Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills?


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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F - M

Locale: norcal
How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 14:34:55 MDT Print View

So a family member did this and they don't seem to understand that this was a VERY risky camping strategy and that they almost died.

They went 10 miles into the woods with just sleeping pads and sleeping bags. No shelter.

They slept on the ground.

They "checked the weather report" to avoid rain... which we all know isn't 100% accurate.

They have no survival skills. Don't know how to build a debris shelter. Didn't bring a knife.

They were fine of course. But if the weather turned they would get hypothermia and die. It's really that straight forward. You get wet and you die.

They "wanted to sleep outside" but a tarp weighs like 100g ... there's NO excuse to not bring it.

And of course "I'm over reacting" and they aren't taking my advice.

I don't want them to do it again.

So that's where you come in.. you get to agree with me and underline how stupid of an idea this was and I will print out this post and give it to them :)

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F - M

Locale: norcal
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 14:35:44 MDT Print View

Also, to be clear. I'm totally fine with sleeping outside and in the open. But you need to be able to build a shelter or have a tarp.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
communication on 05/27/2013 14:43:18 MDT Print View

First you need to get them to listen.

If you are reacting with fear (and maybe a little anger) like it seems from your post, they will not likely hear you. And maybe become defensive.

Calm down. Let a bit of time pass. Chill out.

Then plan a trip with them so they can see by example.

bill

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 14:59:34 MDT Print View

How else can they beat your pack weight? Relax and see if you can go with them. Better to lead by example. I wouldn't listen to somebody lecturing me. Telling me I almost died, when I had a great nights sleep.

Wet does not automatically = DEATH.

They could have walked briskly back the ten miles and would stay warm and damp most likely.

Edited by kthompson on 05/27/2013 15:01:10 MDT.

Matthew Black
(mtblack) - M
Re: Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 15:06:11 MDT Print View

Wet is most definitely not automatic death. I am mostly stupid and have done exactly as Ken suggested. It's not comfortable, but it is certainly a learning experience.

Edited by mtblack on 05/27/2013 15:12:42 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 15:07:39 MDT Print View

Stupid may be strong, but risky, oh yeah.

All of the outdoor organizations that I have seen recommend a using Ten Essentials sort of gear list, and for good reason. Every year we see people lost, suffering from exposure, injured, or outright dead from lack of preparation and basic equipment.

Every time I go for a hike, I meet people on the trail with not a shred of equipment with them, not even a water bottle. The typical day hiker I see is wearing cotton clothing and no pack, so the most they could have is a pocket knife and maybe a small flashlight, but certainly nothing else. And I see them headed up a trail in the late afternoon, giving them an hour or so leeway to get back to the trailhead before dark. I honestly think they have no clue how dark it can get in the mountains, away from city lights, and you can add forest cover and clouds to make moon and starlight of little help.

Relying on weather forecasts is totally unreliable. Take my day hiker example and add some rain and you have a hypothermia case just waiting to happen.

Most of the victims I have read about aren't deep in the back country. A couple miles into a wilderness area is more than enough to get you in trouble. These are what I call Gilligan Hikes: just a "three hour tour" that turns into a life threatening event. I have my essentials every time I step off the pavement and someone I trust knows where I went and when I am due back.

Navigation is probably the foremost area where some training is needed, although many could learn from a book. First Aid is easy enough to get training and IMHO, it should be covered in all high school health classes. Shelter building is easy enough to learn from a book if the person has basic knot-tying and woodworking skills and fire building should be easy enough to learn. Scouts learn all of these things as a matter of course.

But going for a weekend with no shelter is just foolish. Just a little line and a poncho or a plain blue poly tarp would provide enough shelter to make a rain storm survivable.

How do you motivate people to insure their basic survival? Ask Darwin! I would send them email links to local search and rescue stories. Some of the news links that Eric Chan has posted have been very educational.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 15:13:34 MDT Print View

Let's get a real feel for the situation. More details.
Age and physical condition of the perps?
Where and when exactly did they go?
What was the weather forecast they saw? At least temperature and elevation.
Cell service option?
Sleeping pad and bag. These the only two items they took with them?

Camped plenty without any shelter. Still here.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 16:14:52 MDT Print View

Age and physical condition of the perps?
I see that as making little difference, unless very aged and/or poor health. I've seen big healthy guys shiver big time with hypothermia.


Where and when exactly did they go?
Season might lower the risk, but not eliminate it.

What was the weather forecast they saw? At least temperature and elevation.
If you believe the weatherman, I have a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge...


Cell service option?
You're going to go out under-equipped and then rely on your cell phone if you screw up? FOR SHAME!

Camped plenty without any shelter. Still here.
Lucky man. Very irresponsible to recommend such a thing.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 16:19:13 MDT Print View

Hey - they survived! Can't be 100% stupid.
It's a free world. They can do as they want. It is not your right to demand they do otherwise.

However, teaching by example is wonderful, and far more effective. Take them on a walk in more dubious weather. Have a spare tarp tucked away in your pack just in case. Maybe they will get rained on and suddenly see the light.

But it's a free world.

Cheers

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
hypothermia on 05/27/2013 16:31:51 MDT Print View

Depends on the temperatures.
If you know where you are, you can just keep walking.
Generally, walking will keep you warm, even when wet, in pretty cold temps.
Only 10 miles, is a couple hours walk.
You can walk out if you get chilled badly.
Should at least have raingear though, cheap poncho, etc.

You only die, when you stop moving.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F - M

Locale: norcal
Re: Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 16:33:44 MDT Print View

40 and 18... female. Sierra Nevada's .. Elevation probably 8000 feet and temp usual 40s at night and 70s during the day.

No cell service.

One synthetic sleeping bag and one down.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F - M

Locale: norcal
demand.. on 05/27/2013 16:34:51 MDT Print View

> It's a free world. They can do as they want. It is not your right to demand they do otherwise.

Kind of is if they're family ;)

Besides ... they keep asking me for free advice and the requirements are that you're safe :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 16:37:21 MDT Print View

If they show up for a trip and are _somewhat_ inadequately equipped, then just shut up and let them learn things the hard way.

If they show up for a trip and are _extremely_ inadequately equipped, make sure that they make out their life insurance policies with you as the beneficiary. That will make them think a little more.

I agree with Roger. It's a free world (except for maybe North Korea) and a couple of other garden spots.

--B.G.--

Edited by --B.G.-- on 05/28/2013 22:56:39 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Free world on 05/27/2013 16:50:09 MDT Print View

Indeed it is a free world. But it is nice to help protect family and friends. Funerals suck, especially when you have to sit with the deceased's wife and kids and thinking that you might have said something to save their life. Gently give advice and offer alternatives: coach and teach rather than preach.

BUT, when it comes to recommendations, it is very irresponsible to advise people to go out without proper gear and basic essentials.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 17:17:19 MDT Print View

Good luck telling a 40 yo woman anything. The 18 yo knows everything, just ask.

As I said before. Lead by example.

@Dale. Of course I think they should go out prepared. But people don't all the time like you have noticed. 99% come back alive. No excuse, but the odds are probably with them. Dumb luck, isn't that what they call that?

As for the other questions. Just trying to get a picture.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 17:19:09 MDT Print View

This sounds like how I learned to backpack as a teenager. Those were fun times.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 05/27/2013 17:24:11 MDT Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 06/17/2013 20:23:00 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 17:35:01 MDT Print View

"Those were fun times."

Fun times indeed. My most memorable trip - my older brother and I decided to go camping in the winter. Never been winter camping before, but that didn't stop us. So we loaded up a tent and a coleman lantern and stove and sleeping bags onto a sled and trekked a mile or so behind our house (all woods behind our house, great place to grow up) in the snow.

We set up the tent, threw down the bags and headed off for a day of adventure. We got back near dark, cooked our dinner and settled in for the night. Nobody told us our tent didn't have a waterproof floor. Oops. Our bags got pretty wet. We stayed warm by keeping the coleman lantern burning all night long with the tent door open. Broke camp in the morning and headed back home.

What a couple of maroons we were! Very, very lucky maroons. Ah, those were the days.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: How stupid is it to go into the wilderness without a shelter or survival skills? on 05/27/2013 18:34:37 MDT Print View

Where were they camping? There are a lot of places in California where I never bring any kind of shelter in summer. It just never rains.
If they went way up into the mountains somewhere then I agree they were being stupid.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: demand.. on 05/27/2013 20:11:16 MDT Print View

Options:

1 Let them take what gear they want, but have a spare tarp yourself in case.

2 Refuse to go unless YOU are happy with their gear. This is different from 'they must carry XXX' as it focuses on you, not them.

Anyhow, lead by example.

Cheers