If you thought you were well prepared for backcountry travel, even after years of getting out there, well think again! After a quick glance through Mike Nash’s Outdoor Safety and Survival book I was compelled to read it right through. Although I have spent 20 years backpacking in the backcountry without any serious incidents, many of these trips with toddlers growing into teens, I have to say I was grossly unprepared or at least uninformed.
With 34 chapters and three appendices, Nash covers a lot of ground including navigation, bear and wildlife safety, native plants, avalanche safety, winter survival, electrical storms and water crossings to name just a few. Interspersed and highlighted throughout the book are many real-life backcountry incident stories, some Nash’s personal experiences, pertaining to each chapter’s topic. This really brings the point home.
The chapter on communications really stood out for me. If you don’t know what ELTs, PLBs, SARSAT, DASS and EPIRBs are then read the book. I guarantee you will be astounded at how many communications devices you didn’t know existed. Other helpful information includes lists for unexpected overnights in the backcountry, first aid kit and additional equipment for planned extended trips in the bush. And chapter 24 deals with the steps to take after something has happened, this is an extremely important chapter and it pays to learn the steps listed here. While it makes sense on paper this won’t necessarily be the case in a situation where you may be in a panic. Knowing these steps will reduce the panic and increase your chances of safety and survival.
Something else readers may enjoy is Appendix A with an annotated list of classic reading. Some you may have already read but others that look intriguing such as The Last Blue Mountain: The True and Moving Story of the Ill-Starred Expedition Against Mount Haramosh by Ralph Barker. There are also some great historical adventure novels on the list, which would be quite an interesting read though perhaps a little harder to find.
I highly recommend this book to both experienced and inexperienced backcountry travelers. Even if you have a lot of experience I’m sure you’ll find something you can use in this comprehensive guidebook as I did. Even if it’s just one thing, it could be the one thing that will save you or someone else on a trip that could go wrong this year.