Self-Contained DIY Fire Starter Kit

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this fire starting kit is something you can purchase as a pre-made solution, but you can certainly copy the idea well enough if you’re interested in a wilderness or bug out bag fire starting kit to emulate…

Family-Sized Backpack Cookset: KingCamp Climber 3

Like he points out, you don’t tend to see too many larger cooksets available for purchase that would be able to accomodate more than a person or two.

This KingCamp Climber 3 Cookset, unlike most options out there, is definitely big enough to cook for an entire family and is perhaps the most complete backpacking cookset out there, and for a reasonable price…

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking and Backpacking Foods

Image Credit:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_31467_-_Meals_Ready_to_Eat_(MREs)_in_Rhode_Island.jpg

Protein bars can only sustain you for so long before you begin to crave variety. While the uninformed can get by on 48-hour trips into the wilderness, there are a lot of advantages to making yourself comfortable during prolonged outings. That means mixing up your diet, understanding how to pack nutritious food that won’t weigh you down and even what to do in an emergency if you run out of food or something happens to render the food you packed inedible.

Despite our reliance on restaurants and grocery stores, you can trace everything you eat back to nature. That means with a proper understanding, you can feel secure about where your next meal is coming from, even when you’re on the trail for weeks on end.

The Basics of Outdoor Eating

Most of the activities we associate with the outdoors are highly active. Hiking, camping, climbing and backpacking all put severe strain on your body, so it’s essential that you carry enough fuel to see the journey through safely. Your choice of activity will determine how sensitive you need to be to things like water usage and weight. If you’re heading out for a pleasant day hike, you can probably get by on a small pack of perishable foods like fruits and nuts, dried meats and nutrition bars. Once you commit to a longer foray into the wild, however, things start to require more planning.

Water is the cornerstone of your outdoor nutrition plan. You might know humans can survive for several weeks without food. However, without water, you’ll be weak and unable to help yourself get home within as little as 72 hours. You should carry water for drinking on any excursion outdoors, but for longer trips, you’ll need to plan to identify water sources and carry equipment to clean water for use in cooking and cleaning as well as for drinking.

Finally, in an emergency, you may have no food, water or both. This situation is when your knowledge of edible plants and water filtration becomes paramount. If something goes wrong and you lose the food and water you brought, your backup plan could be the difference between a safe return home and a tragic ending to your journey. This guide will explore these topics using a few different scenarios to help you craft practical and enjoyable meal plans for your outdoor journeys.

Short Trips and Day Hikes

When you’re planning to return home the same day, you can give a little less precedence to weight and longevity in food. Since your food is the majority of what you’ll be carrying, you don’t need to be as weight-conscious, and it’s best to bring slightly more than you think you’ll need unless your hike is brief — for example, two hours or less.

A combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, along with some protein, will help you feel energized on the trail. It’s best not to choose only sugary options like candy and cookies, which make excellent marathon snacks for outdoor runners, but can lead to spikes in your blood sugar and consequent lows that will have you feeling drained long before it’s time to go home. Of course, pack your water bottle or use a backpack with a water bladder to make sure you stay hydrated.

Packaged items like granola bars claim to fit the bill, and while some do, many of these are mostly sugar. Instead, look for healthy fruits such as bananas that provide potassium to avoid cramps and protein-rich snacks like dried meats. If you are doing a trail run and need some sports nutrition, you can use salt tabs and some exercise nutrition products like gels and fruit chews that contain caffeine as a short-term pick-me-up if you’re comfortable with it.

Weekend Backpacking and Camping

Now the fun begins. Depending on how long your hike into camp is, you may be able to use a car to bring in items that would otherwise be impractical. For the sake of this guide, let’s imagine you need to backpack in. Some of the foods that you would have used in the day hike section will still make excellent on-the-trail snacks, but consider their shelf life if you’re spending multiple days out. Compact munchies like mini peanut-butter packages and trail mix bags hold up well.

When it’s time to settle down for a meal, you have some options that wouldn’t be available for a longer excursion. You will need to pack a camp stove for most of these, which is essentially a grill plate you can place over a fire. More rugged survivalists may choose to use a self-contained fuel-burning unit like those available from MSR and Jetboil. Bring a brush to clean your cooking equipment and a pot to boil some water, as this is a critical element to many camp meals. Bring plenty of water. If you’re car camping, this is simple. If not, use a high-volume filtration device and scout out a water source near camp beforehand using mapping software.

Frozen goods like hot dogs can make a fun campfire meal on night one, before they thaw out and get smashed in your pack. Canned goods like chili and soups make a quick, easy meal, too. You can cook and eat an entire bag of easy mac-and-cheese in the plastic bag if pasta is your thing. Just make sure you bring the right equipment to open them or you’ll go hungry.

The team at The Adventure Bite has published a wide variety of recipes dedicated to whipping up premade foil-wrapped meals. These use fresh ingredients wrapped in foil bundles you can place on the grill plate and cook while enjoying a rustic evening around the campfire. They are too heavy and perishable for use in alpinist adventures, but make for a delicious end to your day on shorter journeys.

A true outdoor gourmand will learn to cook on a Dutch oven, which opens up a huge number of options around the firepit. You can cook breads, stir-frys, steaks and pancakes in one of these cast-iron camp stoves. However, before you go all Gordon Ramsay on your expedition, make sure you know who will be carrying the Dutch oven. These things are seriously heavy, and so is pancake mix. If it’s an overnight trip or you’re hell-bent on having flapjacks for breakfast, go for it. If you’re more concerned about how heavy the pack on your back is, maybe choose a different option.

Drink packages are a fun way to expand on what you’ve brought without adding weight. If you’re camping somewhere cold, make sure to stock up on hot cocoa mix, which makes an excellent complement to instant coffee for a mountain mocha to help you rise in the morning. Serve this sweet wake-up call with some instant oatmeal, perhaps with a handful of dried fruit, and you’ll be well-fueled for another day on the trail.

Whether or not to pack a dedicated lunch is up to you, as many outdoors enthusiasts prefer to nibble along the way to cover more ground. You can find easily packable options like mini-flatbread, salami and cheese at most supermarkets for a quick sandwich option you can munch on while moving. Of course, this is one meal you can cover entirely with snack items like those we touched on in the day hikes section. Just make sure you divide what you pack appropriately, considering what you’ll eat on day one and what will need to hold up longer.

Ultralight Backpacking and Mountaineering

Planning for long-duration expeditions where you need to conserve weight to ensure you can cover enough ground begins to narrow the number of options you can get at a conventional grocery store. Nutrition bars are still appropriate, and you should probably pack more of them than you think you’ll need, because they tend to hold up well as emergency rations. Don’t worry — you don’t have to live on tooth-shattering cold Powerbars for the whole trip. It gets better, and the usual dried nuts and fruit still work for a day snack.

Once you’ve set up camp with a nearby water supply, you’ll want to filter off enough water to prepare for the evening meal and for your company to drink. It’s advisable to have multiple water filters as well as backup purification measures like iodine tablets available for this type of trip. A collapsible reservoir is another great addition to your pack that will keep you from having to refill the filter and put things on hold.

Start your camp stove up using a compact fuel canister and get some water boiling. Freeze-dried meals have come a long way since the crunchy porridge of the 1970s, and you can now enjoy everything from beef stroganoff to cheesy chicken noodle casserole in freeze-dried format. The pouches are lightweight, and you can cram them into a compact layer in your bag. To prepare them, you’ll tear off the top of the pouch and pour in the specified amount of boiling water. Reseal the pouch, wait for the specified amount of time and voila, it’s time for dinner. Invest in a set of lightweight or folding utensils and a metal bowl you can wash with boiled water for easy after-dinner cleanup.

Breakfast and lunch take on a more utilitarian format when counting grams. Oatmeal from a pouch, dried fruits and nutrition bars are probably your best bet here. Dried meats are a great way to add some protein and variety to your diet, and can make the outdoor experience feel that much more authentic.

Emergency Rations

Backpacking and mountaineering are challenging and dangerous, and sometimes things go wrong. When they do, your knowledge of your environment can help you feel confident you have a safe way out. Remember to bring those backup water purification measures, if your filter freezes and cracks or fails some other way you’ll need them to avoid getting sick.

As for nourishment, if you have a weapon and are comfortable hunting game in an area where it’s legal, meat is at the top of the wilderness food pyramid. That doesn’t mean you should feel compelled to mindlessly kill animals, but in a life-or-death situation, the nutrition meat affords you will be far more substantial than what you can gather from edible plants.

Foraging still offers a variety of good options. Many insects provide a good source of protein. For example, when charred over a lighter flame, caterpillars and grasshoppers are not reminiscent of a crunchy French fry. Look out for bird’s nests, which can yield nutritious eggs, and if there are trees that bear edible nuts in your area, you can forage for those and get more nutrition from those than leafy greens. Pine needle tea is a famous camping recipe that can stave off hunger pangs for a short time and is easy to make by boiling pine needles in water.

You should have a basic understanding of edible plants, which you can gain from reading a guide like this one from Popular Science. Many mushrooms, wild berries and aquatic plants are all safe to eat, but make sure you’ve identified them correctly. If you absolutely must, conduct an edibility test in five steps, allowing plenty of time between each to make certain you don’t react. Smell the plant, rub it on the skin of your elbow or inner arm, kiss it and then take a tiny bite. If all goes well after 15 to 20 minutes, you’re probably safe to eat more.

Plan and Enjoy Your Journey!

Truthfully, modern technology has made what used to be the exclusive province of the hardiest people into a pretty straightforward affair. It’s important that you get it right, which is why we can’t say enough how critical planning is for a longer trip. But if you consider the size of your party and how to accommodate for water needs, all that’s left to do is choose what’s on the menu. Sure, you might have to give up that cherished favorite dish for a week, but the days of eating the same meal thirty times in a row are long gone. No matter what Applebee’s has to say on the topic, eatin’ good can and does happen, far from yours or anyone else’s neighborhood.

Note: This was a guest post.

8 Best Portable Stoves for Bug Out

Image Credit: https://www.survivalsullivan.com/best-portable-stoves/

I always enjoy reading about what other people think are the “best” of anything because you never know what you might find and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come across something new.

In any case, the following article discusses eight useful bug out stove options, including rocket stoves (a personal favorite), hobo stoves, traditional butane or propane stoves, alcohol stoves, and more.

When you’re done reading I’m sure you’ll find a stove that’s right for you and your situation…

During a SHTF situation you must have a heat source that functions on readily available fuel to boil water for purification, cook, stay warm, and perhaps even to cauterize a wound. Quality survival stoves must be three things: lightweight, portable, and quick lighting. You might think that all lightweight emergency stoves are also portable, but that isn’t necessarily so.

What’s A Survival Stove?
Before browsing for the perfect emergency stove to suit your needs, it is essential to define what a survival stove is and what it is not. A survival stove can be a camping stove – but not every camping stove is best suited for use during a SHTF bugout situation.

While many camping stoves are lightweight and portable, some are better suited for “glamping” and/or making a fuel traditional meal and to be set up for a weekend outing – no be toted along in a bugout bag. Larger camping stoves do have value as long as you are traveling in a vehicle and have stockpiled plenty of small propane tanks to power it.

Rocket stoves are another top quality off the grid heating and cooking option – but again, not necessarily designed with portability in mind. Because rocket stove comes in a variety of sizes, it is possible to make great use of a rocket stove’s rapid heating capabilities, only on a slightly smaller scale…

Read the full article here

Top 5 Items for Your Get Home Bag (GHB)

I happened upon the following video earlier today and I couldn’t resist checking out what the guy had to say as I’m always looking to see if I’m missing something in my bug out bag–I’m not–especially something I may not have included in my 53 essentials book.

Unfortunately, the title is a bit misleading because it isn’t a mere five items but more like five areas of preparedness, specifically water (e.g., water container, purification), shelter (e.g., jacket, sleeping bag), self defense, a first aid kit, and food (especially food you don’t need to cook).

Regardless, everything he suggests is good to include. I might also include a pair of shoes you can walk in and a flashlight for sure! Not sure why any sort of light source didn’t make the top five list, lol.

Amazing Tire Sealant for Bug Out!

Although this Multi Seal Tire Sealant isn’t intended for legal street use (yet), it sure is something I would be interested in for a bug out vehicle because it never dries out, can re-inflate a tire after many punctures in the same tire, and a single bottle is super affordable! Plus the guy says you can get four tires done in about 30 minutes which isn’t lightning quick but definitely possible to make happen before a lengthy bug out. Check it out…

Bug Out Survival “Cheat Sheet” PDF Download

Looking for an all-in-one “cheat sheet” that you could laminate and include in your bug out bag? Well, the Urban Prepper recently put together a handy guide that he’s giving away to anyone! Topics covered include food, water, shelter, first aid, fire, comms / navigation, and more. I would encourage you to go directly to the video description to download the PDF guide. You’ll need to print the cheat sheet on legal paper, though, to get it all to fit front and back…

How to Survive Getting Stranded in the Snow

Winter is here, and the temperatures are falling fast. One thing no one wants to think about is the possibility of getting stranded in the snow. How will you survive if you get stranded in the woods during a blizzard, or your car gets stuck in a snowdrift on the side of the road? What about getting snowed-in when the power goes out? Here’s a comprehensive guide that will help keep you alive if you get stranded in the snow.

Stranded in Your Car

You’re heading over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house when the unthinkable happens — you hit a patch of ice and drift into a snowbank, getting your tires stuck. You can call AAA, but you’re stuck with the task of surviving until they reach you. How can you survive getting stranded in your car in the snow?

Car survival starts with proper preparation. You should keep a survival kit in your car at all times, which should include supplies like:

  • Food: Keep some high-protein,non-perishable snacks in your survival kit, like nuts and protein bars. You’ll need more calories to keep moving if it’s cold.
  • Water: Store plenty of drinking water in your kit. If you can, store them upside-down so that the tops don’t freeze. You can still get dehydrated even if it’s snowing outside, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Extra clothing and blankets: You need to stay as warm as possible. Keep an extra set of clothes and some blankets in your car so that you can layer up or change clothes if you get wet.
  • Flares and flashlights: Emergency flares can help rescue crews see you even if it’s snowing heavily. Flashlights will keep you from draining your phone battery trying to see in the dark.
  • A spare phone battery and charger: Keep your phone charged so that you can contact emergency services.
  • A shovel: A military e-tool (folding shovel) is ideal because it takes up very little space when folded. You’ll need to keep your tailpipe clear of snow and other obstructions if you’re planning on running the car to stay warm. If the exhaust pipe gets blocked, it can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the car.

The key is to stay warm until the tow truck or other rescue services can arrive. You can run the car to keep warm, but make sure that the tailpipe is clear. Car interiors aren’t very good at conserving heat, so if you’re worried about running out of gas, just run the car until it’s warm, then shut it off. Turning the car on for short periods will conserve fuel while helping to keep you warm.

Try to remove the snow around and underneath your tires, as well as the snow in front of your car, as much as you can. Then, try to move the vehicle forward and back slowly, a few feet at a time, to see if you can get enough traction to get yourself out of the snow and back onto the road. If you’ve got a few people in the car, you may be able to get yourself un-stuck with some old-fashioned elbow grease.

You can give yourself more traction with sand or kitty litter too. Just make sure you’re using something natural — you’re not going to be picking it up afterward.

[Editor’s note: A come-a-long could be a useful tool for this very purpose.]

Keep snow chains or other traction tools in your survival kit as well. It might be cold outside, but adding chains to your tires is a lot better than staying out in the cold for hours or days on end.

Stranded in the Woods

Camping or hiking in the winter can be fantastic, but getting stranded in a blizzard can be dangerous. The key to survival here is to have the right equipment. You’ll need four primary things to survive if you’re stranded in the wilderness— food, water, shelter and warmth. If you’re camping or hiking, chances are you have at least two of those things. If you don’t have water, melting snow over a campfire is a useful alternative.

You should know that shelter is essential if you’re hiking or stranded without a tent. A proper shelter will help protect you from the wind and keep you a little bit warmer while you ride out the storm. If you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, building a shelter should be your first priority. Look for downed branches, especially those from coniferous trees that still have a lot of foliage on them. You can use them to build a lean-to in a sheltered area to protect you.

If the snow is deep enough, don’t hesitate to start digging. Snow insulates and can help keep you warm and out of the wind. Just make sure the roof of your snow structure is strong enough that it won’t collapse and trap you inside. You can even dig a trench in the snow just large enough for you and top it with the branches you found.

Your second priority is to build a fire, which serves two purposes: to keep you warm–which is vital in these situations–and the smoke from your fire can help rescuers or passers-by narrow in on your location.

Doing so can be difficult in the wintertime because most of the dead wood is wet from the snow, but if you can get a good fire started, you should be able to dry out most anything. You’ll need a firestarter (the Swedish Light My Fire firesteel is good). If you smoke and have a Bic lighter in your pocket, you should be covered. If you don’t usually carry a lighter, starting a fire with wet wood can be nearly impossible. It might be a good skill to practice when you’re not in a survival situation.

Significant Health Hazards in the Winter Woods

Be aware of the two most significant health hazards that come from wintertime survival situations — hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia is the condition that occurs when your body temperature drops too low. You’ll start to shiver uncontrollably — it’s your body’s natural way of trying to warm you up — and you may begin to get confused or have trouble thinking. You’ll know it’s progressed to severe hypothermia if you stop shivering. At this point, your body has used up your energy reserves and can’t keep you warm any longer. At this stage, medical intervention is needed.

Frostbite occurs when the tissue in your extremities or any exposed areas freezes. The water in your cells turns to ice crystals, causing the cells to burst. Severe frostbite can even require amputation. Stay as covered as possible, and take the time to warm up your fingers and toes, especially if they start to tingle or the flesh starts to feel hard.

If you know you’re going to be out in the woods, investing in some self-heating clothing which can help keep you warm no matter how cold it gets. If you’re going to be out in the snow fora while, or you find yourself stranded, this gear ends up being worth every penny.

Once you have a shelter and a fire, it’s time to start thinking about food and water. There are plenty of foods you can forage for in the winter time. Just be sure you double and triple check anything you harvest to be sure that it’s not poisonous.

Stranded at Home

Weathering a winter storm at home might not seem like the hardest thing in the world to do, but if the power goes out and with it your heat, it can quickly become a survival situation.

Keep a storm preparation kit in your home at all times. It will be similar to the one that we listed above in the section about getting stranded in your car, with a few notable differences:

  • Water: You might be able to get by with a few water bottles in your car, but at home, you’ll need more. Plan on one gallon of water per person per day for the duration of the storm. Half of that is for drinking, and the other half is for hygiene needs.
  • Battery or crank-powered weather radio: Keep track of the storm and changes in the weather with a radio that’s tuned in to your local NOAA station.
  • Diapers, formula and other infant supplies: If you have a baby in the home, keep everything they’ll need in your emergency kit.
  • Pet supplies: The same rule goes for pets. Make sure you have everything they could need for the duration of the storm.
  • Prescription medications: If anyone in your household relies on prescription medications, make sure you have a sufficient supply on hand before the storm hits.
  • Flashlights and lanterns: If the power goes out and it’s storming outside, these tools can make it easier to see.

The most important thing to do during a winter storm–especially if the power goes out–is to stay warm, fed and well-hydrated. In most cases, all you can do is wait it out.

If the power is likely to go out, consider investing in a generator to keep your lights, heat and other appliances running until power is restored. Always place the generator outside, and make sure it’s clear of snow and other obstructions before starting it up. Don’t plug your generator into your home’s main power though as doing so can create dangerous feedback for linemen who are trying to restore power after the storm.

Further Steps to Take While Waiting at Home

Unless you have a fireplace, don’t start a fire in the house. If you do have a fireplace, make sure the chimney isn’t blocked by snow for some odd reason. Otherwise, the smoke and CO2 can start building up to dangerous levels inside your home since it will have nowhere else to go.

[Editor’s note: ALWAYS have a quality battery-powered CO2 alarm if you have a fireplace or any gas appliances… it could save your life!]

Keep each room closed, primarily if you’re relying on a fireplace or portable space heaters to keep warm, and try to avoid going outside if at all possible. Homes are designed to maintain their internal temperature, but opening doors let in more cold air which then must be needlessly heated. Besides, it’s usually safer to stay inside during a winter storm anyway.

Remember to be aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia even at home. Make sure to stay dry. You might sweat or get wet from moving snow away from the door or generator. If you do, change your clothes immediately upon coming inside! Wet clothing pulls more heat away from the body, increasing your risk of hypothermia.

When you’re sheltering at home, the best thing you can do is stay warm, stay hydrated and wait for the storm to pass. Electric companies sometimes can’t work to restore power until the storm is over, so be prepared to remain in place even after the sun comes out and the storm dies down.

Take the time to check on your neighbors once it’s safe to do so as well. Young children and the elderly are more at risk during a winter storm, so if you can safely walk to the neighbors’ house then it might be worth it to check on them and make sure they’re warm and have plenty of food and water.

Staying Safe in the Worst Circumstances

No one wants to think about getting stranded in the snow, but it does happen. The best thing you can do, in any of these situations, is to be prepared for it. Set up an emergency kit in your car and home. Keep a small survival kit — with supplies like matches, a knife, a saw and some high-protein snacks — on your person or in a vehicle at all times. If you’re heading out into the wilderness, be prepared. Have proper clothing, and remember the four most important things that you need — food, water, shelter and warmth.

Winter is here–ready or not–and the snow has already started to fall. Being prepared for such a situation can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. Take the time to prepare now, before you need any of these supplies or survival skills. Wintertime is beautiful, but without the proper preparation, it can also be deadly. Stay safe out there.

[Editor’s note: This was a guest post.]

Beware: 5 Dangers You May Encounter in the Woods (and what to do about it)

Image Credit

Who doesn’t love a good trip into the wild? Whether you’re hiking, kayaking down a river, camping for the night, or doing some other manner of outdoor activity, it can be therapeutic to unwind in the great outdoors. Many of us crave that escape from society to spend time out in the quiet, desolate expanse of the world. There are no loud noises and bad smells… well, for the most part. There’s no dealing with light pollution, so you can get a great look at the stars. The air is clean and fresh.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Although the human race has collectively spent millennia outdoors, it’s no secret that many have lost their lives due to poor planning and mistakes. Problems like running out of food or water, or dealing with extreme temperature changes — read hypothermia — can lead to severe bodily harm if not death.

If you’re not careful, the wilderness is not a forgiving place, and it’s relatively easy to make a mistake that can put you in danger. Make a wrong turn during a hike, and you could end up lost for days or running low on supplies. Forget to pack the supplies for a fire, and you could be forced to endure a long, cold night. It’s even worse dealing with a cold night if you’ve slipped and fallen in some water. Forget to dispose of your food scraps properly, and a bear could wander into your camp.

We could drone on for days about how many potential dangers you face out there in the wide open expanse of the wild. However, it makes more sense to discuss the most common dangers — things you may very well come face to face if you spent enough time out in the woods.

1. Snakes, Bears and Wolves — Oh My!

Although it certainly feels like it when there are few humans around, you’re never alone in the woods. There’s always a chance you might come across an animal. There are plenty of small ones like porcupines, skunks and possums out there, but there are some big ones that can be dangerous too.

Bears are incredibly dangerous. If you don’t bury your trash, leave half-consumed foods laying out and do not follow proper hygiene you might have one stumble into your camp. The same is true of wolves and coyotes, especially at dusk and late at night.

If you come across a large animal, don’t panic. Do your best to keep your distance, try not to attract their attention, and always keep them in sight.

Depending on where you’re hiking or visiting, snakes may also be a concern. Some, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and water moccasins, are poisonous. Always check your sleeping bag before climbing in, even if it’s inside a tent or sealed area.

If you are bitten, stung or attacked and you think the creature might be poisonous — usually, you’ll see some discoloration at the wound — it’s important to get to a hospital as soon as possible. While waiting for help to arrive, follow proper poison protocols. Clean and cover the wound, but don’t flush it with water. Remove all tight clothing and jewelry before you begin to swell, and keep the wound at or below where your heart is if possible. Don’t cut the wound, try to suck out the venom, apply a tourniquet or apply ice to the area. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, as they can speed up your body’s absorption of the venom.

2. Plants, Berries and Mushrooms

Berries often look downright delicious at first glance, adorned in vivid red and purple hues. But some are incredibly dangerous if eaten. The same is true of mushrooms and a variety of other plants you might come across.

Unless you’re expressly trained in spotting these types of foods, you should avoid them altogether. Foraging can be dangerous if you are inexperienced.

It’s entirely possible something you eat won’t hurt you in the short term, but mess with the wrong poison, psychotropic or chemical, and you could find yourself debilitated in the middle of nowhere with no help and no motor skills to seek it.

Oh, and let’s not talk about how foraged foods can sometimes contain parasites. That’s nightmare fuel for sure.

3. Insects Can Be More Than a Nuisance

Bugs can be annoying, but there’s a lot more out in the wilderness than just bugs that are a nuisance. Even some common insects can pose a risk. Mosquitoes, for instance, can carry deadly diseases like malaria, West Nile Virus and Zika.

Other potentially danger insects include spiders — some of which are poisonous — ants, fleas, ticks, hornets, bees and wasps. If you’re allergic to any of these insects, which you may not be aware of before you come into contact with them, those dangers increase tenfold.

It’s hard to believe but bugs can be and are one of the most dangerous things you’ll experience in the great outdoors, and they also happen to be incredibly common. That’s why it’s vital you take the necessary precautions regardless of where you’re traveling or visiting.

Insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin can help considerably, but you must remember to reapply it regularly throughout your trip. You can also apply creams, essential oils and several forms of mint to deter insects more naturally. Before climbing into your sleeping bag check it and your body for insects — ticks are easy to miss. If you do find a tick burrowed in your skin, remove it immediately. If you get insect bites, clean and protect them as soon as possible. If a poisonous insect bites you, you need to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Smoke also helps deter insects. Some outdoors enthusiasts will light a cigar or use smoke-creating plants and materials to scare off the bugs. These are sometimes useful strategies, but they also come with significant risks. Both of these methods have the potential for creating a wildfire and causing severe damage to the surrounding forest. It’s probably best to stick with the tried and true methods for deterring insects — liquid or cream based repellents.

4. Dangerous Weather and Temperatures

One of the most common mistakes that people make when visiting the wild is that they do not properly prepare for the local temperatures and weather. In certain places, for instance, the temperature can drop dangerously low after dark, despite being comfortable enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt during the day.

It’s always essential that you pack the appropriate clothing and protective gear, even if you’re not expecting inclement weather. Hypothermia can set on quickly, even after something like a cold rain. It doesn’t have to be the winter, and there doesn’t have to be any snow present. Having your body exposed to the wet and cold can have serious repercussions.

The opposite is true, as well. In areas where extreme heat is present, or where there’s constant exposure to the sun, it’s important you stay hydrated and properly rested. Take a few moments here and there to sit down in the shade, and be sure to continue drinking water — not sugary drinks, alcohol or other beverages. Drink at least one liter of water an hour, more if you’re sweating profusely. You should also cover your head and face and wear sunscreen if you’re going to be in the direct sunlight for an extended period. These practices will go a long way toward keeping your body cool and comfortable in the hot climates.

Furthermore, be mindful about your surroundings at all times. For instance, when setting up camp try to avoid placing your tent in low-lying areas or near water. It’s possible during a storm that the water will rise, and if you’re sleeping inside, that could prove deadly. Try to find camp areas that are on relatively high ground and ensure you have ample space to build a fire and remain dry.

If you do fall in the water or get wet, be sure to dry off as soon as possible. You should change your clothes and then sit around a fire or get into a sleeping bag or under a blanket. Worst case scenario, you can huddle next to someone in your party to share body warmth.

5. Watch Out for Fire Hazards

In a thick forest, fire can be absolutely devastating. When a fire spreads, it can happen fast — so fast that you have little time to react. We’ve seen this happen in some of the recent major fires like the one in Tennessee that consumed 100 acres or the ones raging in California right now.

You might not be the source of the fire, so keep that in mind. Also, it’s entirely possible to plan a trip, and visit a location without ever knowing there’s a potential threat. You could set up your camp or hike through an area only to find yourself trapped by a wildfire.

Of course, it’s also important that you follow proper safety measures when building campfires. You don’t want to cause a wildfire, which happens more than you might think.

Always build your fire at a safe distance from flammable objects like your tent or underbrush. If you can find an existing campfire ring or location, it’s best to use that space instead of creating a new one. If none are available. Surround your fire with stones or dig a small pit to keep it contained. Never use accelerants or fuel in the fire, and try to keep papers, liquids and other debris away.

You should also inspect the area thoroughly, checking for overhanging branches, trees and dry foliage. Store any extra wood and other materials you plan to use at a distance from the fire.

As for what you use to light the fire, paper is out. Never use paper as a fuel source. If you do light the fire with a match, be absolutely sure the match is out before disposing of it. Never throw a spent match into the underbrush or nearby foliage. If you have extra water handy then spread it around the edges of the fire to keep the nearby ground moist. This helps contain the flames. You should also use water to douse the fire when you’re all finished.

Never leave a campfire unattended, as a breeze or wind could easily blow embers and debris into the surrounding area and spark a larger flame.

After dousing a fire with water, use a stick or pole to stir the embers and ashes. This helps ensure that any stray coals are not still lit.

Ultimately, if you have a small camping stove or cooking station available, it might be better to use that instead of a conventional fire. But it’s not always possible to have these tools handy, so just be sure to stay safe and attentive.

Have Fun, But Don’t Be Reckless

By now, you’ve surely noticed that many of the dangers discussed are fairly common and would be easy to avoid or prevent so long as you are vigilant and careful. While having fun and enjoying the great outdoors should always be the focus of any trip, that doesn’t mean you should be reckless. Often, the people that are careless when spending time outdoors are the ones that either find themselves hurt and in danger or lose their lives altogether.

In addition, there are also many tips that haven’t been discussed here including packing the right amount of food and water, staying aware of your surroundings so you don’t get lost, choosing the appropriate hiking and camping locations, and wearing clearly visible gear to alert any hunters in the vicinity of your presence.

Be smart and careful when you’re out in the woods so that you can enjoy your trip and get home safe.

[Note: This was a guest post.]