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Backpacker Magazine – May 2011

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.

by: Laura Binks, Shannon Davis, and Adam Mader

Are You Tough Enough? (Jacob Thomas)
Are You Tough Enough? (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Backcountry Ranger (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Backcountry Ranger (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Gurkha Soldier (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Gurkha Soldier (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Smokejumper (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Smokejumper (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Wildlife Biologist (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Wildlife Biologist (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Outward Bound Instructor (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Outward Bound Instructor (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: River raft guide. (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: River raft guide. (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Sherpa. (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Sherpa. (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Navy Seal (Jacob Thomas)
Tough Job: Navy Seal (Jacob Thomas)


WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST

Job description Spend quality time with life-list animals. Yes, you better know your way around a lab, but you also have to get around the backcountry. And sometimes you have to do it fast. Like when you’re in Alaska, chasing down a caribou fawn to radio-collar it. Or how’s this for a rush: Tranquilize a brown bear, drag it out of the brush, collect a tissue sample, and release it (always making sure the grizzly is pointed the right way when it wakes up, one bear researcher notes). Kim Titus, chief wildlife scientist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says, “You have to be comfortable in remote locations, be fit, and have good judgment in high-stress situations.”

Entrance exam
­+ General fitness: Hike 2 miles over rolling terrain with a 30-pound pack in 40 minutes.
­­+ Brown-bear dragging drill: The average male brown bear weighs 500 to 900 pounds. Drag 300 pounds (use friends as ballast) on a common snow sled for 20 feet across dirt or grass.
­­+ Fawn-collaring drill: A
caribou’s top speed is 48 mph, but fawns run quite a bit slower. Have a friend boot a football (so it bounces along the ground, onside-kick style), then sprint to retrieve it. You should cover roughly 50 yards in 10 seconds.
­+ Flora and fauna quiz: Identify by sight, smell, sound, scat. Quickly now: grizzly or black bear?





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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Trekking in Nepal
Mar 07, 2013

Treks Himalaya of trekking company in Nepal call Acute Trek Pvt Ltd an indoor outdoor trekking and tours operative takes you that further way to guarantee you has an unforgettable adventure that you have been dream of. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway, a memorable outing with a family or an exciting nature adventure. We, Acute Trek Pvt Ltd are here to offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come.
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Kaki Flynn
Sep 09, 2011

Outward Bound is amazing.

Just to add to some of the requirements listed, it's actually quite a bit more than that to become an instructor at one of the bases.

You go through about a month of training, which includes 15 days in the backcountry with the rest of your training group, before you become an instructor.

There is also a degree of compassion that instructors inherently have, that can be strengthened but I don't know if it can be taught - it is just there.

Both NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) & Outward Bound are made up of some of the most amazing people on the planet.

Kaki
NCOBS, TIOBEC, & DISCOVERY Outward Bound
kakiflynn.com

chris
Aug 24, 2011

i believe delta force and green berets top the "over glorified" navy seals any day!

Craig
Aug 10, 2011

Adam, All the components have their own version of SERE as well. They are all different. Not to be too critical, but I have been through two of them. The Air Force version was difficult, concentrated highly on evasion (for pilots), but was not nearly as difficult mentally, or physically, as the Army version. As for Delta, Special Forces, Rangers, SEALs, Marine Force RECON, and Air Force Combat Controllers (and para-rescuers)or any other special operations units... they have similar but different missions. Most people do not understand the complexity of it, nor the differences. It is like comparing apples to oranges, and very hard to measure one against the others due to their differences.

Mar
Jun 25, 2011

I am a raft guide and it is truly the best job ever! You get to see places that people only dream about :-) I love looking up out of the gorge knowing that the only way out is to keep going...there is no turning back!

Adam
Jun 24, 2011

Wow, way to miss all the other military Special Forces components. Each branch has their own and each are just as physically (and mentally) grueling out in the elements. Then there are plenty of career fields in each branch beyond Special Operations career fields that are not an easy A/C office job.
If there's one career field in the military that's up this alley (this article), it's the Air Force career field of SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape). These guys train all the people that need SERE skills--from pilots to Special Forces Operators and some you might not even think of.
You cannot just pick SEALs because they were in the news recently.

Carl Reiners
Jun 24, 2011

The PT portion, except for the swim, is the standatd Army pt test ( a new one has been designed). You forgot to include the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and Delta. For medical training, the SEALs train with the Army but do not recieve as extensive training as Army SF. Also, dive medical technician training is the same as the Army, and received at an Army training site. Yes, the SEALs are great at what they do, but for long range complex missions, call the Green Berets.

Tawnya Blair
Jun 20, 2011

These instructors are awesome!

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