Monday, February 9, 2009

Emergency Whistles for Backpacking & Hiking

An emergency whistle is probably the least sexy piece of gear I could imagine; after all, it doesn't involve fire in any way! But, it's probably also one of those things you never really think is worth carrying until you actually need it. Here are a few whistles that got my attention recently and what they sound like.



So, do you carry a whistle? Why or why not? If so, what kind?
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20 comments:

Off Grid Survival said...

I ussually carry one hen I am out hiking, and I give one to my Daughter when we go hiking.

A whistle is a great thing for kids to carry when hiking and camping in case they get lost.

Eddie Fig said...

I tend to favor my Fox 40. I actually have outfitted my entire family with them for our outings.-usually always on a neck cord.

I also have a few of the zipper pull ones attached to my packs and 2 shells.

Mark said...

I also carry the ACR whistle. I like its slim design and light weight. I wear it around my neck on a cord with several other survival instruments (i.e. firesteel, small compass, etc.) that I use when i'm backpacking. Cheers! Mark

Wandering Photographer said...

For a couple of years I carried around on of the "bullet" type whistles (a little different from the one you showed). I tried it out one day and it didn't work ... I knew that it had worked previously! After some investigation I found that there was a little plastic insert that had fallen out, making the remaining aluminium tube useless!

To replace it I bought an Acme Tornado Slimline. One piece design, very small and light and only costs about a quid! Hell, at that price you could buy a bunch and stick 'em everywhere!

I now also have one on the chest strap of my Osprey pack.

Brian said...

I am also a big fan of the ACR. Hard to beat for sound and weight. My previous favorite whistle was the REI Tri-Power whistle (sadly no longer available). It is also very flat and non-metallic, definitely a good alternative if you can find one.

Anonymous said...

My daypack is an REI Traverse. It has a whistle built in to the sternum strap buckle. This same feature is showing up more and more on full sized backpacks. The actual weight would be hard to figure out because the whistle is part of the buckle. It's always there and it works great!

Mac E said...

Hi Jason,

I used to carry a plastic whistle similar to the 1st one you looked at, I got out of the habit to be honest and haven't carried one for some time although my Dakine Sequence has one built into the chest strap. I agree with your reasons in favour of the plastic one, I'll have to search for mine or get a new one now that you've brought it to mind. I think they're better kept on your person in case you get separated from your pack/jacket etc.

It's easy to overlook the small things that don't often get used if at all.

oldsoldier said...

I have a fox40 whistle (I think its a howler?) that a got with Doug Ritter's PSK. Its hung around my neck now with a ferro rod & tiny little neck knife. Goes on every single time I head into the outdoors.
The older Fox40 whistles we used extensively in the Army; much easier to hear & understand amid all the racket we were used to.

Joe & Lisa said...

This may be overkill, but I swapped out the sternum strap buckle on all my packs to have a whistle clip.

I also make my wife and I carry one of these High Gear whistle tools on our person (plus a Leatherman and flint), in case we get in trouble while separated from our packs.

I'm eyeing that zipper pull whistle from Going Gear as well.

andy said...

I thought my 'survival' kit was good but now I see I forgot to put a whistle in...its such a good idea.
This may sound odd to some by I like to carry a satellite phone...it's one item that could possibly save you if you hike solo a lot like me
andy

Native Oregon Hiker said...

I never hit the trail without one. I just imagine how I would feel at the bottom of a slope with a broken leg, knowing people are looking for me and I was to lazy or indifferent to keep a whistle in my backpack. My preference is the plastic referees whistle. Small, light and practically indestructible.

James N. said...

Fox 40, I've actually fallen off a mountain in New Hampshire and passed out from heat exhaustion in the Adirondacks, now I always keep my whistle within easy reach so I don't have to go digging for it.

Jason Klass said...

James, wow, did you have your whistle with you then?

James N. said...

Yeah, had the whistle, but I couldn't get it out. The first time when I passed out on the trail it was in my map compartment in the lid. I got out of my pack harness and then passed out. Woke back up and finished the last few hundred feet to the camp site and hydrated.

The second time I fell backwards and slid down the trail, I stopped myself against a bolder. Before I realized I was okay I instinctively went for the whistle, which was in my camera bag. Couldn't get to it. So from that moment forward I tie it to the harness of the pack withing reach of my mouth.

backpackerrecipes said...

I carry a Fox 40 Whistle... I backpack and canoe so it goes on all my trips. I believe it is law up here in Canada for water trips but you never know when you might need it on the trail.... especially when I tend to stop to take photos and such and we are in bear country.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

good start, but you are overlooking some quite fundamental reliability issues: The whistle with the integrated capsule can unscrew itself over time and get lost easily; the bullet style and all other whistles with an insert which forms the d-shaped blowing channel in the front can lose that front plug and become useless without you noticing until you need them; and the zipper-pull Aerowave frequently comes off the string it is attached to because the clamping mechanism doesn't work very well. Also, there are much louder whistles out there like a Fox40 or ACME T2000, and even though they, too, are far from perfect - for a start, plastic breaks, is not UV resistant and becomes brittle in the cold - they would be a far better choice over the ones you demonstrate here.

Nonetheless: Good effort, and you're clearly thinking into the right direction. Keep looking around though, there are better solutions on the market.

Best wishes,

Sam

Kathy Handyside said...

I have a Fox 40 - it works really well.

JL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JL said...

I have a lot of survival whistles scattered around, but I always pack one when I go outdoors. See: http://wildwoodstream.blogspot.com/2010/02/survival-whistles.html

Ben.Jammin said...

One of the first things I learned in scouts was how to hand whistle(YouTube is your friend). While not as piercing or alarming as an emergency whistle, it serves in areas where the you,re not really that far out. Bonus: Backwoods bird calls help the young'ns feels like real mountain men.