The emergency rule of three is often quoted as follows, you can survive three days without water and 3 weeks without food. Yet there are two more important rules often overlooked. You can go 3 minutes without air before you start dying, and 3 hours without shelter is also a huge killer. So pack a shelter solution anytime to you travel. Why you ask? Because exposure is the biggest problem in the wild. National Parks Dept published a report claiming the number one killer in the parks is actually drowning. Usually because the water is too cold and the rapid heat loss also triggers slow response time and decreased brain function aka smartness goes bye bye. When you lose that much heat that quickly it is hard to recover. This brings on exposure effects and you drown. If you are from the United States, don’t worry as much, because according to the same report, Germans and other foreigners are more likely to die in national parks than US residents. So take a little comfort in that. Bears are one of the smallest dangers in the wild as well.
Take additional comfort in always taking shelter with you. It doesn’t have to be a physical structure, shelter can be as simple as a sleeping bag. Anything to deflect cold win, rain, or to help heat you can be considered a shelter solution. The Prepared Guy blog talks about clothing as your primary shelter. So take with you added clothing, at least 1 wool blanket or a mylar blanket to reflect heat. Don’t be afraid to bring extra ponchos (the cheap ones from the dollar store are great too). Anything will help. But most importantly bring a buddy. Additional body heat and a clear mind can save you from the worst weather changes. Always be aware of what’s going on and always tell someone where you venture off too in case you don’t return when you said you would. That way they can come find you relatively easy when things go awry.
Remember that everyone needs a backup shelter. You may not have room for anything large, but I would put a tent in your car, along with water, some food, and of course sleeping bags. I also recommend a good 96 hour emergency kit. You’ll thank me when your plan gets interrupted by life.