Items To Consider When Equipment Fails Or Is Lost When Hiking

A “normal less one” scenario is when the normal situation has been compromised. In rock-climbing the belay rope can be classed as the “normal less one” backup. Sticking to a wall with arms and legs is considered normal, with the next case being held by the rope. Scuba regulators have in-built redundancy as the valves are designed to fail OPEN so there will always be air flow. This term of “normal less one” is common in commercial aircraft; if something fails, another system performs the function.

Back-up Shelter

If one tent fails they have a back-up. If the weather leaves the hikers tent-bound each has his own space.

A trekking pole can work as a tent pole.

Back-up Cooking

On many tracks, fuel stoves are mandatory as lighting fires is prohibited. A fire could be the back-up; a second stove is preferable. For two hikers together, each should have a stove, preferably of the same type and fuel source. Being the same type means spare parts are compatible. If one stove uses gas and the other a liquid there is no redundancy if a fuel canister breaks.

Another Person as Back-up

The best back-up out in the bush is another person. Some walkers strive to experience the wilderness on their own; however, walking with another person provides the companionship of a good friend, sharing of equipment and a safety back-up, and long term memories that can be shared into the future.

Today’s technology makes it possible to have a back-up for a human partner for those content to disappear into the bush on their own. This is the EPIRB or a satellite phone.

Back-up for Other Items

There are many other “normal less one” situations to cater for. An extra large aluminium mug can come in handy as a second billy. A couple of water containers are useful if one breaks or leaks. There are bits and pieces that can be carried as a “spares kits”: needles and heavy-duty thread, rolls of fabric tape can be used for patching blisters and also rips in the tent. Spare torch batteries and bulbs, spare main pack buckles, spare boot laces. Even solid hut boots could get a walker out of trouble if the main boots meet an abnormal situation.

Items that Can’t Have a Back-up

However, with some items of equipment it is difficult to cater for “normal less one”. The sleeping bag for instance. Who carries two? Therefore the bag needs extra care and attention. However, if anything does happen to it (getting soaked in a fall in a creek or a tent collapse, or catching fire from a wayward campfire spark, nibbled by rodents), a back-up could be warm, dry clothes combined with an emergency space blanket or groundsheet.

This “normal less one” concept is a slightly different way of looking at equipment selection. It’s a matter of preparing for one event removed from the normal. This might lead to weight reduction in the pack by being able to double-up on some equipment. Or it might result in a more enjoyable trip by being comfortable in the knowledge a “normal less one” situation can be addressed.