Three Items You Should Never Go Into The Wilderness Without

Posted on: 25 July 2017

Even if you're relatively new to outdoor recreational pursuits, you're probably already aware of certain must-have items such as a good first aid kit, sunscreen, and extra food, but you may not have completely thought through your list of items that you should never go into the wilderness without. Following are three things that can help keep you safe and may even prove invaluable if you happen to lose your way or become injured on the trail. 

A Personal Firearm 

Carrying a personal firearm  in the form of a small handgun that you've bought from a gun store is an excellent way to promote optimal safety in the wilderness. Besides the obvious uses -- it will act as a deterrent in the event that you run across criminal types while enjoying the great outdoors -- having a personal firearm has other advantages. For instance, you may have reason to use your gun to protect yourself from a wild animal. Even though most wilderness creatures tend to avoid human contact, you may unwittingly find yourself visited by a bear that has followed its nose to where you're cooking something delicious over a campfire. However, if the bear is still some distance away from you, it's best to use as a noisemaker rather than actually trying to shoot the animal -- bears hate noise and will probably turn tail and run at the sound of a gun going off. 

A personal firearm can also work as a distress signal if you get lost, injured, or otherwise need help. Three gunshots in a row is a recognized indication of distress. 

A Real Compass

Many urban dwellers who hike, ride mountain bikes, backpack, camp, or otherwise enjoy recreating in the wilderness always make certain they've got their GPS unit and cell phone with them before starting out on the next adventure -- and this is smart. But what isn't smart is that so many fail to include a real compass in their survival gear. GPS units can malfunction in off-grid locations as well as simply lose power, and cell phones are out of range in most wilderness environments. A real, old fashioned compass can point you in the right direction when modern technology fails you. It doesn't need to be anything fancy -- just make sure it's durable, lightweight, and comes with a fold-out sighting mirror attached. The sighting mirror will help you to get a more accurate compass reading, and it can also be used as a signaling device

To use your compass mirror to signal for assistance if you become lost in the wilderness, simply hold it up to reflect the sunlight. This produces a flash that will alert others to your location. For best results, spend a little time practicing using it before your next adventure in the wilderness. 

A Water Filtration Device

Although outdoor water sources in the wilderness usually appears pure and pristine, it can be infected with a variety of bacteria and other contaminants, including Giardia. Other risks include Hepatitis A and norovirus. You can ensure a safe water supply simply by carrying a small water filtration device that you can use on an as-needed basis. This will not only lighten your load considerably, but it will ensure that you'll have safe drinking water in the event that you somehow become stranded or lost. 

Several types of water filtration systems are available. You can purchase one that works by using a pump to push water through a filter with holes that are too small to allow bacteria and protozoa through -- however, these types are not very effective at keeping viruses out of your water. For that, you'll need to use a device that operates by using UV light to kill viruses, bacteria, and other harmful entities that may be present in the water. This type of filtration system requires batteries, so if you do opt for it, always take along a small pump filtration device as a backup in case the batteries go dead. You can also choose to pack along water filtration tablets or drops.