hiking: Things that you need on a hike in Bear country

Well, we just spent three days out of cell phone coverage in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies, so here are some lessons and things to bring for that situation:

  1. Whistle. This is a location that is completely out of cell phone range and there are lots of bears about it, so safety is a big consideration. I normally don’t carry one, but if you need to signal, you need a simple whistle. It’s the simplest way to get someone’s attention. The codes by the way are for Alpine to blow six long whistles every minute. If you are the rescuer you blow three shorts. Alternatively, if you have the break you can blow the morse code for SOS which is three short, three long, three short. You can even get one with a compass from REI but I like the marine ones that are just $6 for two from Amazon.
  2. Bear Spray. In Canada, you can bring in bear spray if is less than 500 ml (16 ounces) and it is labeled for animal use only. So you can bring this across the border and you can get it with a holder. You only use this as a last resort after you yell, use your whistle. But some of the good ones are Counter Assault at 8 ounces, it’s huge and can cover 32 feet from the beer. The holster is also good for $50 at Amazon or the Udap 12DCH two-pack of 7.9 ounces is way more reasonable at $60 for two.
  3. Bear Bell. I have one of these and it is annoying, but useful if you do not talk a lot. you do not want to surprise a bear. Plus it has a silencer so you can leave it on your boot and just turn it on when needed.
  4. Bear Horn. This is another useful gadget although now things are getting heavy, if you are really concerned, then the order is to wear the bell, use the horn if the bear is far, and then the spray if you have no choice.
  5. Bite Valve Sheath. OK, I had my bite valve on this awesome Hydrapak leak. It turns out it is just $6 to get the stealth that you pull off and replace.
  6. ThruNite TH30 V2 Headlamp. Dark arrives early out there, so you want a good headlamp. There are really two sorts. The small compact ones and then the big ones are used when things are really rough. 1Lumen likes ThruNite which is a 3,320-lumen system using the XHP70.2 which is kind of shocking bright but only lasts about five minutes and then it drops a still bright 600 lumens. And Outdoor Gearlabs likes the Zebralight HL600W. These things are brighter than the sun, but that’s kind of the point. I had the HL600c Mk IV 4000K Floody (a 1400 lumen light which unlike the ThruNite remains at 1400 lumens for the full 2.8-hour runtime )and then tragically it fell out of my pocket just before this hike. They have a variety of models, but if you want more of a spotlight then the H600d Mk IV is right for you. the HLC It’s expensive at $89 plus $9 at Zebralight for the battery but it works super well, so I’ll get the ThruNite and report back. I kind of love the fact that Zebralight just has a Google Sheet with all their products in it. The budget choice is a 1200 lumen for just $40 called the Sofirn SP40. There are lots of review sources by various nerds, but Candle Power Forums is a great community for enthusiasts. So for instance the H600Fc does step down due to heat
  7. Walkie Talkie (and Outdoor Pursuits). There are the old ones and it’s a little hard to believe in this day and age they are still needed. We still have Motorola walkie-talkies from the last century, so time to fire them up. But if you do not have them, then they are basically pretty much a commodity. but if you are out there a lot, then the Backcountry Access is huge and expensive at $190 but has a great range. The other choice is and if you do not use it often the Midland X-Talkie 36 has a 2.6-mile range but only a 12-hour battery life.
  8. Satellite Messengers (or the iPhone 14). If you are really going far, I’ve been recommending a Satellite messenger for a while, but with the advent of the iPhone 14, if you are not going that far and are going to have your phone with you, then the new satellite emergency system is not a bad alternative. The main thing is that you have to have a way to charge your phone (like keeping it mainly off and using a battery pack or a solar charger even), but then you don’t have to carry another device, you have a camera, so it probably makes more sense than a dedicated device for shorter trips. But if you need something that is easy (but has a plan you have to manage), then the Garmin inReach Mini 2 at $390 is a good choice for regular use and the ACR Bivy Stick for occasional use. It has an SOS button and an I’m OK message which is a bout what you need.

I’m Rich & Co.

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