Among outdoor adventure enthusiasts, there is a distinction between
Here is how I keep the two apart in my mind.
- Most State or City Parks
- Many privately-owned lands
- Anywhere with improved campsites (potable water, electric service…)
- Anywhere with good cell reception and nearby road access
- Anywhere with accessibility features for children, people with disabilities, etc.
- Anywhere you can reasonably expect emergency services to arrive within an hour or so
- Anywhere you could reasonably expect to see lots of other people each day
- Designated wilderness areas
- Some National Parks
- Anywhere with poor cell reception and/or no road access
- Anywhere that you can reasonably expect emergency services longer than 24 hours to arrive.
- Anywhere with no accessibility, improvements, and safety features
- Anywhere that you might not see any other people for days on end
The main reason that you will need to understand the difference between
Safety and first aid
If you are on a backcountry adventure then you will, by definition, expect it might take 24 hours or more for professional first responders to arrive (if they can get to you at all.) You will need to have learned and practiced any skills and abilities you might need to stabilize and transport victims of accidents and emergencies for prolonged periods of time (potentially for days).
A great way to develop these skills and abilities is to sign up for a Red Cross Wilderness First Aid class.
Another safety consideration besides wilderness first aid is communication. In backcountry areas, you cannot count on cell phone reception. You may want to invest in a satellite phone or a GPS spot.
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a set of seven principles or guidelines that help to minimize our negative impacts on the natural areas where we have our adventures.
The first, and perhaps most important of these principles is to know before you go and plan ahead and prepare – and that’s where the
In frontcountry areas, like State Parks, much of the planning ahead and preparing has been done for you. There are roads and parking lots and improved campsites and rangers to help you out when you have a problem.
But in the backcountry there are no roads and no rangers so you’ll have to figure out how to carry all the equipment you’ll need (plan ahead and prepare) and you’ll have to develop all the skills you need to solve your own problems if you get into trouble (know
Car camping vs. pack camping
So, you have seen that in backcountry adventures you will need to plan ahead and prepare for the lack of a safety net. This
But in the backcountry you have to physically carry all your equipment – sometimes for miles – sometimes for days! This means fewer, lesser, smaller, and lighter equipment but it also means extras like water purification and satellite phones. Since you will potentially have less equipment in the backcountry, you will have to solve any problems that arise with experience and skill!