OB Approved Safety and Security While Traveling

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Paris0514

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Having traveled for backpacking, back country discovery, and Overlanding for over 15 years I have developed a mindset around safety and security.

Many of these ideas come from shared experience in travel and a former career as a Law Enforcement Officer of 12 years with 10 years being in SWAT as a sniper, multiple discipline instructor, and operator.

Currently I am a Safety Director for a company and continue to look for ways to keep people safe while completing tasks.

Understanding where I come from I hope provides context for my thoughts on safety and security.

Recently a family was attacked by a wolf in Banf National Forest in Canada.

Traveling internationally the husband did the best he could in my opinion and prevailed.

Here are some of my thoughts on security and safety while traveling.

Security is a state of mind.

Vigilance and pre-planning is the first step.

Be aware of your surroundings. (What’s around me, who’s around me, what animals are known to be in the area)

If confronted by animal or human always have an escape plan.

Be prepared to fight if flee is not an option. (By fleeing do I put others at risk? Can I escape?)

Fighting (humans or animals) is a dangerous gamble. Especially in the back country. (Injuries can be severe)

If forced into confrontation fight to finish as soon as it is necessary. (Human or Animal the faster the threat is mitigated less likely you incur further injury)

Never go half way. If it is a wild animal or a human, both can cause serious injuries and/or death.

-Firearms-
To carry a firearm is a serious question and should be heavily considered.
There are many who say they will carry a firearm but are ill equipped to use one.
Whether it be the individual’s training and experience and/or their mindset to use a firearm in self defense.

If you choose to have a firearm with you consider the following:
FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAWS
IF YOU CAN legally carry a firearm, carry it on you. (Each state has independent laws around reciprocity and carrying)(Anywhere than on your person is too far away in the moment you will need it)
Carry what you are comfortable using and carrying.

-Knives-
FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAWS
If you legally can carry a blade you should.
For field and bush work a fixed blade is more versatile.
If you don’t have a fixed blade carry a folder.

-Lights-
Handheld lights can be a dime a dozen.
Get a good tail switch light.
The switch should be momentary only. (Multi-function are not good for self defense)
Lights can be good for blinding animals/people in low light environments
They are also important if you are being forced to defend yourself at night.
If you can have two. Two is one in the light world.

-Training-
Be trained in wilderness training, self defense, and first aid.
Find training to learn backcountry skills: Navigation, gear necessities, survival training, etc..
Push yourself to learn basic self defense skills.

Personal experience has shown, if you have to fight human or animal you WILL have injuries.
Get basic CPR and First Aid training and/or Advanced Wilderness First Aid
Have the means to keep the red in and infections out.
Keep a good first aid kit with you.
Carry a tourniquet and understand when to use it.

This training is great for day to day injuries or assisting with allergic reactions or medical emergencies while in the back country.

-Security-
Security of gear and equipment depends on where I am.
If in the backcountry with my vehicle I don’t lock anything for good reason. It delays me from getting in the truck or getting something else out.
If I must walk away from the vehicle for some distance it is locked. If I am in town passing through and leave my truck I lock it.
I keep a spare key hidden on the truck in case I lose my main key.

-Communication-
Have means to communicate for help.
Whether it be Amatuer Radio, Sat Phone, Garmin InReach, and/or Cellular Device have the means to get additional resources if necessary.
Understand your equipment and its limitations.
Each communication device has it downfall. Know it and have another way to compliment it’s limitations.

-Closing Thoughts-
Knowledge is the best thing you can take with you anywhere.

Best part, it’s also the easiest thing to pack in the vehicle before you go if you take time to educate yourself.

2E773501-1D0A-40EC-989E-86D479399108.jpeg
 
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Specter

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Great food for thought for people who are new to this, and a good reminder for those of us who aren’t. Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper.
 
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Paris0514

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Great food for thought for people who are new to this, and a good reminder for those of us who aren’t. Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper.
Thank you for reading and your response.
 

Specter

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Thank you for reading and your response.
I’ll add one thing - always carry a blade. Always.

Seems like such a small thing most days, but it can have a significant impact on your own survival and the rescuing of others. In the field I always carry a field knife (I’m a Bark River fan), around town it’s a small folder - but I always have one.
 

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The situational awareness is super important. I try to do this as much as possible, even when I am just out on a walk with my wife, son and dog. Even something as simple as agreeing that my wife is to pick up the dog and be ready to get moving the moment I say "grab the dog" as we have identified she will be more hindrance than benefit if something were to go down.

Once while traveling in Poland, I realized in a store that a young lady was intentionally placing herself in my line of view all around the place. I then realized her greasy Boyfriend was nearby and I realized they were looking to either rob me or beat me up (probably the later, guy appeared to be the kind that wanted to show his manliness and fight people) so, since we were in a foreign country, I simply told my wife it was time to go (another agreed upon thing we have) and we simply left the store to avoid whatever may be the issue before it starts.
 

Pathfinder I

Some really good advice in your post of things to consider! I also appreciate and agree with the suggestion to have a good knife on you.

The only thing I would add that a lot of violence and risk to self when travelling is a result of situations escalating unintentionally. Ego and Emotion get in the way, people say things they shouldn't, and before you know it a disagreement with a stranger has become a full-on fight, which can be a very dangerous situation.

I strongly recommend people take some kind of course of verbal de-escalation of conflict. It can mean the difference between a tense situation you laugh about later, or death, and I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that. There are many types of training available throughout North America (Verbal Judo being a very good one that is available in most major cities).

I share this with some hesitation as I don't want people to think I'm trying to earn a buck off this community, but I run a company that specifically deals with managing the risks caused by human behaviour. While this is my business and part of my livelihood, I do want to freely support this community and other Overlanders as much as I can, so if there is interest, I'd be happy to throw together a free workshop/webinar for members on some conflict management basics that they can apply to Overlanding situations.

(Mods, if that's out of line, feel free to nuke this!)
 

trikebubble

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Thanks for the read. We live here in BC and spend most of our leisure time outdoors, so interaction with wildlife is just going to happen.

I recently came back from a 2 week back country trip roaming around Northern Vancouver Island with the dogs. Black bears are everywhere, wolves are known to wander the beaches on Northern Van isle (among other places), and I believe the highest concentration of cougars in N. America is on Vancouver Island. I think the main thing I try to keep in mind is to always be aware of my surroundings. Not paranoid to the point of not wanting to go explore the beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails, and backcountry campspots that I enjoy...but just to be aware all the time. Funnily enough we saw only 2 bears on our entire 2 wwek journey. One was far away in aclear cut, and the other (while was originally close to the other side of my truck/camper) was scared away as soon as my dog saw him and started barking like a demon.
 
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Paris0514

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Everyone great points. Glad to see the thread getting some thought provoking comments. If you liked the original give it a like.

Thanks again.
 
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Swamp Dawg

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Having traveled for backpacking, back country discovery, and Overlanding for over 15 years I have developed a mindset around safety and security.

Many of these ideas come from shared experience in travel and a former career as a Law Enforcement Officer of 12 years with 10 years being in SWAT as a sniper, multiple discipline instructor, and operator.

Currently I am a Safety Director for a company and continue to look for ways to keep people safe while completing tasks.

Understanding where I come from I hope provides context for my thoughts on safety and security.

Recently a family was attacked by a wolf in Banf National Forest in Canada.

Traveling internationally the husband did the best he could in my opinion and prevailed.

Here are some of my thoughts on security and safety while traveling.

Security is a state of mind.

Vigilance and pre-planning is the first step.

Be aware of your surroundings. (What’s around me, who’s around me, what animals are known to be in the area)

If confronted by animal or human always have an escape plan.

Be prepared to fight if flee is not an option. (By fleeing do I put others at risk? Can I escape?)

Fighting (humans or animals) is a dangerous gamble. Especially in the back country. (Injuries can be severe)

If forced into confrontation fight to finish as soon as it is necessary. (Human or Animal the faster the threat is mitigated less likely you incur further injury)

Never go half way. If it is a wild animal or a human, both can cause serious injuries and/or death.

-Firearms-
To carry a firearm is a serious question and should be heavily considered.
There are many who say they will carry a firearm but are ill equipped to use one.
Whether it be the individual’s training and experience and/or their mindset to use a firearm in self defense.

If you choose to have a firearm with you consider the following:
FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAWS
IF YOU CAN legally carry a firearm, carry it on you. (Each state has independent laws around reciprocity and carrying)(Anywhere than on your person is too far away in the moment you will need it)
Carry what you are comfortable using and carrying.

-Knives-
FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAWS
If you legally can carry a blade you should.
For field and bush work a fixed blade is more versatile.
If you don’t have a fixed blade carry a folder.

-Lights-
Handheld lights can be a dime a dozen.
Get a good tail switch light.
The switch should be momentary only. (Multi-function are not good for self defense)
Lights can be good for blinding animals/people in low light environments
They are also important if you are being forced to defend yourself at night.
If you can have two. Two is one in the light world.

-Training-
Be trained in wilderness training, self defense, and first aid.
Find training to learn backcountry skills: Navigation, gear necessities, survival training, etc..
Push yourself to learn basic self defense skills.

Personal experience has shown, if you have to fight human or animal you WILL have injuries.
Get basic CPR and First Aid training and/or Advanced Wilderness First Aid
Have the means to keep the red in and infections out.
Keep a good first aid kit with you.
Carry a tourniquet and understand when to use it.

This training is great for day to day injuries or assisting with allergic reactions or medical emergencies while in the back country.

-Security-
Security of gear and equipment depends on where I am.
If in the backcountry with my vehicle I don’t lock anything for good reason. It delays me from getting in the truck or getting something else out.
If I must walk away from the vehicle for some distance it is locked. If I am in town passing through and leave my truck I lock it.
I keep a spare key hidden on the truck in case I lose my main key.

-Communication-
Have means to communicate for help.
Whether it be Amatuer Radio, Sat Phone, Garmin InReach, and/or Cellular Device have the means to get additional resources if necessary.
Understand your equipment and its limitations.
Each communication device has it downfall. Know it and have another way to compliment it’s limitations.

-Closing Thoughts-
Knowledge is the best thing you can take with you anywhere.

Best part, it’s also the easiest thing to pack in the vehicle before you go if you take time to educate yourself.

View attachment 113077
Thanks for this info. I have given this topic lots of respect over the last year. Looking into ways to light my rig up in case someone approaches me in the middle of the night. That way I can a least night blind them if need be.
 
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Wilbah

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+1 Wildlife and those intent on harm don't do things according to our way of thinking. We must be prepared to deal with that, and just like preparation is the key to having a safe trip driving (knowing what obstacles can be overcome and when to say "no thanks") being prepared should something bad occur with 2 or 4 legged critters is just as important. Not that I am the type looking for trouble, far from it. I will always walk away if I can. But my preparation is similar to why I have fire insurance on my house, not because I expect my house to burn down, but the consequence is too grave were it to occur. My and my families personal safety is in that same "category", if you will. I get that some see this approach or mind set as chest thumping or whatever but it is not at all meant that way. It is just a reality that some times wilderness areas have conflicts that's all.
 

Paris0514

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+1 Wildlife and those intent on harm don't do things according to our way of thinking. We must be prepared to deal with that, and just like preparation is the key to having a safe trip driving (knowing what obstacles can be overcome and when to say "no thanks") being prepared should something bad occur with 2 or 4 legged critters is just as important. Not that I am the type looking for trouble, far from it. I will always walk away if I can. But my preparation is similar to why I have fire insurance on my house, not because I expect my house to burn down, but the consequence is too grave were it to occur. My and my families personal safety is in that same "category", if you will. I get that some see this approach or mind set as chest thumping or whatever but it is not at all meant that way. It is just a reality that some times wilderness areas have conflicts that's all.
Thank you for the read and comment.
 
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Wilbah

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I just read the CNN story and have a thought....I wonder, as wolf numbers and range continue to grow, if we will see attacks such as this becoming more common. Let's face it, there was a reason wolves were hunted by our forefathers, we don't/can't always co-exist. Ultimately a 5 yo running around a campsite is a heck of a lot easier to take down than a deer or elk.

We already saw/see some of this in places out west with mountain lions. I think of CO specifically- as wasting disease decimated the deer herds (and F&W used extra tags to really try to make a dent in it) mountain lions needed to "branch out" due to lack of prey. So mountain lion attacks became more common (no not every day, but not without precedent at this point), not to mention the pets that are taken.

I also had to chuckle and shake my head at the guy who kicked the wolf saying he "immediately felt bad". So a family is being attacked, you respond (good for him, at least he did that), you see a wolf tearing into a tent amidst the screams of a family, you kick it and then feel bad? Sorry....almost a different species of human from me.
 
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I just read the CNN story and have a thought....I wonder, as wolf numbers and range continue to grow, if we will see attacks such as this becoming more common. Let's face it, there was a reason wolves were hunted by our forefathers, we don't/can't always co-exist. Ultimately a 5 yo running around a campsite is a heck of a lot easier to take down than a deer or elk.

We already saw/see some of this in places out west with mountain lions. I think of CO specifically- as wasting disease decimated the deer herds (and F&W used extra tags to really try to make a dent in it) mountain lions needed to "branch out" due to lack of prey. So mountain lion attacks became more common (no not every day, but not without precedent at this point), not to mention the pets that are taken.

I also had to chuckle and shake my head at the guy who kicked the wolf saying he "immediately felt bad". So a family is being attacked, you respond (good for him, at least he did that), you see a wolf tearing into a tent amidst the screams of a family, you kick it and then feel bad? Sorry....almost a different species of human from me.
Wilbah said
"I also had to chuckle and shake my head at the guy who kicked the wolf saying he "immediately felt bad". So a family is being attacked, you respond (good for him, at least he did that), you see a wolf tearing into a tent amidst the screams of a family, you kick it and then feel bad? Sorry....almost a different species of human from me".

It is a reflection on modern society, as we have moved from a rural to urban orientated people. The rise of participation participants vs winners, where no one has to lose, and the thought of hurting someones FEELINGS makes people feel the need to apologize for their actions, regardless if they were doing the right thing. In this case, cruelty to an animal, even though they were trying to prevent a attack/death, aka.....judged, by social media types! Mostly by clueless idiots who think a Wolf is just another version of a German Sheppard or a Coyote. :dizzy:

"immediately felt bad" .........Really?......VS....YOUR FAMILY! It seems his priorities are 180' from what they should be. Reading this just makes me shake my head.

PS.......We seem to feel the same, kinda sad when you think about it.
PSS......Have family up your way. Seems you now have Coy Wolfs in the NE. Another reason why good intentions are not thought thru. Kinda like trying to play chess, and checkers is all you know, You just see whats in front of you, and not the moves being made up ahead.
 
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Wilbah

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Wilbah said
"I also had to chuckle and shake my head at the guy who kicked the wolf saying he "immediately felt bad". So a family is being attacked, you respond (good for him, at least he did that), you see a wolf tearing into a tent amidst the screams of a family, you kick it and then feel bad? Sorry....almost a different species of human from me".

It is a reflection on modern society, as we have moved from a rural to urban orientated people. The rise of participation participants vs winners, where no one has to lose, and the thought of hurting someones FEELINGS makes people feel the need to apologize for their actions, regardless if they were doing the right thing. In this case, cruelty to an animal, even though they were trying to prevent a attack/death, aka.....judged, by social media types! Mostly by clueless idiots who think a Wolf is just another version of a German Sheppard or a Coyote. :dizzy:

"immediately felt bad" .........Really?......VS....YOUR FAMILY! It seems his priorities are 180' from what they should be. Reading this just makes me shake my head.

PS.......We seem to feel the same, kinda sad when you think about it.
PSS......Have family up your way. Seems you now have Coy Wolfs in the NE. Another reason why good intentions are not thought thru. Kinda like trying to play chess, and checkers is all you know, You just see whats in front of you, and not the moves being made up ahead.
Sorry to hear that you have family here. I dont recommend MA for anyone. Ha. I'm in the process of planning my "escape" to NH.

So true regarding people "feeling bad", and yes so much comes from social media ridicule. Did you see the story about the woman hunter (who feeds her family through hunting) who is getting death threats?!! What?! Upsidedown land for sure.

Yeah I'm familiar with the "coywolves". Even "regular" coyotes here are larger than what I used to see in CO from the wolf DNA and interbreeding years ago. It's funny, I live in a pretty rural town in MA (yes they do exist), and so many people talk about the coyotes around, hearing then at night etc. (Our GSD used to call back yo them when she heard them howling), yet they continue to post fliers all over town when their small dog or cat "goes missing". Jeez.....save a tree people. Your cat was lunch, get another one. Ha.
 
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Many good points in this thread. An animal attacks when it perceives an easy meal... or a threat.. or is in poor health and desperate. Wild animals vs children, children are easy prey like baby anything. When camping in the wild, as opposed to in a campground, you might aesily be within the "comfort range" of a wild animals lair... and young... unintentionally you are a threat. And as in this case.... an old animal in desparation will do things no healthy animal would consider.

IN my mind leathal weapons, guns and knives, are far too dangerous to everyone else. Unless you were recently on active duty in a war zone, I don't believe there is a single gun carrying individual capable of using that weapon without endangering everyone within a mile.... police included. Pepper Spray, Bear Spray, Mace... far better choices. A baseball bat, heavy wrench, axe... if used like a club. And as in the case in Banff, kicking, punching, screaming are far safer choices.

The only animal which I find truly frightening is the Cougar which will stalk and attack anyone they perceive as oblivious to their presence. A constant in the news are Cougar attacks on people running thru the forest, or mountain trail..... often with earbuds oblivious to the risk they are at. Sleep with your children. When hiking, running, stop, turn around and observe your surroundings. Have something non lethal like Bear Spray so when you mistake that prowling racoon... or neighbouring lost camper.... for a threat, at least they will live.

And finally, first aid, communication, research, have a plan. And when the plan fails, have another plan. I travel real light. My only real first aid are a few band aids, some surgical tape, some clean rags. Most of my first aid training involves improvizing, no way can you carry enough for every situation. A belt, rope will work if you ever need a tourniquet. Anything fabric can form a major trama bandage. Sanitary or not pressure will stop bleeding which is the top priority. A rolled newspaper or magazine is one of the best field splints. I'm 65, i've spent a lifetime climbing, back country skiing, canoeing, camping, travelling in foriegn countries. I've been in some uncomfortable, threatening situations with local humans and never did I feel a weapon would help resolve the situation, often not having a weapon did relieve the tension.

Something I never read is training to diffuse a tense situation without resorting to force. But I know the best overlanders who travel thru foreign countries understand and use this method to survive often. Diplomacy, curbing the urge to be arrogant, focusing on a peaceful outcome. These are the things which need to be taught. Self defence is only needed if your goal is confrontation and then you need to be better than the other guy.

Trurhfully anyone who sees a firearm as a necessity is seriously misguided.
 
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Wilbah

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Diplomacy, curbing the urge to be arrogant, focusing on a peaceful outcome.....

Self defence is only needed if your goal is confrontation and then you need to be better than the other guy.

Trurhfully anyone who sees a firearm as a necessity is seriously misguided.
I mean this 100% respectfully but I disagree with these assertions. Are there idiots out there who think they're Rambo and endanger others? Absolutely, just as there are people who text while driving and endanger people as well.

The primary goal of self defense is just that- defense. It is not confrontational and good self defense courses always teach diffusing situations. It is the idiot who uses a weapon as a means to encourage a confrontation.

But having said all that, just as we (apparently) agree that 4 legged animals do not live by the same rules we do, there are sadly 2 legged animals who behave similarly. And in those situations, when diffusing a confrontation isunavoidable, that a weapon may be needed. Fortunately I have never had to use a lethal weapon in one of these situations. But I can tell you 100% that the mere presence of such a weapon was the thing that diffused it. I realize that may be anathema to your thinking and that is okay. We can agree to disagree. But I think you've been a bit harsh in your assessment of those who choose to carry a weapon. Just my $0.02 and I wish you a good day! :)