2-Big Broncos 4X4 Club
Survival Tips

Outdoor Survival

The Ten Essentials
(never ride alone)

Read Me First

The first eight items on this list should be the bare minimum any person should have on them regardless of the amount of time they will spend in the outdoors (4 hours or 3 days), all of which can fit in a small book pack. The 9th and 10th essentials are items that come with technology advancements and will definitely aid in survival under any outdoor situation.

Carry The 10 Essentials

1. MAP

Always carry a “topographic” map of the area in which you intend to operate in and know how to read topography otherwise this map does you no good.


Carry a compass or two even if you have a GPS unit and know how to use it in conjunction with your topography skills. Lensatic compass style is desirable. It's one that'll have a site aperture on it. A GPS has 2 drawbacks. 1) It needs satellite coverage. 2) It runs on batteries.


A knife can be used for several things, most importantly to strip small pieces of wood chips to start a fire or to strip wet outer bark from wood. Some of the 'cheap' hunting knives have a hollow handle that allows for matches to be carried in it.


Always carry matches. A lighter or flint tool can also be carried in conjunction with matches. As a good fire starter think about carrying wax candles and a standard road flare. A flare is a very good fire starter in wet conditions or it can be used as a signal (cheap & effective).


A small flashlight is best. Remember this is a modern technology item that requires batteries so always pack a fresh set of batteries or two sets and even a spare bulb. Chem lights. They can keep their shelf life a lot longer than batteries. You can hang them from your clothes so that you are more visible. A whistle or bell for a noise signal in the event you become injured or lost. Technology is great but it’s only good if it works.


A first aid kit is not meant to handle every contingency. Such a kit would be enormous. A basic store purchased first aid kit will suffice along with a few other small items, one of which should be 3 days of medications you may be taking, aspirin and a Sam Splint. A Sam Splint is an aluminum, flexible, padded splint that can be used for almost any body part including as a neck brace and takes up very minimal room (see your local fire department or well equipped outdoor store).


Three (3) days of extra food is suffice. (That is approximately 1000Cals/Person.) Dehydrated backpacking meals are small and nutrition packed and weigh next to nothing. Even without water these meals can be eaten and have great nutritional value. Along with your dehydrated meals a few energy bars take up very minimal room in a pack. A person should never leave on an outdoor activity without at least 1qt of water on them and iodine/water purification tablets. In most outdoor situations water can be found for survival if needed.


Regardless of the time of year always pack rain/cold weather pants and top. This will be used as an outer layer to keep you warm and dry under any condition. At bare minimum a set of wool or synthetic socks, synthetic t-shirt (no cotton) and a fleece shirt (polartech 200 or 300). Never forget to take a hat (fleece ski hat is the absolute best). Remember you loose most of your body heat through your head.


A GPS unit with spare batteries, water purification pump, and some form of communication device either a short wave radio or a CB radio. CB or short wave radios if carried on a regular basis should never have a deviation on the channel you run “find a channel and stick to it always”. Family members and friends should always know what channel you run. In the event you become lost someone will know what channel you always use. A rescue team will have a much better chance of contacting you or you contacting them. Cell phones are great to have but only if they have coverage and the battery is good. Most wilderness areas do not have coverage. These items rely on power that may or may not be available.


The lightest and easiest form of shelter I can think of is a plastic drop cloth or tarp. Plastic drop cloths are light and easily packed, tarps have reinforced grommets for tying them up. Either can purchase at any paint or hardware store. Have 50ft of small cordage or rope. A plastic rain poncho is also another good lightweight and cheap form of shelter that packs easy and can be purchased in a wide range of bright colors for signaling. Light weight outdoor specific tarp shelters can also be purchased for a bit more of an expense and pack light and small.


Information! This could very well be the most important of all the essentials. Always inform someone outside of the group you are with of where you intend to be and what you intend to do along the way and most important when you plan to return. This may include leaving a map with that person or persons with your trip itinerary.


All of the ten essentials can save your life and take very little to pack and purchase. A small book bag and very little money can have anyone enjoying the outdoors safely. Remember that all of these items are only good to you if you know how to use them. If for any reason you do not know how to use any of these 10 essentials my suggestion to you is “You should not be in mother natures backyard until you do. Several outdoor retail chains (REI, Marmot Mountain Works here in the Pacific Northwest) provide classes on how to use and read topographic maps in conjunction with using a compass. Basic first aid can be read about on the internet or take a class (this could save your life someday). Learning basic first aid and map/compass skills takes a total of about 4 hours. There is no reason for anyone who plays in mother natures backyard not to have these life saving skills.

If your one of those people who has skirted with mother nature for years and never thought anything could happen to you or that your in a familiar area such as Reiter Pit or some ORV park, think again. A brief friend of mine, Scott P was one of the most talented and confident riders I have ever seen and he knew Reiter Pit riding area like the back of his hand. I questioned Scott on one occasion about his preparedness for being in the outdoors and he once told me that he thought about bringing this or that along with him but never did. Scott died January 1, 2002 in the Reiter Pit OHV area. For Scotts sake and the sake of the family he left behind, please don't let his death be without reason. May he rest in peace.

If only one member heeds these words, this letter will be worth it for me. It will be one more person who’s life may be saved in the event of being lost or hurt in the outdoors.

Friend: Joe Chacon
January 2002