Most backpacking checklists focus on the “stuff” that needs to be brought. It is nice to have good equipment, but even with the best gear, you can still run into difficulty while you are out in the woods. Even if you have matches and the most modern kind of fire starters, you might not be able to get that fire started. It takes more than having the appropriate equipment to guarantee that a trip will be safe and fun. In light of this, the following is a list of abilities that you ought to already possess or acquire.
1. Navigation. It is a common misconception that a compass can provide location information, but this is not the case. Similarly, if you don’t know how to read it, a map doesn’t help you either. If you aren’t yet able to apply both of these skills readily, practice where you live. Repeat steps 1 and 2 using your GPS device.
2. Keeping one’s body warm. There is more than one way to avoid becoming cold. You should take off layers as you become warmer, for instance, so that you don’t end up sweating and being cold. Always wear a hat and windproof outerwear. Consuming fatty foods before bed will help you maintain a warmer body temperature.
3. Pitching a Tent. Perform drills in the backyard. If you set up your tent or tarp incorrectly, the wind and rain will get inside, and the seams will be torn apart. You should be able to finish pitching them in minutes because they require a tight pitch.
4. Preparing food over an open flame. Preparing soup over a low flame is not easy. Put the lid on the pan, block the wind, and keep the fire contained as it burns low and slow. When you practice, keep track of the time. You do not need to rush things in the regular course of events, but speed can be a crucial factor in certain circumstances, and it is always possible that your stove will break.
5. Recognizing plants that can be eaten. The experience of going on a journey can be much enhanced by simply becoming familiar with three or four wild berries that can be eaten. Cattails and one or two other good survival food plants are worth learning to identify, and doing so can be very helpful if your food is taken by a bear or another wild animal.
6. Walking. If you take it slow and learn how to navigate uneven ground quickly, you will experience less fatigue and less likely to injure yourself by turning your ankle. Also, pull those laces closer together.
7. Understanding animals. Are you being followed by the bear, or is it just “bluff charging” you? If you choose the latter option, it indicates that the bear will eat you if you play dead. A hint: If someone is making a lot of noise, they’re probably trying to scare you (this is called a “bluff charge”), but you will need to research this topic.
8. Observing the night sky. During the summer, thunderstorms in the afternoon are typical in the Rocky Mountains. Are those just clouds, or is there a thunderstorm on the horizon? You’ll be safer if you study local weather patterns and forecasting basics. This is helpful on a ridge.
9. The fundamentals of first aid. What are the signs that someone is suffering from hypothermia? Some of the symptoms include stumbling and speech that is slurred. What is the best way to treat blisters? In the absence of moleskin, duct tape can be used. It’s crucial to be knowledgeable about these essential things.
10. Firemaking. You should begin by practicing in your yard. Make an effort to light that fire with just one match. Also, give it a shot the next time it’s storming outside. Get in the practice of gathering dry tinder well before any rain that may be forecast. Find out what items, including birch bark and pine sap, can still burn even when wet.
This final one has the potential to be one of the most valuable abilities in an urgent situation. It is unnecessary to be an expert in wilderness survival to have a pleasant and risk-free hiking experience; experts can build a fire under nearly any condition. Simply do the best you can and start ticking off the abilities on this backpacking checklist to ensure a safer and more pleasurable trip.
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