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Live and learn…When it comes to making mistakes in the wilderness some are small and trivial, but others could be life-threatening. Keeping the basic wilderness survival techniques and tips in mind whilst packing and out on the trail
WE’VE all made little mistakes in our hiking adventures, but it’s what we learn from them that makes us better walkers. Below are 10 blunder busters to help prevent ruining your wanderlust.
1) Starting too late — arriving late for a friend’s party is considered rude; however, arriving late to start a long hike is just plain dangerous. Plan your hike and start on time; if you do end up starting later than expected, shorten your route. Avoid stopping at lookout points, keep your eye on the time and plan to set up camp earlier.
Always factor in time that can be lost from taking wrong turns, rough terrain, elevation changes and rest breaks. Keep in mind that large groups of social walkers tend to move slower than a pair. Always let tell someone before you set off on a trip. Let them know where you are going, which trails and how long you expect to be gone. This is one of the big survival tips for the wilderness. Let people know where you are going and when you plan on returning!
2) Ignoring the weather forecast— a little rain won’t kill you; that’s why we have Gore-Tex, gaiters and North Face. However, a lot of rain, lightening and gale force winds can definitely kill you. Even the most expensive gear can’t give you perfect protection.
Know what Mother Nature will throw at you before you plan your hike: websites such as www.weather.gov or www.accuweather.com are good for local area forecasts. Having an idea of what the weather is a head and planning for the worst is a vital aspect of wilderness survival techniques and tips.
3) Buying cheap tents — saving a buck by buying your tent from Big W is not the best choice of shelter for your overnight camping trips. Investing in a good tent will save you money in the long run. Our survival tips for the wilderness? Get a tent that’s made to protect you from the elements you may encounter! Do not invest in one that mostly protects your bank account.
Investing in a good tent will save you money in the long run. Decide on its size and weight, and make sure you are able to carry it. Not all cheap tents are bad, but do your research and visit outdoor stores for their expertise.
4) Wearing new boots or shoes — one of the biggest mistakes people make is using their newly-purchased shoes for a multi-day hike; straight from the box and onto your feet for a 40km walk can mean painful feet and blisters.
Make sure you purchase new shoes well in advance and use them for two or three day walks before you go on that multi-day hike you purchased them for.
This helps break the shoes in, softening the sole and upper to the shape of your foot, and it’ll allow possible blisters to occur during the shorter hikes, well before your main event.
5) Wearing cotton — nearly all of our everyday clothes consists of cotton, and nearly all of us have fallen victim to wearing it once on a hike out of habit. The problem with cotton is once wet, it turns into a sponge absorbing all moisture. Usually keeping you warm by trapping warm air, the air pockets within the fabric fill up with water, stopping insulation.
Moisture-wicking fabrics are the clothing of choice: using a process called capillary action, these fabrics move moisture from the surface of your skin to the outer layers of clothes. Having the correct clothing which is lightweight with good insulation properties on the trail is key in our top 10 wilderness survival techniques and tips list.
6) Going lightweight — the lighter weight, the smaller the safety net. The idea is to bring enough provisions if things wrong. It’s good to have extra clothes in case you fall into a river, or extra rations in the unlikely event an animal steals your food. Being aware of basic wilderness survival techniques and tips means you need to cater for the unforeseen events ….
It takes a lot of skill, experience and experimentation to become an ultra-light hiker, so lightening your load should be a gradual goal. It’s important to remember that the best strategy in reducing risk lies in having access to gear and honing your skills in using it.
7) Not wearing enough clothes — there is a wise saying “better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.” Though this refers to the attire suitable for cocktail functions and the red carpet, it also applies to the green carpet of the outdoors. Always look at the weather forecast, then over prepare.
As we mentioned above, insulation and layers are important. They can make the difference between hypothermia or remaining warm. Example, if it’s forecast to be cold, it’s best to bring multiple layers and a waterproof jacket. Layering with moisture wicking fabrics in any weather is great for hiking as moisture will be wicked away from your skin, and the clothes will trap in your body warmth. Dressing for trail conditions is a 101 of wilderness survival techniques and tips.
8) Not preparing to poop — always prepare to cater to your human needs. Taking care of business can definitely be uncomfortable and daunting for some, so bring something from home that will take you back to your own toilet.
Choose a place far away from the campsite; make sure it’s not on higher ground facing the campsite and is at least 50 feet from water. Use a pocket-sized trowel to dig deep for number twos and make sure you refill your hole with dirt once finished.
9) Wearing your backpack incorrectly— back and shoulder pains are common for hikers, but once you start wearing your backpack the right way your long hikes will be much more comfortable. Make sure your pack is adjusted so the straps are correctly lined to your body.
Wear your hip belt and make sure the top of the belt sits on the top of your hip bone. The shoulder straps should perfectly contour with your shoulder, with no spaces in between, and your sternum strap should be worn and sit comfortably to stop your shoulder straps from falling. Our survival tips for the wilderness: get your pack professionally fitted if you are not sure. Pain is not a pleasant thing on the trail and easily avoided.
For 40L+ bags, the load strap must be approximately 45 degrees taut to stop the top of the load from falling backwards. Also, remember that 65% of your backpack weight should be at your hips, not on your shoulders, to avoid shoulder pains.
10) Unorganized packing — we must be organized because nature is unpredictable; “there is no such thing as bad weather, only an unprepared hiker”.
Wilderness survival techniques and tips manuals all say make sure you bring the correct gear for each trail. Be organized in your packing. Know where each item is located in your bag so you can pull it out efficiently when needed.
Pack in categories using smaller bags; different colored bags are even better (e.g. red bag = cooking utensils, blue = food). Remember to bring contingency items like spare pieces for your tent, an extra knife, rope, flare, waterproof matches and plastic bags. Keeping a comprehensive camping list handy is a good idea when you are packing.
Wilderness Survival Techniques And Tips Can Make The Difference
Sometimes we forget how easy we have it with our modern day lives. We have everything at our fingertips, or at the push of a button. It’s important to remember that in the blink of an eye, it can all be gone when we are out in the wilderness. Mother Nature can turn in an instant from benign sunshine to raging storms. The unexpected happens, you get in an accident or lose your way. It’s just you and the wilderness. No civilization. Which is why we strongly urge you to keep these wilderness survival techniques and tips in mind. They get you prepared- just in case.