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
Strategies for staying alive in flash floods and quicksand.
A scape of pulmonary edema sends this reader down the mountain, fast.
Look around, not just at your map.
Don't get swept away, use this technique.
Don't let low points get you down.
Don't scrimp on survival equpiment.
Ventilate your tent to avoid this danger.
Stay alert in canyon country.
What not to wear in a lightning storm.
Hard-won-lessons and tips about unexpected dangers from the front lines of survival.
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.
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.
Heading out into the woods this weekend? Stock up on scary ghost stories and frightening trail tales in our special Halloween section.
True tales from BACKPACKER editors and readers
Bigfoot? He's a softy compared to the other menacing monsters lurking in the woods near you.
Alpine views and starry skies are nice, but on these unsettling hikes you might see something really stunning.
When bodies can't be buried, do their spirits ever rest? Hike to the scene of this wreck and find out.
Go ahead and hike to this park's famous lakes and waterfalls. Just watch your step–and your back.
Never let your guard down on this deadly peak, where the weather–and spirits–are unpredictable.
With more than 200 murders recorded here, it's no wonder the Chisos Mountains are named for ghosts.
After three decades of silence, a reporter reveals the story he was afraid to write.
Parks czar Ken Salazar talks trails, nixes ANWR drilling, and defends his boss's controversial guns-in-parks decision.
It's never been easier to help save the wilderness–no donations, no petitions, no pulaski swinging required. The only thing you have to do is go backpacking.
Get the bug dope ready: The bloodthirsty mosquito is heading your way this summer.
Use these simple tips to survive the storm.
You better stand back if this Sicilian island volcano starts to spurt.
There is nothing like the African lion.
A hair-raising hike
Baked or broiled?
We settle the debate with winner-takes-all smackdown: Meet history's true hard man.
A gym teacher's speed hike becomes a five-day bushwhack in Olympic National Park.
An autumn climb turns life-threatening when a hiker endures a night in a whiteout at 12,000 feet in the Rockies.
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.
Dodge high wattage on the newest stretch of the Colorado Trail.
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.
Chomped by a critter? Here's what to do.
If you get lost from your hiking party, here's how to get found–fast.
Here are the top three wildfire dangers and how to avoid them.
Want to hike where the most predators exist? Pack your courage and follow these directions.
In honor of Earth Day, we bring you the first industry-wide survey on which gear manufacturers are positively impacting the environment, plus much more.
Everyone loves national parks - but are they being loved to death? Join a star-studded roundtable to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.
When you're stuck in the desert unexpectedly conserve, conserve, conserve.
When you're slipping and sliding, don't let your partners help you. Learn how to climb yourself to safety.
Don't worry about lava. Worry about rocks and mud and ash.
How do hikers meet their maker in the backcountry? The answers may surprise you.
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.
Did High Sierra ranger Randy Morgenson succumb to depression or disaster?
From snowblindness to wrong turns, everyday wilderness adventures can turn ugly if you're not prepared for everything.
Follow correspondent Kevin Fedarko into the remote Utah slot canyon where Ralston famously separated himself from his right forearm.
John Donovan disappeared in a high-elevation blizzard, leaving rescuers and friends stumped. His backpack contained a miracle clue. Bill Donahue investigates.
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.
These dozen creatures are threatened by global warming.
Headed for the coasts? Keep those Tevas handy. Swelling oceans are threatening to submerge classic trails.
More potent poison ivy is on the way, plus fast-growing weeds that will change the face of Eastern forests.
As the earth warms, here's how higher temps will affect our forests.
As temperatures rise, Minnesota's North Woods will likely go up in smoke.
On the trail black bears, skunks, grizzlies, rattlesnakes, and ticks are not your friend. Learn how to side-step them.
Where campfires are allowed, it's important to know how to build–and put out–flames properly.
Always be prepared for adversity with these pieces of gear.
Time is of the essence in the backcountry. Learn how long it will take an impending thunderstorm or avalanche to find you.
Things happen fast in the wilderness. It's important to learn the right and wrong actions beforehand so you can react accordingly.
Help yourself hike out after an ankle injury
Cardiac arrest is the number three killer in the outdoors&ndashlearn how to prevent, recognize, and treat trail-side heart issues.
Warming temps can wreak havoc on snow-packed adventures. Learn the conditions and warning signs that can cause a dangerous, sudden thaw.
Welcome to Yosemite, iconic American landscape, hikers' paradise, and all-you-can-eat home of the wiliest bruins on earth.
Learn how to avoid shady characters on the trail.
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.
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.
Arizona's Havasu Canyon is a hiker's paradise famed for its jaw-dropping waterfalls. But now there's trouble in paradise—serious trouble.
Everyone loves national parks--but are they being loved to death? Join representatives from the Park Service, Department of the Interior, Sierra Club, American Hiking Society, and more to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.
It's all fun and games 'til someone gets a tent pole in the eye.
Why do we bonk at 14,000 feet?
One camper sweats and another shivers. What's the deal?
Rodents can be real pests in campsites. Use this trick to stay rodent-free the whole trip long.
The ultimate guide to greenhouse adventure, featuring 8 surprising new trips, acres of virgin terrain, and a peek at the future of North American wilderness.
Can anyone really know what lurks in the heart of a grizzly? In the wilds of Russia's Kamchatka peninsula, Charlie Russell believes he is beginning to find out.
Do your foot troubles warrant an expert's opinion? Take this quiz to find out.
Keep your flashlights and headlamps alive longer with these trail tips.
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.
A wilderness guide to proper care and maintenance of the family jewels.
Guide to common bugs in the backcountry.
Planning an overseas backpacking trip? Here's a few tips to prepare you before you go.
When illness or injury strikes, the medicine you need is in the plants alongside the trail and at your feet.
Watching snow fall is a backcountry joy--unless it's barreling 80 mph down a mountain and you're in its path.
Here's what I keep in my first-aid kit to battle the itchiest rash known to medical science.
Do you ever have the urge to step off the edge and fly like a bird?
How America's tragedy affected one New Jersey hiker.
Here's a handy tip to avoid wildfires in the backcountry.
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?
How to deal with and treat those bloodsucking leeches.
What's the best way to treat bug bites? Don't get bit in the first place.
How many miles of trail or acres of wilderness will we sacrifice for a tank of gas? Here's a look at eight threatened wildernesses and what you can do to stop the drilling.
What to do if the berries you munched weren't safe after all.
In an ancient cycle older than man, the fires that torched the West in summer 2000 are causing a dramatic and stunning rebirth of the once-charred landscape.
Years and even decades after a forest fire, the healed land tells amazing tales about the benefits of flame.
If you're caught in a lightning storm on the trail, head for the hills.
On your next tropical dip, beware of water-borne bacteria.
Above treeline, there's no easy way to hoist your vittles.
You can add another disease to those you might get from ticks: ehrlichiosis.
Some species look alike, but guess wrong and you could have a harmful mistake on your hands.
Do you know your backcountry poisonous threats?
Quick Tips to Prevent, Recognize, and Treat Hypothermia.
New research suggests that bear bells don't work, and colorful tents and clothing may attract bruins.
Some well-meaning, leave-no-trace horsepackers are trying to rein in their environmentally uncouth brethren. The question is: can they change practices and attitudes that date back to the wild west days?
When you have park visitors asking such questions as, "The animals aren't really wild, are they?" you have a recipe for disaster.
Wind chill can nip noses or lead to frostbite. Here's what you should know.
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.
Its bite is more than painful -- it could be deadly.
Where not to be during lightning.
Why two commonly held lightning-safety beliefs could get you fried, plus expert advice.
If you run into the big white bears, should you be scared?
There are scads of bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- so don't forget these tips.
Ah, spring, the season of the blessed bloom-and maddening mosquitoes. If you don't like slathering yourself in DEET, then you'd better learn how to avoid the pests.
Other tips to beat the most annoying backcountry biters.
Another bug-beating option.
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.
What have you done lately for the trails and backcountry you use? Join a Volunteer Vacation and save the trails you love.
Bears electrify an already incredible experience at Glacier National Park's Bowman Lake.
We love watching wildlife, but follow these tips to stay safe.
When faced with a large, testy animal, it pays to know whether it's saying, "Hi there" or "I'm about to shred your lungs."
Stay away from mice out on the trail, and you'll stay away from disease-carrying ticks.
Believe it or not, poison ivy isn't all bad -- but it's still best avoided. Here's how.
As the temperature dips, hypothermia can threaten survival for backwoods adventurers unaware of its warning signs.
A homemade bear bag will make sure your provisions stay safe from hungry critters.
If the thought of a spider bite or bee sting makes your skin crawl, then preventing a painful encounter is the key.
The mountain lion is the only North American predator that occasionally stalks humans. Do you have anything to fear?
On their own and with help from the government, wolves are reclaiming their former range. Should you worry?
Keep your food away from hungry bears.
Hiking in grizzly territory requires preparation, respect, and a clear head. A little luck doesn't hurt, either.