Are You Prepared For Backcountry Riding?

by Andy Amick on November 7, 2013

in Cycling, Prepared

In late September a Colorado Springs mountain biker got lost while exploring some new trails.  The good news is she was found the next day.  The bad news is she had to endure a cold and lonely night in the mountains without any emergency gear.

UpADownwa posted a full story on the incident and how the cyclist was rescued.  After being rescued, the cyclist mentioned that she will be carrying “a small survival kit of an emergency bivy/blanket, matches/lighter and compass will now traveling with her on all solo rides”.  This prompted me to look at what I was carrying on my own backcountry rides.

Re-evaluating my preparedness

Yes, my GetOutThere kit goes with me on all rides for first aid, personal care, emergency light and whistle for daytime rides.  However, it doesn’t contain fire starting materials or water purification that would be valuable if stranded overnight.

For that worst case scenario, I would need to add fire starting materials and water purification to my GetOutThere kit.  These could have been added to the ALOKSAK bag in the GetOutThere kit, but I decided to go with a small Altoids tin because it can be placed at the bottom of a pack and it won’t get crushed.

alto ids cycling emergency mini tin


  • 6 matches (I had several kinds of waterproof/storm matches so why not bring some of each)
  • 2 QuikTab firestarters
  • 1 match book strike plate
  • 2 water purification tablets

This is less than I would take on a full overnight bikepacking trip, but it’s enough to make it through an emergency night.  Another item that may get added to my kit is an emergency blanket that could be used for shelter or as a crude bivy sack.

The idea here is to look at your situation and come up with an emergency kit that fits your riding style, location, and remoteness.  Some may carry a lot more while others may carry a lot less.  The key is to carry the gear that makes you prepared.

For those of you that go on long rides either solo or in the backcountry, I encourage you to think about being prepared for possibly getting lost or spending an unexpected night outside.  Preparedness, fire starters, and emergency blankets are not exciting or fun stuff.  However, they are critically important when you run into situation where you need to use them.

Hopefully that never happens, but being prepared with an emergency kit can go a long way towards turning a scary situation into a manageable one.

About Andy Amick
A little bit nutty in general, a lotta bit nutty about bikes. Each of his boys received a bike helmet for their first birthday and the three of them have been biking together ever since.

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