Wilderness preparedness: What should I carry on a day hike?


In this video, Michael Neiger talks about signal mirrors.

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — Warm weekends are drawing people pent-up during the pandemic out to explore nature, but before you embark on that backpacking or hiking trip, you may want to check out these must-haves when it comes to preparedness.

Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue (MibSAR) is a civilian, all-volunteer special operations group (LRSOG) that works on unsolved long-term missing person cases and cold-case murder investigations that other work on has been suspended by the agency of jurisdiction.

President of MibSAR, Michael Neiger, has multiple certifications from the National Association for Search and Rescue including SAR Tech I and Crew Leader certifications.

Neiger says no one plans to get lost or injured on a trail, so preparedness is essential.

“I see a lot of people out carrying nothing, they’re either out for an hour [or] sometimes they’re out for a half a day and maybe they just have a water bottle and granola bar, so I would say no one plans on getting lost,” said Neiger. “You know if we know we’re going to get lost we would certainly be carrying a ton of stuff.”

If it’s late in the day or you’re not on a populated trail, carrying the ten essentials can come in handy in case of an emergency.

“These should be on your person whether they’re possibly in your pocket – which would be good in case you got separated from your pack – but otherwise they should be in your pack,” said Neiger. “A common item is a shelter, an emergency blanket, it’s good if it’s reflective on one side for signaling and reflecting your heat back to you and it’s also good if the other side is really bright like a bright orange, both of those work really good for conserving your heat and also allowing search and rescues to spot you easily.”

Michael Neiger talks about some tools for starting a fire.

Learning about survival resources is possible to do online for free, by reading books or even taking a class.

“Classes are good especially if they’re taught by someone who’s really knowledgable in the field. I highly recommend that but you can do a lot of self-study,” said Neiger.

The ten essentials include fire-starting devices, a repair kit (duct tape, knife, screwdriver and scissors), navigation tools (compass and map), emergency shelter, sun protection, personal insulation (hat, jacket, rain gear, etc.), flashlight, first aid supplies, some food and water.

“One of the most important things to have is a map of the area you’re going to visit so that you can reduce the chances you’re going to get disoriented,” said Neiger. “You can get a hard copy of it [or] you can also go online and you know print off a copy, and you can basically do that for about anywhere you’re going to hike.”

Neiger says that for more serious exploring a topographical map is good to have for helping relate surroundings to where you are. He also says that keeping hard copies is ideal even if you have the map on your phone in case your phone goes down. Hard copies should be kept in a zip top bag or another waterproof container to be kept dry.

Watch the video to learn about what uses knives have in the woods.

Another measure for ensuring safety on an adventure is leaving a trip plan with a trusted individual for longer trips that can also aid in if search and rescue operations need to be deployed.

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