Bikepacking - Safety Tips
Scotland has the most amazing teams of Mountain Rescue volunteers and an Air Ambulance. Both rely on charitable donations to survive.
It is the responsibility of anyone who enjoys the outside to looks after their own safety as much as they can and only use these services in an event of a genuine emergency.
I always carry a few bits of kit and follow a few procedures that I feel will help to keep me (or who I'm with/who I find) safe in case of an emergency. (This is focused on personal safety - not on bike mechanical issues which I will cover separately)
The first and most obvious one is a first aid kit. Other than the usual items for accidents, I also carry a few other extra bits -
1 - 4x single use hand warmers. I will already have my sleeping bag, a shelter and spare clothes so I don't carry an emergency bivvi or foil blanket. But I do always - regardless of season - carry handwarmers in case of hypothermia which is a very real risk in the erratic Scottish weather. Even mid summer it can be baltic!
In winter I have 4 in my night kit too - just in case I begin to feel cold in my bivvi. (I've not yet used them but I had a very bad winter camping experience once and am paranoid - I'll blog about it one day!)
2 - Water purification tablets. If I'm stuck somewhere I want to be able to stay hydrated. I carry a water filter but these are in case of emergency. They are tiny so worth carrying a few.
3 - 24hrs worth of calories. I will always ensure I can survive for at least 24hrs. It may just be items such as nut butter sachets and energy drink powder (so relatively lightweight but high calorie) but it will keep me going.
4 - A couple of solid fuel tablets, a spare lighter & a sachet of hot chocolate. For hydration, hypothermia, calories and general mood in a difficult situation!
5 - Tick removable tool. Read up on Lymes Disease - learn how to recognise the symptoms etc. Please take it seriously!
6 - Smidge & antihistamines. Essential for midge season! If you are with someone or meet a someone out who forgot theirs you will probably save their sanity!
7 - Anker Powerbank & spare batteries for electronics. Also keep them warm if it's cold - or they with discharge.
8. Some cash - in case a rural café doesn't take cards/has internet issues and I can't buy cake..... (also 20p and £1 coins for public loos/showers is useful)
In addition to what I carry, I follow a few procedures.
1 - I will give someone my route with estimated times for certain points. I'll check in when I have mobile reception. I will also give times to try to contact me if I have not checked in and how long to wait until they alert the emergency services that I'm missing.
2. Navigation backups - I use a Garmin eTrex for general navigation. I download all relevant 1:50 & 1:25 OS maps to Viewranger on my phone and keep my phone in airplane mode to reduce battery power. The phone is only for backup navigation. I carry a Garmin InReach Mini satellite communication system. This allows for two way communication via text and has an SOS button for emergencies. I pay a subscription for this service but feel that it's an essential safety item for myself - both as an adventurer and as a guide. If I am out of reception I use the InReach to communicate that I am safe at my pre-agreed times and checkpoints.
Remember - in case of emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Police then Mountain Rescue. Use a grid reference app or what3words (Download the apps before you go!) to give your location.
If you have any other tips or any questions then drop me a line.