Lost In The Woods

BACKPACKER correspondent and 'expert woodsman' Jim Thornton details necessary equipment for survival in the Idaho wilderness

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BACKPACKER rarely likes to spill secrets about the glamorous, globe-trotting adventures and death-defying survival techniques of our correspondents, but for once we’re offering a rare peek behind the veil of outdoor adventure reporting.

This week, we blindfolded survival ‘expert’ and ‘professional’ adventurer Jim Thornton (“Climb Higher,” May 2008), put him on a bush plane, and dropped him into the deep, dark wilderness of Idaho, where he will spend an indeterminate amount of time with grizzlies, wolves, and the terror of being utterly alone and lost in the wild. He’ll stay lost until he can find his own way out, and his harrowing chronicle will appear in our upcoming May Maps issue.

But if you worry for Thornton’s safety, don’t: This is an outdoorsman and backpacker par excellence, with the skills, gear, tools, and mental toughness to survive the worst conditions the wild can throw at him. Witness as he details his gear list and strategies in this riveting video (it’s a long one, but worth it):

A man who tackles the wild with naught but fleece-lined jeans, a box of Gu, and a scooter helmet? Move over, Les Stroud and Bear Grylls—there’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is “Grizzly” Jim Thornton.

—Ted Alvarez