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Table of Contents

See what's inside The Backpacker's Field Manual


Chapter 1 – Trip Planning

BASIC TRIP PLANNING 2

Group Size and Ability 2

Activities 3

Location and Weather 4

Expect the Unexpected 5

Equipment 6

Food 6

Costs 6

Skill Development 6

TRIP PREPARATION CHECKLIST 7

Pre-Trip 7

During the Trip 8

On Your Return 8

ROUTE DIFFICULTY 8

Trip Difficulty Rating 9

PLANNING A ROUTE 10

Guidebooks 10

Travel Logistics 11

Choosing Campsites 11

Estimating Travel Times 12

Time Control Plan 14

LONG-DISTANCE TRIPS 15

Resupply Issues 15

Chapter 2 - Equipment

EQUIPMENT ASSESSMENT 20

Personal Equipment 20

Group Equipment 20

The Essentials 21

CLOTHING 22

Regulating Your Body Temperature 22

The Layering Principle 23

The Clothing Layers 24

Clothing Techniques 32

BOOTS 34

What Kind of Boots 35

Fitting Boots 35

Breaking In Boots 36

Boot Care 37

THE BACKPACK 38

Pack Size 40

Sizing a Pack 41

Packing Your Pack 42

General Packing Suggestions 43

SLEEPING EQUIPMENT 46

Sleeping Bags 46

Sleeping Pads 49

SHELTER 50

General Shelter Tips 50

Tarps 51

Tents 53

COOKING EQUIPMENT 55

Backpacking Stoves 55ite Gas Stove 58

Lightweight/Ultralight Cartridge

Stoves 61

MISCELLANEOUS GEAR 63
TECHNOLOGY IN THE WILDERNESS 63

Chapter 3 – Food & Nutrition

ENERGY AND NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS 67

Caloric Requirements 67

Food Sources 67

BASIC FLUID RECOMMENDATIONS 69
MENU PLANNING 71

How Long are You Going to be Out? 72

Ease of Preparation 72

Weight 73

Packaging/Repackaging 74

Spoilage 74

Eating on the Trail 76

GENERAL COOKING GUIDELINES, INGREDIENTS, AND RECIPES 77

Sample Recipes 78

OUTDOOR BAKING 84
FOOD EQUIVALENTS 86
MEASUREMENT EQUIVALENTS 86

Chapter 4 – Hygiene and Water Purification

KEEPING CLEAN ON THE TRAIL 88

Handwashing 88

Personal Bathing 90

WASHING CLOTHES 91
WASHING DISHES, POTS, AND UTENSILS 91
WOMEN’S HYGIENE ISSUES 93

Tampons vs. Pads 93

Disposing of Tampons, Pads, and Towelettes 93

WATER PURIFICATION 94

Boiling 95

Chemical Purification 95

Mixed-Oxidant Solutions 97

Ultraviolet Light 98

Filtration 99

COLLECTING AND STORING WATER IN COLD WEATHER 101

Preventing Your Water from Freezing 103

Chapter 5 – Leave No Trace Hiking and Camping

GENERAL PRINCIPLES 106
PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE 107
TRAVEL ON DURABLE SURFACES 108

Travel on Existing Trails 108

Traveling Off-trail 108

CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES 109

General Campsite Guidelines 110

Camping in High-Use Areas 110

Camping in Pristine,

Undisturbed Areas 111

SETTING UP CAMP 111
DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY 113

Dealing with Human Waste 113

Urine 114

Feces 115

Toilet Paper 119

OTHER TYPES OF WASTE 121

Medical Waste 121

Garbage 121

Trash 122

Wastewater 122

At the End of the Trip 122

MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS 122

General Guidelines for Fire Building 123

Fires in Highly Impacted Areas 124

Fires in Pristine Areas 124

Methods of Leave No Trace Fire Building 125

Building and Lighting a Fire 126

Clean-up After a Fire 128

LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND 128

Leave Natural Features Undisturbed 128

Avoid Spreading Non-Native Plants and Animals 129

Respect Cultural, Religious, and Historical Sites 129

RESPECT WILDLIFE 129
BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER VISITORS 131

Chapter 6 – Wilderness Travel

MAPS AND MAP READING 134

Map Scale 134

Map Colors and Symbols 135

Map Legend 135

Contour Lines 136

Measuring Distances 136

CALCULATING LOCATION USING A COORDINATE SYSTEM 137

Latitude and Longitude 138

Universal Transverse Mercator System 139

USING A COMPASS 144

What Is North? 145

Declination 146

USING A MAP AND COMPASS TOGETHER 147

Bearings 148

Map Bearings versus Magnetic Bearings 148

East Declination 149

West Declination 150

Adjusting Your Compass for the Local Declination 151

WILDERNESS NAVIGATION 151

Check Your Position Regularly 151

Orient the Map 151

Identify Terrain Features 152

REAL-LIFE NAVIGATION SCENARIOS 153

Scenario 1—Lost in the Fog 153

Scenario 2—Heading to the Summit 155

Scenario 3—Retracing Your Steps to Camp 155

Scenario 4—Maneuvering Around Obstacles 158

Scenario 5—Locating Yourself When Lost 159

OTHER NAVIGATION TOOLS 161

Watch 161

Altimeter 161

GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM 162

Mapping Software 163

Map Datum 163

Using a GPS 164

BACKCOUNTRY TRAVEL 165

Group Size 165

Conserving Energy 166

Hiking Techniques 168

STRETCHES FOR HIKING 169
OFF-TRAIL HIKING 170

General Backcountry Conditions 170

Hiking on Snow and Ice 173

Crossing Rivers 174

Crossing Roads 179

TRAVELING IN BEAR COUNTRY 180

Bear Precautions 182

Bear Encounters 182

How to Bearproof Your Camp 184

KNOTS 188

Two Half-Hitches 189

Bowline 190

Tautline Hitch 190

Square Knot 191

Sheet Bend 191

Trucker’s Hitch 192

Chapter 7 – Weather and Nature

WEATHER 194
CLIMATE AND SEASON 194

Temperature Ranges and Typical Weather Patterns 194

WIND 195

Mountain Winds 195

Coastal Winds 195

Changes in Wind Direction 195

CLOUDS 196

Specific Cloud Types 196

BAROMETRIC PRESSURE 198
FRONTS 199

Warm Fronts 199

Cold Fronts 200

Occluded Fronts 200

EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS 200
THUNDERSTORMS 201

The Physics of Lightning 202

Lightning Dangers 204

PREDICTING THE WEATHER 208
NATURAL SIGNS OF DIRECTION AND TIME 210

Direction 210

Time 212

COMMON TREES 212

Leaf Attachment 213

Leaf Type 213

Basic Tree Identification 214

PLANTS 219

Wild Edibles 219

Plants to Avoid 219

WILDLIFE OBSERVATION AND ANIMAL TRACKING

Chapter 8 – Safety and Emergency Procedures

DEALING WITH EMERGENCIES—WHO’S IN CHARGE? 224
HOW ACCIDENTS HAPPEN 225

Environmental Hazards 226

Equipment Hazards 227

Human Hazards 227

Balancing Hazards with Safety Practices 228

Safety Protocols/Practices 229

Preventing Accidents 231

Situational Awareness—“Leader’s Radar” 232

Analyzing Accidents—Closing the Circle 233

SENDING FOR HELP 233
EVACUATION PROCEDURES 235

Possible Evacuation Scenarios 236

Choosing to Evacuate 237

Running the Evacuation 238

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE LOST 238

If the Group Gets Lost 238

If You or Someone in the Group Gets Lost 239

If You Are Hiking Alone and Get Lost 240

Identifying Your Location 240

Signaling for Help 241

Finding a Lost Person 243

FOREST FIRES 246

The Dynamics of Forest Fire 247

Fire Safety Plan 248

Fighting Fires 249

WILDERNESS SURVIVAL 250

The Five Elements of Survival 250

Shelter 251

Water 253

Chapter 9 – First Aid and Emergency Care

BACKCOUNTRY FIRST AID 260

The Wilderness Context 260

Good Samaritan Laws 261

MAJOR BODY SYSTEMS 262
ANATOMY GLOSSARY 264
THE PATIENT ASSESSMENT SYSTEM 264

Universal Precautions for Working With Blood and Body Fluids 265

Assess the Scene 266

Initial Assessment 266

Focused History and Physical Exam 268

TREATMENT AND DOCUMENTATION 273

Develop a Treatment Plan 273

GENERAL FIRST-AID PRINCIPLES 274

Shock 274

Swelling 276

Ischemia 277

Shell/Core Response 278

Bleeding 278

Wound Care 279

Wound Infection 281

Basic Life Support 282

Moving Your Patient 283

MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM INJURIES 286

Stable and Unstable Injuries 286

Basic Stable Injury Treatment 287

Strains 287

Tendonitis 288

Sprains 288

GENERAL FRACTURE TREATMENT 289

Splinting 289

Fractures at Joints 295

Angulated Fractures 295

Open Fractures 296

Femur Fractures and Traction Splints 297

DISLOCATIONS 298

Shoulder Dislocations 299

Kneecap Dislocation 301

Digit Dislocation 302

SPINAL INJURIES 302

Treating Spinal Injuries 303

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM INJURIES 305

Fainting 305

Head Injury 306

Increasing Intracranial Pressure (ICP) 307

Concussion 308

Skull Fractures 309

Seizures 309

CHEST INJURIES 311

Broken Ribs 311

Flail Chest 312

Closed Pneumothorax/Hemothorax 312

Open Pneumothorax—Sucking Chest Wound 313

Tension Pneumothorax 313

Impaled Object in the Chest 314

THERMAL BURNS 314

Superficial Burns (First-Degree) 315

Partial-Thickness Burns (Second- Degree) 315

Full-Thickness Burns (Third-Degree) 315

SOFT-TISSUE INJURIES 317

Blisters 317

Lacerations 319

IMPALED OBJECTS 320

Minor Impaled Objects 320

RASHES 321

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac 321

Friction Rashes 322

EYE INJURIES 322

Thermal Burns 322

Snowblindness 322

Chemical Burns 323

Foreign Objects 323

Impaled Objects 323

Contact Lens Problems 323

NOSEBLEEDS 324
DENTAL PROBLEMS 324

Toothaches 325

Broken Tooth 325

Fractured Tooth 325

Knocked-out Tooth 325

Lost Filling 326

Infection 326

ENVIRONMENTAL INJURIES AND ILLNESSES 326

Fluid Balance 325

Hyponatremia—“Water Intoxication” 327

REGULATING BODY TEMPERATURE 329

Cold Challenge 330

COLD-RELATED ILLNESSES AND INJURIES 332

Hypothermia 332

Immersion Hypothermia 337

Frostbite and Other Cold-Weather Tissue Injuries 338

Immersion Foot or Trenchfoot 341

HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES 342

Heat Challenge 342

Heat Cramps 345

Heat Syncope 345

Heat Exhaustion 345

Heatstroke 346

DROWNING AND NEAR DROWNING 348
LIGHTNING INJURIES 348
TOXINS 349

Acids and Bases 350

Petroleum Products 350

Medicines or Plants 350

Iodine Crystals 350

Carbon Monoxide 351

White Gas 351

ANIMAL AND INSECT BITES AND STINGS 352

Rabies 352

SNAKES 353

Pit Vipers 353

Coral Snakes 354

INSECTS 355

Black Widow Spider 355

Brown Recluse Spider 355

Hobo Spider 356

Scorpions 356

Insect Repellants 357

Mosquitoes and Disease 359

Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases 360

Bee, Yellow Jacket, and Wasp Stings 363

Anaphylaxis 364

Chiggers 366

GENERAL MEDICAL ISSUES 367

Abdominal Injuries and Gastrointestinal Problems 367

Appendicitis 367

Constipation 368

Diarrhea or Vomiting 368

Gastrointestinal Infections 370

Giardia 370

Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora 371

OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES 372

Tetanus 372

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome 373

RESPIRATORY EMERGENCIES 375

Asthma 375

GENITOURINARY TRACT AND WOMEN’S HEALTH ISSUES 376

Urinary Tract Disorders 376

Vaginitis 377

DIABETES 378

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) 378

Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar) 379

ALTITUDE ILLNESSES 380

Acclimatization 380

Acute Mountain Sickness 381

High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema 383

High-Altitude Cerebral Edema 384

ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING TRAINING IN WILDERNESS FIRST AID 385

Chapter 10 – First Aid and Emergency Care

OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP 387

Formal versus Informal Leadership 387

Situational Leadership® 388

DECISION-MAKING STRATEGIES 391

Who makes the Decision? 391

Planning out the Decision 392

Group Decision Making 393

Decision-Making Techniques 393

Communicating the Decision 394

REFLECTING ON THE EXPERIENCE 395

When to Reflect 395

How to Reflect 397

Appendix

PDF versions are available for download in the downloads section.

  • THREE-SEASON BACKPACKING TRIP TEACHING PLAN 399
  • WARM-WEATHER BACKPACKING EQUIPMENT LIST 400
  • MODERATE-WEATHER BACKPACKING EQUIPMENT LIST 402
  • COLD-WEATHER BACKPACKING EQUIPMENT LIST 403
  • GENERAL GROUP EQUIPMENT LIST 404
  • FIRST-AID KIT 406
  • FITNESS AND HEALTH INFORMATION FORM 408
  • TRIP LOGISTICS PLAN 411
  • TRIP SAFETY PLAN 412
  • MENU PLAN 415
  • TRIP EXPENSES FORM 417
  • TRIP LOG 418
  • EMERGENCY INFORMATION REPORT 419
  • SOAP NOTE 421