Wilderness Safety Tips

It is such a great feeling to see your loved ones start to enjoy exploring the outdoors as much as you do. As an outdoor enthusiast, I feel responsible for sharing that world with my nieces and nephews. I also feel responsible for showing them how to enjoy wilderness the right way. The way I see it, the more you know and the more prepared you are the more you can explore and enjoy the great outdoors.  Here are 10 very basic tips that I adhere to when planning backpacking, camping, or wilderness trips.

  1. Take a friend or friends! Power in numbers, baby.
  2. Know your ability and be honest with your companions and yourself. Not all of us were born at a higher elevation or grew up bagging 14ers. Be patient with yourself or newbies and respectful of everyone’s physical abilities. Plan a route you feel you can safely accomplish. Don’t push yourself or your friends to do 6 miles right away. Start small and work your way up. It’s much more enjoyable that way.
  3. Act responsibly and respectfully when encountering wildlife. Be prepared and know what to do when (not if) you encounter wildlife. While knowing what to do to avoid encounters with wildlife is imperative for enjoying wilderness trips, knowing what to do when you surprise a bear, moose, mountain goat, or any wildlife is ALSO super imperative. Check out our post on What to Do When You Encounter Wildlife to see more details!
  4. Make your camp before dark. Unless you want to get into a frustrated yelling match with your loved ones, make your camp in daylight and respect the rules. If you’re not supposed to have a fire, DO NOT break that rule. Making your camp in the daylight can also help ensure you’re camping in a safe spot and you have time to put up your bear bag if necessary. This means you’ll want to plan your pace and route carefully.
  5. Wear the right clothes, don’t forget your water, and don’t forget your food! A map and compass are very handy too. Most wilderness areas offer print-off maps on their websites. If you are backpacking, wear layers and plan out your meals and snacks carefully. Having the right supplies and enough food and not bringing too much to carry is a tricky calculation sometimes.
  6. Know basic First Aid. Bring a First Aid kit. 9/10 nothing will go wrong on these trips, but life is unpredictable and sometimes the wilderness can be too. Make sure you’re aware of your parties needs and be prepared to help keep everyone healthy and safe. If someone is seriously injured, know what resources you have available nearby and do the best you can to get them to a medical professional or park ranger.
  7. Troubleshoot your equipment before you leave. My worst nightmare is getting to the backcountry and running out of clean water. I have a great backpacking water filter, but before I go, knowing I will need to rely on it, I make sure to test it out. Nothing like a case of giardia to turn you off from the outdoor life!
  8. Be aware of your surroundings, research the area before you go and be sure to check the weather reports. Are you going to be at a much higher elevation than you’re used to? Is it a stormy or rainy season? What kind of wildlife might you encounter? Is it mating season?
  9. Tell your friends or family at home where you’re going and when you plan to be back. You saw “127 Hours” didn’t you?! Seriously though, it’s a smart and courteous thing to do.
  10. Remember that you are in the wilderness and it does not belong to you. It is beautiful and mesmerizing but it also doesn’t care how much you love it. It demands respect. Learn about it before you go, treat it like it’s sacred because honestly, it is.

 

Dig into more wilderness safety tips with these great resources:

 

https://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/safety/safety.shtml

https://www.wildsafe.org/

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/healthandsafety/outdoor-hazards.htm

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/healthandsafety/trip-planning-guide.htm

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