Spending a lot of time enjoying the great outdoors year-around, be it primitive or carrying modern gear, can be a hobby filled with memories for a life time. I enjoy hiking, backpacking, and caving adventures in some of the most remote wilderness areas you can imagine. I personally love to go on treks to places seen by few.
Take the time to plan for your outdoor adventures, do your homework and leave little to chance. Eventually luck will run out, so are you prepared for your next adventure with the tools to make your adventure as safe as reasonably expected?
How well things go from start to finish can be significantly influenced by how well prepared you are before leaving the point of no return.
Good planning, training, proper clothing, adequate equipment and experience are vital essentials to an uneventful outdoor adventure trip. On the other side of the coin, if you are ill prepared, improvising your survival will become a test of your resourcefulness and your good luck.
You have seen the dramatic events unfold on the news of people lost with a hundred search and rescuers, dogs, helicopters and airplanes working to find the lost person. Even with all the experience, skills and preparedness bad things can still happen it is a fact of life.
I am going to try and tip the scales slightly in your favor by presenting some basic tips for being prepared. I am not the soloist type so the people I take adventure trips with are my close friends and family who enjoy these adventures also.
My suggestion is you go out on adventures with people you trust, may be even with your life. When the chips are down can you count on them and can they count on you. Even the most minor problem in a wilderness adventure can become very serious quickly. Do not expect to dial 911 for help. Even if you do manage to get a call out for help, how long is it going to take to reach you?
So with that said; being prepared is very important. If you are an enthusiast just getting started I suggest your first step is to be prepared with some simple but life saving skills and items before your adventure trip.
Making a survival pack of items to always have with you is a must. Fire making methods, shelter materials, enough water, water treatment and signaling devices are priority must haves. Food is a benefit to your physical energy and mental health. Though not really necessary, I love to eat so my survival pack has some energy snacks just-in case. First aid supplies can make life easier when you need them so pack at least a basic kit. Have the basic survival items on your person not in your main pack. Never leave home without these basic tools and you will have a story to tell and not a tragedy to explain.
Have the training for the type of outdoor activities you plan on doing. Take it slow, and learn to walk before you run. Take the time to learn and hone your level of skills and experience. Beyond training, read as much as you can on your desired adventure interest. Learn from others who have made the mistake or have that special idea you can pull from when you need it.
I recommend all outdoor adventure enthusiast take a wilderness first aid and CPR course. The Wilderness Medicine Institute has programs tailored to the outdoor adventurer or you can find a course from any of the many quality first aid training providers in your area like the American Red Cross, The Emergency Care and Safety Institute, National Safety Council just to name a few. Look at this as added insurance to your family, friends and fellow adventures. Knowing what to do in an emergency will have its reward if you use it just one time.
How is your health today? Make sure you have the health and fitness level to do the activity safely. This is not the time for keeping secrets. Have your medications on your person and let everyone you adventure with know where it is and what to do with it. See your physician if you have any questions about your health. Again start slow and work up to the desired fitness level.
Do your homework on the area you are planning to visit. Talk to the locals to verify what you found during your planning process.
Plan for the possible worst weather changes you could encounter. If you venture in the outdoors its time to become weather wise. The national weather service has some educational pages to help. The typical request for emergency help is generally during severe weather events. Become a weather watcher or find someone in the area with the knowledge. Good forecasts in the region, area and in real time are a vital part of planning and preparedness. Do not be afraid to cancel the trip for weather.
Tell someone that is very reliable of your travel plans in detail. Write your plans down and give it to them. We have been out on a lot of search missions for people overdue, who just did not leave written plans with a reliable person to make the report. When you are overdue and may need help immediately, the best thing you could have done was to leave your plans in the hands of someone you trust with your life. Your planning ahead could save your life by giving search and rescue the advantage of a reliable starting point to search.
I carry a SPOT (satellite personal tracker/messenger) to give me even more of an advantage when things go wrong. The SPOT has some handy functions like I can send a message letting the family know we are OK and they can also track our progress online in my map page, if we need help from them or when we check-in they get global position coordinates with each message or if things really go south you can send a signal for emergency help. Do the research and see if a satellite personal tracker/messenger is something you would consider adding to your survival kit.