3 Unconventional Backpack Items (That Could Very Well Save Your Life)

Most experienced hikers know the 10 essentials by heart, but the list of outdoor gear that can save your life is certainly not exhaustive. Before your next adventure, consider including these lightweight items in your pack – you know, just in case.

Cell Phone
We know, you paid good money for that smartphone and the last thing you want to do is damage it on the trail. Besides, what good is a phone if there’s no phone service, right?

Wrong! According to Backpacker, dialing 911 will transmit an electric signal to emergency services – even in dead zones. If a connection is made, satellites will pinpoint your location to rescuers. But even if you can’t get anyone on the line, your wireless provider can record your attempt to make the call. Even when they are not in use, cell phones bounce signals off nearby towers. This may not seem like much, but the activity alerts search crews that you’re still alive.

Just make sure not to drain your battery playing Angry Birds while you wait.

Whistles are lightweight, durable and make for easy backpack attachments. If you don’t carry a whistle whenever you go hiking, you may want to consider a change of habit – these babies can be invaluable.

No one knows this better than Florencio Gallego, a 70-year-old outdoorsman from Arizona who visited the Sabino Canyon Recreational Area in August 2012. According to News 4 Tuscon, he began his hike at 3:30 a.m., with plans to rendezvous with his wife that same day at 2 p.m. Two hours after he was supposed to arrive at the predetermined spot, Mrs. Gallego contacted authorities and a full-scale search was launched. More than 60 people combed the area until 2 a.m., but their search failed to turn up any traces of the lost hiker.

The following morning, Gallego was located after he (ahem) blew a whistle and alerted crews to his location. He was treated for exhaustion and minor dehydration – and you can bet he won’t forget his whistle the next time he goes for a hike.

Paper Money
But there aren’t any stores in the forest, you might protest. And even if there were, in this day and age, one suspects they would also accept debit cards. But as Yong Chun Kim can tell you, paper money serves more than one purpose.

ABC News reports that the 66-year-old snowshoe hiker was enjoying a day trek through Mt. Rainier National Park in January 2012. He became separated from his party after tumbling down an embankment; rather than climbing up the hill, he hiked along a nearby path and attempted to rejoin his group down the trail. When he did not show up, the group alerted park rangers. But as soon as search and rescue crews started out, the weather turned ugly. Heavy snowfall, blistering wind and low temperatures forced ground and air forces to call off the search until the skies cleared; many feared Kim would not survive the night.

Because it was a day trip, Kim was not equipped for the night ahead. Amazingly, the seasoned outdoorsman was able to stave off hypothermia by burning socks, leaves – and the paper contents of his wallet. What’s even more miraculous is that he was able to survive for two nights in the frigid forest until crews reached him and were able to transport him down the hill.

By Brad Nehring