As bushwalkers, we’re all too aware of the phrase “expect the unexpected.” It speaks to the reality of the wilderness, where circumstances can change in a flash, equipment can fail, and items can be misplaced. In these moments, the concept of a “normal less one” backup plan becomes essential.

Derived from rock climbing and aviation, “normal less one” implies the existence of an alternative or fail-safe when a standard situation or equipment piece is compromised.

Here’s a look at how you can prepare for such scenarios while hiking.

Sheltering From the Elements: Your Back-Up Plan

When your primary tent fails or harsh weather conditions confine you to your shelter, having a backup can be a lifesaver. For instance, a sturdy trekking pole can substitute for a tent pole in a pinch.

The key is to think creatively and use what you have on hand to create a secondary safe space.

Back-Up Cooking Essentials

On certain hiking trails, fires are strictly prohibited, and fuel stoves become a mandatory item. In such instances, a fire or a second stove could be your backup. For pairs of hikers, it’s advisable for each individual to carry a stove, preferably of the same type and fuel source.

This ensures compatibility of spare parts and redundancy if a fuel canister breaks or is lost.

The Power of Companionship

In the wilderness, your most reliable backup system can often be another person. Despite the allure of solitary hiking, having a partner offers companionship, the opportunity to share equipment, and the safety net of mutual aid. Besides, shared memories of the journey can be cherished in the years to come.

For those who prefer solo hiking, today’s technology offers a virtual partner in the form of an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or a satellite phone.

Additional Back-Up Essentials

In planning for “normal less one” scenarios, having backups for your essentials is critical. For instance, an extra large aluminum mug could serve as a makeshift billy. Similarly, carrying additional water containers protects against leaks or breakages.

You should also consider packing a ‘spares kit’ featuring items such as needles, heavy-duty thread, fabric tape, spare torch batteries, and even backup boot laces. These small items can make a significant difference in a bind.

Handling Equipment without Back-Up

It’s worth noting, however, that some items, like sleeping bags, aren’t typically available in duplicates due to their bulk and weight. In these instances, taking extra care becomes crucial. If your sleeping bag gets damaged or lost, warm, dry clothes combined with an emergency space blanket or groundsheet could serve as your backup.

In essence, the “normal less one” concept is a unique lens through which you can view your equipment selection. It encourages you to prepare for an event one step removed from the norm, potentially reducing pack weight by doubling up on equipment use.

Most importantly, it fosters confidence and peace of mind in knowing you’re prepared to address any sudden change of circumstances.