2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – January 2012

Escape Plan: Reduce Lightning Strike Risk

Tips for lessening the risk of lightning in the backcountry.

by: Kristy Holland

The forecast didn’t warn of lightning within 100 miles of your hike—but that crack was unmistakable and clouds are rolling in. Now what?

Lightning can strike ground more than 25 miles from storm clouds, so blue sky overhead doesn’t mean you’re safe. In fact, there’s no place in the backcountry that is completely safe in an electrical storm, but your first move should be to seek safer terrain. Move off of peaks and ridges, and to the lowest ground nearby. In rolling landscapes, drop into a depression, like a dry ravine. Stay away from water and isolated tall trees or towers.

If the time between the flash and the bang is less than 30 seconds (5 seconds = 1 mile), consider yourself at serious risk. If you hear buzzing, or static is making your hair stand up, a strike is imminent. Assume the lightning position: Spread out with at least 50 feet between you and other people so that multiple people won’t be struck by one bolt, incapacitating the whole group. Crouch or sit with your feet close together on a foam pad or pack (without a metal frame). Standing, laying down, and having your feet wide all increase the potential damage from a direct hit. Removing metal jewelry will reduce the risk of a secondary burn, but not a lightning strike.

If there’s a threat of lightning overnight, use the safe terrain con- siderations described earlier in this section to choose your campsite; tents offer no protection from lightning and may even attract it.

See more Escape Plans in
Survival: True Reader Tales

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Jul 25, 2013

Day-hiking rocks and so does a summer monsoon thunder storm. But is it safe to be on the trail when the lightning strikes? Be prepared for the hiking experiences you may encounter this summer by reading Felix! the Sugar Glider: Be Safe. Hike Smart. (Amazon) Learn how to stay safe around lightning and free-range cattle! Learn what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing just incase you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. Learn how to navigate your way by paying attention to your surroundings and knowing how to use a compass. A compass doesn't need a signal or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Make your hiking adventures the thrill of a lifetime by hiking smart and having the essentials with you! Felix! the Sugar Glider: Be Safe. Hike Smart. is available on

Mar 02, 2012



Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Minerl King Marmots
Posted On: Jul 12, 2014
Submitted By: ndwoods
Trailhead Register
Another Case of Police Brutality?
Posted On: Jul 12, 2014
Submitted By: ndwoods

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions