Off Roading

There are so many different ways we can get out into the wilderness. Hiking, backpacking, skiing, running… You name it. As long as it is in the wild it is a wilderness sport or activity. With any such sport or activity there also comes risks and the need to be prepared.

As we are currently in the Rocky Mountains, we rented a Jeep today and set off for some backcountry exploring. While many might think there is safety in the car and little need to “prepare”, this is far from the truth. One of the primary reasons we head off the beaten path is to “get away”. By removing ourselves from civilization, we also remove many of the safety features we have all come to enjoy. For example, we had little to no cell phone coverage once outside the city limits. Had we had a significant emergency, we were on our own. So how to prepare?

This depends on the activity and the conditions and many other factors. For me, part of the equation was being away from home. Had I been at home, my entire kit would have gone with me. Throw it in the back and we could survive for weeks through harsh weather and treat even the most serious of injuries. That kit is a bit difficult to get through security at the airport, though; and I hate to have the bag torn to shreds by the baggage handlers. So, we had to go with what we had or could easily and cheaply purchase.

This included the clothes and shoes we wore (more on this in a coming post) plus a backpack filled with:

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Bug spray
  5. Rain jackets
  6. Life straw canteen

With this and given the weather conditions being no hotter than the 80’s and no colder than the 50’s, we could survive should the Jeep break down, become irretrievably stuck or some other calamity befall us. With a case of water, we could live for over a week, especially given the life straw canteen. We had enough snacks and food for several weeks (given the fact you can go for 3 weeks without eating) should we have truly had to survive. The rain jackets would have provided enough warmth with body heat to keep us warm and, mostly, dry should the need arise. The bug spray and sunscreen would have provided additional protection and comfort in avoiding sunburn (which can cause or worsen dehydration) and nasty bug bites.

Unfortunately, too many people head out on such adventures completely unprepared. Little to no water with no safe way to obtain it and just 3 days can mean death. Even the cold nights in some regions can be enough to spell disaster for those with no way to keep warm. Were we “fully” prepared? Probably not. That being said, weighing risks, benefits and likelihood’s, we had more than enough gear to get us home should the need have arisen.

How do you prepare for such adventures, especially when away from home? As I reconstitute this blog, I want to make it a forum to share ideas, learn from each other and provide insight I have learned from many years of experience and from my training in wilderness medicine.

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