If you’ve ever prepared for an extreme expedition — scaling one of the Seven Summits or traipsing the wilds of the Amazon — then you know that things will go wrong all of the time.
A courageous adventure into the wild means that you have to be prepared to face the challenges and the obstacles that come from being in a remote part of the world without the conveniences of the modern world.
That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead as much as you can and to anticipate the mishaps that could occur.
I’ve been through enough situations out in the wilderness to know that if something is going to wrong, it probably will.
Sometimes you can’t change the fact that danger or extreme conditions are ahead.
What you can do is prepare for the worst and be happy you can survive with the very best of them when the situation presents itself.
If you are ready to prepare for your adventure of a lifetime, then follow my guide listing the “Top 10 Survival Gear Mistakes To Avoid.”
When you find yourself lost in the Arctic tundra, you’ll be happy you packed the right gear to get you through the night and into the next day of trekking.
This guide will get you there, so let’s get started with these tips to avoid disaster with your gear!
1. Failing to Have an Emergency Plan
The first mistake many novice trekkers make when they are planning their first expedition is to not fully think through their emergency plan.
You can mitigate disaster simply by having the right gear to get you out of a terrible situation.
That means purchasing a Personal Beacon Locator (PBL), a small battery-operate device that you can activate with the push of a button.
It communicates with global satellites, and let’s emergency responders know where to find you. Hopefully nothing will go wrong.
But if it does, your PBL will get you out of a hairy situation.
2. Forgetting Your Rain Gear
Don’t skimp on the rain gear. It’s going to rain most locales you go — at some point.
It’s better to have a weather-resistant outer layer, a rain jacket, rain pants and weather-resistant boots packed in your backpack for the times when the thunderstorms wreak havoc on your campsite.
You don’t want to be wet and cold.
You can get hypothermia, and at the very least, you’ll be miserable.
It takes a long time for drenched camping clothes to dry out — especially if it is damp for several days.
3. Not Enough Food
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is fail to pack too little food. You need food to keep up your energy.
There are resourceful ways you can pack high-energy food that does not take up a lot of room and that is lightweight.
For example, pack a mix of energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit, vitamins and dehydrated food that comes alive when boiled.
If you are going to overpack anything, then overpacking lightweight food that is high in energy and protein is always Okay.
4. Dry Like a Desert
Invest in water bottles and water filtration systems. You can’t rely on just one water bottle.
Pack at least two traditional water bottles — some have built-in purification systems. Also consider a water pack that you can wear on your back.
It has tubes that you can use to drink water as you walk.
Finally, have a backup supply of water purification tablets or a water purification wand that literally can turn dirty freshwater into clean drinking water.
5. Shiver Me Timbers
Another big mistake you can make with your gear is to fail to pack the clothing and gear that will keep you warm.
That means everything from a sub-zero sleeping bag that helps to regulate your body temperature, to warm wool socks, to hand and toe warmers for emergency situations.
Always prepare for the onslaught of a chilly night.
You don’t want to risk hypothermia or frostbite — especially if you are out on the trail all alone.
Prepare ahead to stay warm.
6. Alone in the Darkness
Don’t leave home with without several gadgets and tools that can give you light in the midst of darkness.
For example, consider packing a headlamp, a solar-powered lantern, a batch of strike-anywhere matches, a lighter, and a battery-operated heater.
You’ll want to be able to light a fire and see what you are doing no matter what the conditions are.
Sometimes you will find yourself at a rainy campsite and you won’t be able to start a blazing fire.
That’s where your mini, battery-operated heater will come in handy.
You’ll also be loving your situation when you can just flip on your handy headlamp to read, prepare dinner in the darkness, set up your tent, and do a myriad other activities that require more hands than you have to spare.
7. Where Am I?
It’s likely that at some point you will get lost.
Two of the most economical and important gear items you can pack is a compass and a set up maps.
Compasses are lightweight and crucial. They can always get you back on the right track. Paper maps are easy to pack and to pull out — just make sure you are protecting them.
Either buy foldable plastic ones that cannot get damaged by water, or pack your paper maps in a plastic baggie.
8. Leaving the Duct Tape at Home
You may not think of it at first, but packing some simple items like duct tape, rope, a hunting knife and a small toolkit with a hammer, nails and fish hooks will be helpful to you when your gear ruptures or breaks.
There is nothing worse than to get to your campsite only to find a raccoon ate through part of your sleeping bag.
Patch up that hole with duct tape! Find that your tent is swaying in a gusty wind? Secure it with a length of rope.
9. No Motivation
You may think it’s trivial at first, but it’s really important to make sure a personal memento is on your gear list.
When you get lonely out in the woods or when you face a real disaster that forces you to consider whether you are willing to fight for your life, your personal memento (photos of loved ones, a sentimental item, a love letter) will motivate you to continue working hard to get out of your current situation.
Many people have endured extreme conditions by the sheer motivation of a photo that reminds them that love is worth fighting for — so don’t forget the memento.
It may have more power than you think in the long run.
10. Packing Too Much
Now that I’ve given you a list of gear mistakes to avoid and told you the top things you need to pack, I want to remind you that there is something as packing too much.
One novice mistake is to overpack your gear.
Sometimes it takes more than one go-around to get the right mix of gear and to get your pack to feel manageable. Remember that it is going to be on your back and you have to carry it for hours at a time for many days. So choose your gear wisely.