Pretty much every time outdoor junkies / travelers / adventure types get together, the topic of safety and annoying “tourists” comes up. Look, I’m not going to pretend I’m perfect myself — I hike across snow and mountains alone, drive out alone; none of us do it all right. But not being prepared is just asking for disaster.
Whether you’ve got a friend you told your plans to at home or a friend on the trail joining you, stuff can still go wrong. Wrong when you’re prepared is often pretty easy even if it’s pretty bad. Wrong when you’ve got nothing is rough.
This isn’t just about extreme adventures either. Short trails twist ankles, have bee stings, end up with people getting dehydrated. Relying on some passerby seems easy but it’s about as smart as closing your eyes, getting in your car, and assuming no one will hit you — lucky isn’t a plan. Think about it, take a fall an hour out and it’s an hour for someone to get contact, an hour for the responders to organize, and an hour back to you… all while you’re not moving, night is creeping in, and that’s at best. Instead, take the few pounds of gear needed to be safe:
See REI’s modern day 10 essentials list – at a minimum, I always have:
- Water, water and more water
- Snacks (yum) to wash down
- A map of the area for when Google Maps doesn’t load
- Matches / fire stick / anything to make stuff burn
- Knife or multi-tool to cut stuff
- First-aid kit to treat and maintain
- Spare clothing for sun, rain or cold as needed
- Source of light in case it gets late out
- Emergency blanket in case it gets later
- Misc carabiners, tp, gloves, etc depending on the adventure
- ACR emergency locator / PLB (thanks mom!)
- A pack to put it all in for easy carrying
Yes, perfectly safe means doing nothing, but without a pack is doing it wrong too.
And it’s not just about trails. The unseen places in this world require long drives down unknown roads. Cars make us feel safe but when the next service stop is 100+ miles and your phone doesn’t work, tires blow out, snow accumulates, heck, trees fall on roads all the time. Every adventure deserves a couple bucks spent at your local supermarket.
It’s not hard, just add it to your next shopping list, one day you’ll be so damn happy you didn’t skimp.