The only certain way to avoid backcountry accidents is to never leave your house. That, however, is not the case for enthusiastic outdoorsmen and women who enjoy backpacking trips.
Even with careful planning and precautions, things can go wrong in the backcountry. The good news is that you can greatly reduce your chances of an accident by packing the emergency gear that will allow you to prepare for almost any scenario.
This is the essential equipment you'll need to survive, no matter how far you're going or how long you'll be offline.
- Navigation: Map and compass
- Sun protection: Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Illumination: Headlamp
- First-aid: Kit or supplies
- Firestarter: Waterproof matches or lighter
- Nutrition: Extra food
- Portable water filter: Extra water or filter
- Insulation: Extra clothing and socks
- Tools: Multitool
- Emergency shelter: Blanket or lightweight bivvy
- Communication device: Cellphones or satellite phones and a hand-crank radio
Our list is merely deceptive in its simplicity, and it's easy to overlook something. However, it's simple to forget something or two, and one of those unpacked goods may be the most crucial component for your survival in an emergency. Here are some recommendations for all of the necessities you'll need for your next outdoor excursion. Be sure to pack accordingly and always stay safe!
Essential No. 1: Map and Compass
Even in the age of GPS and smartphones, a map and compass remain two of the most important pieces of gear you can bring on a hike. With these tools, you can always find your way back to camp—even if your electronic devices fail.
Without electricity, the most cutting-edge GPS device or mobile navigation software is pointless. Batteries wear down, electronics can get wet, or your equipment may fall unexpectedly and cease to function. That's why it's important to bring a conventional map and compass with you.
Essential No. 2: Sunglasses and Sunscreen
To see the trail ahead, you'll need to protect your eyes from the sun. Any sunglasses with 100% UV protection will do the trick. In addition to your shades, you'll also need sunscreen. Start with SPF-approved layering and sunscreen, and should be reapplied every two hours.
Even on overcast days or when you believe you've covered enough that sunburns aren't a danger, sun protection is essential in the backcountry.
Essential No. 3: Headlamp
A headlamp is a much more versatile tool than a flashlight. Not only will it light your immediate path in front of you, but it'll also free up your hands. The finest headlamps are light, long-lasting, rechargeable, and — most importantly — bright. In addition, it's important to bring a headlamp that has a red light mode. This will preserve your night vision and won't spook any animals you may come across.
Essential No. 4: First-Aid Kit
A first-aid kit is a must for any outdoor activity, as accidents can and will happen. Your first-aid kit should include supplies for treating cuts, sprains, and snake bites. You can buy a pre-made kit or put one together yourself.
The majority of ready-made first-aid kits include items that are useful for all sorts of adventures, weather conditions, and survival situations. Begin with a basic, pre-built kit and add to it whatever you need for your specific excursion (think insect repellant, foot care products).
Essential No. 5: Fire Starter
A fire starter is an important tool to have when lost in the wilderness. It can provide warmth, cook food, and signal for help.
When it comes to heating and lighting a fire, having something with which to light a fire is crucial. Waterproof matches, lighter and dryer lint for tinder are fantastic, low-cost alternatives. A good fire starter should be your primary outdoor tool since it may make all the difference in terms of heat and light.
Essential No. 6: Extra Food
You never know when you'll get lost in the woods or when an emergency will occur. That's why it's important to always bring extra food with you. Consider packing a variety of food items that don't need to be cooked, such as trail mix, granola bars, and jerky.
Pack more than you think you'll need. If your excursion goes longer than planned, you'll be relieved to discover those extra bars or dehydrated meals at the bottom of your bag. High-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that last a long time will keep you going the longest.
Essential No. 7: Extra Water or Filter
Water is essential to life. Humans can only survive for a certain period without it. It's self-evident, but it bears repeating: Always pack more bottled water than you think you'll need. We like the convenience of a hydration daypack, but you'll also want a portable water filter. You could run out of drinking water in a hurry. You'll need to have filtration equipment on hand if you come upon clean water in the wild.
It's important to stay hydrated when hiking, especially in warm weather conditions. Personal Water Filter is intended to be used in an emergency only. It's lightweight, cheap, small, and efficient at filtering 1,000 gallons of water without chemicals. It's a fantastic addition to your camping or hiking gear in the case of an emergency.
Essential No. 8: Extra Clothing (base layer and heated socks)
It's important to pack extra clothing if you get wet or cold. Bring a raincoat, a hat, and some extra layers of clothing. It's also important to pack clothes that are appropriate for the season and the environment you'll be in.
Weather can change drastically at any moment, whether you're climbing in the mountains, the desert, or the tundra. Even if you're certain you won't need it, having an extra layer is a good idea. In the event of a sudden thundershower or blizzard, bring a lightweight water-resistant preferably merino wool (never cotton) zip-up or pullover.
It's always a good idea to include an extra pair of socks in your backpack. If the temperature drops drastically or you get wet feet from a nearby waterfall, having an additional pair on hand is a must.
Essential No. 9: Multitool
A multitool is a versatile tool that can come in handy in a variety of situations. It can be used for everything from cutting the wire to tighten screws. This is especially vital in the outback, where you might need to start a fire, construct a shelter, or repair your pants at any time.
Every EDC kit should include a dependable multitool. It's all up to you and the sorts of activities you're into. At the very least, a multitool should have a knife, screwdriver, and pliers.
Essential No. 10: Emergency Shelter and Blanket
If you become stranded or lost, it's important to have some form of emergency shelter with you. This could be a tent, tarp, or even a space blanket.
The shelter is near the top of the list of essentials you need for survival. You'll want to stay warm in the absence of a genuine tent or a cave to hide in if things go wrong. An ultra-lightweight emergency blanket or bivvy is just what you need to keep the cold at bay.
A good emergency blanket will reflect your body heat to you, helping you to stay warm and comfortable in cold weather conditions.
Essential No. 11: Communication
We live in an age of inexhaustible accessibility, which is wonderful. That implies you can call or text from almost anywhere on the planet. A two-way satellite messenger is a good last-ditch backup if of hand. Always plan and prepare as though you don't have it with you, hoping to be able to use it if needed.
In the event of an emergency, you'll want to be able to communicate with the outside world. Satellite messengers are a great way to do that, even when there's no cell phone service. Another good choice is a hand-crank radio.
- Tags: hiking