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Survival Stories

The 10 Most Popular Survival Stories from BACKPACKER

From strandings at sea to grizzly attacks, we collect our readers' favorite tales from the brink.

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Surviving Alone After a 100-Foot Fall


“The pain in my back was immense, the despair I felt was getting stronger. My whistle blows became weaker and my voice hoarse and soft. There was nothing left to do but sit and pray.” Read the full story



“The snake that bit me injected that standard-issue hemotoxin along with a rare and more powerful neurotoxin that quickly interfered with my brain’s signals to my respiratory system. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had to get help fast if I was going to survive.” Read the full story

Swept Out to Sea

Greg Barnes

“Grab onto a rock! Grab onto a rock! I thought to myself, but there was nothing there. The water slurped me off the cliff and forced me under. The salt stung my eyes. I grasped but felt nothing solid beneath me—no rocks, no shoreline. No safety.” Read the full story

Attacked by a Grizzly

blonde grizzly
Gregory \”Slobirdr\” Smith

“She could’ve reached out and touched its snout. It was within 5 feet of her, and she could see that it had two cubs. Jenna’s first response was to run away. She took about two steps back toward me. I was still walking up, unaware of what was happening–until she shouted, “Oh no!”” Read the full story

Caught in an Avalanche

Survive an Avalanche

“Then I felt the ground flatten beneath me. It was one of those seismic shifts that drives your stomach into your throat and triggers something primal in your brain. And I knew, very suddenly and very clearly, that I had walked onto the lip of a dangerously loaded snowfield and now we were in an avalanche.” Read the full story

Lost, Blind, and Running Out of Time

Andy Batt

“I went under for a split second before my pack bobbed to the surface, pushing me forward and shoving my head into the freezing water. The current sucked my trekking poles from my hands. I fought gasping to the surface and tried to orient myself in the chaos. It didn’t take long to remember the series of 5-foot waterfalls just downstream.” Read the full story

Stranded Alone on a Ledge

surviving on a ledge

“I screamed Louis’s name into the afternoon calm. I held my breath, hoping for something, anything to let me know he was OK. Silence. My voice grew hoarse and thin in that canyon as I paced a ledge in the snaking, trough-like exit slot looking for a way down. But there was no escape: Louis was dead or dying and I could not get to him.” Read the full story

Mauled by a Grizzly. Twice.

Out alive mauled by a grizzly
Photo by Todd Orr

“Huddled in the same position as before, I felt the first bite on my left arm and heard the bone crunch between her teeth. As she ripped the tendons out of my arm, I gasped in pain. It made her attack harder.” Read the full story

Trapped on a Mountain in Winter

In November 2016, Tommy Hendricks (right), 19, and Matthew Smith (left), 18, suffered frostbite and hypothermia on Colorado’s Mt. of the Holy Cross…
Photo by Louisa Albanese

“Soon we both stopped shivering, and neither of us could feel our feet. Matt turned to me. “Tommy, we could die out here,” he said.” Read the full story

Attacked in the Woods


“Kyle scrambled out of his tent and yanked down his white spandex thermals to meet his body’s response as best he could. He perched there, frozen in fear, as he strained to hear any clues as to the killer’s whereabouts or further intentions. But he didn’t want to die here, not like this.” Read the full story

Why do we love survival stories so much? They’re testaments to human resilience, and showcase the kind of resourcefulness and perseverance that we all hope we have inside of us (and pray that we’ll never need. We dove into the BACKPACKER archives to present these 10 stories about snakebites, strandings, blizzards, bear attacks, and more.

Want more survival stories? Find them on our podcast, Out Alive.

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