Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk in the woods down the street or scaling the Himalayas, we all know that there are a few basic items that you should never be without. Even with all the technology and accessibility to the world we have these days, the old Boy Scout adage will never die: be prepared.
These items are as basic and as timeless as you can imagine. A compass, a map, a first aid kit, a buddy – they’re all indispensable and should never be left behind. But there is one thing that is left behind more often than all of these items combined, and it’s probably the most important of them all: knowledge and common sense.
Read any book about climbing Everest, traversing the Antarctic, or any other high adventure, and the writer will tell you that most accidents occur not en route to the summit or the pole, but on the way back. Adventurers have a tendency to use all their focus, time, and energy achieving their ultimate goal, without thinking about how they’re going to get home. This example is relevant in any outdoor pursuit, on any scale, because it illustrates what can happen when we’re careless and we don’t use our common sense. Bring your compass and your map, but also make sure you know how to use them. Bring your first aid kit, but also know how to properly clean a wound or build a makeshift splint or stretcher. Know how to tie knots, understand weather patterns, and teach yourself how to build a shelter. Do your homework on the area you’re heading to; be aware where the nearest main roads and hospitals are. Learn how to navigate without your compass if you need to; orient yourself using the stars, the sun, and the moss that grows on tree trunks.
The problem with technology is that most people believe they can just whip out their smart phone and find out via Google whether or not that snake is poisonous. Technology is fragile and flawed, and nature rarely agrees with it.
It sounds like a lot, but nothing here is that difficult to learn, and with this basic education you can enjoy the outdoors with minimal risk, regardless of whether you’re climbing a mountain or taking a stroll through your town’s backwoods.