Brown Med Student Finds Most Hikers to Be Unprepared

May 30, 2013

An overwhelming majority of hikers head out into the woods unprepared, according to new research done by a Brown University medical student. Older hikers tend to be better prepared than their younger counterparts, but both groups fall short on necessities.

A Brown medical student polled hikers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and found most of them to be woefully unprepared.

Brown University medical student Ryan Mason, an avid hiker himself, surveyed about 200 hikers in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest back in 2011.  He found that 83 percent failed to carry the ten items recommended by New Hampshire Fish and Game.   The items most commonly left out: a whistle, a compass, and a fire-starter.   The reasons:

"Most often cited for not bringing one of the ten essentials was that they thought the trip was of short duration or length. So ‘I’m just going for a day hike. I’m not going to be out that long. I don’t need to carry all these ten things.’ The second most common reason was that they forgot."

Mason admits the study is flawed because of its small sampling size. But he says it points up the need for better education.

"The core of it is really changing the perception that a day hike is not going to be dangerous."

Mason found that hikers between the ages of 50 and 59 are the best prepared, while those aged 20 to 29 are the least prepared.

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