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Life-or-Death Decisions

Survival depends on more than dumb luck–to live to see another day, you must correctly navigate a tricky series of choices. Here's how to do it when the consequences couldn't be higher.

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In daily life, one bad decision can lead to trouble. But in the outdoors, a chain of bad decisions can kill, as each poor choice magnifies the last until the victim is beyond rescue. Know how to make the right call at critical moments, however, and you’ll be primed to prevent–and overcome–almost any backcountry mishap. We’ve dissected three common survival situations–getting lost, suffering a serious injury, and being caught in a sudden storm–to pinpoint the essential decisions that separate the survivors from the statistics. Here’s how to choose wisely.

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CAUGHT IN A STORM