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Survival

Backpacker’s Most-Read Survival Stories of 2022

The backpacking community is a tenacious one. From alligator attacks to danger in the national parks, these 7 stories made our hair stand on end—and taught us a few things about how to stay alive when things go south outdoors.

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What is it about survival stories that’s so intriguing to us? Is it the how they push people to new heights of mental and physical endurance? Is it contemplating how we might fare if the odds were stacked against us? Or is it the knowledge we squirrel away, hoping we never need to use it? For all of these reasons, perhaps, survival stories have long been a staple of the Backpacker canon, and this past year was no exception.

In 2022, we heard from hikers who fought off ferocious wildlife, climbers faced with debilitating injuries, and people who endured despite poor chances of ever making it home. Here are our favorite survival stories we published this year. (Want more? Check out the latest season of our survival podcast, Out Alive.

I Survived Being Lost For Nine Days

After setting out for a dayhike in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Andrew Devers missed a turnaround and got lost. He spend nine days in the backcountry facing his demons, feeling hopeless and convincing himself he was alone, but in the meantime, his friends and family members were searching for him. In the end, he had to find the strength to prove his inner thoughts wrong and save himself once and for all.

What Are the Most Dangerous National Parks? One Study Got it Wrong.

Don’t trust everything you read: That’s what we learned after checking out a widely-reported story that claimed the most dangerous national parks were the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Great Smoky Mountains. We crunched the numbers and found out which parks have the highest death rates per million visitors. Hint: Only one park in the original’s top three made the list.

Attacked by an Alligator

Facing down a big-toothed aquatic predator is a nightmare for most outdoor enthusiasts, but for Jeffrey Heim, it was just another day at the office. Hear Jeffrey’s account of narrowly escaping death while diving for megalodon teeth in a Florida river.

Their Plane Went Down in the Sea

A plane crash in the middle of the ocean is bad enough—but that was just the start of two pilots’ troubles. This podcast episode asks the question: Just where do humans’ limits lie?

Could Social Media Be Landing Hikers in Danger? This Study Suggests So.

Have you ever done something risky for the ‘gram? What about for TikTok? Or the bird app? Turns out social media might be influencing your actions. A group of researchers from the University of California, Irvine, investigated the link between search and rescue incidents, park visitation, and Twitter posts. Here’s what they found.

How a 13-Year-Old Saved His Dad’s Life

Most of us can’t fathom rescuing our hiking partner from life-threatening injuries deep in the backcountry. A kid rescuing his parent? That takes a whole new level of courage. This father-son retelling will chill your bones and warm your heart.

How to Tell If a Bear is About to Charge You on the Trail

Despite what your fears and anxieties might tell you, animal attacks are very rare. But, it’s always best to arrive at the trailhead with a bit of know-how. Here’s how you can read snakes, bison, mountain lions, and bears for potentially aggressive behaviors.


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