When you're out in the backcountry, preparedness can mean the difference between tragedy and survival. Don't go out for an adventure without these seven safety essentials.
A quality flashlight: Modern lithium ion batteries and light-emitting diodes have made it possible for you to carry an astounding amount of light into the woods. That said, it won't do you any good if you break your flashlight or the batteries fail. Make sure you have two or more flashlights, along with some replacement batteries just in case.
Super glue: In a pinch, you can use super glue to effectively seal a wound. For the outdoorsperson, super glue is light, convenient, affordable and multi-use. You can use it to repair gear or close a wound. Just make sure to watch any cut or scrape for signs of infection.
A small, durable knife: You should have a way to slice clothing into bandages, whittle a tent stake, cut rope and access dry wood in the middle of dead branches when the weather turns bad. Unfortunately, because they include a pivot, even the best folding knives can break under leverage. It's generally best to have a fixed-blade knife that will hold up under heavy pressure. Just make sure it has a sheath or hard case, so you won't accidentally cut yourself.
Duct tape: You can do a lot with a roll of quality duct tape. Not only is it water-resistant and durable, it's also incredibly versatile. Use it to reinforce Band-Aids or cover a blister. Have a broken arm? Create a sling by wrapping some duct tape around sticks. Need to carry an injured person off a mountain? Make a stretcher out of duct tape and some sturdy branches. Whether you need to fix clothing, mend a tear in a backpack or close a serious laceration, duct tape can be a godsend when you're in the backcountry.
Ferro rod: These synthetic pyrophoric alloys produce hot sparks, so you can start a quick fire. They are also easier to manipulate, compared to flint and steel, which requires a decent amount of practice to master. In addition to your ferro rod, you should have a reliable fuel source that will ignite even when it's wet outside. Just place a handful of cotton balls in a plastic bag with a scoop of petroleum jelly, and you will have several flammable balls of waterproof goo that will burn for up to two minutes, while you're feeding the fire with dry kindling.
Water purification tablets: It's not always practical or possible to boil water when disaster strikes. Fortunately, you can render tainted water safe by adding a portable purification tablet. Typically containing chlorine dioxide, chlorine or iodine, water purification tablets deactivate viruses, bacteria and parasitic protozoans, so you can drink water without getting sick. Unfortunately, they won't eliminate sediment and debris. If this is a concern, bring along a portable water filter, designed for hiking and camping.
Sustenance: If you get injured, lost or stranded in the backcountry, you will want to make sure you can sustain yourself long enough for help to arrive. Depending on the remoteness of your location, this could take several days. If you have freeze-dried or dehydrated meals that are ready to eat, you won't have to worry about foraging for insects, edible plants and other unappetizing things that could make you very sick.
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