(Disclaimer: This isn’t an exhaustive list; it is the basics, and you are encouraged to do your own research specific to your expedition.)
Tell a friend where you’re going (and for how long)
Many rescue operations have been successful because someone has notified the police that a party has been out longer than they had planned and are impossible to get hold of. They tell mountain rescue teams roughly where the explorers might be and there’s at least a clear starting area for a search and rescue operation.
Bring a mobile phone
You’re probably outdoors because you want to get away from Facebook and your smartphone. But a phone is essential, should you need to call for Mountain Rescue. Dial 999 and explain your emergency.
It also helps to bring a torch, as not only is the torch handy in the dark, it is also serves as a signal to any rescue service that is attempting to find you. It can also help to have a whistle handy, in case you are stranded somewhere where the rescue party is more likely to hear than see you.
Plan your route
It’s not enough to have a rough idea of where you’re going. There can be obstacles and hazards in the way that can leave you isolated and possibly trapped. It’s also best to use a map as your main means of navigation, as they cannot run out of batteries or fail to pick up signal from a satellite. The more detailed your map is, the better. Outdoor specialist Above & Beyond recommends an OS map to a scale of at least 1:50,000, but says that 1:25,000 would be even more useful when planning your route and understanding the terrain. Also remember a compass, which is the natural accompaniment to any map.
Keep warm and dry
Keeping an eye on the local weather forecast never hurt anyone, but there can be unforeseen weather and temperatures dip as altitudes rise, so ample layers of clothing are an essential to any expedition — especially a mountainous one. Bringing top-quality waterproof clothing could make the difference between being freezing and being comfortable, so you might like to invest in something good.
The next step is to ensure that you have equipment to make a fire. Keeping warm and being able to make warm food and drinks is not only a pleasant way to spend your evenings — it could save your life.
Bring a little extra food and water
If you’re trapped, but are warm and dry, then your next danger is dehydration and hunger. That extra weight in your backpack is more than worth the trouble, if just for the peace of mind. Survival rations can be a great option, as they are usually packed full of essential calories and are vacuum-packed into as small a container as possible.
Bring a well-stocked first-aid kit
Whether you get a blister on your foot, cut your knee or come down with a fever, a good first-aid kit should have the equipment and medicine you require to keep yourself healthy while you’re away. Bring as much as you can bear to carry.
And that’s the end of our basic guide to staying safe on your next expedition. You’ll probably be okay. You’ll probably have a wonderful time. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the worst.