Many adventurers (including me in the beginning) don't like thinking about the safety of their trip. This is a BIG MISTAKE!
Desert is a harsh environment, and without the right preparation and the correct gear, multiple ADVENTURERS HAVE DIED!
Our team at Oregon Discovery went on thousands of outdoor outings over the course of 10 years. Many were in the desert, both via car and on foot.
We have learned what works and what doesn't. That is necessary, and that is just a dead weight. Don't risk the lives of yourself and your loved ones, and prepare well.
And the best part is the knowledge is FREE, and most of the desert survival gears isn't so expensive. Here are the top 10 tips to prepare for your desert trip.
Hydration is key!
This is the most important tip. You must have a source of hydration and plenty of it.
Odds are, you WILL run out of water much faster than you expected and thus put yourself at risk.
Also, there is always a chance of an emergency keeping you from returning on time.
The bottom line - load up on extra water and hydration drinks.
Water must be the bulk of your hydration.
However, with sweating, you lose critical salts (electrolytes), which help the body absorb and retain the liquid.
I, myself, often got to the point where I couldn't drink enough to compensate for the lost sweat because most of the water I drink flushes out.
You can fix that problem with the right hydration drink.
If you have space and can afford it, pick up a few cases of Hoist Hydration Drinks (those are delicious, too!).
Alternatively, save some space and money and pick up Liquid IV mix. Add it to your water and enjoy!
Dress appropriately for your environment
Sunburns and heat strokes can seriously ruin your day. Proper clothes are necessary to keep you cool and protect your skin. That includes long sleeves, hats, sunglasses, and neck gators.
Make sure your clothes have UV protection.
Also, the temperature in a desert can change from extremely high to extremely low in a single day, so bring extra layers just in case, even if you don't plan to spend the night.
Closed-toe shoes would be the right choice to protect your feet as well.
KastKing Neck Gaiter is UPF 50 UV rated and can be used as a bandana, balaclava, face mask, and more!
It also comes in multiple cool patterns!
You must protect yourself from direct sunlight and UV light in the desert, even during winter.
Apply sunscreen often and make sure not to miss any areas exposed to the sun (hands, ears, etc).
My funniest experience of applying it wrong happened in a sunny Georgia (state, not republic). I used the sunscreen all over except my head. I didn't wear a hat and had very short hair.
The result is my head burned and was peeling skin, while every other spot on my body, from nose to hands, was fine.
Don't be me back in the day and apply the sunscreen properly.
If you are lazy like me, Banana Boat 50 SPF Spray Sunscreen is the best bet.
Make sure you don't get any sunscreen spray in your eyes! I did it once. It sucked. Just take my word for it; don't try in on yourself!
Alternatively, Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Cream is another great protector from the scorching sun.
Don't Go Out Alone If You Can Help It
Going on an adventure alone is a great way to recharge and enjoy solitude, but it is always safer to go with someone.
If you still decide to venture on your own, notify someone close to you about where and for how long you are heading out.
Get A First-Aid Kit
When out on your trip, you must be able to treat medical emergencies.
Anything from minor ones like blisters and cuts to serious ones like critical blood loss.
Medical supplies are just like water; it is better to have more rather than less.
Some medical kits, like this premium one, are made for outdoor adventurers and have items for general survival, like a compass and an emergency blanket.
Make sure to pack your prescription medication. And bring extra in case you get stuck or lose some of it in an emergency.
Also, pick a few tourniquets too, since most first aid kits don't have those.
A tourniquet is the only sure way to stop critical blood loss; items like belts and shoe laces don't create enough pressure, especially on arteries.
Remember that a tourniquet is just a short-term solution; an injured person MUST be transported to the hospital immediately!
Be Aware Of The Wildlife You Might Encounter
The desert is full of various flora and fauna, some of which might be dangerous.
Cactuses, snakes, scorpions, venomous lizards, bugs, and other plants and creatures might ruin your adventure.
Know the environment you are heading to and what you might encounter there.
Pay attention to your surroundings since desert creatures generally will not attack you unless they can't escape or you are threatening their young.
Creating noise to notify them of your presence is often enough to make wildlife leave.
Buy A Full Survival Kit For Emergencies
A complete survival kit can mean the difference between life and death!
It takes out the guesswork and long hours of research on what to buy.
And I took even more guesswork out by picking THE BEST ONE!
Also, many items in the kit can be handy in other situations, not just in a desert.
For example, if you get caught in a snowstorm or another emergency.
Uncharted Supply Survival System has EVERYTHING you need to make it back safe and sound.
Or to survive until the rescue services can arrive.
Prepare Your Vehicle For The Desert Trip
If you go to the desert in a vehicle, ensure it is fully prepared.
Keep your tank full and have extra fuel since you might not encounter any gas stations for very long stretches of your way.
Have you ever seen a gas station in the middle of the desert? Me neither.
It is best to have a 4-wheel drive, but even it can get stuck in certain situations, so always have tools and equipment to get it out.
A shovel, flat boards, car jack, and air compressor are a must.
The tow strap is another necessary piece of equipment. If you travel in a group with more than one vehicle, it is always easier to pull the stuck car out with the help of another one.
But even if you are alone, you might get lucky and receive help from the other adventurers who could use the tow strap to pull you out with their vehicle.
Most cars have a car jack in a trunk, but you must get other gear separately.
Everlit Survival Car Emergency Kit is the best solution with all the items you need in one place.
Get A Satellite Phone
The satellite phone is a spendy piece of gear, but it can save your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Often, injured people die in the wilderness because they can't get out themselves.
And have no way to call for help because there is no cell reception.
With a simple satellite phone call, emergency services can go to your location and save you!
BlueCosmo Iridium Extreme Satellite Phone comes with a prepaid SIM card. It is easy to set up, and it will save your or someone's life one day!
It is anything but cheap. But guess what? Life is much more expensive than the price of the phone.
Know The Terrain Of Your Destination And Its Threats
Desert is not always just flat.
There are mountains and hills, mudslides during winter, unstable cliffs creating the danger of landslides, abandoned mines, etc.
Check if the area you are going to have sandstorms, be aware of the signs, and have a plan of action if one occurs.
Study the environment you are heading to.
Get yourself a manual, read it before going on a trip, and keep it with you just in case!
The Ultimate Desert Handbook is a VERY HANDY manual on everything desert.
From the description of dangerous terrain and animals that can send you to the ER to the right gear to take.
This is a modern and practical guide. Not an outdated military manual from the 1960s with a bad print.
And the best part is it got pictures.
LOTS OF PICTURES!
Desert can be a fantastic place to enjoy the greater outdoors, but it can also be dangerous if you are not prepared.
It is in human nature to dislike thinking about death, but lack of preparation costs lives every day.
Don't let that be you or someone close to you, and prepare well!
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