyone what the safety requirements are, including how to make sure you're in the right place and not in the way of other people, how to climb safely, and how to fall safely. 

You'll see that there are lots of colour coded climbing hand and foot holds bolted to the climbing wall. You pick a route using the colour coding system, so you can start with the easiest colour and then try something more challenging once you feel more confident.

There's plenty of time and you're not in a rush. You'll find that bouldering is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge, as you decide what route to take and how you're going to move from one climbing hold to the next. It's certainly not a race, and if you're not sure what to do the other OutdoorLads participants, as well as the majority of other boulders at the centre, will happily take the time to give you tips and ideas.

The event typically lasts around two hours, during which time you'll get to try different sections of the climbing wall, different routes, and different levels of difficulty. It's totally up to you how much you do and how challenging you make it.

Warm Down

After a couple of hours, you'll almost certainly have exerted yourself more than you realise. This is normal and the leader will demonstrate some warm down exercises for everyone, which will go a long way to helping reduce any muscle aches the following day. 

Afterwards

You may find that the group decides to go to get something to eat or drink together afterwards, and you'll be very welcome to join in. It's a good opportunity to get to know others and to find out more about bouldering or any of the other events that ODL runs.

Leader Qualifications

The bouldering leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event. 

More questions?

If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first bouldering event or any aspect of OutdoorLads, contact us!

guys learning to climb

Outdoorlads runs regular indoor climbing events up and down the UK, usually aimed at either beginners or experienced climbers, but with some run for mixed abilities.

In indoor climbing you climb up an artificial climbing wall indoors (typically 10 – 15 metres high) attached to a rope secured at the top of the wall to catch you if you fall off.  At any point you can just lean back on the rope and be safely lowered to the ground; you don’t need to go all the way to the top!

What can I expect?

When you come to your first indoor climbing event the procedure can vary a little bit depending on the rules at the climbing wall where the event is being held – you can check on the event page and message the event leader prior to the event if you have any questions. 

It’s usual that you will be signed in to the event by the event leader or another experienced climber attending the event.  This means that they are agreeing to take responsibility for your safety at the event by providing all supervision that is required.  Indoor climbing is a safe sport (accidents are very rare).  We would like to keep it that way, which is why all climbing walls have systems in place to ensure beginners are supervised in an appropriate manner.

At an indoor climbing event you will have to pay the entry fee to the climbing wall (prices should be available on the climbing wall website).  You should bring reasonably loose-fitting clothes with you to climb in (most climbing walls have a changing room).  You may need to hire a climbing harness from the climbing wall, though at our larger indoor climbing events outdoorlads has its own harnesses available for no charge.  We recommend that you also hire climbing shoes – tight fitting grippy rubber-soled shoes that let you – once you have a bit of experience – balance your feet on the tiniest holds that you could not dream of pushing down on wearing normal shoes – see the photo below.  Most indoor climbing walls will allow you to climb indoors wearing trainers, but you will get much more out of it if you use climbing shoes.

Once you are kitted out the experienced climber supervising you will show you how to fit your harness, attach the rope to your harness and you will be ready for your first climb! 

Your supervisor will belay you whilst you climb.  What does this mean?  It means that he will pull up the rope as you climb using a belay device so that if you fall you will only drop a few inches before the rope catches you.  Then, when you get to the top of the wall you can just lean back on the rope and be lowered gently down to the ground.

The art of climbing

Then you can do a few more climbs and belay under close supervision, you will find that you learn more about how to use the holds and position your body to climb well.  You will learn how to look up the wall and plan ahead as you climb; so that when you get to that crucial handhold that’s off to the left for example, it is indeed your left hand that’s in the right place and free to reach for it.  Over your first few events you will get more practice and have the opportunity to learn, at your own pace, how to belay. 

After that, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of how to attach your harness and belay to a member of staff at the climbing wall and can climb there in the future without being signed in as a beginner and supervised.  It doesn’t matter if you fail this one or more times whilst you are learning,  no-one will mind and you can retake it when you feel ready.

If you are not sure about climbing, you could try an indoor bouldering event first instead. Because you won’t be so far off the ground, there is a lot less that you need to learn; just the basics of how to use the bouldering wall safely (by understanding the limitations of the protection provided by the matting, not walking underneath people who are bouldering, etc.). Then you can talk to the bouldering event leader about your interest in learning to climb, and they can advise you further.

Afterwards

Indoor climbing with Outdoorlads also offers you the chance to meet many new friends – most of our indoor climbing and bouldering events run weekly or biweekly with regulars who attend frequently, so you’ll certianly have the chance to get to know people and build a circle of friends, and we often go to a pub or café together afterwards.

Leader qualifications

The climbing leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event.

More questions?

If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first bouldering event or any aspect of OutdoorLads, contact us!

A lifetime of climbing can await you…

Indoor climbing can be your first step into the vast world of climbing and mountaineering, or it can be an end in itself – the choice is yours and we can’t wait to help you develop your skills in whichever sport you prefer. 

two guys climbing an arete
A group cycling in a forested area

What are the different types of cycling event?

OutdoorLads has different types and difficulties of cycling event, so there's something to suit everyone regardless of bike, experience and interest.

The gentlest cycling events are called Leisure Cycling/Any Bike. As the name suggests, they are our most leisurely rides, and you really can do them on any bike (though it's always worth reading the event description, and contacting the event leader if you're not sure, as sometimes the terrain can be gravelly, in which case a road bike with very thin tyres may not be so much fun).

They will normally be on quiet lanes and paths that are free of road traffic, and in flat or gently undulating locations. There's no pressure to go at any particular speed, and everyone will be out for a social ride, with plenty of stops, whether for a drink, snack, viewpoint or just a chat. The rides are of various lengths and the event page will tell you how far the route is, and whether there are any public transport options along the way for anyone wanting to cut the route short.

Road Cycling events are for those who have some experience of longer rides (40 miles plus) in the countryside and with some hills. Road cycling can take you on amazing adventures, though multiple landscapes, and across simply vast distances, all under your own power, sometimes with exhilarating speed!

Our Road Cycling rides have varying levels of difficulty and pace. Our road events are best suited to road specific bikes with drop bars, though we also have some members successfully taking part, and keeping up, on hybrids. If you are used to the cycle club style three tier grading, our rides are typically on the easy side of intermediate (B) pace, averaging about 18-22km/h excluding stops, though this varies by event. However our rides are much more informal than club rides, for example we don’t ‘drop’ riders but will always wait for those who are slower. And we don’t expect you to know the ‘rules’ of group riding!

Off Road/Trail Biking is where we take you out into the deep countryside. Mainly away from roads, you'll be following bridle ways, forest tracks, easier way marked cycle and mountain bike routes (Greens and Blues on the national grading system) and other paths and tracks that allow cycling. You'll get to see places no road cyclist sees and travel distances beyond all but the hardiest walker. We always go at a pace that the whole group is comfortable with, and take plenty of rests for snacks, water or just to take in the view.

You'll need a mountain bike or mountain bike hybrid for Off Road/Trail Biking events (at some locations these can be hired so check event descriptions for details). Occasionally, especially in summer, hardy cyclists have coped on hybrids with suitable tires. Expect to meet mud, stones and a few hills but above all to have a tremendous day.

Technical Mountain Biking is one of the most exhilarating activities we do at Outdoor lads. We'll take you onto the more challenging way-marked mountain biking routes (mainly Reds on the national grading system) or high up into the hills and mountains following exciting paths and tracks that permit mountain bikes access to our stunning uplands.

For Technical Mountain Biking events you'll need a mountain bike or high quality mountain bike hybrid and well developed mountain bike skills and techniques including: attack position, climbing, descending, cornering, braking and roll downs. We run city based events to introduce these skills and often incorporate skills sections in our Off Road/Trail rides. If you're already a mountain biker you'll know there's nothing like it; or if you wish to learn and find out more, we'll help you on that journey too.

Whatever type of cycling event you consider, the leader will also indicate how easy or difficult they think it is on the event page, and give a reason for their selection. That might include the distance of the ride, the height gained, the grade of roads or tracks, weather or season. If you're not sure if an event is right for you, you can send a message to the leader and ask them to advise you.

General Information

The event page tells you where and when the cycle event starts. 

The event leader may send a message in the days prior to the walk with final information and asking people to remove themselves from the event if they are no longer able to take part. Please do this if you can no longer attend. This then frees up a place for someone else who would like to attend, and it means that the leader is not waiting for you to arrive at the start of the event.

If you have any questions in advance, you can send the event leader a message via the link on the event page.

Clothing

If you are considering a Road Cycling or Technical Mountain Biking event as your first event, we assume you already know about, and own, a suitable bike, the appropriate clothing, shoes and protective equipment.

For a Leisure Cycling/Any Bike event or Off Road/Trail Biking, we'd suggest wearing layers so you can add or remove clothing depending on the weather and as you warm up.

"Base layers" are good as they wick moisture away from the skin and so help keep you warm. You will probably also need a fleece or warm jacket. It is amazing how quickly the cold can seep in when you stop cycling, such as when you break for lunch. Try and get one that is compact enough to be easily stored in your rucksack when you don’t need it.

A windproof/waterproof jacket is a good idea. You should avoid wearing jeans if there's a likelihood of rain, they'll get very wet and cold, cycling shorts or cycling leggings are ideal, or cotton or sports clothing is also OK.

Gloves are a good idea if it's cold, and will help prevent blisters if you're cycling on rough ground.

Footwear

For Leisure cycling/Any Bike event or Off Road/Trail Biking trainers will be OK if you don't already have specialist cycling shoes.

Other Equipment

A day sack is perfect. Some have a hydration bag system capability, others have mesh backs that try and stop lots of sweat forming where the sack presses against your back. Any rucksack that is comfortable though with will do for a day walk. Consider putting things in your rucksack into waterproof bags, Ziploc type ones will do, so that they stay dry if it does rain.

It’s likely that the leader or other participants will have brought bike tools, spanners, Allen keys, tyre levers , puncture kit etc. Bring yours if you have them, and ideally bring a spare inner tube that’s the right one for your own bike, as that’s saves time in the event of a puncture. 

You must bring a cycle helmet - is OutdoorLads policy that participants wear one, and the event leader will require this therefore.

Other Items to Bring

The event page will tell you if there's anything else you need to bring.

When it comes to refreshments, it will tell you whether to bring a packed lunch or money to buy food if there's pub stop planned on the ride.

It's a good idea to bring some cash anyway, as sometimes people decide to head off to a pub or cafe together after the ride. 

Bring sufficient water to keep yourself hydrated.

You'll be glad you took sun cream and sunglasses if the weather is good. We can be out for several hours so watch out!

At The Start of the Ride

Plan to get to the start point of the walk 5-10 minutes early. You never know if there will be a delay on your route won't want to be left behind. If you have put a contact mobile into your OutdoorLads profile, the leader will have it and be able to contact you to make a fallback plan if you are running late.

When you get to the start point you will probably recognise us, as a group of men on bikes usually can’t be missed! The event leader will sometimes have an OutdoorLads flag, or t-shirt, to help you identify the group, but will anyway make sure that they are obvious.

The event leader will be at the start point well before the ride starts ready to welcome participants as they arrive and check them off against the expected attendance list. If you are going to be late, or find out at the last minute that you cannot attend, it’s extremely helpful if you message the event leader so that the group won’t be waiting for you. Or you can call them if the event leader put their contact number on the event listing.

The leader will give an introduction and welcome everyone, which includes a reminder about lunch arrangements and what sort of route you’ll be taking. They will also check which participants are on their first event. This isn’t to embarrass you but to make sure that the other members can also help to make you feel welcome.

During the Ride

During the ride it's normal to cycle together, unless it isn't safe to do so, and you're likely to get to chat to as many different people as you want to during the day.

At lunchtime, if it is a picnic, the leader finds a good spot to stop for around half an hour.

If at any time during the ride you need a comfort break, feel unwell, or need assistance, please let the leader know immediately so that they can help you in whatever way is appropriate. Don't be too embarrassed to ask.

At The End of the Ride

The event leader will confirm the end point of the ride, and check that everyone is there and happy. They will help with advice on public transport for those that want it. If there is a pub or cafe nearby, the group may decide to head there before leaving to go home. It’s all part of the social nature of the group.

Leader Qualifications

The cycling leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event. For Technical Mountain Biking, the leader will also have a first aid qualification and be knowledgable on what to do should assistance from the emergency services be required.

More questions?

If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first day walk, or indeed any aspect of OutdoorLads, contact us!

Group on day walk on a Wye Valley hostel weekend

Take a Look

One of our members, Thomas Haywood (of Thomas Haywood Aerial Photography Ltd), made this stunning drone video to give you an idea of what a great experience an OutdoorLads hostel event can be - thanks Thomas! 

Accommodation

We purposefully aim for the ‘value for money’ end of the hostel accommodation spectrum to keep the event costs low and accessible to as many people as possible. We usually take a hostel over completely so that we are the only people there.

Whether it's a YHA hostel or a privately managed one the facilities are usually clean but basic. Typically there are shared rooms sleeping from 2 to 8 people (or more in larger hostels), mostly in bunk beds. 

The YHA usually provides bedding but no towels or shower gels or shampoos, so you’ll need to bring these yourself. Privately run hostels may differ, but the event description will always tell you what you need to bring.

Preparation

The event page will advise you what to bring, but generally it will include:

  • towel
  • shampoo
  • wash kit
  • ear plugs and/or eye mask
  • food for the Friday evening buffet
  • a packed lunch for Saturday
  • a packed lunch for Sunday
  • any drinks for the weekend
  • a power adapter
  • walking gear (boots, walking trousers, walking jacket, gloves, scarf, hat, waterproof, rucksack)

If you have any questions in advance of the event, you can send the event leader a message via the link on the event page.

Arrival

The event page will contain directions to the hostel and a range of arrival times. Don’t arrive before the earlier time as the hostel leader will likely be preparing for people to arrive and so the hostel may not be open.

If you will arrive after the latest arrival time, just let the leader know via a message on the website what sort of time you will be arriving. They then won't be concerned about your late arrival and may even be able to arrange a later dinner for you..

When you arrive at the hostel, the first thing you need to do is check in with the event leader. They will confirm your attendance on the event list and then let you know which rooms have space available in them, and give you a idea as to what will be happening that evening.

Rooms

The beds in the shared rooms are first come, first served. Choose a bed and put your bag on it so that people arriving later will know that the bed is taken. It is a good idea to make your bed now so you won’t have to do it later at night, when it may be dark in the room and when others may have already gone to bed.

Sleeping in a room with other people may seem a little strange at first but you soon get used to it. But if you are a light sleeper then bring a set of ear plugs and/or an eye mask.

Hostel rooms usually have one or two power sockets in them, but everyone will want to charge their phone overnight, so bringing some form of plug adaptor with you is a good idea.

Food

In general, the event cost includes Saturday breakfast, Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast pus tea and coffee throughout the weekend. 

If you have special dietary requirements, please make sure that these are entered in your Next of Kin data in your profile on the OutdoorLads website. The leader will know in advance what is written there, but if you have unusual requirements then send the event leader a message in advance so they can incorporate your needs in their planning. Remember they will be planning the meals and buying the food in advance, so don't leave this to the last minute. If your needs are very unusual, the leader may ask you to bring food with you to keep things manageable.

Friday Evening Buffet

This is not included the cost, and you'll normally be asked to bring something for a communal buffet, which is normally served around 8pm.

Try to think of food that works for a buffet, so that's typically things that can be served in slices or portions and which is easily heated up if hot. Things like pizza, cold meats, salads, sausages, cheese, deserts or fruit salad work well. Whatever you chose, bring enough for between one and two people as anything left over can then be eaten during the weekend. Some people love cooking and bring home made food, but most will buy something ready made. 

When you arrive, drop your buffet food of in the hostel kitchen.

Breakfasts

Usually it's cereals, toast and jam, but sometimes the hostel leader stretches the food budget to include bacon butties or even a full cooked breakfast.

Saturday Evening Meal

There will be a hot meal on the Saturday evening. It will usually be served around 8-9pm. 

All our hostel leaders have completed Food Preparation and Hygiene assessments, but they haven’t gone to culinary school. They will be preparing food in what is often a basic hostel kitchen and for a lot of people, so although the meal should be good, plentiful and hearty, don’t expect anything too elaborate.

Lunches

Lunches on Saturday and Sunday are not included in the hostel price. You are usually expected to bring packed lunches with you for these meals and space is normally reserved in the hostel fridge to accommodate them. Most of the events held on hostel weekends are out of town, so don't assume that there will be a shop nearby.

Activities

There will be activities laid on for the Saturday, and often also on Sunday morning. Most typically there will be one or more walks, but some events will include cycling, climbing, abseiling, caving, canoeing or other options. The event page will describe what activities are planned and what you may need to bring with you to participate in them.

Drink

Apart from tea and coffee and tapwater, drinks are not included in the event cost.

Anything else you want to drink during the weekend, which includes alcoholic drinks, should be brought with you. Remember that most of the hostels we use are a remote, which means we have good walking routes right from the hostel front door but there may not be a local shop or pub to buy drinks from.

So if you are partial to a drink in the evening after a good walk, bring it with you. If you are drinking alcohol, please be considerate of others, particularly when heading to bed if you've stayed up late, and remember that you might have an earlyish start to the event the next day.

Helping out

The price you pay covers the accommodation and some of the food, but we do need participants to step up and proactively offer help with some of the cooking and cleaning during the weekend. 

Remember that the event leader is a volunteer and can't be expected to do everything for you. They will already have invested a lot of their time in planning the meals, buying the food, leasing with the hostel warden and planning (and often then running) events during the weekend.

Helping each other out and looking after each other is partly what binds the group together too.

Cleaning the Hostel

We usually have to vacate the hostel sometime between 10am and noon on the Sunday.  Before we leave you need to remove the sheet, pillow and duvet covers from your bed and put them out for laundry.

We need to clean the hostel ready for the next group and the event leader will ask for volunteers to help with the cleaning required; vacuuming bedrooms and communal areas, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathrooms, taking out the rubbish and making sure that the place is generally tidy. 

We have a good reputation with the YHA and our other hostel providers and leaving the hostel in good condition is important to us and OutdoorLads' future relationship with them.

Leader Qualifications

The hostel leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event. This includes food hygiene training. The hostel leader may involve other leaders during the event, for example, walk leaders, who will also have passed an evaluation appropriate for their roles.

More questions?

If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first hostel event or any aspect of OutdoorLads, contact us!

Social events are a good way to meet some regular OutdoorLads and find out more about the group without having to commit to a whole day or weekend. 

Usually they take place in a gay (or gay friendly) pub and you can drop in anytime and stay as long as you like.  The organiser will often wear a red OutdoorLads T-shirt so they are easy to spot, but if it is your first time it might be a good idea to message the leader before the event. When you arrive if you tell the leader, or anyone else, that it is your first event they will happily chat to you and introduce you to  other people. If you are interested in a particular activity you will be able to find people who do that type of activity and they will be able to tell you everything you need to know.

OutdoorLads is very friendly and welcoming but it can still be daunting to walk into a bar full of people you don't know. Don't worry - everyone remembers their first time and we all go to a lot of effort to make new people feel welcome.

OutdoorLads Socials - this one is in a pub
I have only been a member for a month, but my mental wellbeing and fitness have vastly improved and I have the confidence to try new things I never would have thought about trying before. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming. I felt immediately at ease and was enjoying myself straight away.