Search and Rescue professionals define backcountry as anywhere they can’t drive an ambulance. Even short jaunts close to town can be out of reach. There are inherent risks anytime we venture into our breathtaking mountains, but with proper awareness, preparation, and equipment you can prevent unnecessary injury, or even death.

Before you head out for adventure, keep the following PREP in mind!

Plan your outing.

  • Tell people where you are going and when to expect you back.
  • Be familiar with the area and bring a trail map. Don’t rely on your phone for maps.
  • Check the weather when planning your trip, and again minutes before you leave.

Understand the Risks of your trip.

  • Weather can change quickly, especially as you gain elevation. Hypothermia can easily happen in the summer.
  • Animals live in the wild; be respectful, carry bear spray, make noise and if you do encounter wildlife, keep your distance.
  • Water is deadly. Rocks covered in moss and moisture can become very slippery. Water also carries bacteria that can make you sick if you drink it.
  • Be aware of tree roots, rocks and cliff edges.
  • Cell phone coverage may be hours away.

Have the right Equipment, always enough for overnight.

  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Food
  • Extra clothes for layering
  • Map and compass
  • First Aid kit
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Matches
  • Headlamp
  • Bear spray
  • Good shoes


  • Know how to use your equipment.
  • Research the area; ask people what to expect.
  • Give yourself enough time for the trip, check the time of sunset and plan accordingly.
  • Oxygen levels are lower at high elevations; watch your energy.
  • Build up your physical fitness and make sure you are able to complete the adventure.
  • Take a friend.
  • Charge your phone and take it with you. Put it on airplane mode when you are out of cell service to conserve the battery.
  • Know how to use your phone’s GPS feature to find your location.

With a little PREP, you can safely enjoy Big Sky Country!

For more information, visit the Ready Gallatin Website.