Outdoor Survival Magazine

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good campsite is so much more than a place to sleep. It’s a capstone to your day of hiking, a scenic spot where you can sit down, relax, and end a great day on the trail with a great night, watching the sun go down and the stars begin to sparkle. Pitch your tent at one of these top-notch national park sites— like Lower Rae Lake at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, pictured up top—to see what we mean.

Olympic National Park Washington A good night starts with a good plan. And the best plans are often made on the fly. That’s how you end up planning to camp at Marmot Lake, but see Hart Lake— smaller, more private, and nestled higher on the mountain—on the map and think, I wonder. It’s the spirit of adventure that costs sweat and scraped shins and pays off in backcountry glory. You’ll be plenty tired to enjoy a long night: Hart Lake lies near the halfway point of a 55.9-mile lollipop loop that traces the Quinalt River, then crosses three passes in a 23.1-mile circumnavigation of 6,400foot White Mountain.

Glacier National Park Montana It’s hard to say what you’ll notice first when you reach Glacier’s Cracker Lake—the aqua-blue water or the imposing, gray cliffs that angle thousands of feet upward to the point of 10,003-foot Mt. Siyeh. Three tent sites sit on a grassy slope above the lake’s southeastern shore, offering uninterrupted views of the entire cirque. To reach them, follow the Cracker Lake Trail for 6.3 miles to its namesake, traveling through grizzly habitat, Cracker Flats meadow, and into the deep canyon that drains the lake. The campsites have no tree cover; expect wind.

Joshua Tree National Park California Can’t-miss plan for sussing out a stellar campsite: Go beyond the edges of where campers usually stay; evaluate sites on their merits, not on convenience; the higher you go, the better 6

the views (usually); but don’t waste so much energy that you sleep through a good sunrise. Such a strategy pays off in sites like this in wide-open backcountry just beyond Joshua Tree’s Hidden Valley region. Scramble up the rock formation .5 mile past the western edge of the Hidden Valley camping area and look for a flat spot.

grand canyon National Park arizona We like to think of the Grand Canyon as a work in progress, subject to the whims and strength of the Colorado River. But there’s one area where it seems like the river saw its work was perfect and declared it done, and that’s Hance Beach. This long stretch of sand forms a wide peninsula alongside Hance Rapids (class 7 to 8 on the

Grand Canyon scale), forcing the river to churn through a narrow stretch of boulders. Red sandstone walls rise sharply from the opposite side of the river, broken up occasionally by dark slot canyons, while grasses fringe the beach. Get there by hiking 6.5 miles from rim to river along the New Hance Trail, which many consider to be the toughest trail on the South Rim. Make your way back up via an 8.5mile hike up the Tonto and Grandview Trails, which combine for 4,860 feet of climbing to the rim.

Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska Up in the north, the vistas are so plentiful you’ll almost never find a line to see them. Up there, hikers can’t outpace nature long enough to establish more

than a small handful of trails. That’s where you find beauty unrestricted by size or imagination and unmarred by those who have come before. Bear Glacier Lake of Kenai Fjords is one of those places. It contains a tiny nubbin of land in a shapeshifting lake that’s home to a valley glacier. Grab a water taxi from Seward to a landing site just west of Callisto Head and paddle upstream for 3 miles to the iceberg-studded lake and land on an island made for camping. Let the sights and sounds set in your mind to form a timeless experience. And in so doing, reveal the final truth about superb campsites in the national parks: Once you find one, you may never want to leave, but you owe it to the rest of us to share.


Gear Guide

Our picks for the most essential items to take on any outdoor endeavor!

Kodiak Power Station The Outdoor Tech Kodiak 100w Power Station is a small, portable battery built for camping, beach days, or even coffee shops to keep your laptop, camera, phone, and more purring powerfully. There are multiple output ports for USB, auto, or 110v plugs to charge a variety of electronics, and an LED fuel gauge lets you know how much power the battery has at any given moment. Outdoor Tech made it out of rubberized plastic for reliable, outdoorsworthy durability. backcountry.com


Hydrapak Seeker 4L Designed for the backpacker and hardcore hiker in need of hydration, the Hydrapak Seeker 4L Water Bottle carries plenty of hydration when you’re miles from the nearest water source. This lightweight water repository is the largest offered by Hydrapak, storing an impressive 4 liters (that’s 135 ounces) of water while you’re camping off the grid, walking long distances on the trail, and hiking in sweltering conditions. It comes with four-side tie downs, so you can hang it from a structure at basecamp or tie it to your pack on the trail. Additionally, there’s a screw-on cap for a secure closure without any precious water spilling out. campman.com



Osprey Volt 60 The Osprey Volt 60 Backpack is a durable, traditional pack for comfortably carrying heavy loads on the trail. The Volt’s highly adjustable back panel, shoulder straps, and hip belt take the stress out of lugging heavy loads. Its LightWire frame and HDPE framesheet disperse weight across your body, spreading it between hips and shoulders. With 60 liters of gear-hauling capacity, the Volt has more than enough room for a weekend’s worth of gear. Pockets at the lid, front, sides, and hips help you stay organized, and a removable sleeping bag divider provides a snug and secure spot for your bedding. mountainsports.com


SOL Fire cubes An unexpected rain storm dampened all your backpacking gear and all the wood you can find. Because the nearest town is more than a day away, you can simply whip out the Adventure Medical All-Weather Fire Cubes for a quick and easy way to warm yourself up and dry all your gear. These waterproof cubes will ignite under any condition so you know you can always rely on it, and the included Fire Lite Striker provides up to 5,000 sparks to help you start the fire. This pack of cubes will help you start up to forty-eight fires. gearcoop.com



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rian Robeson is no stranger to adversity. At the age of thirteen he was involved in a tragic plane crash that left him stranded in the Canadian wilderness. With nothing but the clothes on his back and his trusty hatchet, he managed to survive several months until he was finally rescued by a passing bush pilot. His story is a remarkable one that he is thankful he can share with the world. “It was a real eye-opening experience for me,” he stated. “It made me appreciate all the luxuries that we have.”

Survival Story

During his time in the wilderness, Brian endured many obstacles and had to learn how to survive on his own. He had to make his own shelter, learn to hunt, as well as fend off the dangers of the outdoors. He also had to teach himself how to be mentally calm and to meet each new challenge with a clear head. “You have to remain in the right headspace,” he said, “even if you know that it is unlikely you will be rescued. I had to be prepared for the worst of circumstances.” He had little hope of being found, but was eventually saved by a passing bush pilot who heard his radio distress signal. “It was impossibly lucky that I was rescued at all from where I crashed.”

political aspirations

In recent days, Brian has thrown his hat into the political arena. He is currently running for the position of Director of National Parks in the United States. “I believe that our nation’s parks have been neglected for many years and it’s time to make a change for the better,” Robeson remarked. “It’s time that some much needed updates are made.” Even before he decided he wanted to run for a political office, Brian was involved heavily with the National Parks Service. He has volunteered a portion of his busy schedule to give talks about his experience to local youth organizations. It is one of the ways that he gives back to the community while also educating others about wilderness safety and preparedness. One of the planks of Robeson’s platform is the desire for the restoration of the facilities and grounds of many of the nation’s parks. “Some of the buildings have become dilapidated and the trails have become overgrown. This means that people are less likely to visit parks and gain knowledge about the beauty of our great country,” Brian stated. “No one wants to a park that looks like it hasn’t been maintained.” If elected, he has pledged to fix this problem by allocating resources from the federal government to clean up the parks.

" you have to remain in the right headspace..."

Even though he was stranded in the wilderness in a terrible accident, Brian maintains that there were some positives that came from the experience. “It made me more self-reliant and independent. It also gave me a great passion for nature and the need for it to be preserved.” Brian went on to explain how he connected with nature during his time in the wild. “I felt like in some weird way that I belonged there, like it was my home.” Brian has since made several extended trips back into the wilderness, with more gear and preparation this time.

One thing that sets Brian apart from the other candidates is his unique experience dealing with challenges, particularly those involving the outdoors. “After you get trampled by a moose and almost swept away by a tornado, everything else seems pretty easy in comparison,” he said jokingly. “If I could make it through that, I think I can manage to fix some parks.” Through his experience, Brian has derived a more intimate view of nature that most people will never truly understand unless they were in his shoes.


If Brian were to be elected to this position, he would be leading 20,000 parks employees whose job is to take care of 419 national parks. It would be his responsiblity to make sure that everything runs smoothly and resources are distributed to the parks that need it. He would work closely with local Parks Service programs that are involved in the preservation of the historical aspects of the parks. He would also be charged with the task of overseeing the construction of new park facilities and the restoration of older ones that may need help. Brian would be managing the Parks Service budget, which would be approximately 13 million dollars per year. His experience has also given him a different perspective on the value of our natural world. It has allowed him to see the true value of our world and all the wildlife that lives in it. “The longer I was alone in the wilderness, the more I began to recognize the beauty of it and how small I was compared to the land around me. It was a completely humbling experience.”

Another of Brian’s campaign goals is to reignite the nation’s passion for the parks and the outdoors in general. He believes that getting people excited about nature will increase their amount of visits to national parks. He also thinks that reaching the younger generation should be the main focus of these efforts. “The newest generation of people are more passionate than ever about the state of our environment. They will be the ones who will be running the show in the near future,” Robeson remarked. He believes that the best way to reach this demographic is to utilize the internet and other forms of online outreach. “Our online presence needs to increase if we are going to attract the attention of people today who are always on their phones or other devices.”

" We are the ones who will be deciding the fate of our parks..."

Brian believes that it is the responsibility of American citizens to care for the land that makes up the country. “I believe if we come together as a country and pledge to do a better job of taking care of this land that we have been blessed with, it will go a long way to fixing things,” Robeson said. He is a person who believes that people should take personal responsiblity for their actions, mainly because survival depended on his actions and his actions alone.

the future of parks

Brian is also concerned about the nation’s parks because they will one day be passed on to the next generation. He is very concerned about the legacy that people today will leave for their children and their children’s children. “The future is ours,” Robeson stated. “We are the ones who will be deciding the fate of our parks and even our planet for the people that come directly after us. If we mess this up, there will be nothing left for them when the time comes.”


Aside from wanting others to enjoy the parks, Brian also wants people to go outdoors for the health benefits. “Being out in nature can really improve your mental state and helps boost your mood. It is also great for stress relief, not to mention the other physical benefits.” Brian is obsessed with leading a healthy lifestyle, which means keeping himself mentally and physically sharp. “In the wilderness if you weren’t at your peak performance every day, there was a possibility that you wouldn’t make it. That’s why I try my best to take care of myself and make good decisions that will keep me fit.”

our endorsement

This publication believes that Brian Robeson will be the right choice for the job and will make sound judgements on how to improve the parks system. It is our goal as a magazine to encourage people to get outdoors and to be prepared for all the challenges that nature brings to the table. Speaking with Brian, we came to find that we share similar goals as it pertains to nature. He has demonstrated through his actions that he truly cares about the parks and our planet. Remember, the future is ours! For more information on Brian’s campaign or to show your support, visit brian2020.com.

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magine a fun afternoon hike around Mt. Baker. You're enjoying the quiet of the forest, the dappled light shining through the trees, and the intoxicating smell of the leaves when thick fog rolls in unexpectedly at 4:00 p.m. In a panic, you follow the wrong trail for hours along a progressively steeper face until you've run out of daylight. Imagine being on a snowmobile in the back-country with friends, zipping through the powder and chasing each other between the tree trunks when a blizzard sets in and the last snowmobile doesn’t show up at the rendezvous point. Or imagine the mountain biking trip you’ve been daydreaming about for months, bombing down the mountain with the wind in your face. You get separated from your group on a tricky portion of single-track, and decide to press on when you come to an unknown fork in the trail. Feeling exhausted and dehydrated, you take a corner too fast and crash, breaking your collar bone. Lost, hurt, stranded – scenarios like these play out over 3,000 times per year in the United States. Those heading outdoors in search of adventure don't plan on getting lost or hurt in the wilderness, but it can happen to the best of us. And when it does, people underestimate the challenges of the wilderness and overestimate their own ability. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, this wilderness survival guide explains the dangers of the wilderness and ensures that you are physically and mentally prepared for surviving in the wild.


Lost, hurt, stranded. scenarios like these play out over 3,000 times per year in the United States. 21

Stay Found

The goal is to never end up on the six o’clock news, to never experience the escalating confusion that becomes genuine fear as you realize you’re lost to never need your survival training. The best survival situation is the one that never happens. Keep track of your position during your entire wilderness experience, and you will have one less thing to worry about if there are other challenges such as bad weather or an injury. A GPS unit is only valuable if you know how to use it. Confirm your position on the map, plot waypoints, follow bearings, and monitor your distance traveled. If you only switch on the device when you feel lost, you won’t know where you are, where you were, or where you should go. Don’t get emboldened with the false sense of security that a GPS unit can provide, as this can lead to even greater danger.

fear the weather

Unexpected nasty weather in the mountains can turn a pleasant day hike into a life-or-death situation for the unprepared. Fortunately, being

prepared for the weather is often as simple as bringing the right clothing. Appropriate clothing will keep you cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and dry in a storm.


Your mind is your best tool.

You probably don’t need to be prepared for both sub-zero temperatures and triple-digits on the same excursion, so find out the weather forecast before heading out on your adventures (never expect it to be the same as your current location) and plan accordingly. The bare minimum extra clothing can make a big difference in

your experience if the weather turns sour. Take a few moments to add the gear to your pack, you’ll be glad you did if you need it.


The less time you spend lost, the less time you will have to spend surviving. But just in case, the best way to reduce the amount of time between a misadventure in the wilderness and getting the necessary help is to communicate your plans to family or friends before you go (and to let them know when you’ve safely returned).

buddy up

Robert Koester is the search-andrescue incident commander for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, creator of the International Search and Rescue database, and author of the book Lost Person Behavior. According to the data he has collected and processed, solo hikers account for 58% of all lost hikers – yet they make up only a small percentage of all hikers, making the statistic that much more impressive. 40% of all lost hikers are solo males between the ages of 20 and 50.

stay calm

Your mind is your best tool and your most important resource in a survival situation. All the knowledge and equipment in the world won’t save you if you’re panicking. It is natural to experience feelings that transition from confusion to fear when you realize that you’re lost or stranded. Accept the situation and prevent these natural emotions from taking over your ability to think and make decisions.


Since the human body can only adapt to a narrow range of temperatures, extreme weather can kill in as little as three hours. Extend the survival range first with clothing, which protects from cold temperatures best when it is dry. Prevent your clothing from getting wet by using rain gear, taking shelter during a storm, or even using a plastic trash bag if necessary. Wear clothing in layers so you can adjust to changing weather with more precision. Extend your range of temperatures even farther with shelter. A good shelter will block the wind, protect from precipitation, and add some insulation to conserve heat. The guidance from S.T.O.P. applies in shelter building. Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. Take inventory of the available materials, and develop a plan to build a shelter with minimal exertion and maximum effectiveness overall.


In cold weather, a fire can be important for maintaining body warmth, melting snow for water, drying out clothing, signaling for help, and raising your spirits. It is so important, that you should practice starting fires in nonemergency situations – don’t try to learn when it’s critical for survival. Of course matches and lighters are the most simple and cost effective, but you should know how to start a fire using other methods as well. All fires need fuel, heat and oxygen, to support the ongoing chemical reaction of combustion. You can’t start a fire by holding a lighter under a log because

the ratio of heat to fuel surface area is too small. Rather than carry a blowtorch, reduce the size of fuel.


Three days is the longest you will live without water, and it can be even less with greater exertion or higher temperatures. Dehydration is a serious problem, and can also happen on cold days. If you venture into the wilderness, you should always carry plenty of water. It’s a good idea to also have a plan to replenish your supply, a method for treating the water you find in nature so that it is safe to drink. If you have no ability to treat water, and are faced with dehydration, it is better to drink than die. Allow muddy water to stand until the silt settles to the bottom. Then use your t-shirt to strain out any remaining debris.

Be alert to places where water may have collected, and prepare for outdoor adventures by learning other methods to obtain water.


Even the most experienced veteran of the outdoors can become lost, injured, or stranded. Make every effort to avoid a survival situation by knowing your location at all times. Keep calm, and decide to act not on your feelings, but on your logical plan for survival. Focus on true survival priorities, and conserve your energy. 95% of all rescues are successful in less than two days, so your unexpected challenge should be quickly resolved. If you remember nothing else, remember this: Always tell someone where you’re going and when you will return from your trip. 23

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