Friday, March 6, 2020

5 Hiker Survival Tools


5 Survival Tools That Can Save a Lost Hiker's Life

I have never heard of a lost hiker who planned on getting lost when they started their hiking trek. However, it happens to a lot of people. In fact, more than 2000 hikers get lost every year in the United States. Unfortunately, since people don't plan on getting lost in the wilderness, they are unprepared to survive on their own. According to National Geographic, day hikers are especially vulnerable when they get lost because most of them carry very little gear on their (intended) short treks.

If you have ever watched the show "Dual Survival" - you have seen the show's hosts take on extreme survival challenges in the wild. The show's hosts portray survival scenarios where people are lost and unprepared. (By the way, Joe and Matt were my favorite hosts on Dual Survival). Many lost hikers don't survive in real life. Therefore, before you head out on any hiking treks, make sure that you carry the essential tools that can save your life should you get lost and be faced with a dire survival situation.



Many remote areas in the wilderness do not have cell phone reception. Therefore, GPS doesn't look. That's why every hiker should carry a compass (and know how to use it) on their hiking treks. It can be very easy to lose your sense of direction - especially when you are venturing into unfamiliar surroundings. Most hikers get lost do so by getting confused about which direction they are supposed to go. Unfortunately, relying on the sun isn't always an option. For example, if you are walking under a thick canopy of trees, you might not see much sunlight. If you are hiking on a cloudy day, you won't be able to judge your direction using the sun. A compass can help you keep your bearings. However, you must know how to use it properly. If you are unsure as to how to use a compass for navigation, check out some videos on YouTube.

First Aid Kit

The worst thing that can happen to you - in addition to getting lost on a hiking trek - is to have an injury that prevents you from walking to safety. For example, a minor scrape or cut could turn into a serious infection that can take you out of the game if it goes untreated. A first aid kit can prevent minor injuries from turning into major injuries that take you out of the game. You can find a good, inexpensive first aid kit on Amazon, as well as in most outdoor stores. You could also make your own first aid kit. Make sure to include cotton, some kind of disinfectant, pain reliever, bandages, gauze, and whatever else Google says you should have lol.

Fire Starter

Many lost hikers don't realize that as soon as the sun goes down, their chances of getting hypothermia go up. Even in "warm" climates like the desert, once the sun sets, it can cool off fast. If you are in a tropical climate, you can also be at risk of hypothermia if you are wet. Therefore, starting a fire can be critical to preventing hypothermia if you get stranded overnight. A small book of matches can be a good fire starter if the matches stay dry. However, many hikers use magnesium sticks to start fires. I recommend carrying a magnesium stick, because depending on how long you are lost, you could run out of matches. If you are unfamiliar with how to use a magnesium stick, find a YouTube video and practice starting a fire with one.

Water Purification

Spring Water
Water like this may look clean but it can be deceiving.

You can last up to three weeks without food. However, you won't last three days without water. Unfortunately, most water in nature - even if it looks clean - is not safe for consumption. You don't know what's upstream that might be polluting the water. Also, you can't see any parasites in the water. Furthermore, if you get sick from drinking untreated water, it will only speed up dehydration. A few common misconceptions about spring water is that it's clean after flowing through rocks and rapids. Unfortunately, parasites aren't killed by rapids.Therefore, you need a reliable method to purify water to make it safe enough to drink. You have a couple of good options. For example, you could buy a water bottle with a filter on it. You could also buy iodine tablets to purify water. Boiling water is an option for some. However, it won't work if you can't get a fire started. Whatever you do, don't go hiking without a way to make water safe for consumption.

Camping Knife

Camping Knife

One of the most important things that I learned from watching "Dual Survival" is that every hiker should carry a camping knife with a blade between 8-to-10 inches. A good knife is a critical survival tool to have out in the wild. First, it can be used to cut small tress and branches to build a shelter. It can be used to create other tools and defensive weapons from large sticks or small branches. A knife is also needed to process any wild game or fish that you can catch for food. Lastly, a knife can serve as a self-defense weapon against a predator. (Many areas have dangerous animals that can seriously injure or kill you).

Don't Let Nature Take You Out of the Game

In short, when you are planning your next hiking adventure, make sure to plan on taking these five essential survival tools that could help you survive out in the wild. You need a compass for navigation. You should carry a first aid kit to treat any injuries. Make sure you have some type of reliable fire starter in case you need a fire to keep warm. Remember, you are going to get thirsty real quick if you get stranded out in wilderness. Therefore, you need a system to treat water to make it safe for drinking. Finally, a camping knife can save your life in the wilderness.

Here are a few other hiker safety tips:
  • Tell Others Where You Are Going
  • Leave Notice at Trailhead 
  • Study Trails and Maps
  • Be Weather Aware
First, let your family and friends know where you plan to go hiking. Give them an approximate time for when you should return. 
Secondly, if you are hiking in a major park, there should be a ranger station that you can check in at before your hike. Let them know that you are about to venture out. If no ranger station is available, look for a sign in sheet at the trailhead to leave your name, as well as the date and time you are starting. 
Before you go hiking, make sure study your trails and any maps that are available. That way you will have a good idea of where you are going. Sometimes Google Maps even has trail directions.

Lastly, make sure you pay attention to the weather forecasts. Bad weather can strand you out on a trail - even if you aren't lost. Also, if you notice that the weather seems to be deteriorating, turn back on the trail.

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