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Backpacker Magazine – August 2012

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.

by: Ted Alvarez

PAGE 1 2 3 4
Safety Wistle (Courtesy Photo)
Safety Wistle (Courtesy Photo)
Refective Wrapper (Courtest Photo)
Refective Wrapper (Courtest Photo)
Laser Light (Courtesy Photo)
Laser Light (Courtesy Photo)

LIGHT
Purpose-Built
BRIGHTEST Greatland Rescue’s Laser Light ($75-$99; 2.3 oz; greatlandlaser.com) is a shotgun slug-size signaling bazooka. The beam sweeps a fan of light (easier to aim than a pinpoint) that caught spotters’ eyes like lightning from 7 miles away in our tests (the manufacturer claims a 20-plus-mile range).

Survival Stand-in
MULTI-USE An ordinary 35-lumen LED headlamp outperformed a flare and survival strobe—with zero extra ounces or cost. Spotters saw an SOS clearly from two miles, and the strobe lit up a tester’s position (in tree cover) from a mile. The diffuse beam blunts accuracy; go to a clearing for maximum reach. AAA-power averages 60 to 80 hours.

DIY
SURPRISE SUCCESS Brought your camera, but no light? A pop-up DSLR flash effectively signaled spotters from two miles. Triggering an SOS could be impossible, but three successive flashes followed by several minutes of darkness still signals an alert. Reserve for when rescuers are searching and you can spot them; flashing drains battery power.


PAGE 1 2 3 4

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READERS COMMENTS

dsadas
Oct 06, 2012


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meanolddog
Aug 13, 2012

I use a 50 year old Boy Scout whistle which on real life tests has been heard at 1/2 mile from unsuspecting or expecting subjects.. I found a small ladies "Compact" mirror with hairbrush at Walmart which flashes as far as any other mirror. I also carry another ladies Make mirror on occasion which has two mirrors, one normal and one magnifying.. I carry Aluminum foil, A Petzel Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp with Red lens which has a strobe feature with 150 hours of blink time..and the real life saver..a Spot II unit...Which conincedentally worked in my old stomping grounds in the Laguna Mountains in eastern San Diego County for a SAR situation on the PCT a couple of years ago and the reason why I bought it since Cellphones do not work in that area to well.

Laguna Hiker
Aug 10, 2012

Nothing beats a 406 MHz PLB radio beacon. Direct connection to the SARSAT network; the only piece of dead weight that I would not consider removing from my backpack.

Lewis
Aug 10, 2012

Don't forget the mirror inside your compass!

AZ Hiker
Aug 09, 2012

Read Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) before you hit the trail! Learn what survival items to keep in your vehicle, how to navigate your way with and without a map or compass, and how to get rescued. A fast, easy read that could save your life and will definitely make your adventure more safe and enjoyable!

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