Step one is arming yourself with knowledge about your fear. A solid foundation of facts gives you a realistic outlook—a powerful weapon to combat anxiety.
Get the facts Check out the real probability that you’d suffer your nightmare fate (see “The Phobias,”). Just knowing how low the odds of danger are will put panic in perspective.
Become an expert We fear what we don’t understand, so find out what black bears eat (not humans), what a tarantula would do if you met one on the trail (crawl away), and when and where to expect lightning (summer afternoons above treeline).
Get schooled Preparation is a potent antidote for fear; learn basic backcountry skills such as map and compass navigation, first aid, bear-safety protocol, and emergency firestarting. If you’re heading into more advanced territory, pick up next-level skills such as river crossing and self-arrest, then practice the techniques until they’re second nature.
Have a plan “Knowledge is power. It gives you control,” says Ross. Identify your worst-case scenario: Charged by a grizzly? Learn exactly how to respond. Check backpacker.com/skills/survival for tips on this and other frightening situations.