Sticks and stones can break your bones, and in the backcountry, they often do. Knowing how to stabilize and protect a break or sprain can help reduce pain and further injury until help arrives.
Most backcountry wounds simply leave you vulnerable to the elements. These few are serious enough to kill in their own right.
Meet a Texas reader who chose Big Bend National Park for her inaugural backpacking trip.
We've gathered top skills for new backpackers and a dozen unforgettable—yet beginner-friendly—trails. What they say is true: You'll never forget your first time.
Three readers who hit the trail for the first time (newbies!) in 2013 as part of our Year of the Reader celebration.
Three authors write about the moments that changed their impressions of the backcountry forever.
Dodge these common errors with our prevention primer.
Learn how to set up your kitchen, store food, and wash dishes in the backcountry.
Learn how to treat water in the backcountry.
How to choose a campsite, set up camp. and sleep comfortably.
How to dress comfortably and stay fueled while hiking.
Three trails teeming with wildlife
Outdoor experts have refined the list of key safety and survival tools into these 10 categories. Don't leave home
Tips on packing and planning for your first night under the stars.
Three beautiful water-side hikes
Three hikes with spectacular views
Three hikes with scenic wildflower vistas
Miles from the trailhead, your hiking partner springs a gusher after taking a fall on an iffy scramble. Here's what to do.
Be prepared for trips of all lengths with this first aid kit from REI.
Going the distance? Use these tips to ease big-mile trips.
Four moves that'll help you make an injury-free transition to lightweight hiking shoes.
We asked a few of our favorite pros how to fix some common backcountry annoyances
Boost performance and be a better backpacker with these fitness- and strength-building moves from our experts.
A dayhiker fights for her life—as her body shuts down.
Pro Tips: Boost Performance, Planning, Safety, and More
Student and president of the Hiking Club at the University of Colorado, Boulder
A compact kit that provides you with the survival essentials you need while you're on the go.
Don't get sidelined by these common and painful foes. Fight back with these tips and tricks for preventing and treating any kind of hot spot problem.
Your body is a temple? Then your feet are the altar. Treat them right, and enjoy every hike from the first mile to the last.
Treat severe hypothermia with this life saving technique.
Seven lucky-to-be-alive subscribers share their real-life backcountry disasters. Here’s how they survived, and what you can learn from their mistakes.
A scape of pulmonary edema sends this reader down the mountain, fast.
Outsmart stiff boots and constant heel lifting with these anti-friction tips.
Pocket-sized waterproof survival and first aid kit
Prevent these two painful toe problems.
Two skills to take with you to the backcountry
Ventilate your tent to avoid this danger.
Hard-won-lessons and tips about medical emergencies from the front lines of survival.
Name: Rachel Drayer, 24, and Matt Pierce, 24
Predicament: Hypothermia rescue in whiteout
Location: Mt. Washington, NH
Itsy bitsy? Sure, but spiders loom large in hiker phobias. They shouldn't: Only a few subspecies of the black widow and brown recluse can inflict enough damage to cut short a hike. Here's what you need to know about North America's most venomous spiders, from how to avoid them to treating their bites.
Itsy bitsy? Sure, but only a few subspecies of the black widow and brown recluse can inflict enough damage to cut short a hike. Here’s what you need to know about North America’s most venomous spiders, from how to avoid them to treating their bites.
Learn to decide when to walk out and when to stay put with a variety of backcountry medical ailments.
Once you've stabilized a backcountry injury or illness, the next step is to prevent the patient from worsening. Here's some key steps to take.
When an emergency strikes, your mind can go blank. These easy clues and rhymes will help you remember what do to first.
How the pros treat an injured hiker
Blisters are the most common on-trail injury, but blisters are also easy to prevent.
Name: Michael Hays Predicament: Shattered kneecap, dehydrated, starving Location: Baxter State Park Days lost 4
Sprained or broken ankles are the most common injury for hikers and backpackers. Here's how to deal.
Your hiking buddy torqued their knee? This simple splint can prevent further injury and let you both limp home.
Get ready for your summer adventure with these these essential on-trail skills.
Learn to tie a basic, but essential knot, staunch a bleeder, and purify water.
It's the final push. Complete the final week's challenge and get ready for next week's call to submit your video.
Use these first aid techniques to control and treat a bleeding wound.
Welcome to accessory and apparel heaven: puffy jackets, stoves, windpants, knives, iPad apps, solar panels, GPS, hydration, first aid, socks, camp food, baselayers, and more.
Build on week one's regimen by mastering even more survival and navigation skills and improving your overall fitness level.
Rev up for the first week of our plan to make you the ultimate tough guy, or gal.
This low-bulk bracing is used by sports trainers and wilderness medics to stabilize weak ligaments and discourage further injury. You can apply all sorts of extras like pre-wrap liners, ankle pads, and skin adhesive, but here's the down and dirty trail version.
A first aid kit that can handle way more than blisters.
Your guide to 52 common mistakes hikers make--and how to avoid them.
In this step-by-step guide, we'll show you the proper height of trekking poles for various types of terrain.
In this guide, we show you methods for lacing your boots to prevent blisters and maximize comfort.
You're hiking. You slip. You're hurt. But the first-aid kit is back in the car--12 miles away. What should you do?
Fight rough effects on your skin with this moisturizing climbing salve.
In a Utah mash-up of adventure racing and wilderness medicine, everyone wins.
The fit, the fabric, and the details make these pants shine.
Whether it's a torn pack, cracked buckle, ripped tent mesh, or leaky sleeping pad, these kits can pretty much restore anything that breaks.
Stop big bleeds fast.
This light survival kit has all the essentials.
Get all-day protection without the greasy white tint with this chemical-free sunscreen.
This healing balm soothes cracked skin, dry lips, and minor cuts and burns.
A handy, all-inclusive first aid kit
Build your own superlight first aid kit
An all-natural sunscreen with bug repellant
Stop blisters in their tracks.
A light emergency bivvy sack
Most common backcountry injuries.
Your buddy just slid down a steep scree and broke his leg. Should you go for help–or haul him out? It's a tough call. The answer depends on several factors. Here's how to decide.
Loosen up–and stay pain-free–with
Here's how to prevent–and treat–three common backcountry eye problems.
Use this chart to determine if you can finish your trip–or should hightail it to the ER.
Construct a solid emergency kit with these medical must-haves.
"Be prepared" is a great maxim, but be honest: Who among you packs a SAM splint and an irrigation syringe on every backpacking trip? Fear not–everyday items can serve as medical equipment in a pinch.
When you're miles away from medical help and it's serious: Here's how to handle extreme injuries in the backcountry.
Sprains, strains, and fractured bones. Here's what to do in the case of a distressed limb.
As much as we try to protect ourselves from extreme elements, sometimes the elements hedge even our greatest efforts. Here's what to do when Mother Nature wins.
Check out what to do when it's much more than a simple scrape or puncture wound.
Soothe tooth pain with these helpful remedies.
Ugh. It's happened to us all. Here's how to handle a bad belly when you're away from far from home.
Though we love backcountry wildlife (well, mostly), sometimes we get no love back. Read up on what to do when Mother Nature bites.
No wound, now matter how minor, should go ignored in the backcountry. Check out these quick tips to clean it up and keep trekking.
Treating injuries miles from the ER is an essential skill. But don't pack a medical text: Instead, learn what really matters. Wilderness Medicine Institute cofounder Buck Tilton boils down a lifetime's worth of experience into 62 tips every hiker should know. Read it, save it–and go forth to save lives.
From splinting a broken leg to duct taping a bloody wound, the BACKPACKER First Aid Center is an invaluable resource for backcountry first aid.
These potato cakes are heavy on the carbs–and taste.
Spice up boring potatoes with some summer sausage, brown sugar, and tomatoes in this Italian-inspired dish.
The wasabi adds a kick to instant potatoes, while the salmon is a perfect protein source.
Three pack-friendly snacks that soothe tired, overworked muscles.
Fast, hassle-free, ultralight,–we explore five different water treatment scenarios and the right system to use.
Stay itch-free this summer with these guide-tested tips.
Kristin Bjornsen hikes into the Sierras to meet Gus, a new breed of highly trained
rescue professional that's already patrolling Yosemite for lost and injured
Our restless guinea pig snooze-tested the latest science and gear to bring you a simple plan that's guaranteed to improve your backcountry ZZZ's.
Treat dental problems–from minor to major–with these tips.
Get the bug dope ready: The bloodthirsty mosquito is heading your way this summer.
The secret to long-term health and fitness? Reap backpacking's many benefits–a strong heart, lean muscle, superior endurance–through every stage of your life. Here's how.
A knife expert's guide to blade selection and safety
Frostnip and frostbite are poetic names for a serious health issue: frozen skin. Frostnip occurs when the first layer of skin freezes, creating pale blotches on the affected area (usually the fingers and toes). If unchecked, the condition deepens into frostbite, in which multiple layers of skin freeze. Frostbite turns the flesh white and makes it feel solid to the touch. It often causes permanent tissue damage, and in rare cases requires amputation.
Tackle everything from jet lag to malaria (and those pesky mosquitoes) with our guide to staying healthy abroad.
From stings to dehydration, this fully-stocked kit has everything you'd need to handle a medical issue, even when overseas
One Minnesota doctor and his team have discovered a new treatment that reduces the need for amputations.
Have one of these three common health problems? Stay safe on the trail by taking sensible precautions.
Frostbite is bad news. Learn how to safely treat frozen feet.
Close a wound, remove a tick, prevent poison ivy rash, and more essential tips.
Find water anywhere, make a fire in five minutes, learn secrets for battling mosquitoes, and more.
We'll show you how to be ready to the the trail in 20 minutes, guaranteed. Now gear up!
Want to be a better hiker? Look no further. Our comprehensive guide is packed with the backcountry secrets that separate average campers from true wilderness experts.
When a storm comes out of nowhere, learn how to handle the unexpected.
Learn how to plan and react when and unexpected injury creeps up on you.
How did you get here? How can you get out? Staying found starts at home.
Survival depends on more than dumb luck–to live to see another day, you must correctly navigate a tricky series of choices. Here's how to do it when the consequences couldn't be higher.
Adventure racing isn't for those without high pain thresholds, but here's three ways to cut down on the inevitable hurt.
What to know about hiking with asthma
Your partner can't go on. Should you stay–or go for help?
Here's how to avoid hypothermia.
And other ways to prevent tick-borne infections
Stay cool with expert tips for boiler days.
Achieve peak performance on the trail with our complete guide to training and eating like a backpacker.
Dogs can get hurt on the trail just like you. Here's how to treat 5 common problems.
Long-distance runner Russell Secker feels your foot pain–and he knows how to get rid of it.
You can't hike with a bum ticker–follow these heart-healthy strategies to stay on the trail longer.
Get ready for spring with 3 joint-specific routines.
The latest health news reveals that ankle injuries are more common than you'd think. Here's some beta.
Full schedule? Here's how to work in working out.
What to grab when you need a boost
Nature calls, even in the wilderness. We've found 5 products that will make your outdoor bathroom runs easy, hygienic, and safe.
Advice on kids and herbs at altitude.
When a scramble turns to a nightmare learn how to help yourself.
When you're stuck in the desert unexpectedly conserve, conserve, conserve.
Recover from high-mileage days with these before-and-after stretches.
Learn the steps to take if you're bitten by a poisonous snake.
Things happen fast in the wilderness. It's important to learn the right and wrong actions beforehand so you can react accordingly.
From water purifiers to first-aid kits, these accessories are also essentials.
There are plenty of pre-packaged first aid kits out there but, here are some good ingredients that should go in most kits for most types of hikes. Keep in mind that the longer the hike, or the larger the group, the more safety gear you should bring.
Cardiac arrest is the number three killer in the outdoors&ndashlearn how to prevent, recognize, and treat trail-side heart issues.
A naturopath's top 5 remedies for common backpacking injuries.
Learn how to avoid shady characters on the trail.
Sweaty feet, thick socks, and sturdy boots are a blister cauldron. Learn four easy ways to keep your feel clean, dry, and blister free.
Use this quick guide to determine what type of backcountry first aid training you need.
Help yourself hike out after an ankle injury
The wilderness can be deadly if you don't know what you're doing. Take our test to rate your survival IQ—and learn a few skills that might save your hide.
A park ranger's struggle with the tick-borne illness.
A comprehensive guide to tick-borne illnesses beyond Lyme Disease.
Lyme disease may be the nation's #1 wilderness health threat, but it's no reason to avoid the outdoors. Check out this special report on tick-borne illness to learn how to protect yourself and your family.
Learn the signs so you can get on the road to recovery faster.
Use this quick approach to remove ticks from your body.
Several tests can detect the Lyme bacteria. Find out which one you should take if you are bitten.
The latest on prevention, symptoms, and treatment
Simple question, complex answer.
Get to know the ticks that cause Lyme-and those that don't
Any way you slice it, Lyme disease is an expanding problem. Use this map and chart to understand how the disease is growing.
To protect yourself from ticks-and reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease-follow these steps.
Learn to recognize, avoid and treat poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Start by scrolling through the photos below.
Teach your youngsters the basics; it could save your life.
30 days to a killer trail body with cardio and strength workouts for backpackers.
Fend off a cold-weather slump with these expert strategies.
4 indoor workouts that'll keep you outdoors-ready
Feel good at 10,000 feet with advice from a Rainier guide.
Get strong with yoga poses used by a world-class climber
Catch the hot spot before it's too late
Prevent blisters, hike grit-free, and find arch support in a lightweight boot
A lifeguard's guide to using sunscreen
Hot first aid tips for treating sunburn
Health tips for backpackers experiencing life-threatening or just plain annoying bee stings on the trail
4 techniques to soothe trail-weary muscles
7 tricks for averting on-the-trail allergies
Show your knees a little TLC
Sunburned eyes can throw you to the sidelines for a painful 48 hours. Learn how to prevent and treat this winter threat.
Get ready for your first race with a fitness plan from a world champ
Let our wilderness EMT teach you the best way to treat those gushing cuts and scrapes.
You think thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is a long walk?
Is there a sense that's more powerful? We'll let you be the judge.
4 simple stretches to relieve stiff, sore muscles.
Learn the latest survival smarts with this military acronym
It's all fun and games 'til someone gets a tent pole in the eye.
Preventing sunburn is as simple as brushing your teeth.
Do your foot troubles warrant an expert's opinion? Take this quiz to find out.
Don't let itchy eyes and a sneeze-machine nose ruin your hike. Here's our guide to keeping allergies at bay.
Winter warmth is easy with these tips from arctic explorers, cold-weather experts, and army docs.
A wilderness guide to proper care and maintenance of the family jewels.
Guide to common bugs in the backcountry.
Ten ways to avoid bug bites and what to do if bitten.
When illness or injury strikes, the medicine you need is in the plants alongside the trail and at your feet.
12 ways to get more miles out of your legs.
Got a bum knee or ankle? Better treatments for post-hike joint pain are on the horizon.
To keep trekking when you have the trots, feed your body the right fuel.
Here's what I keep in my first-aid kit to battle the itchiest rash known to medical science.
Trouble sleeping in camp? Try our tips for a good night's rest.
Getting a good night's sleep on the trail is easier said than done. Our experts show you how to get your 20 winks.
Feeling pooped at the end of the day? Try these relaxation and breathing techniques to put more pep in your step.
Nuggets of knowledge from those who have brought their youngsters into the backcountry.
If you have asthma but don't have an inhaler, follow these procedures to breathe easy in the backcountry.
If disaster leaves you deep in the backcountry without any means to disinfect drinking water, what do you do? Follow these methods to stay hydrated without getting sick.
When water is scarce, minimize the amount your body expends.
How to deal with and treat those bloodsucking leeches.
Prescription drugs you should carry on the trail.
Experiencing a sore butt on the trail? Try these healing tips.
What to do if the berries you munched weren't safe after all.
Some trailworthy soups can even help you heal.
How to treat yourself if you gulp down stove fuel in camp.
Tips to improve your hiking stride.
What causes pain on the trail?
Cooking with aluminum pots in camp won't cause Alzheimer's.
If you have a problem with snoring (that is, if you have a tentmate who snores), try this remedy on your next night in camp.
Our medicine man gives his food suggestions for recovering in the backcountry.
Antibiotic ointment, a basic element of every first-aid kit, has gotten a bad rap lately.
Use these tips to bug-proof your clothes.
How to identify and treat swimmer's ear in the wilderness.
We head for the hills to escape the tensions of everyday life. So why do our heads often pound like a drum soon after hitting the trail?
Stop chafing with these tips.
Think blisters are a sure thing when you hike? Think again: Here's your ticket to preventing and treating the dreaded sores.
Ginkgo helps with altitude sickness and cold.
On your next tropical dip, beware of water-borne bacteria.
Even diabetes can't slow down hikers with these health tips.
Water treatments defined.
You can freeze to death and still live to tell about it.
Do you know your backcountry poisonous threats?
To stem the pain, act fast when treating burns.
Soreness and tightness in your shins (aka shin splints) can make every step along the trail painful.
You can add another disease to those you might get from ticks: ehrlichiosis.
Think crypto comes only from polluted water? Your healthy camp mate could be a carrier.
Your daily cups of java seem innocent-until you hit the trail and don't get your normal caffeine buzz for a couple of days.
Forgot your toothbrush? You can still practice good hygiene.
Keep scrapes clean with lightweight cleaning pads.
Quick Tips to Prevent, Recognize, and Treat Hypothermia.
Your 3 million sweat glands can make for a sweaty, smelly hike.
Body odor can get pretty bad on the trail. Here's how to make sure you never again hear the words, "What's That Smell?"
How to improve your tolerance for cold and enhance your outdoor performance.
Smelling foul in the outdoors is nothing new. Check out these historical tidbits.
Use ziplock baggies with your water purifiers for extra safety.
With a few precautions, expecting hikers can hit the trail.
New trail-tested advice for shading your face from the sun.
Unless you're partial to polluted water, don't fill your bottle during or just after a major storm.
Follow this cover-up advice before you head into the desert.
We're not saying you need a pedicure, but a toenail trim doesn't hurt on the trail.
Your finger got crushed between a rock and a hard place. Here's what to do.
Hikes with a lot of elevation gain and loss are prime for getting tendinitis in the Achilles tendon.
Wind chill can nip noses or lead to frostbite. Here's what you should know.
Startling research reveals the backcountry melts tension.
Sore shoulders after lugging a pack? Try this exercise remedy.
Suffer a bone-related injury and one of these high-tech splints will quickly become your best friend.
Tips to beat the most annoying backwoods biters
Other tips to beat the most annoying backcountry biters.
Another bug-beating option.
Whether it's old and dirty or fresh off the store shelf, your first-aid kit should be able to handle any emergency.
Finish foot fungus fast -- and naturally.
Cold can harm in subtle and quick ways, so it pays to be prepared.
A personal perspective on healing back, joint and other body pains.
If you've had a knee injury, follow these exercises before you hit the trail again.
Got a first-aid kit? Great. Now add these over-the-counter medicines and it'll be perfect.
Clean and rub them, and feet will go the distance.
Test to see if your "shocks" -- the arches of your feet -- are blown.
What happens when you go from sea level to altitude too fast? One brave editor found out the hard way, and offers her blow-by-blow findings in hopes that you don't suffer a similar fate.
A simple blister remedy gets you back on the trail fast.
Log some easy "city" miles in your new hiking boots before that epic trip.
Stay calm, have a bite to eat, and remember there's nothing to fear but fear itself.
Nothing cramps your style like a knotted muscle. Here are simple ways to stay pain-free.
Use these specific stretches to alleviate muscle pain.
Fish hooks can be painful and dangerous -- here's how to get 'em out.
How to deal with all kinds of things that get under your skin.
The big hinge in your leg is essential to hiking -- here's how the knee gets you over the pass.
Pretend Your Leg Is A Jelly Roll.
No joint is more prone to injury than the knee. Here's what to do when faced with a backcountry blow-out.
Take an advanced wilderness first-aid course and you'll never have to say "I didn't know what to do" to the next-of-kin.
If your feet are a source of backcountry air pollution, here's how to keep them smelling sweet.
Stay away from mice out on the trail, and you'll stay away from disease-carrying ticks.
Here's how to make sense of your sunscreen.
When it comes to hikers with skin damage, not all cancers are created equal.
The 25 often-overlooked ways to stay healthy and injury-free.
How to keep hiking when your ankle takes a turn for the worse. Plus, keeping them strong and trail-ready.
Athletic tape can still do wonders for an injured ankle.
If you think ringworms crawl or chewing poison ivy prevents the itch, you're obviously a fan of medical fiction.
As the temperature dips, hypothermia can threaten survival for backwoods adventurers unaware of its warning signs.
When diarrhea strikes in the backcountry and there's no porcelain for 20 miles, the proper response can save your trip.
If you take a hit to the head in the wild, think twice before deciding to hike on.
Here's how to stay sanitary in the backcountry.
If the thought of a spider bite or bee sting makes your skin crawl, then preventing a painful encounter is the key.
How to deal with common backpacking substances that are more toxic than three-day-old socks.
Your partner just disappeared under an icy torrent. Quick, do you know what to do next?