About 10 minutes in to an evening walk today, Mark decided to turn back since he wasn’t feeling great. As I continued down the road without him I realized I had nothing with me that I usually carry when venturing out alone. Mark knew exactly what route I was taking and it was only a couple of miles so I decided to not worry about it. However, it got me thinking about the handful of things I always carry with me that make me feel comfortable exploring the outdoors alone.
This is a satellite communication device that will not only track my route but also allows me the option to text with Mark without needing cell signal. If I’m gone longer than I intended, I can send Mark a quick pre-made message that says “checking in, everything is ok”. That message will include my exact location. We both use this device a lot when we’re not together. It gives us a lot of peace of mind when one of us is out exploring without cell service.
2. Personal Locator Beacon (PLB):
A PLB is something you never want to need but feels really good to have. Unlike the Garmin In-Reach, it’s strictly for dire situations. It has one button and when pushed will alert the nearest Search & Rescue of your exact location and will send them immediately.
3. Bear Spray:
Another thing I hope I never need but like to have. I think I’d also like to get a bell to wear on my pack. When hiking alone in dense forest or shrubbery, there’s a definite possibility of accidentally spooking an animal. A bell would help avoid this and would be way better than talking to myself (which I’m not afraid to do if it seems wise).
4. A flashlight:
Mark has made me realize over the years that you really never know when you’re going to need a flashlight.
Not having any water with me is sometimes the only thing stopping me from staying out for a longer walk or ride, so I try to never forget it.
6. Rain gear/cold weather gear:
The weather changes so fast in the mountains that I rarely venture out without my puffy, rain coat and wool buff. I’ve been caught out without them too many times and it sucks. Having them when you need them makes all the difference in still having an enjoyable experience when the weather turns.
Cause everything is better with snacks : )
One of my favorites for hiking are Rx Bars.
8. A pack to put all this stuff in:
I have two packs, that both work really well depending on the application. My Camelbak is great for running and shorter bike rides. My REI pack is great for hikes and longer bike rides. I’m in the market for something a little bigger but for now those two options work great for most of the items above.
Just as important as carrying the things above is letting someone know where I’m headed. I never just leave camp and wander off. I always give Mark a general direction of where I’m headed and a timeframe that I plan on being gone. In the event of something going wrong, someone having even a vague idea of your whereabouts would be a game changer in getting you help sooner than later.
Having these things gives me the confidence to get outside and do the things I love on my own, especially when I’m usually in places where cell signal is unreliable or nonexistent. I believe the wilderness is not to be feared but respected. The more prepared I am the more I’m able to reap the benefits without being afraid.