What’s in your daypack?

Gear to save your life


Steven Ratajczyk

Adam Noll's top 15 must-have supplies. 1. Firestarting tools 2. Knife 3. Multi-tool 4. First-aid kit 5. Map 6. Compass 7. Poncho 8. Trekking pole(s) 9. Flashlight 10. Extra batteries 11. Whistle 12. Mirror 13. Mylar blanket 14. Extra food and water 15. Water treatment options

Although a simple hike can seem harmless, studies show that more accidents and injuries happen on short hikes than on full-fledged wilderness sabbaticals. Because a lengthy hike requires a lot of planning and thinking beforehand about the worst-case scenarios, hikers are usually more prepared for danger than those who spontaneously take a shorter excursion.

“I remember I was out hiking one day and I came across mountain lion prints. It was startling to see those because a black bear will run; a mountain lion will stalk you and eat you,” says Adam Noll, owner of O.A.T. (Outdoor Adventure Training) on Signal Mountain. “Just around the corner there was a pretty young woman in tennis shoes, a fall sweater and her puppy on a leash — and it was about to rain. I approached her … and told her that I had seen mountain lion tracks and fresh bear scat close by and asked her if she would walk back with me. She said no and kept going down the trail. She had no pack; just a water bottle and a puppy — a little snack for that bear or mountain lion. It still bothers me.”

Saving your life can be as simple as packing the right supplies, says Noll, even if you are going on a shorter trip.

“The things you carry in your pack on a short hike should be life-saving if needed. Firestarting tool, water purifier, first-aid kit … little bitty things that people are like, ‘Why do I need that?’ Grownups think that they are immortal, but a twisted ankle and a situation where the temperature drops, and you’re dead by morning. It happens all around the world,” he says. “You’d better be ready. There really isn’t any situation, except a nature walk where you’re just a ¼-mile from your car, where you shouldn’t have a pack. If you head out with the wrong stuff at the wrong time, not paying attention, you’re in trouble.”

Survival Guide

Adam Noll of O.A.T. will host a “Survival Skills: What Do I Do If…” class Saturday, Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to midafternoon at the Bachman Community Center on Signal Mountain. The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $17 for children under 16. Survival Skills will provide participants with a variety of “old-school” techniques and outside-the-box approaches to surviving an unexpected emergency situation.


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