Safety and Security

Hiking for Beginners and The Survival Rules of Three (plus a Review of the L.L. Bean Outdoor Survival Class)

A few days ago, I took one of those Outdoor Classes offered by L.L. Bean. Here's what you need to know...

The L.L. Bean Survival Class Crib Sheet

For a good while, I was the only person there. The guide put on his game face and, with his trusty PowerPoint primed, soldiered on. To give him enormous credit, he was careful to drill in how each point applied to me and the van, rather than sticking to Generic Script #87. He was a champ about the whole thing.

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Ten minutes into it, another woman showed up. With us both feeling a little more at ease, he covered the basics:

What to pack in a day bag

  • A whistle
  • Area map
  • Compass
  • Sun protection
  • Insect protection
  • Extra layer of clothing (scarf or jacket)
  • Illumination (in the form of a headlamp)
  • Knife and separate multi-tool
  • Hydration (…but not just hydration. Also have the means to safely turn any water into drinking water. Here’s a link to the Sawyer On the Go Filtration System).
  • Shelter in the form of a poncho or tarp. He suggested Tyvek. It breathes, is water resistant, and is less likely to form a lot of condensation.
  • First aid kit (he suggested buying one and taking out all of the components to build one for your needs).

He added that these things should be in a car at all times.

Camping / Survival Rules of Three

He also mentioned these rules that just about all of us know already. You can survive:

  • 3 minutes in icy water
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

But there were some survival rules I hadn’t heard

  • 3 days:  If lost, you should stay in one place for three days before venturing out on your own.
  • 3 bursts: If you need help, three bursts on a whistle means, “I’ve screwed up big time. Come get me. I done goofed. Here! Here! Here!”
  • 3 small fires or 3 rock formations in a straight line: Same as above, this will tell search helicopters flying overhead that you’re in terrible shape and need help getting out.  For what it’s worth, he said there’s never need for a fire larger than 1 foot for less than three people (surviving, heating, fun camping, whatever).

3 things to eat:

  • Cat-o-nine tails can be eaten from root to stem. In fact, they’re best in that order.
  • Pine trees – you can eat everything off of them. If you can’t tell the difference between a pine tree and a yew tree, avoid this tip. Yew is poisonous.
  • After 48 hours, we’re willing to anything. Termites are best, ants taste like nuts, and hairy spiders taste like chicken…he says. Okay. Eat those for protein and live another day. His final advice on the subject: remove the head of anything you eat. Those buggies can still bite you after they die.

He left us with…you guessed it… his three most important rules

  • Stay off the ground – The ground will suck the heat from you. Dry plants, extra clothing, doesn’t matter, just make sure something is separating your body from the earth.
  • Don’t panic – Panicky people do stupid things.
  • Don’t go unprepared – If you are legit lost, you should have everything on you to survive until you’re found (and most people are found within 10 hours).

Will I be back?

Of course. I learned a ton, had fun, and the instructor was great. You can find free wilderness courses in your area from L.L. Bean, REI, or your local parks and recreation department. Be safe out there!

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7 comments on “Hiking for Beginners and The Survival Rules of Three (plus a Review of the L.L. Bean Outdoor Survival Class)

  1. That sounds like a great class! I’m not sure I’m eating a spider though!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really, really hate it when I”m the only one to turn up for something. Being someone who always turns up early, so many times I have sat somewhere just willing someone else to show up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this. There were a lot of helpful suggestions I had never heard. Even though we all think that we will never get into a situation when we might need this, it is helpful to have at least some rules to guide us if we ever do because “panicky people do stupid things.”

    Liked by 1 person

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