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Survival



Survive With a Plastic Bag

Keep a plastic bag in your pack as a no-weight lifesaver. Here are 6 ways it might come in handy.
Text by Ted Alvarez. Images by Ben Fullerton.

Fallen in a Crevasse: Last Words

Soon after falling into a crevasse and breaking his back, Ted Porter recorded what he thought were his last words. These are them.

Survival Gear For the Zombie Apocalypse

Our man sniffles over the season finale of The Walking Dead….and puts together the ultimate BACKPACKER survival pack in anticipation of season 5.
Text by Ted Alvarez

Survival Lab: Breaking Bad

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.

Troubleshoot This: Crossing a Snowfield Without Gear

A white, sloping expanse lies between you and salvation. The only problem: You don't have an ice axe or crampons. Here's what to do.

Out Alive: Six Days on a Ledge

Alone and distraught, a canyoneer fights to survive until help arrives.

Out Alive: Six Days on a Ledge

Alone and distraught, a canyoneer fights to survive until help arrives.

Photos: 'Chasing Shackleton'

Last year, polar explorer Tim Jarvis and a crew of five successfully recreated Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible Antarctic survival journey: an 800 nautical mile boat journey across the treacherous Southern Ocean, followed by a 32-mile overland trek—all without the aid of modern-day clothing or equipment.

Survival, Defined

It's not staring into the abyss that's the scary part.

Gear Review: DeLorme inReach SE Two-Way Messenger

Receive messages from off-the-grid locales.

Irish hiker rescued from New Zealand forest



Silent rattlesnakes emerging in South Dakota’s Black Hills

All the venom, none of the warning.

Survival A to Z: Zapped

Lightning injuries and deaths by the numbers

Survival A to Z: Victimology

What does the typical Search and Rescue victim look like? A detailed look at who's most likely to get in trouble in our national parks.

Survival A to Z: Quicksand

Don't get stuck in the muck: Here's how to escape a sticky situation.

Survival A to Z: Nightfall

No serene sunsets for you—your hike went long, daylight is fading, and you feel a knot of panic in your chest. Should you try to find your way out, or prepare to overnight?

Survival A to Z: Mantra

M is for Mantra

Survival A to Z: Lost

During a long day trip, you decide to scamper off-trail in search of some wall-worthy shots of a secret waterfall. The trees blend together and in your rush to find photo gold, you suddenly realize you are LOST!

Survival A to Z: Injuries

Most backcountry wounds simply leave you vulnerable to the elements. These few are serious enough to kill in their own right.

Survival A to Z: Hunger

Out of food in the wilderness? Don't let that cause a real problem

Survival A to Z: Fire

You don't need a magnifying glass to coax a flame from the sun.

Survival A to Z: Escape

Just run! 5 life-or-death scenarios when flight trumps fight.

Survival Lab: Caveman Skills

No knife? No rope? No problem. For our great-great-great-great-great-great grandfathers, every day was a survival epic, and they fashioned simple blades and cordage from raw wilderness. With a bit of practice, so can you.

Troubleshoot This: Sediment-Choked Water

Dirty water clogs filters, hampers UV purification, and makes chemical treatments less effective. Find a better water source or clean what you have.

Out Alive: Trapped by Wildfire

Two kayakers survive a howling inferno by clinging to their crafts in the middle of a frigid lake-and then hypothermia threatens.

Unthinkable Situations

You may believe you're an all-around good trip buddy, but there's nothing like adversity-and extraordinarily difficult decisions-to test your mettle. There are no right answers, but you have to live with the decisions.

Troubleshoot This: Busted Hydration Bladder

Learn to field-fix a leaky reservoir.

Survival: Light 'Em Up

Wet, cold, lost, hungry: In desperate times, nothing improves your changes of survival more than a roaring blaze. We tested every fuel source under the sun to show you how to start a fire every time.

Survival: Drowning

Drowning is the top killer in national parks - accounting for 37 percent of deaths - and in the backcountry, rivers are the biggest threat. Here's how to keep from going under.

Out Alive: Struck by Lightning

A heart-stopping bolt hits one hiker and levels a group of his friends who then fight to resuscitate him.

Test Your Survival IQ: Widlife

Bear Grylls has had his share of close scrapes with wildlife, yet he's always managed to come out alive. Would you? Take this quiz to see how you measure up.

Treat Deep Wounds

Miles from the trailhead, your hiking partner springs a gusher after taking a fall on an iffy scramble. Here's what to do.

Troubleshoot This: Soaked Sleeping Bag

Dry out your sleeping bag so it will keep you warmer longer.

Out Alive: Caught by a Strainer

A kayaker struggles to stay afloat when a tangle of trees pins her boat.

Survival Lab: Eat Out

Need to find food in a crisis? Just foraging for fun? Learn to raid nature's pantry, which is full of easily harvested, highly nutritious meals.

Out Alive: Trapped in an Ice Tunnel

A solo hiker tries to claw her way out of a frozen cave after a winter pathway collapses.

Troubleshoot This: Snowblind

Caught out on a bright day without your glasses? Things could turn ugly if you lose your vision. Learn to prevent and treat a sunburned eye.

Out Alive: Trapped in an Ice Tunnel

A solo hiker tries to claw her way out of a frozen cave after a winter pathway collapses.

Winter Survival Guide: Camp

Humans weren't built to sleep on snow. Defy nature and sleep soundly with these winter camping tips.

Winter Survival Guide: Cook

In and out of the wilderness, food is important for survival. Don't screw it up with these winter cooking tips.

Winter Survival Guide: Travel

Hiking through the snow is beautiful, but not exactly easy. Use these tips to make your winter traverse all the more pleasant.

Winter Survival Guide: Navigate

Especially in winter, getting there is half the battle. Find your way through the white with these tips.

Winter Survival Guide: Prepare

The best defense is a good offense. Employ these tips before you ever leave home.

Winter Survival Guide

Our five-part plan to staying warm and well-fed in cold weather.

Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Survival Strap Bracelets

Carry an emergency essential with you at all times.

Saved by...An Emergency Blanket

10 ways to use a survival blanket

Saved by...A Sock

7 more reasons to pack an extra pair

Saved by...Cell Phone

Dead battery? No reception? No problem. Find plenty of survival gear inside your phone.

Saved by...Dental Floss

A string, several strands, and even the box can all come in handy.

Saved by...Tampon

Don't cringe. Tampons were used by battlefield medics to plug bullet holes as early as World War I. Use them to...

Saved by...Skin Care

How to start a fire and treat minor wounds with basic toiletries

Saved by...Trash

Turn your trash into life-saving treasure

The Survival Issue: Saved by a Sock

"Improvise, adapt, and overcome." Bear Grylls and his crew lived by this mantra while filming episodes of Man vs. Wild. Here's how hikers can adopt it.

The Survival Issue: You

To err is human, but to err in the wilderness can get you in a load of trouble. Here's how to manage missteps and improvise fixes.

The Survival Issue: Wildlife

Spotting animals is a highlight of backcountry travel—unless they attack. Learn how to escape 22 dangerous species.

The Survival Issue: Terrain

Don't let the desert–or swamps, cliffs, jungles, glaciers, or other potentially dangerous landscapes–be your end.

The Survival Issue: Gravity

Falls trigger more backcountry deaths than almost ever other cause combined. Here's how to go up without tumbling down.

The Survival Issue: Weather

From hypothermia to heatstroke, the elements kill in myriad ways. Protect yourself with 34 tips on wind, rain, snow, and more.

Danger Zones/Escape Plans: Gravity

A hiker's worst enemy is the earth's downward pull. Here's how to prevent falls, and survive rockslides and avalanches.

Year of the Reader: Win a Gear or Skills Makeover!

We're matching your needs with our expertise and making over six lucky readers with new skills and gear to get more out of their trail time.

Survival Lab: Gimme Shelter

Losing daylight and don't have a tent? Don't panic: We tested three shelter-making techniques that will help you survive the night. Plus: Three bomber bivies.

Troubleshoot This: Can't Ignite Damp Wood

Maximize your spark's potential with a tinder bundle that will burn anywhere.

Out Alive: Chased by Widowmakers

A violent storm ravages a stressed forest, threatening to crush two dayhikers.

How to Find North

Learn how to orient yourself for when it really counts.

Meet Survival Expert Creek Stewart

Learn to use standard household items to survive with these pro tips from Stewart.

Die Another Day

You won't get far in the backcountry without pushing through challenging conditions and terrain. But perseverance can be your worst enemy, and turning around the only way to succeed. Mark Jenkins explores the fine line between daring and doom.

Profiles In (Dis)Courage: Melissa McQueen

Broken, but not beaten, four backcountry travelers tap unexpected reserves to overcome horrific injuries.

Profiles In (Dis)Courage: Danelle Ballengee

Broken, but not beaten, four backcountry travelers tap unexpected reserves to overcome horrific injuries.

Profiles In (Dis)Courage: Justin Harris

Broken, but not beaten, four backcountry travelers tap unexpected reserves to overcome horrific injuries.

Profiles In (Dis)Courage: Brenna Fisch

Broken, but not beaten, four backcountry travelers tap unexpected reserves to overcome horrific injuries.

Survival Bootcamp

At the military's top-secret survival school, Air Force crews learn how to escape their worst-case scenario — shot down behind enemy lines. With the highest level of access ever granted to a journalist, our scout learns how to escape when Mother Nature is only one of your worries.

Worst Nightmare: Blindsided

A hair-raising tale of wilderness terror that will haunt your backcountry dreams

Bear Grylls: Master of Disaster

Q&A with Guest Editor Bear Grylls

Survival: Animal Attacks

Don’t be prey. Learn where you’re likely to encounter North America’s deadliest predators.

Survival Lab: Emergency Water

Without a drink, a hiker can die in as little as a day. We tested three techniques for conjuring H20 out of thin air. Plus: 5 easy ways to stay hydrated in hot climates.

Troubleshoot This: Burned by Boiling Water



Out Alive: Hammered by Falling Rocks

After an off-trail slide tosses two hikers down a slope, they’re trapped by their injuries.

September 2012 Table of Contents



Survival: Fall Zones

Watch your step. Trips and tumbles are the number one cause of backcountry deaths.

Survival Lab: Vital Signs

When you’re lost or injured, you need a foolproof way to get your rescuers’ attention. Ted’s testing team tried more than 25 devices—here are their ratings of 9 top tools.

Troubleshoot This: Stalked by a Cougar



Out Alive: Trapped by Rising Water

Five hikers fight a raging river before attempting a dangerous bushwhack to safety.

The Troubleshooter’s Handbook

Murphy’s Law, meet your match. Our experts offer trip-saving fixes for 44 mishaps, from bug bites to bad partners to broken bones.

Reel Deal: Charting Big-Wall Movie Scenes

Hollywood climbing: Survivable or surreal?

Survival: Lightning Myths: Busted

Knowing fact from fiction can help you avoid—and survive—a 54,000℉ strike.

Survival Lab Knife Test--The Final Cut

Can your keychain knife hack through rope? Wood? Bone? Didn’t think so. We tested 14 packable blades to find the toughest, most versatile survival tool for hikers.

Out Alive: Bitten by a Rattlesnake

A dayhiker fights for her life—as her body shuts down.

Survival Lab

Our man-in-the-field, Drop Dead Ted, tests lifesaving gear and equipment with ingenuity and elbow grease. You can trust his results to provide the truth that every backpacker needs to know in a survival situation.

August 2012 Table of Contents



Heros: Becca Stubbs, 21

Student and president of the Hiking Club at the University of Colorado, Boulder

Case Study: Surge Survivor

Name: Neil Perterson, 63
Predicament: Swept into a surge channel; stuck in a cave


Survive Coastal Dangers

Waves, currents, and tides threaten thousands of miles of American trails (any within a quarter of a mile of a waterway), and hikers can get caught in the barrage. Headland-sculpting, beach-pounding waves can swallow an unwary trekker without so much as a burp. Learn how to recognize, negotiate, and avoid nearshore hazards

June 2012 Table of Contents



Gear Guide 2012: The Ten Essentials

Get prepped with this core gear.

Backpacking 101

Learn the basics of backpacking - from what to pack, how to plan a trip, first aid, survival skills, what to eat, and basic how-to.

Bear Attack: Q&A with Bear Grylls

The star of "Man vs. Wild" talks gear, luxury items, and survival advice.

Backpacker's Bible: 10 Skills Every Backpacker Must Know

We've created a plan to help you upgrade your trail time in all the ways that matter: bigger views, more solitude, easier miles, and more. Don’t hang up your boots until you’ve mastered this definitive list of 10 skills and life-altering experiences.

Backpacker Bible: Make Fire

When disaster strikes in the backcountry, don't pin your hopes on prayer. Your ability to spark a flame could be the difference between survival and six-feet-under.

Case Study: Lost in the Gila Wilderness

Name: Ross Mason, 44
Predicament: Off-course and severely dehydrated
Location: Gila Wilderness, New Mexico; November 2010

Rip & Live: Lost

More than 1,000 hikers go missing every year in our national parks alone. Most are found within hours, but basic skills can help you get home without making a serious—or even fatal—mistake. Follow this advice for staying on course.

Go Solo--Safely

Read these tips from expert soloists to gauge your readiness and learn how to enjoy an unfettered adventure.

Escape Plan: Reduce Lightning Strike Risk

Tips for lessening the risk of lightning in the backcountry.

Escape Plan: Warm a Hypothermia Victim

Treat severe hypothermia with this life saving technique.

Escape Plan: Use Bear Spray Safely

How to use bear spray.

Escape Plan: Get High and Avoid Quicksand

Strategies for staying alive in flash floods and quicksand.

Survival: True Reader Escapes

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.

True Tales: Struck by Lightning

Bad decisions and running scared got this reader struck by lightning--but he survived.

True Tales: Can't Breathe at High Altitude

A scape of pulmonary edema sends this reader down the mountain, fast.

True Tales: Flipped, Soaked, and Freezing

Two readers shiver for their lives through a cold, Alaskan summer night.

True Tales: Charged by a 500-Pound Grizzly

A charging grizzly comes too close for this reader's comfort.

True Tales: Caught in a Flash Flood

Rising water sends this reader running--and hiding--in Utah.

Select a Safe Route: Avalanche Terrain Travel

Recognize these avalanche-risk signs and learn how to choose routes that avoid them.

Prep Your Gear: Outfit for Avalanche Safety

Equip yourself with safety gear and practice proper techniques.

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Trailblazer Sawvivor Saw

Compact, ultralight saw is a lifesaver

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: SOL Survival Medic Survival and First Aid Kit

Pocket-sized waterproof survival and first aid kit

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Don’t Die Out There Survival Cards

Stacked with survival tips

Survival: Prevent Blisters and Frostbite

Prevent these two painful toe problems.

Survival: Cross a River

Don't get swept away, use this technique.

Survival: Choose Your Partner Wisely

Pick a good partner--or you may get burned.

Survival: Bring Your Own Gear

Don't scrimp on survival equpiment.

Survival: Carbon-Dioxide Poisoning

Ventilate your tent to avoid this danger.

Survival: Predict a Flash Flood

Stay alert in canyon country.

Survival: Lightning Attire

What not to wear in a lightning storm.

Survival: Find Water in the Desert

Dangerously thirsty in the desert?

Survival: Find Water in the Desert

Dangerously thirsty in the desert?

Survival: Sea Kayak Flip

Do a T-rescue for a flipped sea kayak.

Survival: Make Good Judgement Calls

Hard-won-lessons and tips about good decision making from the front lines of survival.

Survival: Unexpected Accidents

Hard-won-lessons and tips about unexpected dangers from the front lines of survival.

Survival: Unsafe Snow Conditions

Hard-won-lessons and tips about unsafe snow from the front lines of survival.

Survival: First Aid Emergencies

Hard-won-lessons and tips about medical emergencies from the front lines of survival.

Survival: Save Yourself in Whitewater

Hard-won-lessons and tips about whitewater kayaking from the front lines of survival.

Survival: Save Yourself in Whitewater

Hard-won-lessons and tips about whitewater kayaking from the front lines of survival.

Survival: If I Only Knew Then...

On the path to good judgment, you’ll find the wreckage from a whole lot of bad decisions. Your plan: Learn from others’ mistakes, and wise up to outdoor hazards without risking your life. Your guide: Veteran adventurer Mark Jenkins. Plus: Guides and rangers share hard-won lessons they wish someone would have told them.

Survival: Recognize Grizzly Behavior

Hard-won-lessons and tips about grizzly bears from the front lines of survival.

SURVIVE: If I Only Knew Then...

Three decades of trial and error from our favorite battle-scarred adventurer.

Fall Hiking: In Camp

Learn how to pick the perfect campground and keep your food, and yourself, toasty in dipping temps.

Fall Hiking: On the Trail

Stay warm while hiking in the fall with these temperature-regulating tips.

Hiking's Best Season: Fall

34 tips for ensuring comfort as you prep at home, hit the trail, and camp in the fall months.

Case Study: Hypothermic on Mt. Washington

Name: Rachel Drayer, 24, and Matt Pierce, 24
Predicament: Hypothermia rescue in whiteout
Location: Mt. Washington, NH


The Manual: Stay Healthy at Altitude

Play it safe against altitude sickness.

Rip & Live: Spiders

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.

Rip & Live: Survive Spiders

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.

Gear Test Fail: Off Clip-it and ThermaCELL Insect Repeller

In this home video, gear tester Joe Flowers goes out into the wilds of North Carolina to test two alternative bug repellents. The result is, well, itchy.

Gear Test: Beat the Bugs without the DEET

DEET-free bug-repellent options from chemicals to high frequency sound

Rip & Live: Survive Desert Extremes

Triple-digit temps by noon. Freezing at night. Scarce water. The desert is as dangerous for unprepared hikers. Give yourself an edge and learn to survive this hostile territory while backpacking.

Prof. Hike: Don't Get Lost, Have a Backup Plan

Bad things happen to good hikers. Everyone should have a smart back-up plan--or two.

Saving Lives: Prioritize, Plan, Protect, and Monitor

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.

Saving Lives: Perform a Focused Assessment

Use these three assessment tools to examine every patient thoroughly after you've stopped any immediate threats to life. Trauma victims are more common in the backcountry; start your inspection with a head-to-toe exam. For ill patients, begin by asking about medical history and taking vitals.

Saving Lives: Size Up the Scene and Identify Lethal Dangers

When an emergency strikes, your mind can go blank. These easy clues and rhymes will help you remember what do to first.

5 Steps to Saving Lives

How the pros treat an injured hiker

Navigation Center: Videos

Learn the basics of using GPS devices and watch amazing Google 3D flyovers in our special navigation focused video center.

Case Study: Disaster on Katahdin

Name: Michael Hays Predicament: Shattered kneecap, dehydrated, starving Location: Baxter State Park Days lost 4

Summer Trail Smarts

Get ready for your summer adventure with these these essential on-trail skills.

Rip and Live: Learn to Survive a Bear Attack

With 1 million bears roaming North America, chances are pretty good that you'll cross paths with one of them at some point. To make every encounter safe, from grizzly bears to black bears, bone up on bruin identification and etiquette.

Tough Outdoor Jobs

Every backpacker dreams of a glory job in the outdoors. Here's what it takes to make the grade for 8 of the toughest ones out there.

Are You Tough Enough?

Every backpacker dreams of a glory job in the outdoors. Senior Editor Shannon Davis heads to Mt. Rainier--and a grueling tryout with premier guide operation RMI--to find out what it takes to make the grade.

Tough Guy Challenge: Call for Videos

Submit your video! Win a trip to Rainier and the title of America's Toughest Backpacker.

Gear Review: Wenger EvoWood S557 Multitool

Keep the Wenger EvoWood S557 multitool handy to cut, clamp, screw or slice.

Backpacking 101: Summer Trail Smarts

Learn to tie a basic, but essential knot, staunch a bleeder, and purify water.

Tough Guy Challenge: Week 5

It's the final push. Complete the final week's challenge and get ready for next week's call to submit your video.

Summer Trail Smarts: Purify Water

Learn several techniques to purify water in the backcountry.

Summer Trail Smarts: Staunch a Bleeding Wound

Use these first aid techniques to control and treat a bleeding wound.

Summer Trail Smarts: Tie a Figure-8 Loop

Learn to tie a figure-8 loop–one of the most common and useful knots.

Rainier's Reigning Champ

George Dunn, co-owner of International Mountain Guides, recalls personal adventures and gives tips about climbing Mount Rainier.

Prof. Hike: Rely on Yourself, Not on Your Phone

Join the effort to make mobile phones safer for the trail.

Ask A Bear: Skunk Spray As Deterrent?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Old Vomit in a Tent?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Tough Guy Challenge Week 2

Build on week one's regimen by mastering even more survival and navigation skills and improving your overall fitness level.

Tough Guy Challenge Week 1

Rev up for the first week of our plan to make you the ultimate tough guy, or gal.

Mother's Day Gift Guide: DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator

Manage your social network from anywhere

How-To Slideshow: Learn to Build an Emergency Fire

Lost and alone without your gear? Don't just sit there. Get a fire going.

Ask A Bear: Why Did You Steal My Empty Pack?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

How-To Slideshow: Make a 2-Ring Retrievable Rappel Anchor

Take your rappel slings with you after learning this simple method.

How-To Slideshow: Learn to Tape a Sprained Ankle

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.

How To: Make a Survival Bracelet

Learn to make a handy survival bracelet with this step-by-step slideshow.

Ask A Bear: Will Music Attract A Bear?

Got a burning ursine question? Ask our resident bruin expert in our new weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Scare a Marauding Bear

Got a burning ursine question? Ask our resident bruin expert in our new weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Do Bears Really Like Toothpaste

Got a burning ursine question? Ask our resident bruin expert in our new weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Is Submerged Food Safe?

Got a burning ursine question? Ask our resident bruin expert in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Can Boat Horns Scare Bears?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Can Mothballs Keep Away Bears

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: How Many Bear Attacks, Really?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will Camp Fire/Cigar Smoke Keep Away A Bear

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Run Away From A Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear Christmas Present

Usually, our bear answers burning ursine questions, but this week he's dropping off a holiday gift.

Ask A Bear: How Should I Handle MaMa Black Bear With Cubs?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Can Bears Get Drunk

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Ditch the Deodorant In Bear Country?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: How Long Do Food Smells Stick to My Tent?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Mountain Biking In Bear Country?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask a Bear: Will Backcountry Sex attract a Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Followed By A Dangerous Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will Dryer Sheets Attract a Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Soap-Eating Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in out weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will Pet Hair Attract a Bear

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Is It Ok To Cook In An RV In Bear Country?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will My Farts Attract a Bear?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Charging Bear Caught on FIlm

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Storing Food Above Treeline?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Why is Black Bear and Grizzly Bear Behavior so Different?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will Cider Vinegar Attract a Bear



Ask A Bear: Bear Steals, Destroys Car for PB&J Sandwich

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will you Eat me In Rocky Mountain NP?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Do Ultrasonic Noises Repel You?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Do Bear Bells Really Work

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Which Park Has The Most Bear Attacks

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Can Wasp Spray Repel You?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Never Look a Bear in the Eyes?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Break a Stick to Scare Away Bears?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Do I Need to Bear-Bag Unopened Freeze-Dried Foods?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: More Active During a Full Moon

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Will a Flashlight Make You Mad?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Why Did You Destroy my Van?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask a Bear: Bear Canisters in Winter?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask a Bear: Are you a Picky Eater? (Video)

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: What Color Are Your Eyes At Night?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Ask A Bear: Scared By Flashing Lights?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Gear Review: Adventure Medical Kits Core Lite Knife

A knife, whistle, and light in one.

How-To Slideshow: Learn to Hang a Bear Bag

Learn to use this lightweight method of getting your food out of a bear's reach.

Editors' Choice 2011: DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator

Here's a high-tech trifecta: Navigate the backcountry and call for emergency help and stay connected with those at home.

Ask a Bear: Bivys in Bear Country?

When I sleep in my beloved bivy, am I just wrapping myself up like a six-foot bear burrito?

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE Digital Editions and APPS

From the iPad to the iPhone and Android, check out these BACKPACKER mobile apps.

Prof Hike: The End of Off-the-Grid

Spot's new gadget adds satellite reception to smartphones anywhere.

The BACKPACKER iPad App

Our new iPad app brings the skills you need right to the palm of your hand with monthly digital issues. Subscribe now!

Gear Review: Victorinox Swiss Army Solider Knife

Snag an ideal stocking stuffer with this modernized classic.

Best of BACKPACKER: How to Do Everything

Climb higher, live longer, and eat better, o.k. be better, with these skills.

How to Do Everything - The Survivor

Take care of yourself in the backcountry with these tips and laugh (or at least smile knowingly in the face of 10 common wilderness threats.

How to Do Everything - The Intrepid Explorer

Travel confidently across any type of landscape.

How to Do Everything - The (Actual) 10 Essentials

Don't leave home without these practical, helpful items.

Reader Rated

Extra gear reviews from our January 2011 Reader Test Team reports.

Gear Review: Satworx ISatphone

A bargain of a satellite phone.

Gear Review: Coghlan's Flint Striker

A simple magnesium rod that's an easy fire starter.

Prof Hike: Where the Wild Things Are (and Aren't)

Why you don't need to worry about snakes, spiders, and bears...and what you should worry about instead

Gear Review: Black Diamond Revelation Avalung Pack

A backpack with built in Avalung technology for use in avalanche-prone areas.

Gear Review: Backcountry Access Tracker2

Find avalanche victims as quickly with this beacon.

Gear Review: SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger

Never go missing with this personal locator beacon.

Gear Review: Garmin GPSMAP 62st

The pinpoint accuracy of this GPS system will keep you on track even in the most narrow valleys.

Survival: Above Treeline With No Sunglasses

Can't see a thing and forgot your shades at home? We've got a solution for you.

Survival: Deal with a Snagged Rope

Rope caught up in a bad way. Here's what to do.

Survival: Injured with...No First-Aid Kit

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?

Survival: Need Fire But Have...No Tinder

When the ground is drenched, look in your pack for dry, flammable fuel.

Survival: Stuck at a Remote Trailhead With... A Dead Car Battery

The click, click, crap of a dead battery is about as welcome as the rattle of a diamondback in the latrine. Here's what to do.

Survival: Cliffed Out With No Climbing Gear

Now you've done it, fumblefingers: bobbled your belay/rappel device or dropped your harness, with one 5.8 pitch left before the summit and three pitches below you back to the ridge. What to do?

Survival: Must Cross a Raging River With No Personal Flotation Device

Drowning is the #2 cause of outdoor deaths (falls are #1), so avoid wading waist-deep or too-fast rivers (a tossed, fist-size rock shouldn't move downstream before sinking), but if no choice exists:

Survival: In Dire Straits With Enough Battery Life for...Only One Call

"Hello, this is 911. Please state your emergency." If you're calling for backcountry help on your cell phone, what you say--or sob incoherently--next could determine when you get rescued.

Survival: Lost with Only a Trash Bag

Ounce for ounce, few items can improve your survival chances more than a humble trash bag.

Survival: In the Backcountry With a Missing Partner

Lost your hiking partner? Here's what to do to make sure you both come home in one piece.

Survival: Famished But With...No Cooking Pots

Doing more (fresh-baked pizza and rumaki hors d'oeuvres) with less (a canister stove and a frying pan) is the essence of backcountry cooking. But when you're stuck without pots, pans, or utensils for more than a week, knowing how to cook and boil water with these four stand-in containers can be a vital, calorie-providing skill.

Survival: In the Cold with...No Body Heat

Fording the river didn't seem risky until the moment your butt hit the water. Now you're soaked up to your pits as the evening mercury drops below 45-degrees F. Your goal: Prevent hypothermia.

Survival: Off-Course With No Map or Compass

Uh-oh, you forgot to download free maps at Backpacker.com, and now you're lost in the woods without any navigational tools. Smart! Now follow these rules to get found.

Survival: Lost with...Only Some Junk Food

Word up to Eric Schlosser and all you other health-food ninnies out there: A bag of greasy chips could save your triglyceride-loathing, carb-counting, GMO-bashing arses.

Survival: Stuck in Powder with...No Snowshoes

Few forms of hiking are more frustrating, exhausting, and potentially dead-ending than postholing (aka, flailing through thigh-deep snow). If a storm struck overnight or you forgot to pack snowshoes--but still have miles to go--save energy and stay drier by constructing your own Ojibwas.

Survival: Crossing an Icefield with No Crampons

Without any traction, you're not going anywhere. Here's how to cross an icefield with the stuff in your pack.

Survival: Lost with...Only a Bottle of Whiskey

Put that hooch to good use with these tips for starting a fire, treating water, and even signaling for help.

Survival: In The Wild with...Only a Knife

Long before satellite beacons, humans thrived in the wild with the best technology available: a knife. And with that one tool and some basic knowledge, they fulfilled all life-sustaining needs.

SURVIVE! The Ultimate How-To Guide

What to do when the you-know-what hits the fan.

October 2010 Table of Contents



Fit to Be Tied: Four Common Knots

From the power cinch to the clove hitch, here are 6 knots every hiker should know.

The Manual: Travel Off-Trail

Navigate across scree, snow, and rivers without getting blocked or lost.

Survival 101

First-aid tips, survival gear, what to do if..., plus dangerous hikes (and a few scary stories).

Get-Back-Alive Gear: Ultralight Survival Gear

Our survival expert reviews five of his favorite ultralight lifesavers.

SLIDESHOW SERIES: Learn How to Tie Knots

Learn how to tie the potentially life-saving bowline knot and more with these step-by-step photo tutorials.

Gear Review: Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Whistle

Get found with this super loud whistle.

Gear Review: Brunton Helios Stormproof Lighter

Light a fire fast, even in wet, cold, and windy conditions, with this waterproof lighter.

Gear Review: Adventure Medical Kits Pocket Survival Pak PLUS

Everything you need in an emergency in one tiny little pack.

Gear Review: Tops Knives Shango Survival Knife Kit

A tough knife and a fire starter all in one.

Gear Review: MontBell Breeze Dry-Tec U.L. Sleeping Bag Cover (Bivy)

This bivy stuffs smaller than a soda can.

Gear Review: Wild Ideas Bearikade Weekender Bear Canister

Keep bears away from your grub with this light and tough bear canister.

The Manual: Finding Lost Hikers

Turned around in the backcountry? Here are 33 essential tips to remember if you or your partner goes missing.

Gear Review: Sweeney's Snake Repellent

Does it work? Depends on which snake you ask.

Small and Sharp: Knife Reviews

Pocket-size tools for every type of camper.

Gear Review: Spyderco Ladybug 3 Salt Spyderedge Knife

This little knife will never rust and is key chain small.

Gear Review: Leatherman Expanse E33T Knife

A minimalist multitool–one blade and two screwdrivers.

Gear Review: ESEE Izula Knife

Wear this knife and sheath as a necklace for quick grabbing.

Gear Review: CRKT Guppie Knife

This tiny toolbox fits perfectly in the hand.

Gear Review: Baladeo 34 Gram Knife

This long blade is great in the backcountry kitchen.

Bear Canister Reviews

We tested bear canisters in three categories: best bargain, weekend size, and big trip size.

Lost in the Frank Church Wilderness: What Does It Really Mean to Be Utterly, Hopelessly, Truly, Lost?

We air-dropped a blindfolded Jim Thornton into the middle of a 2-million-acre wilderness to find out.

Navigate: Whiteout, Darkness, and Fog

Just because you can't see in front of you doesn't mean you can't navigate.

Gear Review: Gear Aid Repair Kits

Whether it's a torn pack, cracked buckle, ripped tent mesh, or leaky sleeping pad, these kits can pretty much restore anything that breaks.

Gear Review: Baladeo Carbon Laguiole Knife

This durable French knife has an odoriferous handle.

Gear Guide 2010: Essentials A to Z

Having the right boots, packs, bags, and tents is never enough. Here, a roundup of all the other "essential" pieces of gear you'll want in the great outdoors.

Gear Review: McNett Tenacious Tape

Repair any fabric with this super sticky tape.

Gear Review: Ultimate Survival Technology BASE Kit

This light survival kit has all the essentials.

Lost in The Frank Church Wilderness! A Video Diary

What does it mean to be utterly, hopelessly, truly lost? In this video series, author Jim Thornton takes you step by step through his bid to find his way out of the Frank Church Wilderness.

Toughest Gear: Leatherman Juice C2 Multitool

This multitool is tougher than any task it might face.

Editors' Choice 2010: Soto Pocket Torch

Turn a disposable lighter into a weatherproof flamethrower.

Gear Review: Adventure Medical Kits Day Tripper

A handy, all-inclusive first aid kit

Gear Review: WetFire Tinder

Foolproof tinder to get your fire raging

Ultralight First-Aid

Build your own superlight first aid kit

Gear Review: Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheets Emergency Bivy

A light emergency bivvy sack

The 10 Survival Essentials

Update your survival kit for 2010.

How to Cross a Spring Snowfield

Cross the steeps safely and avoid avalanches with these guide-approved tips.

Editors' Choice 2008: SPOT Satellite Messenger

Now you can call in a rescue–or simply send the OK signal–from anywhere.

Your Most Pressing Bear Questions, Answered

Real reader bear questions answered by Buck Tilton.

Gear Review: Leatherman Micra

This tiny multitool packs a big punch.

Readers' Best Advice: Gear Tips



The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Risk Factors

Most common backcountry injuries.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Evacuate or Wait for Rescue?

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.

Protect Your Vision in the Backcountry

Here's how to prevent–and treat–three common backcountry eye problems.

The Manual: Deluxe Winter Camping

Don't let frigid temps keep you inside. Here are five tips for deluxe winter camping.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Stay or Go?

Use this chart to determine if you can finish your trip–or should hightail it to the ER.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: First Aid Improv

"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.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Extreme First Aid

When you're miles away from medical help and it's serious: Here's how to handle extreme injuries in the backcountry.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Muscles & Bones

Sprains, strains, and fractured bones. Here's what to do in the case of a distressed limb.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Environmental Threats

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.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Heavy Bleeding

Check out what to do when it's much more than a simple scrape or puncture wound.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Animal & Insect Bites

Though we love backcountry wildlife (well, mostly), sometimes we get no love back. Read up on what to do when Mother Nature bites.

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual

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.

Gear Review: Essential Gear Windmill Classic Lighter

This refillable lighter is a snap to ignite–even with frigid fingers.

Winter Camping: Safety & Survival

Assess your winter climbing risks with this handy chart.

BACKPACKER Halloween Special

Heading out into the woods this weekend? Stock up on scary ghost stories and frightening trail tales in our special Halloween section.

America's Scariest Trails: Bloodthirsty Creatures

Bigfoot? He's a softy compared to the other menacing monsters lurking in the woods near you.

America's Scariest Trails: Supernatural Sights

Alpine views and starry skies are nice, but on these unsettling hikes you might see something really stunning.

America's Scariest Trails: Tragedy in the Grand Canyon

When bodies can't be buried, do their spirits ever rest? Hike to the scene of this wreck and find out.

America's Scariest Trails: Yosemite's Supernatural Wind

Go ahead and hike to this park's famous lakes and waterfalls. Just watch your step–and your back.

America's Scariest Trails: Mt. Washington's Phantom Crowds

Never let your guard down on this deadly peak, where the weather–and spirits–are unpredictable.

America's Scariest Trails: Big Bend's Deadly Past

With more than 200 murders recorded here, it's no wonder the Chisos Mountains are named for ghosts.

The Lost Boy of the Ozarks

After three decades of silence, a reporter reveals the story he was afraid to write.

The Boy Scout Quiz Answers & Scoring



How to Start a Fire With Fungus

Chaga, or "tinder fungus" and other natural firestarters abound in the backcountry–you just have to know where to look for them.

The Boy Scout Quiz

Could you earn a merit badge in wilderness travel? Better ace this test, taken straight from the Scouts' own backpacking manual.

Are You Smarter Than a Boy Scout?

Scoutmasters wrote the book on camping, and built an army of pack-toting teens. But do the troops truly rule when it comes to outdoor skills? We pitted three Scouts against three average readers to find out.

Higher Education: Should 13-Year-Old Jordan Romero Climb Everest?

Romero climbed Denali at 11 and has bagged five of the Seven Summits. He hopes to climb Everest in 2010, but is mountain climbing good for a growing kid?

Which Water Treatment is for You?

Fast, hassle-free, ultralight,–we explore five different water treatment scenarios and the right system to use.

Gear Review: Ultimate Survival Technology Sparkie Firestarter

A waterproof firestarter that requires only one hand.

Yosemite Rescue Dogs: Could This Dog Save Your Life?

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 backpackers.

Professor Rescue: Q & A with SAR Statistician Robert Koester

By crunching numbers on the thousands of lost hiker cases in the backcountry each year, Robert Koester hopes to keep you on track.

There's a Bomb in My Backpack

Could a trail-savvy terrorist hike a nuke into America through wilderness areas on the Canadian border? An anonymous hiker-patriot alerts the White House.

Save Your Life With a Cell Phone

Don't leave it in the car–mobile phones are the latest essential rescue gear.

How to Read a River

When runoff turns a nice stream nasty, use these tips to cross safely.

Treat a Snakebite

Four myths about snakebites, dispelled.

Avoid Outdoor Risks: Win the Mental Game

Even expert hikers can take foolish risks. Stay smart–and safe–with these tips.

Readers' Choice 2010

We want your stories! Your photos! Your best trips and tips and all-time favorite gear! For this special edition of our Readers' Choice Awards, we're using your best stuff to create our January 2010 issue.

Readers' Choice 2010: Submit Your Favorite Skills Tip



Readers' Choice 2010: Submit a Backcountry Story



How To: Build a Snow Shelter

Tents are better, but if the time comes, building a snow shelter isn't that hard.

Survive This: Caught in a Blizzard

Use these simple tips to survive the storm.

The Fix: An Ultralight Repair Kit

When you're trying to save weight, repair gear is often the first thing you're tempted to eliminate.

The Cure: Treating Frostbite

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.



Travel Like a Pro: For the Extreme Traveler

Bound for one of the globe's most exotic locales? Thrive in any environment with these tips.

Review: Adventure Medical Kits SmartTRAVEL First Aid Kit

From stings to dehydration, this fully-stocked kit has everything you'd need to handle a medical issue, even when overseas

Pioneering Frostbite Treatment

One Minnesota doctor and his team have discovered a new treatment that reduces the need for amputations.

Survive This: Frostbitten Feet

Frostbite is bad news. Learn how to safely treat frozen feet.

Where is the Spookiest Place to Hike?



How to Do Everything - First Aid & Health

Close a wound, remove a tick, prevent poison ivy rash, and more essential tips.

Freeplay FreeCharge 12V



Diagnosis of Disaster

Experts dissect the missteps in five recent hiking tragedies

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Mist Trail, Half Dome, CA

Swallowed by Sierra scenery

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mtns., TN

Drowning in beauty

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Buckskin Gulch, UT

Gambling in the slots

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Kalalau Trail, Kauai, HI

Killer coastline

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Huckleberry Mtn., Apgar Range, MT

Fatten griz for winter

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Muir Snowfield, Mt. Rainier, WA

Where winter strikes year-round

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Mt. Washington, NH

It'll blow you away

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Barr Trail, Pikes Peak, CO

A hair-raising hike

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon - America's Most Dangerous Hikes

Baked or broiled?

The Danger Scale

How we rate risk, using a highly scientific formula

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - The Maze, UT

Lost in the labyrinth

I Will Survive

Flesh-eating bears. Dive-bombing eagles. Can a regular guy escape certain death armed with only the clothes on his back and the skills he learned on TV from Les Stroud, Bear Grylls, and John Rambo?

Survival Gear: Ultimate Survival Kit

Want to make it out alive? Consider packing these 17 items carried by a veteran Yosemite search-and-rescue ranger.

Who's the Ultimate Survivor?

We settle the debate with winner-takes-all smackdown: Meet history's true hard man.

Headfirst Down the McKinley

A sudden swim in a glacier-fed river nearly finishes a ranger.

Man Versus Rock

A staged photo op in the Tetons results in a near-crushing.

Fighting Death on Mt. Foraker

Stunned by the loss of his friends, a stranded climber struggles down one of Alaska's toughest peaks.

Lost in the Olympics

A gym teacher's speed hike becomes a five-day bushwhack in Olympic National Park.

Caught in a Colorado Snowstorm

An autumn climb turns life-threatening when a hiker endures a night in a whiteout at 12,000 feet in the Rockies.

Life-or-Death Decisions - Caught in a Storm

When a storm comes out of nowhere, learn how to handle the unexpected.

Life-or-Death Decisions - Injury

Learn how to plan and react when and unexpected injury creeps up on you.

Life-or-Death Decisions - Lost

How did you get here? How can you get out? Staying found starts at home.

Life-or-Death Decisions

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.

Rescue Me!

On a snowy night in New Hampshire, Congressional candidate Gary Dodds crashed his car, wandered into the woods, and collapsed. Twenty-seven hours later, rescuers carried him out. And then the real drama began.

Natural Born Killers: Top Backcountry Dangers

Which is the bigger backcountry threat, grizzlies or flash floods? Find out what should scare you–and how to survive it–with BACKPACKER's Terror Index.

Never Fear: The Phobias

Use this step-by-step guide to beat 7 common backcountry fears. Plus, ideal hikes for overcoming–or avoiding–the source of your scare.

Never Fear: The Fix

Conquer any fear with this DIY guide to applying a proven treatment plan called cognitive- behavioral therapy. Think of it as training for the mind.

Never Fear: Q&A with Barbara Rothbaum



Never Fear: How to Beat Backcountry Phobias

Don't let groundless phobias ruin–or even prevent–your backcountry adventures. Here's a foolproof plan for overcoming your terrors.

How to Rescue an Injured Hiker

Your partner can't go on. Should you stay–or go for help?

Survive This: You're Wet & Cold

Here's how to avoid hypothermia.

Danger Signs: Flash Flood

July to mid-September is prime time for heavy rains in the Southwest, where fast-rising water in narrow canyons can turn trickling streams into deadly torrents. Don't get swept away.



Survive This: Bitten by a (Rabid?) Animal

Chomped by a critter? Here's what to do.

Danger Signs: Bear Country

Hiking where bears are present (that's more than 40 states) always requires precautions, like hanging food. But these three signals demand extra vigilance.

25 Habits of Highly Effective Hikers

Guarantee yourself a great adventure– every time–by adopting these proven routines for planning and pulling off the perfect trip.

Return of the Survivor: Q&A with Steve Friedman

In this exclusive Q&A, Steve Friedman talks about trying out the techniques of TV's survival show hosts Bear Grylls and Les Stroud in the (real) wild.

The Ultimate "Survive This!" Archive

If you can imagine it, we've seen it-and offered expert analysis. From avalanches to volcanoes, this archive contains step-by-step plans for escaping a slew of mishaps that can befall weary travelers.

Backpacker Survival Poll

What do you pack? What's the most important skill? Let us know in this online poll, and we'll publish your answers in the October issue of Backpacker magazine.

Survive This: Separated From Group

If you get lost from your hiking party, here's how to get found–fast.

Survive This: Swarming Wasps

Forget all the rules about freezing or making yourself big. When faced with these angry beasts run for cover.

Survive This: A Plunge into Raging Whitewater

Learn how to battle your way out of a raging river with these tips.

Survive This: Trapped by a Rock

When a scramble turns to a nightmare learn how to help yourself.

Survive This: Lost in the Desert

When you're stuck in the desert unexpectedly conserve, conserve, conserve.

Survive This: Stuck on a Scree Slope

When you're slipping and sliding, don't let your partners help you. Learn how to climb yourself to safety.

Survive This: Volcanic Eruption

Don't worry about lava. Worry about rocks and mud and ash.

Survive This: Sudden Illness on the Trail

Beware of dehydration when a sudden illness strikes.

A Dozen Ways to Die

How do hikers meet their maker in the backcountry? The answers may surprise you.

Survival Story: Surviving a Grizzly Attack in Glacier National Park

On August 25, 2005, Johan Otter and his 18-year-old daughter, Jenna, hiked right into the worst nightmare of any Glacier National Park backpacker: a 300-pound mother grizzly protecting two cubs. Here, in his own words, the 45-year-old physical therapist from Escondido, CA, shares the incredible story of their life-and-death struggle.

Missing in Action: How a Backcountry Ranger With 28 Years Experience Disappeared

Did High Sierra ranger Randy Morgenson succumb to depression or disaster?

Lost: True Tales of Wilderness Treks Gone Desperately Wrong

From snowblindness to wrong turns, everyday wilderness adventures can turn ugly if you're not prepared for everything.

Learning About Survival Where Aron Ralston Outwitted Death

Follow correspondent Kevin Fedarko into the remote Utah slot canyon where Ralston famously separated himself from his right forearm.

Lost & Found

John Donovan disappeared in a high-elevation blizzard, leaving rescuers and friends stumped. His backpack contained a miracle clue. Bill Donahue investigates.

How to Stay Safe in the Wilderness

Retracing the route to people's accidents can help us prevent our own. These 10 trips lead you to the exact locations of disasters from Denali to the Grand Canyon.

How to Survive A Night Without Gear

When a day hike turns into an overnight, learn how to take care of yourself.

Snake Bite First-Aid

Learn the steps to take if you're bitten by a poisonous snake.

Escape From Unfriendly Natives

On the trail black bears, skunks, grizzlies, rattlesnakes, and ticks are not your friend. Learn how to side-step them.

How to Build a Never-Fail Campfire

Where campfires are allowed, it's important to know how to build–and put out–flames properly.

Packing List: Survival Gear List

Always be prepared for adversity with these pieces of gear.

Calculate Trouble

Time is of the essence in the backcountry. Learn how long it will take an impending thunderstorm or avalanche to find you.

18 Sudden Threats: The Right and Wrong Responses

Things happen fast in the wilderness. It's important to learn the right and wrong actions beforehand so you can react accordingly.

Medicine Man: Your Source for Wilderness Survival

Wilderness guru Buck Tilton answers your pressing wilderness medicine and rescuequestions

Ask the Experts: Gear and Survival Advice

Our pros Kristin Hostetter and Buck Tilton get you ready for the trails ahead.

Survive This: Meeting a Menacing Stranger On the Trail

Learn how to avoid shady characters on the trail.

Danger Signs: How to Detect a Winter Storm

Learning to determine winter weather signs depends on where you are.

Survive a Mangled Ankle

Help yourself hike out after an ankle injury

How to Survive Winter Storms

New Hampshire's Mt. Washington is know for its evil weather. Learn how to survive a winter storm from one of the peak's experts.

Learn Backcountry First Aid

Use this quick guide to determine what type of backcountry first aid training you need.

How to Survive Getting Lost In a Whiteout

Don't forge ahead when faced with whiteout conditions.

Over the Rainbow: Finding Red Rock In the Navajo Nation

A rarely-attempted traverse reveals the Navajo Nation's vast red-rock wilderness.

Learn How to Use an Ice Axe

Master these skills to make your axe a tool—not a toy.

Quiz: Would You Survive?

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.

Backcountry Survival: How to Survive in the Backcountry

There's a backcountry killer on the loose, and it's not hypothermia, grizzly bears, or rockfall. The thing mostly likely to maim you on your next hiking trip is living inside your head.

The Source of All Things

Recently released as a full-length memoir, The Source of All Things was first published as a feature article in BACKPACKER in December 2007. This is the full-text of that article.

Essential Survival Skills

Guaranteed to get you out of trouble fast.

Blue John Canyon: Feeling Gravity's Pull

A pilgrim heads into the canyon where Aron Ralston lost his arm to pin down the meaning of survival.

The Big Question: Rescue Tools

If you need to be rescued, is a satellite phone a better choice than a personal locator beacon?

Start smart: First Aid For Kids

Teach your youngsters the basics; it could save your life.

How to Ford A River

Forget bears and lightning: The most common and dangerous backcountry hazard is a river crossing. Here's how to do it safely.

Survive This: Caught between a Mama Bear and Her Cub

Here's how to get out of the middle when motherly instincts kick in.

Burn, Baby, Burn

3 surefire ways to light a reluctant fire

How Pete Stays Dry

3 waterproof secrets from veteran mountaineer Pete Takeda

Water Worries

How much H2O do you really need on the trail?

Good Gear Gone Bad

It's all fun and games 'til someone gets a tent pole in the eye.

Survival Starts With A Kiss

Learn the latest survival smarts with this military acronym

Cold Sleepers vs. Hot Sleepers

One camper sweats and another shivers. What's the deal?

Stone Cold Campers

They kill swiftly and silently. They flit like ghosts through enemy forests. And they will brew you a fine cup of cowboy coffee. Meet America's deadliest hikers as we hump ruck with the Special Forces.

Ultralight Warmth

Keep arms and legs warm with gear invented by cyclists.

My Crest Is SPF 30

Preventing sunburn is as simple as brushing your teeth.

Mountain Miles

Calculate real mileage by accounting for slope in the mountains, and you'll avoid getting into camp after dark.

Stay Warm In Winter

Winter warmth is easy with these tips from arctic explorers, cold-weather experts, and army docs.

Winterize Your Camp

Tips to take with you when the snow flies.

Dreams Of Tibet: Exploring Lost Himalayan Mountains And Cultures

Deep in the heart of the forbidden Tibetan kingdom, a long-awaited adventure inherited from the author's father takes an unexpected twist.

Trapped! The Mike Turner Story

Deep in Wyoming's Wind River Range, an accident with a sliding boulder makes a hiker confront his life, his fate, and his faith in God.

Healthy Hiking For Men: Preventing Jock Itch And Other Problems 'Down There'

A wilderness guide to proper care and maintenance of the family jewels.

Your Backwoods Pharmacy

When illness or injury strikes, the medicine you need is in the plants alongside the trail and at your feet.

Ultralight Backpacking Do's and Don'ts

Jon provides first-hand advice for ultralight beginners.

The Urge To Fly

Do you ever have the urge to step off the edge and fly like a bird?

Frustrate Bears With A Rock Sack

This homemade rock sack will help you hang your food bag faster and better.

Drinking Risky Water

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.

Blazing Trails: Avoid Wildfires

Here's a handy tip to avoid wildfires in the backcountry.

Winter Camping Tips: The Perfect Tent Pitch

How and where you should set up your winter tent for maximum comfort and shelter longevity.

Lost Soul Or Yukon Slasher?

When you're deep in the wilds, a bedraggled stranger wandering into camp triggers a moral dilemma: Offer him dinner or run for the hills?

Lightning Survival Update

If you're caught in a lightning storm on the trail, head for the hills.

Teepee Tent Setup Secrets

Hard-won tips for pitching tepee tents on any terrain

Walking On Water

Face it: you aren't Moses and the waters won't part, so here are ways to cross wild rivers safely.

Just Go

Sometimes, despite all the commitments and obligations, you know what you have to do.

Another Tick-Borne Disease

You can add another disease to those you might get from ticks: ehrlichiosis.

Winter Tips For Cold Hands And Feet

A little motion brings the heat back.

Snow Smarts

How to travel safely across four seasons of white.

Cold Doesn't Always Mean Dead

You can freeze to death and still live to tell about it.

Before You Snowshoe

Follow these tips when you embark on your next snowshoeing journey.

Hypothermia: Just The Facts

Quick Tips to Prevent, Recognize, and Treat Hypothermia.

When Hiking, Beware Dirty Water

Unless you're partial to polluted water, don't fill your bottle during or just after a major storm.

Wind Chill Bites

Wind chill can nip noses or lead to frostbite. Here's what you should know.

Bear Spray: Packin' Heat

It's basically pepper in an aerosol can, and it's supposed to stop a charging grizzly. But will it? Here's everything you need to know.

Lightning Tips

Where not to be during lightning.

A Hair-Raising Experience

Why two commonly held lightning-safety beliefs could get you fried, plus expert advice.

Only You Can Avoid Forest Fires

Here's what to do if you're caught near a wilderness wildfire.

How To Deal With River Crossings

Crossing rivers can be treacherous -- unless you know what you're doing.

Mountain Safety

Make sure you know how to stay safe in the mountains.

Winter Harm: Cold Dangers

Cold can harm in subtle and quick ways, so it pays to be prepared.

American Climber Alex Lowe Presumed Dead

After hours of searching through ice chunks and piles of snow on Shishapangma Mountain, searchers have called off an avalanche rescue mission to find American climbers Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges.

Building Shelter

How to build a shelter if you get stuck in the backcountry.

The Wisdom of Abo Dude

To all the techno-weenies with your space-age outdoor gear, Cody Lundin has some advice: For that day when your butt's on the line, you better know how to get primitive.

Signaling For Help

How to signal for help if you get lost.

Survival Skills: Finding Water

How to find emergency water in the backcountry.

Your Homemade Survival Kit

Make your own backcountry insurance policy.

Survival Kit

Make your own backcountry survival kit.

Tales Of A Wilderness Rescuer

After you've spent a cold, drizzly, miserable night searching for a lost or injured hiker, sometimes a few simple words of thanks make it all worthwhile.

How To Splint A Bum Knee

Pretend Your Leg Is A Jelly Roll.

Hypothermia 101

As the temperature dips, hypothermia can threaten survival for backwoods adventurers unaware of its warning signs.

Paul Schurke: Chillin' With The Iceman

Your odds of surviving, much less enjoying, a -30°F night in the woods rate right up there with a snowball's chance in you-know-where. That is, unless you make friends with a guy they call The Iceman.

Drowning Victims: In Over Your Head

Your partner just disappeared under an icy torrent. Quick, do you know what to do next?

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