There’s nothing like camping in the wilderness. The quiet of the forest, the miles of starlit sky, the fresh, clean air… It’s no wonder that millions of people cite camping as one of their favorite pastimes.
While being so far away from the hustle and buzz of civilization is a great way to recharge your batteries, it doesn’t come without its dangers. It can be a lot of fun, but you also only have yourself to rely on in the backwoods. If you get hurt or lost, you can’t just call 911 to come pick you up.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to avoid any sticky scenarios like this. Let’s check out the 4 essentials to staying safe while backwoods camping.
1. Use the buddy system
Even the most seasoned campers can run into problems on the trail. Wild animals, injuries, and sudden bad weather can happen to anyone and no matter how prepared you are, sometimes situations like these are impossible to avoid.
This is when it’s handy to have a friend or two. While a sudden injury on the trail alone can quickly become life-threatening, having someone else there increases your chances of survival exponentially. If you accidentally sprain your ankle, your buddy will be able to help you hike out or go on ahead to bring back help.
2. Come prepared
Nothing can ruin a camping train more quickly than being unprepared. This could be as harmless as not packing a comfortable sleeping bag or as deadly as not bringing enough food for your trip.
This is why it’s important to have the proper hiking essentials. When preparing for your next camping trip, make sure to account for these factors:
- Weather: It’s important to know what kind of weather to expect because this directly impacts what kind of gear you’ll need. You’ll find yourself cold and miserable if you only pack shorts and a shirt on a rainy trip!
- Terrain: Hiking boots or tennis shoes? A water filtration system or pack in what you need? Hiking poles or free-walking? Knowing what kind of terrain you’ll encounter will help you bring what you need.
- Camping trip length: There’s nothing as deadly as running out of food or water on the trail. Knowing how long your camping trip will take will let you know how much food, water, and cooking fuel to bring.
3. Stay alert
Like the famous Cat Stevens once said, “Ooh baby, baby, it’s a wild world.” Things can change in an instant on the trail and in the backcountry, the only person you have to rely on is yourself and the people with you.
The best way to deal with hazardous situations is to avoid them entirely. Staying alert will help keep you away from wild animals, avoid jutting tree roots, and generally stay out of trouble.
When in doubt, trust your instincts. If something about a situation seems off, stop and consult with your fellow campers to figure out the next best course of action.
4. Tell someone your plans
Even with the buddy system, things can still go wrong. If something happens and you find yourself unable to make it through the trail or call for help, having someone who knows your plans can be a lifesaver.
Before leaving on your camping trip, make sure you tell someone your full itinerary. We’re talking the exact route you’re taking, who you’re going with, how long you’ll be gone—the whole 9 yards.
This way, if something happens to you then there will be someone to notice that you haven’t gotten home on time. In turn, they can alert the authorities and let them know exactly where to look.
In conclusion: key takeaways
For the most part, backwoods camping is a fun experience but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Remember these key takeaways for your next backwoods trip:
- Hiking alone is dangerous, even for seasoned backpackers. Having a friend along can be the difference between life and death.
- They don’t have Wal-Marts in the forest, so make sure to pack in everything you’ll need for your trip.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stay alert to avoid dangers on the trail.
- Unless you’re hunting for hidden treasure, make sure to tell someone exactly where you’re going in case something happens to you.
About the Author: David is a martial arts enthusiast with over two decades of training in Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do, Jiu Jitsu, and various Filipino styles. When he’s not training, he loves making websites, playing guitar, cooking, and wasting time on the internet. Check out his website at www.defensiveplanet.com for guides and reviews on all things self-defense related.