Riding in wild areas offers opportunity for experiencing unparalleled beauty. However, risk also comes along when you’re on the trail and help is far away. To prevent mishaps from having an even worse impact, be prepared and always carry the following on your backcountry rides.
The first five items below are essential in the worst of situations. Keep them in your pockets so they stay WITH YOU in case you become separated from your horse.
Emergency Kit -Tiny and containing only the very basics for water, shelter and warmth. Contents are squeezed into a tin that fits into a pocket. Make your own kit with the following:
Small tin– A metal tin can holds the kit together and can serve as a reflector and serviceable digging tool.
Garbage bag –A standard garbage bag can function as rain jacket, tarp, and more.
Matches –Keep some of the strike anywhere, waterproof variety in your kit.
Duct tape – Wrap around the tin to keep the kit closed, watertight, and be easy to use when needed.
Candle – Tuck several trick candles that relight when blown out, in your kit for starting fires in wet conditions.
Knife - A small knife can provide tinder for starting a fire, help create a shelter, and more. A spare knife can be a lifesaver if you lose your main one.
Dental floss - Cheap, strong and lightweight. Use it for repairs on the trail.
Cotton balls –Cotton balls that have been saturated with petroleum jelly are excellent fire starters.
Cell Phone - During an emergency, communications devices can be a lifesaver. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in the backcountry but sometimes text messages work when calling doesn’t.
Map –If you venture off the beaten track it’s easy to get “confused” about where you are. A topographic map is essential for staying on your route.
Compass – For horseback use, orienteering compasses are relatively inexpensive and rugged.
Pocket Knife – Features to look for include a pocket clip and a serrated edge. Blades no longer than 3 inches long are fine for everyday activities and less likely to strike vital organs should you nick yourself.
Make sure that these items come along on your trip. They’ll keep a great trip on track.
Rain Gear – The unpredictable weather of the backcountry is even more so at higher elevations. Carry raingear with you regardless of current or forecasted conditions. In coats look for lightweight, breathable coatings or high tech fabrics instead of hot and heavy oilskin. For your legs a heavier waterproof material, such as oilskin is needed to stay dry and stand up to the briars and brush that will quickly ruin lesser fabrics.
First Aid Kit - Small but comprehensive medical kits include bandages, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers. If you’re allergic to insect stings, ask your physician about carrying an EpiPen. (If you do require such a device then it should be carried on your person.)
Flashlight – Preferably LED headlamps that weigh little, have long battery life, and free your hands.
Water Bottle –BPA free, plastic bottles are virtually indestructible.
Hoof Pick –Carry a hoof pick for when your horse gets something stuck in its shoe.
Baling Twine – Almost as good as duck tape, use for temporary tack repair.
This list is small in terms of size and weight, but heavy on utility. Modify to best meet your unique needs. BTW - These items make great, and thoughtful, gifts for the trail riders on your holiday gift list!
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