They have had an fairly dramatic rise in hiker related emergencies recently and it seems like people just don’t think before they head out into the wilderness. Just because we live and play in an heavily populated area doesn’t mean you should overlook the basics. I keep my pack loaded and ready to go and you will almost certainly see me wearing it on the trail.
Here are the four main reasons emergency teams are sent out to locate lost hikers, according the US Forest Service.
- Not Staying Together! Hikers are going alone or leaving their group.
- Not Being Prepared! Do you have a flashlight, a map, extra food, water and clothing?
- Not Being Trail Aware! Look back as you hike up. A trail junction may look different coming down.
- Not Leaving An Itinerary! Does anyone know your trip plans?
When loading your pack, think about the “Ten Essentials”. The Mountaineers, one of the oldest outdoor recreation clubs (founded in 1894), may have been the first to publish this list but you will find some version of it in scouting guides, backpacking books, etc.. Don’t just stuff them in your pack, take the time to inspect each item and learn how to use them. A flashlight is no good with dead batteries.
Taken from the book “Mountaineering: The Freedom Of The Hills”, here is the classic list of essential items. They’ve changed the wording from items (flashlight) to categories (illumination) to keep up with changing times and technologies.
- Navigation (map and compass)
- Sun Protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
- Insulation (extra clothing)
- Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
- First-Aid Supplies
- Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
- Repair Kit and Tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water)
- Emergency Shelter (tarp/bivy bag/space blanket)
You may want to add to the list, depending on your preferences or environment (water purification tablets, bug repellent, whistle, signal mirror, multi-tool, gps, extra batteries).
A little security in the bag makes the journey that much more enjoyable. Now unplug and get out there!
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