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Ask Buck

Lightning Rod Pack?

Can hiking with an aluminum external frame pack pose a hazard during an electrical storm?

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Question:

Can hiking with an aluminum external frame pack pose a hazard during an electrical storm?

Submitted by – Alex – Fairfield, CA

Answer:

Yes, it can. Metal does not attract lightning but it does concentrate and conduct it well. If you’re hit, an external frame pack could make things worse in terms of damage done to you. And if the frame and the stuff tied to it sticks up higher than your head, you become a slightly better target for the bolt. I think you are better off shucking the pack during a storm, or taking it off, placing it on the ground frame down, and sitting on the pack. Be sure you do this in a safe spot—in a stand of trees of relatively uniform height, in low rolling hills where water is not collecting, and not on a ridge, out in an open field, or under an isolated tree.