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 book, Outdoor Safety and Survival, 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.
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Thorough Overview of Preparedness
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 of Nash’s personal experiences, about each chapter’s topic. This really brings the point home.
Also, the chapter on communications really stood out for me. If you don’t know what ELTs, PLBs, SARSAT, DASS, and EPIRBs are, 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 kits (like this review), and additional equipment for planned extended trips in the bush. Furthermore, chapter 24 deals with the steps to take after something has happened in the backcountry. This chapter is critical, and it pays to learn the steps listed here. Knowing these steps will reduce the panic in an emergency and increase your chances of safety and survival.
Something else readers may enjoy is Appendix A, with an annotated list of classic reading. Some of these books you may have already read. However, others may 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. These would be quite an interesting read though perhaps a little harder to find.
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I highly recommend Mike Nash’s book, Outdoor Safety and Survival, to 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.
Have you read Mike Nash’s book? Would you? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This article was originally published June 17, 2012, and most recently updated by Susan Wowk on May 20, 2021.
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